The Sony Airpeak S1 Misses Out on a Huge Opportunity

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If you’ve complained about how drones need bigger sensors, the new Sony AirPeak S1 might make you feel differently. A while back, the company had let the world know it was making a drone. And the Sony AirPeak S1 is exactly that drone. It’s designed to carry Sony’s high-end interchangeable lens cameras, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, it has a bunch of cameras all around it, and you’ll have to buy the basket for the camera anyway. Those cameras, though, all have small sensors.

Tech Specs for the Sony AirPeak S1

  • This is Sony’s first drone product
  • Designed for carrying your camera
  • Looks very SkyNet, and cool
  • They’re putting AI robotics in this thing
  • Airpeak flight: Mobile app. Starting on iOS
  • Airpeak base: Web app on a computer
  • Will have a gimbal, camera, and lens accessories
  • They’re really promising stability, workflow control, and performance.
  • 55.9mph without payload
  • 0-50mph in 3.5 seconds
  • 44.7mph wind resistance
  • 22mm flight time
  • They tested it at JAXA, the Japanese version of NASA.
  • 5 stereo cameras, two on each side
  • Mostly designed around carrying Sony cameras and lenses
  • Geofencing is built-in
  • 9lb and 12 oz
  • $8,999.99 doesn’t include the gimbal designed for the AirPeak.
  • Fall 2021

Who Is This For? Well, Mostly Sony Shooters

Honestly, the Sony AirPeak S1 isn’t for everyone. First off, we asked about whether or not it can be used with third-party cameras. And Sony said yes, but it will not have the full capabilities available through the airpeak app. When Sony asked about why you’d want to use anything besides a Sony camera, I bit my tongue. The obvious response is because you might want to use a medium format camera, or just don’t want to be tied to their system. So, of course, that’s probably going to annoy every photographer on every other camera system. And further, I think Sony is missing out on a massive opportunity for more sales.

But as it is, this drone is just under $9,000. Of course, professionals and passionate photographers with very deep pockets will get it. There’s lots of cool technology built-in. There’s the extra cool factor that Sony decided to test it out at JAXA. But in reality, some of these are more like just fun features. I don’t really think anyone will care about how quickly the drone can reach 50mph; they’ll care more about a steadier shot. (The wind resistance is a huge factor, though, for sure.) 

DJI has drone options that can also do something like this. They’re not as powerful and don’t have all the cool features, though. And overall, I feel like the Sony AirPeak S1 is going for a niche market in an already niche market.

With that said, I don’t understand why Sony didn’t try to go for a more consumer-based market. Years ago, the company had these awesome cameras called the QX series. The QX1 seemed to have a lot of promise. And years ago, on a press trip, a Sony engineer told me that they had a full-frame variant in the works. But it never came to the market. 

My point here is that I wonder why this new drone isn’t the evolution of the Sony QX1. Why can’t it have a 50MP sensor with an image stabilizer unit attached to a drone? Sony already has a plethora of lenses that would work. In my mind, this would’ve made a million times more sense. 

But let’s see how the Sony AirPeak S1 does with sales. It will most likely do well, considering the slim market it’s going for.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.