Gopro Karma Grip + Hero 4: Installation & Outdoor Test

When I film my photographic journey through the Scottish hills and rugged terrain, it is extremely difficult to handhold any camera, even the GoPro Hero 4 and not suffer from some camera shake. The result can be improved slightly in post-production with software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro but it is far from being perfect as one can see in these videos:


What is the GoPro Karma Grip?

The GoPro Karma Grip enables you to handhold your favourite GoPro camera (Hero5 Black, Hero5 Session and Hero4 Black & Silver) while reducing most (if not all) camera shake one would have when recording a video while in motion. Initially, the stabilisation system (the gimbal) was part of the infamous GoPro Karma Drone. Fortunately, GoPro designed it to be also used independently from the drone when mounted onto a handle. Hence the Karma Grip comprises three parts: the Karma Handle, the Mounting Ring, the Karma Stabilizer and the Karma Harness.

The GoPro Karma Grip

The GoPro Karma Grip

GoPro Karma weather-resistant Case

GoPro Karma weather-resistant Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Karma Handle

 

The GoPro Karma Grip Handle

The GoPro Karma Grip Handle

Dimensions: 8in (205mm) x 1.7in (43mm) x 1.7in (43mm)
Weight: 8.62oz (244.6g)
Battery Life: 1h45
Voltage: 5-15V, 3A
Charging Time: Standard 6hours, GoPro Supercharger 1h50

The Mounting Ring

GoPro Karma Mounting Ring

GoPro Karma Mounting Ring

It allows the use of the Karma Grip with the numerous GoPro mounts. I will be using it to mount it on a tripod and on my backpack’s strap to shoot hands-free.

The Karma Stabilizer

The GoPro Karma Stabilizer, which includes the gimbal and harness

The GoPro Karma Stabilizer, which includes the gimbal and harness

Dimensions: 6in (149mm) x 4.3in (109mm) x 3.3in (83mm)
Weight: 8.5oz (242g)

The Karma Harness

By default, the GoPro Karma Grip is sold with a Hero 5 camera fit harness. A Hero4 fit harness can only be purchased separately from GoPro (mine was £29.99, including free shipping). A Hero5 Session harness is due to released later in summer 2017.

Here is a picture of my GoPro Hero4 camera in the required Karma harness:

GoPro Hero4 in its Karma Harness

GoPro Hero4 in its Karma Harness


The Pros

  • The GoPro Karma Grip is beautifully designed and does feel sturdy despite being rather light.
  • The Karma Stabilizer is amazing as seen in the above video when walking, going down sets of stairs and even running.
  • The GoPro Karma Grip interacts with the GoPro camera, enabling you to turn it on, travel through the different recording mode, trigger & stop a recording and highlight tag the video during the recording.
  • The GoPro Karma Grip’s battery charges the GoPro camera when in use.
  • The GoPro Karma Grip can be mounted on many things thanks to its Mounting Ring and the numerous GoPro mounts on the market.
  • The included Karma case is weather-resistant and tough enough to protect the system from accidental bumps during transport.

The Cons

  • The GoPro Karma Grip’s battery life is a short 1h45 (mostly due to the fact it recharges the camera when in use) (see below my solution to increase that time).
  • The battery cannot be replaced when flat.
  • The battery charging time is 6h (see below my cheap solution to reduce that time).
  • Not water resistant.
  • The GoPro Karma Grip does not have a panning feature like some of its competitors.
  • The GoPro Karma Grip cannot be remotely used like some of its competitors.

How to increase the running time of GoPro Karma Grip

The runtime of the GoPro Karma Grip battery is only 1h45. However, one can use a battery pack to charge the unit while using it. While GoPro does have such battery pack called the Portable Power Pack, its price tag (£44.99) is fairly high for what it is.

GoPro Portable Power Pack

GoPro Portable Power Pack

Capacity: 6000mAh
Output: 2x 1.5A USB
Recharge time: 4-6 hours depending on power source
Dimensions: 4.25in x 2.55in
Weight: 4.79oz

After some online research, I have purchased the Anker PowerCore 13000 at £23.99. While I have not tested how long I can keep the GoPro Karma Grip on while plugged to this battery pack, it will be at least twice as long as with the GoPro model for nearly half the price.

Anker PowerCore 13000 portable charger

Anker PowerCore 13000 portable charger

Capacity: 13000 mAh
Output: 2×2.4A USB
Dimensions: 3.8×3.2×0.9 in
Weight: 11.2 oz

How to reduce the charging time of the GoPro Karma Grip

The GoPro Karma Grip’s internal battery takes 6h to fully charge unless one uses the GoPro SuperCharger (£44.99) which is basically a wall charger with 1x USB-C port providing 3A charge and a standard 1.5A USB port. Its USB-C port enables to cut down the charging time to 2h.

GoPro SuperCharger

GoPro SuperCharger

Instead of investing in this rather expensive charger, I have decided to purchase the Anker PowerPort which offers only 1x 3A USB-C but for £16.14. Since it provides exactly the same power output than the GoPro Supercharger, the charging time of the GoPro Karma Grip is also down to 2h.

Anker PowerPort Quick Charge 3.0

Anker PowerPort Quick Charge 3.0

The upcoming Karma Grip Extension Cable

While the Mounting Ring allows us to mount the GoPro Karma Grip onto many things, the length of the Karma Handle may prevent to mount it on Helmet and other support. Hence GoPro has announced an upcoming release (early 2017) of the Karma Grip Extension Cable which is basically a cable that gets plugged between the Karma Stabilizer and the Karma Handle, enabling the Karma Handle to remain in a backpack while the Karma Stabilizer is mounted onto a helmet or chest strap.

GoPro Karma Grip Extension Cable

GoPro Karma Grip Extension Cable

Conclusion

I think the conclusion is obvious. This GoPro Karma Grip is a fantastic piece of gear which I look forward to using on my next outdoor video. What did you think of the video test? If you own a GoPro, is this something you’d consider getting or maybe you already use another system. Please let me know in the comment section below.

2 Comments

  1. Steve 1st June 2017 at 6:40 am #

    Tommy,

    Thank you, very helpful. Awesome vid and you have a wonderful little girl. I’m a proud father too. I was worried that my setup, which is similar to yours, would not work well as the Hero5. You and your daughter have put my mind at ease. In a few days we leave to run the Colorado River through the entire Grand Canyon. I’m a complete amateur but will try to shoot with Gopro and DJI P4P. We’ll see how it goes. Toodles….

    • Tom 1st June 2017 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks Steve for your kind comment. I am glad I could help and I wish you the best with your run.

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