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Sony’s shooting for the moon with their pro Airpeak S1 drone

The first in their line of professional drones, the fun-sized drone is speedy, powerful and able to wield a full-size mirrorless Alpha camera all on its lonesome.

Panoramic travel photography might be the last thing on your mind right now – especially as we ponder whether dine-in restrictions might continue for just a little longer – but Japanese electronics giant Sony’s thinking for the future. A future in which getting that perfect shot is key, regardless of whether you’re a hardcore hobbyist or industry professional.

To that end, they’re kicking off their line of professional drones with the Airpeak S1. It’s been announced with a hefty price tag of US$9,000 (S$12,080) for the drone alone – which also means it’ll be coming with plenty of bells and whistles to justify said price.

Its key selling points are twofold. First off, it’s exceedingly small – just over three kilograms, and a propellorless wingspan of around 60cm – but packs a punch. The Airpeak S1’s capable of reaching 90kmh (when without a payload) and making a full rotation in two seconds. Thanks to a number of proprietary technologies, it’s also capable of remaining stable, despite strong winds, while going at speed – up to around 20m/s in fact (they even got Japan’s space agency to help them field test their drones in this regard).

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The wiles of a dedicated electric speed controller keep the Japan-made drone’s 17-inch propellors spinning, which allows the bird to get around 22 minutes of flight time payload-free. It’s battery-span shortens to 12 minutes when you’re carrying an actual, well, camera – Sony recommends their range of mirrorless Alpha cams, naturally – though you’re also able to swap the batteries out without missing a beat or powering down the drone.

Image sensing five-way stereo cameras act as an extra set of eyes to keep the drone steady, even when it’s in an enclosed space away from global positioning and navigation signals. This keeps the in-flight shake to a minimum – that’s the whole point of this after all. There’s also an optional braking function that uses this quintet of cameras to keep your drone away from nasty things like trees and buildings if and when you’re distracted with getting the perfect shot.

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It comes with a snazzy remote controller with separate controls for the aircraft and gimbal, as well as an app that lets you keep track of certain vitals (how far your drone’s travelled and how much battery life is left – both vital to prevent unfortunate drone accidents). Though the bird’s also capable of making its own way home, thanks to the use of another app that lets you plan photographic missions ahead of time (and repeat them automatically).

Interestingly, you could also opt for shared control of the drone, which means that someone can do the driving while the other does the shooting. Everything from the speed, to ascent speed, as well as maximum tilt angle of the drone, can be adjusted according to your needs.

Though the latter few functionalities might be a little fancier than most weekend warriors might require, it’s, by all accounts, an excellent introductory dip into the drone market by Sony. We’re excited to see what they have in store – makes with longer battery life and less extreme speediness so novices can get in on the fun.

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