Freefly Systems announces Astro quadcopter, hints at new 4K camera

Freefly Systems recently introduced the Astro, a quadcopter capable of carrying a two-pound payload on a 3-axis gimbal for up to 30 minutes. While the company is following in the footsteps of fellow American manufacturer, Skydio, by primarily marketing its latest offering to the public sector and enterprise, it’s worth noting that the Astro allows you to capture 61MP aerial photos with the Sony a7R IV camera.

‘My priority with my drones is being able to shoot good landscapes and cityscapes. Being able to fly my a7R IV and a7S III will be huge,’ says Drew Armstrong, a professional remote pilot and realtor. ‘I had a (DJI) M600 I was using with my Sony a 7R II. It worked but being able to adjust exposure while in the air was very difficult. I have also flown the M600 with the aerial specific package for the Phase One camera. That is a sweet ($50,000+ USD) setup,’ he adds.

The Astro starts at $7,995 for the standalone frame. The Base Kit includes a hard case, battery pair, charger, and remote for $9,995. The High Res Mapping configuration which includes everything in the Base Kit plus the Sony a7R IV payload retails for $14,995. For comparison’s sake, the DJI Inspire 2 kit equipped with a Zenmuse X7 camera starts at $10,995 – but you’ll only get 24MP photos. Freefly’s Alta series of drones, built for high-end cinematography and industrial work, start at $17,495.

The Astro is foldable and is being touted as ‘4K in your backpack.’ This is a bit curious. Sony’s a7R IV can record 4K video in full-frame but it’s not the best camera for obtaining crisp, clear footage. ‘Yes, for sure we want to support a7S III. We can mount and fly it, just uncertain as to whether Sony will allow us to have access to full camera controls just yet,’ Freefly’s CEO, Tabb Firchau, tells DPReview.

When asked if there were plans to make other cameras compatible with the system, Firchau revealed ‘yes, we will be supporting a variety of other cameras over time. [It] is set up to be modular and easy to incorporate new cameras…including our first camera [for the Astro] ‘Wave’ that we are launching on Wednesday.’

The launch event for Wave will be taking place via livestream on Wednesday, October 7th, at 10:00 am PST. The Astro is currently available for pre-order and they plan on shipping out units in Q4.