Almost accurately 11 months ago GoPro announced their Karma drone and Karma Grip products. As the drone got off to a rocky start (I reviewed it here), the Karma grip has already established an otherwise non-problematic journey. The Grip, of course, being the GoPro branded gimbal, that may stabilize your footage to create it look silky smooth.

There are many gimbals available to buy, almost all of them from Asian companies you’ve never heard about. A number of the popular kinds I’ve reviewed here, including one just the other day. But how does GoPro’s variant endure? And specifically – endure over an extremely long period?

Well, I attempt to find out. I’ve bought and owned three of these since last fall. And I’ve kinda beat the crap out of these. I’ve dropped them from my bike at full speed onto concrete…and on the other hand just this weekend at significantly less than full speed. I’ve travelled with them, I’ve skied with them, and I’ve generally tried to determine how best to utilize them.

And in the event that you asked me 8 months ago what I considered the gimbal, the answer would actually be less favorable than now. But before that, let’s start with the basics.

What’s in the box:

We’re reaching in the past into my DCR archives for these unboxing photos. And in cases like this, that means photographs I took in a accommodation in Las Vegas. As the table looks swanky in person…less so during the night for unboxing photos.

Now technically there are two ways you can buy the GoPro Karma grip:

A) Built into/with the GoPro Karma Drone
B) As another unit by itself

I’ve already proven what it appears like within the GoPro Karma Drone review, when bought that way. So here’s what it appears like if you buy it solo. The hard-shell case slides out of your cardboard box:

In the hard-shell case you’ll find the gimbal and related accessories:

Here’s what they appear to be from the table:

You’ve got:

A) Gimbal itself (grip portion + gimbal head)
B) USB-C charging cable
C) Karma Grip Gimbal Ring (attaches to GoPro mounts)
D) Manual stuffs
E) Fabric strap to carry lanyard

And that’s it!

Here’s a closer consider the manual and moreover the Karma Grip Gimbal Ring:

And the gimbal itself:

And finally, a short note about the case. While I appreciate GoPro’s efforts here for a case for the gimbal, they made what’s essentially the most bombproof yet painfully unusable case as well. I say that because nobody will travel with something this big. It’s massive. For context, here it really is next to both a running footwear, in addition to a DJI Mavic drone.

For those who have unlimited space – then it’s great. Else it’s total overkill.

Don’t worry – you’re likely to get plenty more pics of the gimbal up close throughout the review. For the present time though, let’s leave this Vegas accommodation scene behind.

The Basics:

The gimbal effectively has two . 5 parts to it. The first piece is some of the grip portion, that you possess onto. It’s the long thick piece:

The second portion may be the gimbal head, which is where in fact the stabilization occurs.

Now, this section actually could be broken down further, enabling you to swap out the connector type used in combination with it. In order to swap for a GoPro Hero4 camera if you wanted to, rather than the GoPro Hero5 Black holder (and presumably, in September with the GoPro Hero6 camera/cameras):

GoPro had also announced plans to give a gimbal cage for the GoPro Hero 5 Session cameras, but that never found fruition. It’s unclear where that stands.

The point is, your GoPro camera will slide in to the gimbal from the medial side. If using the GoPro Hero5 Black though, you’ll have to take away the little door first from the medial side of the camera (thus, it’s no more waterproof). Note, I’d strongly advise buying a supplementary door now and having it handy. Particularly when going on holiday. You’ll eventually lose this stupid $20 part in the coolest holiday spot where you can’t find one and you’ll be frustrated your camera is no more waterproof:

Grip Extension:

At launch of the Karma Grip, GoPro touted the opportunity to detach the top of the gimbal and place the handle in your backpack (or simply somewhere else). To achieve that you’d need the GoPro Karma Grip extension system, though sadly that didn’t start shipping till earlier this spring. Still, I went and bought one the moment they truly became available and started toying with it.

The initial thing you recognize is that it’s basically simply a giant-ass USB-C cable. Except the one that can lock on both ends, providing you the ‘extension’ piece.

To set up it, you’ll unlock the gimbal head from the gimbal grip:

Once that’s done, it permits you to hook the gimbal through to your person without the excess grip bumping around. Then you can certainly utilize the 35in/89cm cable and toss it in your backpack:

In theory, this is effective, but in practice, there are a few bummers. First is that we now have no buttons on the upper part of the grip extension near to the gimbal. Those buttons are back on the low part of the grip. Lacking the buttons means additionally you lack the mode/record buttons. Though I don’t find a huge deal since I may easily do people that have voice commands. Plus, those buttons weren’t really all that accessible anyway using the backpack gimbal connector anyway even though up front.

However, one tip a commenter left below is that if you wish to improve orientation of the gimbal, that can be done so without the buttons – simply move the top (meaning, hold/move the camera) of the gimbal to the positioning you want for another roughly, and it’ll stay static in that position. Normally you don’t want to dork with the gimbal heads on virtually all units, however in this case it’s totally OK. Which makes positioning a million time easier!

Next is that as the front hook up is smaller, it’s not super-small. And therefore yes it’s ideal for a backpack, but it’s totally impractical on an average road cycling helmet (with plenty of vents):

However, should you have room for sticky mounts atop or onto the medial side (meaning, not vented), then you might actually do it such as a skiing helmet (or most downhill mountain biking helmets). First, atop:

And second, aside:

And in those cases, the cable easily floats down behind you. Additionally, you could mount this easier to leading of a bike or other location that you didn’t want the entire grip flopping around. And it can make the backpack piece a lot more streamlined up front.

I do think in lots of ways if you plan to obtain the GoPro Karma Grip, it’d really be because you intend to either utilize the Karma Grip extension, or because you intend to utilize the Seeker bag. Talking about which…

Seeker Backpack Integration:

Concerning this time last summer GoPro introduced the GoPro Seeker backpack. This backpack had storage for a boatload of GoPro units, plus especially designed spots for holding the 3-way GoPro tripod/pole (the best GoPro accessory), along with clipping a GoPro onto leading of your bag. Further, it could become a hydration pack too. It’s great: