3D Robotics Solo

What we like:

  • Multiple camera options
  • Solid construction
  • Pre-programmed camera moves
  • Low battery cost

What we don't:

  • No collision avoidance

The 3D Robotics Solo ($499, camera not included) is designed to compete with the Phantom 3, but instead of merely trying to match the Phantom 3, 3DR took it up a few notches.

The Solo's performance is impressive. With a maximum range of 10km (YES... 10km!), and a top speed of 55mph, filming action sequences or even car chases is not a problem for the Solo. In fact, when 3D Robotics took the drone to the set of 13 Hours to demo it for Michael Bay, it did so well that he immediately put it on the shoot schedule, and shots taken with the Solo ended up in the final cut of the film (including some VFX shots… quite impressive).

One of the Solo's best attributes is the ability to use it with different cameras. The standard camera is the GoPro, but there are several other options available. For example, the company offers a FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) camera that can help with surveys and surveillance. There's also the Kodak PixPro 360’ 4K VR camera (with mount) that will let you shoot virtual reality with full 360-degree video or stills.

One of the Solo's best attributes is the ability to use it with different cameras.

Then there's the Ribcage Air Cam, which allows you to modify your GoPro to hold several different lenses, including a telephoto. Since GoPro is a relatively standardized camera, even broadcast and cable networks will allow its use. Also, the Sony UMC-R10C, a modified version of the company's innovative XQ1camera, can be mounted, giving large sensor imaging capabilities to the drone. (It's worth noting, though, that this last option takes the total cost well beyond the $1500 price category - but it is an option.)

The Solo also has various pre-choreographed flight paths for shots that can be a challenge even to expert fliers, including selfie/reveal, cable-cam, orbit, follow, zipline, and pano (shooting overlapped pictures for panoramic stitching into rectilinear or spherical standards).

The only thing this aircraft is missing is a collision avoidance system.

The Solo ranges from a 15-minute to 20-minute flight time (depending on the camera it carries), and batteries cost a very reasonable $49.

3D Robotics Solo Rating

Build Quality

Ease of Use
Camera Gimbal

Sensors/Flight Control System

Weather Resistance (rain/wind) Portability
Battery Life Crash Resistance/Repair Cost
Overall Rating