Why GoPro®, you ask? Well…
When we designed the Solo Gimbal, we worked directly with GoPro to make sure we could deliver unprecedented camera control and access. But why choose GoPro? From the very beginning of the Solo design process, we didn’t want to be handcuffed to any tradition, no matter how deeply ingrained. For instance, up until now all 3DR platforms, in accord with our rich open source tradition, were optimized only for Android mobile devices; Solo marks a big departure here — the advent of our first (and very cool) app with both iOS and Android support. We also completely rethought our visual ID and branding, then deconstructed the clunky and complex RC tradition and created an entirely new type of controller. Further, we revised the entire drone user experience: No longer is it centered around flight (looking up), but around making flight so easy and effortless that it’s almost forgettable, all in service of consistently getting perfect shots (looking back down) — in every sense a true re-vision.
So naturally we gave a lot of thought to the type of camera Solo would carry. On one level, it seems patently obvious that Solo, like the IRIS+ before it, should be made for GoPro. When we went out and actually asked drone users about this we found that GoPro is the camera they most want to put in the air — 50:1. There’s simply no better sub-100g camera on the market. This is important to us as manufacturers because lightweight cameras mean lightweight overall systems, which in turn means they’re safer, more portable and more convenient to shoot with. And it’s actually thanks to the size and popularity of GoPros that drone photography was able to evolve at such a rapid, almost epidemic pace in the first place. Tough, dependable, affordable, lightweight and able to shoot extremely high quality video in up to 4K: GoPros seem like they were ready-made for drones, right? …
But that doesn’t necessarily mean a drone should be ready-made for a GoPro. We’re engineers, technologically agnostic: We don’t take anything for granted, and we didn’t want to discount any options.
Why not our own integrated camera? Among these options was making our own camera, one perfectly matched to our platform, one Solo could fully control inside and out. But we knew that we — a drone company — couldn’t produce a camera that could touch the quality or reliability that you get from a GoPro, a company with years and years at the top of the action camera market, and who defines the leading edge of camera technology. To think otherwise would be hubristic. Plus, people want to use their GoPros — they’re incredible cameras, a trusted name with good reason — and they keep getting better; as the cameras get better, shouldn’t your drone be able to keep up? We didn’t want to impose a new and unfamiliar camera on the user experience, and in the 3DR spirit we wanted to keep Solo receptive to future advancements in camera technology.
GoPro just gets better. We also didn’t want to handcuff you to a drone, making you buy a whole new drone just to get better camera features — as GoPros get better, your drone should get better. Speaking of being handcuffed, with GoPro, you’re not dealing with a camera that’s just fixed to your drone. GoPros are renowned for versatility and durability — use them anywhere, even underwater, to film almost anything. Pop one on your drone and just pop it off again when you want to shoot something else.
High-end cameras. Alternatively, we could have chosen to make Solo a platform for high-end cameras. While image quality would improve, this option would make Solo a more exclusive product, at a price point out of reach for most people. We’re a democratic company and we designed Solo to make a pro-quality aerial photography experience easy and accessible for everyone, so that was a no-go, too.
The fisheye factor. But what about the fisheye factor — and losing image quality due to the necessary compression in post-production? This really isn’t much of a worry. GoPros deliver such high quality imagery that Hollywood production houses use them regularly — even Michael Bay’s movies. If they’re good enough for Hollywood — and the image quality survives all of the compression that Bay’s super high-tech and demanding post-production process must heap on it — then they’re good enough, period. After all, GoPro HERO4 Black has you covered all the way up to 4k. And as for the fisheye effect, that’s a quick and easy fix in the free GoPro Studio software that comes bundled with your GoPro.
Open to ideas. But to keep ourselves open to new ideas, rather than closed to one camera in particular, we decided to keep Solo’s gimbal bay open so that we — or any third party — could develop new gimbals for other cameras and sensors, giving them access to all of Solo’s capabilities and intelligence. Want to fly that new BlackMagic action camera? You won’t need to buy a whole new Solo BlackMagic.
Lastly, we could have sought to partner with another company to make Solo a perfectly tailored platform for another camera model. But GoPro is trusted, GoPro is everywhere, GoPro is growing, GoPro is the best.
It had to be GoPro. For a smart drone, this was a no-brainer.
Creating the best GoPro experience. But GoPro drone photography still hadn’t yet been perfected. If we wanted to deliver the best all-around aerial photography experience, there were some pretty big gaps we had to address: You can’t start and stop recording GoPros while you fly; you can’t choose when to snap photos while you fly; you can’t adjust camera settings while you fly, and you can’t charge your camera battery, either; and maybe the biggest gap of all, you can’t get a wireless HD feed direct from your GoPro to your mobile device. And we also wanted you to be able to record this live feed directly to your device’s camera roll for instant sharing.
To fill these gaps in the best, most robust and complete way that we could, we went straight to the source: GoPro themselves.
We not only chose to optimize Solo for GoPro cameras, we worked directly with GoPro to ensure our users got the fullest experience possible. This led to two things: First, Solo comes with GoPro’s The Frame in the box, so you can attach your GoPro to this vibration-isolated mount and start getting an incredible live HD feed immediately, on day one. But our collaboration also led us to create the Solo Gimbal — the first gimbal with unfettered access to GoPro camera controls, which you can adjust directly through the Solo app, without putting a hitch in your workflow. Now all those gaps mentioned above have been filled:
- First drone with wireless HD feed from GoPro to mobile
- First drone with in-flight access to GoPro controls: FOV, FPS, exposure, white balance and more
- First drone with GoPro start/stop recording in flight
- First drone with HDMI out from GoPro for live broadcast in HD
Now you have full reign of the world’s premiere action camera, and the ability to easily capture smart, smooth and cinematic aerials with professional image quality and clarity, all the way up to recording in 4k. And it only gets better.
This is smart. This is Solo.