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Drone Reviews / Tutorials

GoPro Karma Flight Kit

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Do you already own the GoPro Karma Grip and are now thinking of getting the GoPro Karma drone? Then the Karma Flight Kit by GoPro is geared just for you. Last year I made the decision that this summer I would be upgrading from my Bebop 2 drone to a better aerial photography/video platform. When GoPro announced the Karma at its media event last September I knew my decision on which drone to get was going to be easy. The karma, a reasonably priced drone that comes with a hand stabilizer and backpack that would fit seamlessly into my GoPro ecosystem … but then … many things happened. The first setback was when GoPro revealed the Karma would only to be released in the U.S. to start. This was very disappointing news because I live North of the border in a little country called Canada, so no Karma for me on launch day. Shortly after the GoPro Karma media event, DJI unveiled its very own portable / fold-able 4K drone called the Mavic Pro that was even smaller. This was a big blow for GoPro who was hoping to market the drone as a small and portable unit. The icing on the cake came when the GoPro Karma was recalled due to a defect in the battery latching system. It seemed like there would be no Karma drone in my future and I started looking into other options.

One of the main reasoned I was leaning towards a GoPro Karma was the fact it also had a nice hand-held stabilizer included with the drone. This is something I knew would be very beneficial to me and the way I captured my world. After the Karma recall GoPro released the Karma Grip as a standalone product, I purchased it as did many others as soon as it was available.

Fast forward 5 months and the GoPro Karma is back with an international release. GoPro realizing that many users had already purchased the Hand Grip stabilizer, they created a Karma package just for us called the Karma Flight Kit. It comes with everything that the Karma normally ships with except the gimbal and the Grip that costs $200 less than the complete kit. So realistically going this route you pay $100 more than if you just bought the complete system from the get-go. However, this is not so bad because when you purchase the grip by itself you get a nice little case included which helps offset the cost.

GoPro Karma With Harness Only
U.S. – http://amzn.to/2pxxxpP

GoPro Karma with Hero 5 Black
U.S. – http://amzn.to/2qlH01b
Canada – http://amzn.to/2qlLcOF

The contents of the GoPro karma flight kit.

 

When you purchase the flight kit you get everything that comes with the normal GoPro Karma package except the Grip handle and the stabilizer.

Contents of the Flight Kit include:

  • Karma Backpack / Case
  • Karma Body
  • Karma Controller
  • Karma Charger for Drone and Controller
  • 6 propellers (2 spares)
  • 2 propeller wrenches
  • USB C Cable
  • Documentation and  GoPro Stickers.

When I first saw images of the GoPro karma from the press release my first impressions were that it looked a little cheap. But I was more than impressed when the kit arrived. The drone itself is beautiful and photos do not do it justice. The controller is well-built and feels great while holding. I love the fact that it has a built-in screen and I don’t have to mount my smartphone.

 

Included with the GoPro Karma flight kit is the Karma backpack/case. This is a high-quality case that is well-built and comfortable to wear. It has a built-in GoPro mount so you can capture interesting video while perhaps hiking to location. I am really glad that GoPro included it with the Karma System. If you have ever owned a drone and purchased a backpack you know that they can be very expensive. So for GoPro to include a case/backpack is simply amazing and also adds to the Karma’s incredible value. The case is well laid out and offers great protection for the Karma. If you don’t pack your charger or grip you are able to fit 5 batteries into the case which includes one in the drone. With the grip and charge in the case, you can still easily pack 3 batteries along with you for filming your adventures.

 

All in all, I am extremely pleased with the build quality of the GoPro Karma. I think GoPro got it right with this drone kit. What it lacks in features like “follow me” and “collision avoidance” it makes up for in the usability and value of the system. The karma controller is very intuitive and makes setup and flying the drone a breeze even if you are a first-time drone owner. This is not a review of the Karma, that will be coming in about a month or so. I like to have a good amount of time to use a product in real-world conditions before I make any kind of judgment. This is GoPro’s first venture into the drone market and personally, I think they are off to a great start for a first release. I am pretty excited to see what the future holds for the GoPro Karma Drone.

You can watch our unboxing video of the Karma Flight Kit on YouTube. It is more of a beginner’s guide to help those who are first-time drone owners to get up in the air quickly and easily. I go over all the steps to get your new Karma drone ready for flight including setup and updating the firmware. GoPro has updated the Karma firmware several times since its released adding many new exciting features.


