Sony Airpeak S1 drone debuts to take Alpha cameras to new heights

Drones for pros and consumers are nothing new and neither are drones with cameras covering a wide range of qualities. Most of these drones come with their own cameras, however, and few actually let you use whatever professional camera you may already own. That's what makes Sony's first foray into the world of drone photography interesting in that it is designed to be used with a different camera, specifically Sony's own interchangeable-lens Alpha cameras. In fact, the Sony Airpeak S1 drone doesn't come with a camera or even a gimbal of its own.

Announced late last year and teased at this year's virtual CES 2021, the Airpeak S1 is marketed at professional photographers and cinematographers but doesn't actually include that critical part of the equation. While most drone makers would highlight that aspect of their new UAVs, Sony is already confident it has the camera part down pat. What Sony is boasting about with its first-ever pro drone is, instead, its flying capabilities.

Unsurprisingly, Sony talks a lot about the proprietary motors and technologies that enable the drone to fly stably at max speeds of 55mph (90km/h). While it might not have a camera for recording video, it does have imaging sensors facing all directions, including downward, to see its surroundings and fly reliably.

The Airpeak S1 drone is designed to target professionals and it includes features that enable that use case. That includes a dual operation mode that lets one person operate the drone while another operates the gimbal and camera, both of them seeing the same video feed. It also has an "Airpeak Base" web application that lets users manage flight plans and flight logs in addition to the Airpeak Flight app for iOS and iPadOS.

Unsurprisingly, the Sony Airpeak S1 also comes with a professional price of $9,000. That price doesn't yet include even the special gimbal that is necessary to attach Sony Alpha cameras, like the A7S, A7R, and FX3 series. That will be a separate purchase and neither the drone nor the gimbal has specific launch dates just yet.