Blade’s Chroma Offers Enthusiasts an Easy Way to Capture Events
Take amazing images from the air at your next Mustang event
Aerial photography is a great way to visually show just how big an event really is. Even getting on top of a car trailer or building doesn’t often allow a photograph that can truly show the vast size of some shows. We’ve been involved in many large shows over the years and have even paid for aerial photography via planes and helicopters in the past. Now you or your club photographer can easily capture still photography and video from the air themselves using an aerial camera platform like Blade’s new Chroma series of quadrotor/rotorcraft/aircraft—more effectively known as drones.
We first tested Blade’s 350QX3 earlier in 2015 and have been enjoying using it for aerial event photos and video. You can read our review of the 350QX3 HERE. Recently Blade has revamped its line of camera drones, improving on the 350 series in every way imaginable and rebranding the line Chroma. The Chroma platform is available in four versions. Two include everything you need in one box to begin flying and taking aerial images/video. The other two versions are designed to work with your existing GoPro action camera and naturally have a lower price point, as you’re supplying the camera.
At the base of the line is the Chroma “bind and fly” with a fixed GoPro mount. This model uses a fixed mount for your GoPro and requires a radio transmitter. Next up the ladder is the Chroma with three axis brushless gimbal for GoPro that allows for smoother video and positioning of the camera’s tilt function via the ground controller. This model also comes with a standard DX4 flight radio like previous Blade drones. Moving up to the top two offerings Blade has continued the use of its own camera on a three axis brushless gimbal. The CGO2+ 1080p camera is still used, while adding the CGO3 4K camera to the top of the line model. Both of these top two models use a new radio transmitter (now referred to as the ST-10+ ground station) that includes an Android based touchscreen control area for video and onboard information like altitude, distance, battery life, and more.
We were very interested in trying out Blade’s latest offering and traded up to the Chroma camera drone with CGO3+ 4K camera. Out of the box the Chroma is almost ready to fly and includes everything we would need to get in the air. The main airframe is fully assembled and even the 4K camera is pre-installed. Using the included charger we charged up the flight battery and the battery for the ST-10+ controller and we were ready for flight in less than an hour. The new battery for the Chroma line uses a molded case that slides directly into the main airframe and offers 30 minutes of flying. That’s double what our old 350QX3 was capable of! Other items of note include an easier to access power switch directly on top of the airframe (versus the old 350 series under the main body) and a tool-free design that allows removal of the props and landing gear without any tools for a smaller footprint for transporting or for storage.
The previous Blade drones required a small tablet or smart phone with app to control the included CGO2 camera’s recording capabilities. While this worked fine for most, not everyone wanted to use their phone for a display screen. With the ST-10+ ground station that is no longer an issue. The screen of the ST-10+ offers a wealth of information along with a near-real time view of what the camera sees for easy application of the camera’s recording abilities. We took our first flight in our backyard just to get used to the flight characteristics and the new controller. The large, easy to see, LED pods under each motor are quick visual indicators of battery life (upon start up), flight mode, and more once you get familiar with what each color LED represents.
Speaking of flight modes, the new Chroma series camera drones offer the traditional Smart Mode and Aerial Photography Mode of the past Blade camera platforms, but also offer two new modes, Follow Me Mode and Tracking Mode. In Follow Me Mode the Chroma follows you at a distance and altitude you set at the beginning of the flight so you can concentrate on the perfect image by only having to control the rudder and camera tilt controls. In Tracking Mode the camera drone will simply follow and position the camera at whomever is holding the ST-10+ controller, which is a great way to easily film yourself when you have no one else to do it for you. Of course the new Chroma line includes Blade’s SAFE technology, preventing you from flying the drone too close to yourself, and Return Home mode. With Return Home Mode you can easily return your drone to its point of takeoff via GPS control simply by flipping a switch.
The new Chroma series features all of the best attributes from the outgoing 350QX series with an easy to use controller, better camera, longer flight times, and more accurate GPS. If you’ve been considering a camera drone for aerial photography or video the Chroma is a great choice. The Chroma is available now through Horizon Hobby or wherever R/C products or drones are sold, and be sure to visit www.knowbeforeyoufly.org for information on where you can fly and more.