GoPro - GoPro Karma


We have - finally - tested the GoPro Karma drone

Aprox. 1049€ - see price -

See specifications

We thought the Karma dead and buried, fell from the sky just before a takeoff observed attentively by the universe of the drone. GoPro has not yet dropped its drone, determined to make it a centerpiece of its ecosystem articulated around the action cams Hero.

Positive points

Interesting modular concept.

Acceptable dimensions.

4K image quality.

Stabilization of the nacelle.

Ease of use.

Free and simple editing software.

Compatible with the Hero 4 Black.

Bad points

Few flight modes.

Disappointing Full HD image quality.

Does not shoot at 60 fps in 4K.

Screen reflections in direct sunlight.

Just correct autonomy.

Could be more compact.

Our review


Finally, the Karma saga ends, marked by the somewhat chaotic launch of the first GoPro drone. We will not return to it, the brand having made an honorable almond and marketed since the beginning of April its system on the GoPro site, Karma flies and Karma flies even rather well. But before taking to the skies, let's go back a little on what makes the specificity of this modular system.


Getting started

Karma is distinguished by its very design. Instead of resting on a monobloc platform in which the camera and the electrical stabilization are fixed, the drone is here composed of detachable parts. The stabilization system can thus be removed and then attached to a Karma Grip, a sort of pole allowing to hold an autonomous gimbal by hand. The GoPro Hero5 Black camera integrated into the Karma can thus be carried and used almost everywhere, since it is compatible with the many accessories of the brand and what is more waterproof without housing.

All the specificity of Karma is there: GoPro does not offer a simple fully equipped drone, but a system designed around its flagship product, the action-cam Hero.

The Karma kit includes a backpack, a drone, an electric stabilized carrycot, a GoPro Hero5 Black and a grip. The materials used in the manufacture of the drone appear to be of satisfactory quality, failing to be noble, while the finishes are correct and the whole does not suffer too much from the excessive use of plastic. The rubberized surface coating on the back of the drone is nice and so is the grip. The arms of the drone, on the other hand, sound a little hollow and the device is very light once its battery removed, which is surprising given its not particularly compact size - conversely, the DJI Mavic Pro had surprised us by its density compared to its small size.

The design of the Karma drone is nevertheless interesting: very flat, it is ultimately relatively compact once its arms folded (365.2 x 224.3 x 89.9 mm). We are far from the remarkable compactness of the Mavic Pro, but there are few drones to offer such modularity and the Karma fits in any case without problem in a thin backpack, provided that it is high enough.

Good surprise also on the side of the remote control, with a very pleasant coating and a convincing grip.

A quick tour of the technical characteristics reminds us that the Karma is not a racer, but a quadricopter made for discovery, flight in cruising mode and aerial walk around. That said, its 4 brushless motors still drive it at nearly 55 km / h (15 m / s) and allow it to rub against winds of up to 10 m / s. Stabilization is ensured by a GPS / Glonass module and the LiPo battery of 14.8 V and 5100 mAh promises an autonomy of 20 minutes of flight, which we have been able to verify in practice. The range of the remote control is given for 1 km in CE standard.

Getting started


The takeoff operation is very simple: once the tiny landing gears are unfolded, arms open and the propellers screwed on, the remote control is first turned on, then the drone. The rear and front LEDs of the latter flash to indicate its position, then we access the video return in 720p of what the camera is filming. Superimposed, the telemetry information shows the remaining autonomy, the height, the distance at which the drone is from its pilot and of course the different shooting settings. Note that the automated flight parameters are few and that you will have to be satisfied with the Orbit, Panorama and Cable cam modes. Indeed, GoPro for the moment ignores 3D tracking, Tap Fly or Follow Me. Too bad, because the playful positioning of the whole would no doubt have appropriately welcomed this kind of characteristics. Especially since the competition (including Parrot and its Bebop) integrates these automations. However, the American firm claims to be working on an update that will integrate some of these modes.

