At the Consumer Electronics Show CES, which runs until tomorrow Thursday, manufacturer SONY is making headlines. In spring 2021, the traditional Japanese manufacturer will launch its own camera drone for the first time under the Airpeak label. The drone, a quadrocopter, is designed for professional drone pilots and video production. Filmpuls knows details and backgrounds.
With the alpha series, SONY has long established a camera system for video productions, which is used for professional photo / video shoots.
The Greek letter “α” (alpha) identifies a series of digital system cameras from the Japanese manufacturer Sony. Starting with the α7R II model, a 4K video function is integrated into the earlier still cameras, enabling high-resolution recording of professional videos. Likewise, the photo/video cameras include five-axis image stabilization.
The success of the alpha camera series has led many drone manufacturers to develop special mounting systems (so-called gimbals) for SONY’s popular lightweight cameras. This also includes the world market leader DJI. In this way, Sony’s 4K video cameras can be combined with DJI’s drones, which are also widely used in the professional scene.
With Airpeak, SONY is now giving its Alpha cameras wings for the first time with a camera drone from its own company.
AI robotics and Alpha full-frame mirrorless camera
The Airpeak drone system combines SONY’s long experience in imaging and sensor technology with AI robotics. According to current knowledge, the Airpeak drone will be equipped with a full-frame Alpha mirrorless camera. This, one of the great advantages of having a system from one house, should make it absolutely effortless for filmmakers who are already using SONY cameras for their videos to adjust flight shots in their imaging workflows. It also allows the same professional camera to be used for both ground and airborne photography. This saves the investment budget and simplifies operation, because only one system and interface can be used.
Airpeak follows a quadcopter design. To keep the landing legs out of the field of view, they automatically retract after lift-off. According to insiders, the gimbal is supposed to rotate 360° around its own axis – which adds a new dimension of creativity to the conception and realization of cinematic drone shots / tracking shots in aerial photography.
Video about shooting with the photo/video drone Airpeak | © YouTube, SONY
Sony seizes the opportunity with Airpeak
The new Airpeak comes to the market at the right time. At least from SONY’s point of view. Chinese market leader DJI still controls the market for camera drones. At least in the lower, budget segment.
However, it’s no secret in the industry that DJI is suffering from the U.S. trade embargo. This may have facilitated the decision to launch its own family of drones for professional video producers under the Airpeak label.
This is SONY’s first direct attack on DJI’s high-end “Inspire 2″ model. Success with its own flight system in the professional market can also be hoped for because the former power player GoPro has already exited the market for high-end drones in 2018 after two unsuccessful years.
However, the launch of Airpeak is anything but a quick fix: SONY has been working on camera drones for five years. For example, the first prototype of its own drone was presented back in 2015. This was developed in cooperation with the Japanese robot manufacturer ZMP.
Video: Introducing the Airpeak camera drone at the CES 2021 trade show | © YouTube, SONY
As usual with SONY, the prices for their own products, and thus also the price for the Airpeak S1, are only communicated a few weeks before the market launch.
Because the new drone system is intended for professional use, it is safe to assume that the pricing will also be on par with competing products: The DJI Inspire 2 – X5S Combo, for example, currently goes for a gross € 6,990.00 over the counter. The cheapest professional systems are available from about € 5.000,00.
Beta testing with Airpeak drone underway
Currently SONY is looking for active cooperation with professional video productions and drone pilots for practical tests of the Airpeak camera drone. For the time being, however, unfortunately only for camera tests in the USA and Japan.
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