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DJI Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom

Freewell Gear ND Filters For Mavic 2 Pro | When & Why To Use Them

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Just like every other drone that DJI has released, Freewell gear has made some nice ND filter kits for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Now theoretically due to the Mavic 2 Pro having a variable aperture, ND filters may not be needed when you are trying to follow the 180-degree rule and have that slight bit of motion blur on objects with motion. Now let me explain for those who are not quite sure what ND filters do and what the 180-degree rule is.

The 180-degree rule for cinematography states that you should set the cameras shutter speed to double that of the frame rate in which you are filming. For example, if you are filming at 30 FPS you should set your shutter speed to 60 (1/60th second). If you’re filming at 60 FPS then you should set your shutter speed at 120 (1/120th second). Following this rule give a slight amount of motion blur that is pleasing to the eye and brain.

Now there can be a problem when following this rule. On most consumer drones the aperture is fixed and when you set the appropriate shutter speed the image can be overexposed. To correct this you would add an ND filter over the lens which is essentially a pair of sunglasses that cuts back the amount of light that can enter. Now with the Mavic 2 Pro, we have the ability to adjust our aperture, this will also cut back the light that hits the sensor. This again, in theory, eliminates the need for ND filters…or does it? Even with the variable aperture, there are those times that you would still want to use ND filters. Many agree on the Mavic 2 Pro to achieve the best image quality and clarity its best to keep your aperture between f/2.8 and f/5. At this aperture, you would still need to use ND filters on bright sunny days. As well there have been instances when I have set the aperture to f/11 and the image was still overexposed, thus requiring an ND filter.

I have been using Freewell Gear ND filters for many years for my GoPro and various drones I own. I have always been very pleased with the quality and durability and not to mention their very competitive pricing. They offer a variety of filter sets for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro including a standard day 4 pack that includes an ND4, ND8, ND16, and a stand-alone polarizing filter. They also have a bright day 4 pack that also feature built-in polarizers to each ND filter. The pack contains the following an ND8/PL, ND16/PL, ND32/PL, and an ND64/PL. You can also purchase both sets in one package called the “All Day Pack”. For those who like to do long exposure photography with their Mavic 2 Pro, they even sell an ND1000 and ND2000 filter. The Freewell gear ND filters are similar in size and weight to the stock lens cover and does not affect the gimbal performance. You can also attach the gimbal cover when the ND filters are installed, no need to remove them for transport.

You can watch our YouTube review video to see these Freewell ND filters in action.

Standard Day M2P ND Filters: https://amzn.to/2Iwwcqu
Bright Day 4 Pack ND Filters: https://amzn.to/2IAdU89

 

 


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Drone Reviews / Tutorials

Smatree Portable Power Station For Ryze Tello Drone | Demonstration & Review

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Just like several other DJI Drones, Smatree has recently released a portable power station for the Ryze Tello also known as the DJI Tello Drone. Essentially this portable charger is a power bank with built-in bays for the Tello batteries and allows you to charge 3 Tello batteries simultaneously instead of one at a time by plugging the drone itself into a USB port. This can save a lot of time and also allows you to keep flying while you charge your spare batteries. One really nice feature of this portable power station is the fact you can charge your Tello batteries while out on the go or at your flying location without the need of a traditional charging connection.

You can charge 1 to 3 batteries at any time and technically a 4th if you plug the drone directly into the charging unit via a micro USB Cable. It takes just over an hour to charge 3 batteries using the built-in bays. You can charge a total of 6 batteries on one charge of the power station. On the side, there is a full-size USB port for charging any device that can be charged by USB such as smartphones and tablets. There is a micro USB port as well and this is used to recharge the power station when it is empty. The portable charger can take upwards of 5 to 7 hours to recharge from empty. The unit itself is fairly small and can easily be packed in your drone case or pack without adding much in the way of additional weight. This is the perfect accessory for any Tello drone owner. You can watch our video review on YouTube to see the Smatree Portable Power Station for Tello Drone in action.

Tello Power Station (USA) https://amzn.to/2PW67UO
Tello Power Station (CAN) https://amzn.to/2EPHPLf

Smatree makes portable power stations for other drones as well.

Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom Charger: https://amzn.to/2D7x9FX
Mavic Air Portable Charger: https://amzn.to/2D8gSRb
Mavic Pro Portable Charger: https://amzn.to/2Sq3DzM
Spark Portable Charger: https://amzn.to/2DamM4p

 

 

When the batteries are charging the LED’s are red. They turn green when fully charged.

 

You can also charge a 4th battery by plugging the Tello onto the side of the charging station.

 

Smatree portable station for Tello drone can charge 3 batteries simultaneously in a little over an hour.

 

Smatree portable portable station for Tello drone.


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