Affordable underwater camera drones present a new opportunity for photography enthusiasts curious about the deep blue sea.
If you were at all inspired by the quality of the winning shots in the 2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year contest, you might be itching to try out the genre for yourself.
While there are a slew of cameras and housings already on the market offering a route to crisp and colorful imagery from the deep, a growing number of drone cameras have been splashing into the water recently to give photographers and filmmakers even more options.
The Gladius is one of the latest drone cameras to offer high-quality pictures and video, and is so new it hasn’t even launched yet. Currently an Indiegogo project, the drone’s promising spec sheet helped its Los Angeles-based creator smash through its funding target within just 24 hours of going live on the site.
The remote controlled submersible can capture Ultra HD 1080P/4K video and 16-megapixel photos, saving content directly to internal storage or live-streaming it at 720P. The Gladius comes in three flavors: Standard, Advanced, and Pro.
The Standard Gladius incorporates a 1080P camera and a tether that lets you operate the drone to a depth of 30 meters, while the Advanced version comes with a 4K camera, the same 30-meter tether and also a wireless buoy offering a horizontal range of 500 meters. The Pro kit, meanwhile, lets you sink Gladius to depths of up to 100 meters (328 feet), with the same horizontal range as the Advanced model.
Four thrusters on the machine allow for flexible maneuverability via a gaming-like smartphone controller, with software designed for iOS and Android devices.
Bright LEDs located either side of the camera offer a 135-degree illumination angle to light the way for your underwater adventure as well as illuminate any aquatic creatures that you stumble upon, while two batteries keep the device powered for between three and four hours on a single charge.
A bonus is the drone’s relatively small size (16.9 x 10.6 x 3.7 inches) and light weight (6.6 pounds), making it easy to transport in the provided case.
“Whether you’re a scuba diver, underwater photographer, commercial diver, oceanographer or just want to have fun, we’ve intelligently engineered Gladius with features to fit a wide range of uses,” the team says on its Indiegogo page.
Early bird deals are still available so you can secure the Standard Gladius with a $599 pledge, marking an $800 saving on the expected retail price. The Advanced kit costs $799 — that’s $900 off the final sale price — while the Pro version requires a $1,025 pledge, saving you a generous $1,200. The Gladius will ship worldwide with the first deliveries set to arrive in June 2017.