Chinese drone manufacturer Yuneec announced the latest release in its Typhoon series, as well as a strategic partnership with Leica Camera AG. The H3 is the first resulting product from the collaborative efforts of the two companies. It is especially aimed at aerial photographers and cinematographers. The Yuneec Typhoon H3's most noteworthy new feature is an ION L1 Pro camera that was co-engineered with Leica.

The ION L1 Pro camera features a 20MP, 1" CMOS sensor. It can capture 4K/60p video at a maximum bitrate of 100 Mbps on a stabilized 3-axis gimbal that offers up an unrestricted 360° view for panoramic shots. Imaging modes optimized and calibrated by Leica (Auto White Balance, color reproduction, sharpening, and de-noising) promise top-notch vibrancy, contrast, and resolution.

Developed in accordance with Leica specifications, the camera offers a range of options including automatic exposure bracketing and semi-automatic through wide dynamic range. 10-bit Y-Log and DNG profiles offer optimal conditions for professional post-production workflows on programs including Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Lossless digital zoom (specs unknown at the moment) and short JPEG intervals for seamless hyperlapse creation are also included.

Wenyan Jiang, Founder & Chairwoman of Yuneec, said the following regarding the new Typhoon H3 drone:

‘The Typhoon H3 with ION L1 Pro camera merges art and technology, craft and modernity in a unique manner and, in doing so, takes our aerial photography to dizzy new heights. This symbiosis makes it possible to take unique aerial photographs from unlimited angles that are so breathtaking, they not only reflect the creativity of each and every photographer and filmmaker, but also constantly push them to achieve more. In the partnership between Yuneec and Leica, the focus is on the photographer and their artistic vision. This manifests itself in our first jointly developed product, which will soon be released as a perfectly matched tool that meets the highest quality standards.’

The standard H3 kit includes the PX4-based ST16S flight controller and two batteries that can power the drone for up to 25 minutes of flight time. A 7" touchscreen is built into the remote and displays the live camera image in 720p (HD). Image transmission distance extends to almost one mile. A second pilot can be added with the Team Mode function and the purchase of an additional ST16S remote control.

Four intelligent flight modes are included for professional-grade cinematography. The Follow Me/Watch Me mode follows a designated subject, Curve Cable Cam allows you to plot coordinates beforehand for the drone to follow while the camera remains independently controllable, Orbit Me flies around a target in a circular motion, and Journey ascends along a linear path then automatically returns for a flawless shot.

Yuneec has continually emphasized the fact that all data is transmitted strictly between the drone, its camera, and controller. There isn't a cloud system in place, ensuring privacy. While the Typhoon H3 doesn't contain any rear-facing obstacle avoidance sensors, it comes with a redundant control signal, a Return Home function, and an adjustable virtual fence that ensures it won't fly beyond a specified radius. The hexacopter has a failsafe 5-rotor mode that automatically activates if one fails. This ensures that the drone remains in the air and doesn’t crash.

A release date has not been announced. Pre-ordering is currently not available and official specs haven't been published yet as of this writing. Though not confirmed, it is expected to retail for around $2,200.