Announced at CES 2021, the Sony Airpeak S1 (ARS-S1) is a professional drone that is now available for preorder. The ARS-S1 is the smallest drone that can carry a full-frame Alpha series mirrorless camera. It is compatible with a range of cameras, thereby allowing greater creative control. If you’re a filmmaker, here are some reasons the ARS-S1 is worth checking out.


Drone Width (With Landing Gear Down)23.38 inches (593.8 mm)
Max. Takeoff WeightApprox. 15lbs (6.8 kg)
Max. Flight Time~12 mins (with payload) | 20 mins (without payload)
Max. Transmission Distance1.2 miles (~2 km)
Battery Capacity2,518 mAh
Max. Flight Speed25m/s (55.9 mph) without payload

When it comes to filmmaking drones, the trend is towards heavy. The DJI Matrice 600 Pro, for example, is a flagship filmmaking drone. The Matrice 600 weighs a whopping 15.5 kg at takeoff. Understandably, these drones also tend to be quite expensive. Therefore,  Sony’s Airpeak S1 intends to fill the niche of small, safe, and portable cinema drones.

Greater Creative Freedom in a Small Package

The Airpeak S1’s compatibility with a range of full-frame cameras makes it the most compact tool for filmmakers. Sony also has an ios app, the Airpeak Flight, to manage and control flight operations from your smartphone.

The Airpeak S1 can carry a gimbal-supported camera payload of up to 2.1 kg. You can mount up to 10 types of Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras with 13 different types of interchangeable lenses. That opens up a lot of opportunities to experiment with your shots. However, you can only mount Sony’s proprietary GBL-T3 gimbal on the drone (which is sold separately).

The Sony Airpeak S1 flying on a beach in Japan
The Sony Airpeak S1 drone is being tested in Japan

Safer Flights with Omnidirectional Sensing

The Airpeaks S1 comes with adequate safety features to ensure the smoothest flight experience. Its 5-way stereo cameras coupled with infrared sensors create a dynamic spatial awareness map. Using a powerful processor and algorithms, the drone can perceive its environment in real-time. This allows it to employ a range of safety measures such as correcting flight paths and engaging the obstacle brake function. Therefore, getting aerial shots through the woods, or over hilly terrains becomes hassle-free.

Cloud Integration

Sony has created a three-tier ecosystem for efficient flight management. Apart from the mobile app to control active missions, you can also opt for the Airpeak Plus web application. Known as the Airpeak Base, it is a web application through which you can automate flight plans, manage flight logs, and check the status of your equipment. The Airpeak Base station also allows you to set geofencing. Using that, you can set altitude and perimeter restrictions for a much safer flight.

The Airpeak Base, a cloud-based web application
The Airpeak Base, a cloud-based web application | Image credit: Sony

Intuitive Controls

Cinema drones require more sophisticated controls compared to a standard drone. The Airpeak S1’s remote control enables pilots to switch to four different (customizable) modes. Using the customized buttons, pilots can control the aircraft, gimbal, and the mounted camera individually. Additionally, the inclusion of an HDMI port helps connect an external display.

Apart from the individual controls, the pilot can also control the in-built FPV camera situated on the nose of the aircraft. The pilot can manage the FPV tilt and correct flight angles while the operator captures shots from the main camera.

Is the Airpeak S1 For You?

The Airpeak S1 is an aerial extension of Sony’s filmmaking cameras. Its diverse compatibility makes it an ideal drone if you already own Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras. However, it suffers from weak specs and high pricing. The transmissions range and flight time are the weak points of the drone. A flight time of only 12 minutes means you will have to change multiple batteries between shots.

Retailing at a price of $8,999 (only drone) is quite expensive. When you add the cost of two additional batteries, the GBL-T3 gimbal, and other accessories, the entire setup can cost you up to $12,000. If you’re looking for a compact, portable, fast, automated, and Sony-centered solution, then the Airpeak S1 is for you. The number of compatible payloads in the Airpeak S1 is unparalleled. You can check out the Airpeak S1 on the company’s product page.

Alternatively, you can also explore DJI’s Matrice 600 Pro. The Matrice 600 Pro is over double the size and weight of the Airpeak S1. But it offers incredibly high endurance and a great transmission range at half the price. The only caveat is the limited payload options.