The Camera Bag: X88-J Octocopter is Drone of Your Dreams (or Nightmares?) for Shooting Awesome Aerials with Your DSLR


posted Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 5:41 PM EDT

Get a load of this flying monster. It's an eight-rotor mini helicopter drone called the Turbo Ace X88-J and it just may be the ideal device for shooting aerial imaging with a digital SLR.

Unmanned radio-controlled (RC) helicopters have been all the rage in recent years for photographers and videographers seeking to capture aerial video and stills without having to pay an armload to rent a real helicopter. One of the gripes against RC helicopters though has been that they're not powerful enough to carry large digital SLRs with serious professional lenses attached.

The X88-J, which is being offered through Wowhobbies, seems to answer that by spinning eight total rotors, which increases the total payload to five pounds. (Most current recreational drones only have 4-6 rotors and offer about half that payload.)

Flight times under a fully charged 5300mAh 4s battery are up to fifteen minutes, depending on the weight of the DSLR and accessories. Though the Turbo Ace X88-J is a big drone, its arms fold up, making it compact and portable.

The octocopter's total weight, without the battery or camera mount, is 4.8 pounds. The X88-J is packaged with a Walkera DEVO remote control transmitter that promises faster response, smoother stick movement, and better signal reliability. Telemetry, including battery levels, comes standard with the controller.

If, for some reason, you lose the signal to your copter, there's an auto return feature that brings the X88-J back to a GPS starting point, where it will hover at 20 feet until a connection is reestablished. As a fail safe, the drone will automatically land if it cannot restore the connection.

The Turbo Ace X88-J, which was on display at NAB this week, goes on sale this month for a starting price of $4,995. More info here.

Check out the video below of the octocopter in action.