Once ready for takeoff, simply hold down the Start / Stop button on the controller to launch the engines and extract the drone from the ground attraction. The start-up is not very quiet and the 4 brushless motors emit a fairly buzzing noise, but take-off is carried out smoothly and with good stability. The various maneuvers in flight are also smooth and we pilot with pleasure with the small remote control which offers a good grip. The joysticks sunk into the body respond well and precisely. The video feedback is fluid, the image displayed of good quality and the touch interface allows you to navigate in the different shooting menus. This point will be detailed in the next paragraph, but one quickly feels comfortable with this Karma.

At the time of experimenting with some maneuvers, Karma is executed without flinching and is reactive. We just feel a little latency at the beginning of the execution of certain maneuvers (descent by performing a rotation, for example), but the whole turns out to be quite stable.

We are however annoyed by two points. On the one hand, if you decide to make automated flights with Panorama or Cable cam modes, for example, you must first carry out the route and record the waypoints. It is all the more unfortunate that the tactile interface would have made it possible to point the finger directly on the screen the points of interest and that would also have been simpler for the beginners. On the other hand, the reflectance of the screen is too high and reflections in full sun interfere with readability. We would have appreciated a small sun visor, even as an option.

Once the autonomy gauge arrives in the red, a voice signals to us that it is high time to take the way back. The flight experience over, we unlock the drone's gimbal in a simple quarter turn to fix it on the grip and continue to film our land adventures. Stabilization is excellent and you can even drive the head of the gimbal without moving, as can be done with an Osmo. Small interesting point, by pressing the button on the right, next to that of the power supply, it is possible to record key points (HiLights) that the Quick editing software will automatically detect.


Image quality

4K Karma video clip

The image quality of the Karma (in drone as in grip) is of course the same as that of the GoPro Hero5. You can therefore refer to our full test, from which here is an extract: "The GoPro Hero5 Black has the same 12 Mpx sensor as the Hero4 Black. The video definitions, also identical, are 4K / UHD at 30 fps, 2.7 K at 60 fps, 1440p at 80 fps, 1080p up to 120 fps, 960p up to 120 fps and 720p up to 240 fps. Only stabilization arrives on this number 5, and again, simply in digital version. [...] The 4K definition allows to gain clearly in the details compared to a Full HD definition. The image quality is generally satisfactory, in particular thanks to good exposure management, colorimetry and good dynamics. "

100% 4K Karma video

100% HDTV 1080 video

In the field, we see several things: first, the possibility of filming in Linear mode in Full HD. Thanks to a crop, the exaggerated distortion is largely corrected and allows to have a more natural point of view. Nevertheless, the image quality in Full HD is good, but nothing more. Indeed, the shadows are a little too contrasted and a slight tingling is visible. Finally, the rendering of the finest details is too smoothed. The 4K rendering is much better and the difference is clearly visible. What a shame that the camera does not record in 60p and does not carry a 1 inch sensor like on the Phantom 4 Pro! On the other hand, the color rendering is flattering. In addition, note the possibility of filming in Protune mode to avoid exposure changes in automatic mode and adjust this parameter yourself.

Aerial photo Karma

In photo, the color rendering is also flattering and the image correctly detailed. Here too, we regret that the sensor is not larger and we cross our fingers for the next GoPro has a 1 inch sensor.

Finally, it should be noted that GoPro offers its automated editing software for free in order to produce rhythmic and "ambient" clips. A good initiative!

Image quality


With its Lipo battery delivering 75.4 Wh for 5,100 mAh and 14.8 V, the Karma drone flies 18 minutes with 4K recording activated. Charging times are one hour for the drone's battery, two and a half hours for the controller and two hours for the grip. The latter offers an autonomy of 1h45. These are acceptable durations, but here again we are quite far from the almost 27 minutes of flight of the Mavic Pro. Pity.



We sensed from the announcement, the idea of offering a modular concept to vary the uses of his action-cam is not only relevant in terms of uses, but also allows not to face the giant DJI from the front. Karma is therefore an interesting alternative that will appeal above all to fans of the brand who are ready to do without the technological advances offered by a Mavic Pro, for example. The fact remains that Karma has a pleasant playful side, supported by the free Quik editing software to make nice clips. Without being perfect, the Karma brings an interesting breeze of fresh air to a market dominated by DJI. We therefore now hope that GoPro will efficiently provide after-sales service and updates for its drone.