I have to admit I got duped on this one.
Most of the time I am one to double down on the proven thing — the technology or brand that is ubiquitous in the market and has full consumer and dealer support. In the case of drones, however, no leader had emerged at the time and I drank the 3D Robotics Kool-Aid. After all, the 3DR Solo was meant to be the smartest drone out there. Unfortunately I was wrong.
Problems with the Solo became evident early in the game. With no gimbal yet, the video shot by the attached GoPro camera was pretty much useless. The illusive gimbal would take months to arrive in stores which more or less meant I had a $1300 CAD piece of crap sitting on my shelf.
I can't remember what I paid for the gimbal when it finally came out, but I think it was about $500. I had spent the whole summer waiting and watching my DJI based competitors film some epic shots all summer. It was now fall and I was scrambling to get some last minute aerials of my summer tourist town before the season ended.
Admittedly, the initial results from the 3DR Solo were encouraging, especially after switching to the Hero 4 Black camera from the Hero 3. I enjoyed flying it and everything seemed to work reasonably well except for the ridiculously long GPS connection time.
I invested in new propellors, new batteries and basically learned how to fly. I did manage to get some epic shots and also have a couple of epic crashes. Before that though, the footage started to get buggy. Mysterious wobble lines would appear, presumably from vibration which made the footage unusable.
I tried multiple fixes to address the strange vibration issue including replacing the gimbal altogether. Thankfully by this time it had gone down in price drastically, but it still did not work.
Alas, I was hoping to extend the value of the 3DR Solo, but in the end it is destined for the trash heap as I move on to greener pastures. I should add that I am normally not an early adopter, but in the case of drones I had not been asked about something so much in my entire careers by clients. It started to become a deal breaker and thus I was forced to adopt, however, in this case I double down on the wrong brand. DJI here I come.
To read more about the demise of the 3DR Solo this Forbes article pretty much sums up what you need to know.
Chris Stenberg is a Canadian travel photographer, filmmaker and researcher. When he’s not wielding a camera or raising a family you can find him running, biking and boarding in the mountains or eating an apple under a tree in an orchard.