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Sony's Airpeak S1 drone lets Alpha-series cameras fly - at a sky-high price

The new Airpeak S1. (Source: Sony)
The new Airpeak S1. (Source: Sony)
Sony has finally made professional-grade drones for cameras like the Alpha 1 in-house for the first time. However, all the seamless compatibility, enhanced connectivity, speed and control over aerial footage implied with the launch of the Airpeak S1 comes at a near-five-figure cost. Furthermore, the new gimbal designed for the UAV does not even come in the box with it.

Professional (and pro-sumer) videographers increasingly benefit from high-end drones in getting the best shots, panoramas or generally stunning content possible. Sony had announced that it was getting into this game with the new Airpeak "project" back in January 2021. Now, it has finally introduced the first product of this new series, the S1.

Sony claims that the Airpeak S1 (or ARSS1) is not only the inaugural first-party drone for Alpha- (or Cinema Line) series cameras, but also the smallest. Nevertheless, the OEM asserts that the new drone is more than capable of supporting a payload consisting of a user's favored full-frame mirrorless unit from the same brand, but of its lenses - even those of the G Master series - with a combined maximum payload of 5.5lbs (or 2.5kg).

The S1 is rated to fly at up to 25 meters per second (m/s, or 55.9 miles per hour), and to withstand wind-speeds of up to 20m/s, with a maximum angular velocity of 180° per second and an attitudinal angle of up to 55°. It is also equipped with the inbuilt cameras and precision sensors necessary to travel safely, accurately and smoothly even at low altitudes or enclosed spaces without a GNSS connection.

However, Sony does not mention how these specs change in the presence of an actual payload. Then again, it has conceded that its maximum flight time of 22 minutes (conferred by dual batteries mounted on the top of the device) drops to an estimated 12 minutes while carrying a combination of an α7S III and an FE 24mm F1.4 GM lens.

Nevertheless, Sony insists that the drone can deliver exceptional connectivity to and control over such a payload, via the Airpeak Flight app, which can be used on iOS or Android devices in combination with the S1's controller. The first-gen drone even supports dual control, meaning that pilot and camera-controller duties can be handled by 2 different individuals.

There is also an Airpeak Base web app for flight-log, flight-plan, maintenance and drone-status management. However, there is a considerable price for all this potential aerial camera power and convenience, which is currently slated at US$9,000 whenever the Airpeak S1 is eventually released.

This, of course, does not include a compatible camera or lens, but does cover its 17-inch propellers, batteries, controller and landing gear (which is capable of the dynamic control necessary to stay out of shot or out of the way based on its surroundings), at least.

Finally, the full range of movement in a connected camera during flight might depend on the T3 for Airpeak gimbal designed for the S1 by Gremsy. This optional piece of the in-house Sony industry-grade drone experience puzzle has an extra cost that is yet to be announced.

Shop the Sony a7 III and its bundles on Amazon


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 06 > Sony's Airpeak S1 drone lets Alpha-series cameras fly - at a sky-high price
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2021-06-11 (Update: 2021-12- 5)