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Sony’s First Drone Is a $9,000 Professional-Grade Beast

Illustration for article titled Sony's First Drone Is a $9,000 Professional-Grade Beast

Image: Sony

Earlier this year, Sony teased the development of its first-ever drone, and today that drone is finally getting an official debut. Say hello to the $9,000 Airpeak S1. Yes, that’s right: $9,000.

With a starting price just shy of $10,000, the Airpeak S1 is aimed squarely at professional filmmakers, and while that might be out of reach for regular folks looking for a new high-end drone, the Airpeak’s specs are pretty impressive.

Not only can the Airpeak S1 hit a top speed of 55 mph in just 3.5 seconds (which Sony claims is faster than any comparably priced drone from DJI), it’s also the first drone that can be equipped with a full-frame mirrorless camera. Instead of using a small built-in sensor and camera module, the Airpeak S1 was designed to carry a range of Sony mirrorless cameras, including various versions of the a9, a1, a7r, a7s, and the recently announced FX3. (Sony says other mirrorless camera may work with the Airpeak too, but the company has yet to test any for official compatibility.)

The Airpeak also supports a maximum tilt angle of 55 degrees, and thanks to its powerful motors, can hold a stable position while filming in winds of up to 44.7 mph. The big downside to all that power is that the Airpeak S1’s max flight time tops out at 22 minutes, and goes down to just 12 minutes when fully loaded.

As with most modern drones, the Airpeak S1 features a number of sensors and onboard cameras that survey the drone’s surroundings and help it automatically avoid any potential obstacles, while a handy iOS companion app keeps tabs on the drone’s status and operation. Meanwhile, Sony’s Airpeak Base web app makes it easy to create and log flight plans and create equipment lists for individual shoots.

For tricky camera work, the Airpeak S1 even comes with a dual operation mode that lets one person fly the drone while someone else operates the camera independently. Any cameras attached to the Airpeak will be powered by the camera’s internal battery, while onboard USB-C and HDMI ports allow the drone to connect to and control said camera.

Illustration for article titled Sony's First Drone Is a $9,000 Professional-Grade Beast

Image: Sony

The Airpeak does come as a bundle that includes the drone itself, four propellers, a remote, two batteries, and a battery charger, but it doesn’t come with its own camera, or the gimbal you’ll need to attach a camera (which is a customized version of a Gremsy T3). That means when you factor in the price of a camera, a gimbal, and any additional accessories, you’re looking at an all-in price closer to $15,000. Ouch.

But for high-end filmmakers that can really take advantage of the Airpeak S1’s abilities, it seems DJI might finally have a real rival when it comes to super premium drones.

The Airpeak S1 is available to preorder today and will start shipping sometime this fall.

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