After the review was published, it came to my attention that 3D Robotics (3DR) which makes the Solo drone is facing difficulties. The Solo drone is now discounted heavily in the United States and in online stores such as Amazon. If you’re still interested in the Solo, do not pay the full price - you are not guaranteed to get support and warranty, or software updates. The local 3DR representative did not inform me about 3D Robotics’ financial troubles.

Taking videos and photos is arguably the most popular use for drones or unmanned aerial vehicles as they're officially called.

When I looked at the easy to fly and long-lasting Parrot Bebop 2, the non-upgradeable camera was unfortunately the weak spot of the drone, with good but not great video quality.

The 3DR Solo drone fixes that by adding a GoPro Hero 4 camera to the package. This can be mounted on a gimbal for more stable images, and you can zoom in and out via the remote controller.

With the GoPro Hero 4 connected, you'll shoot great video with the 3DR Solo which is easy to fly and use in general. The iOS app is fairly easy to work out, and the joystick flight controller can mount an iPad mini for big screen.


You connect to the 3DR Solo with 2.4GHz wifi that reaches up to one kilometre which is the effective range of the drone which can fly up to 122 metres in the air.

It's also very quick - the rated speed is 89 km/h, and a maximum ascent speed of 10 metres per second.

I can attest to the 3DR Solo being robust, as I accidentally flew it into a tree branch and the drone dropped to the ground; only two of the easily replaceable propellers broke.

Battery life for the 3DR Solo is around 15-20 minutes with fresh batteries powering the drone plus camera and carrying the gimbal for a total weight of 1.8kg, which is not bad.

You'll want at least one spare 5,200mAh battery to make the most out of the 3DR Solo which adds to the already hefty $1,800 cost of the drone unfortunately.

It is a drone for pros though, and you can get the even better equipped 3DR drone that has a 20 megapixel Sony UMC-R10C camera for super-detailed images that can be used for site scans, 3D modelling, surveying and mapping.

If the price doesn't put you off, and professional looking aerial videography and photography is your game, the 3DR Solo is definitely worth checking out.

Speaking of cameras, GoPro the company has taken a hammering recently. Its share price is down, staff are being laid off and the iconic brand is trying to widen its appeal beyond the action camera market it created.


When you try out the new GoPro Hero5 Black and the compact Hero5 Session, both of which can shoot 4K video at 25/30 frames per second, it's difficult to understand why. They're rugged little things that produce great video quality; there's RAW format files for professionals who like to tweak imagery so it's exactly the way the want it, and high-quality stereo audio recording in the Hero5 Black.

GoPro Hero5 and Hero5 Session surrounded by camera accessories.
GoPro Hero5 and Hero5 Session surrounded by camera accessories.

With the right memory card (at least 60MBps recording performance), you get a huge amount of video modes - the Hero5 Black does up to 240 frames per second in 720p resolution for instance - stills, timelapse, night photography, and image stabilisation, so it's a fairly complete imaging solution in a compact package.

The smaller Hero5 Session sacrifices some video modes, a touch screen and separate audio recording for a more compact size, but it produces great images and is built tough - I've thrown it around a fair bit with not even a scratch; both cameras protect the lens now, an improvement on the Hero4. I wasn't very keen on the design of the cover for the memory card and USB-C and HDMI connectors however. The cover feels fragile and if lost, would make the camera no longer water and dustproof.

You can control the cameras with your voice, connect them to smartphones over WiFi, use the Quik app to edit and much more. Very capable little devices with lots of features, so much so that it can be hard to access them all, especially with the little Hero5 Session that has only three buttons to drive it.

I can attest to the 3DR Solo being robust, as I accidentally flew it into a tree branch and the drone dropped to the ground; only two of the easily replaceable propellers broke.

GoPro is trying to break into other markets than action video, and has made a huge range of accessories for the cameras that let you mount them on pretty much anything and anyone, and shoot for almost two hours per charge.

There's a cloud-based service for GoPro customers as well with storage and support that costs US$5 a month, remote control and much more.

I loved the small size of the Hero5 Session, but the Hero5 Black isn't much bigger and it's more capable and easier to use with the touch screen providing access to camera features. Plus, the sound recording is great and you can add external microphones as well, an important feature for journalists and videographers alike.

The smaller Hero5 Session would work well as a camera for the 3DR Solo drone, in fact. Unfortunately, there's no gimbal yet from 3DR for the Hero5 Session though.

They're great little devices but the problem for GoPro is that there are cheap knock-offs (the Hero5 Black retails for $640, the Hero5 Session for around $520).

Sure, the GoPros are rugged and work great but losing one would smart because of the price.

Also, people make do with smartphones for video and photo, and they always carry those devices with them.

As with the 3DR Solo drone, if it's quality you're after and money's a secondary concern, the new GoPro cameras are super capable little devices that won't disappoint.