Freefly Systems has long been a leader in the camera movement systems industry, and with the Alta 8 they have ventured into new territory, improving on the already reliable Alta 6. Featuring 8 rotors instead of 6 and an improved payload, the Alta 8 is definitely an upgrade over the Alta 6. It is a high-end drone that proves to be an excellent option for those who are serious about crafting quality aerial shots for professional cinematic productions.
Drone usage has increased greatly in recent years, with people all over the world taking up drone photography as a personal hobby. It has also become widespread in the commercial scene, as film studios and production companies turn to drone footage to provide an enthralling cinematic experience and create beautiful scenes from the air. As the technology behind the frames and the cameras have rapidly improved, drones have become lighter, faster, stronger, and more powerful. There are many on the market for owner-operators and professional studios alike, offering differing levels of quality and performance. This means that there is a drone available for pretty much every experience level and budget.
Features and Specifications
The Alta 8 is a large, professional drone that comes with some impressive features and boasts high-performance specs across the board. A more in-depth list of specifications can be found on Freefly’s website.
- Diameter (Unfolded) – 1325mm
- Diameter (Folded) – 600 mm
- Height to Base – 263 mm
- Freefly ALTA Propeller
- Made of carbon fiber for durability
- Features balsa core for lightweight performance
- 18 x 6
- 4 CW and 4 CCW propeller orientation
- 1kg (40 lb) Maximum Gross for Takeoff
- 12 kg (26.5 lb) Maximum Useful Load
- 1 kg (20 lb) Maximum Payload
- 2kg (13.6 lb) Empty Weight
- 8 Motors
- Direct Drive 3-Phase PMAC Outrunner Motors
- Freefly F45 Motor
- 350 W Maximum Continuous Power Output
- 950 W Maximum Instantaneous Peak Power Output
- Freefly Silent-Drive Sine Wave Electronic Speed Controller
- 6S (22.2V) Nominal Battery
- Dimensions: 240 x 180 x 80 mm (9.4 x 7 x 3 inches)
- Dual Battery Pack – Parallel
- Freefly SYNAPSE Flight Controller
- Manual Flight Mode Only
- DSMX, DSM2, S. Bus, S.Bus2, PPM, FPV SD inputs supported
- Futaba S.Bus and S.Bus2 Radios supported
- NTSC and PAL First-Person View Video Formats
- Wi-Fi Compatible
- 25 Hz Data Processing Rates
Standard and Indicator Lights
- 1-Watt Red and 1-Watt White LED Status Light
- 3-Watt RGB LED Orientation Lights
- Red, Yellow, Blue, White, and Green orientation light colors
Supports Top and Bottom Gimbal Mounting
This unique feature allows for a variety of shooting styles, including sky view shots which make for impressive scenes that showcase distinctive angles not available on many drones.
Compatible with MoVI Gimbals
The quick release attachment on the Alta 8 is the same as the mount on the MoVI Gimbal, making it a seamless transition when switching from Ground View to Sky View.
Vibration Isolation System
By rejecting disturbances above certain frequency levels, the vibration isolation system provides stable images that won’t be negatively affected by the surrounding atmosphere. This allows for a smooth cinematic experience that can rival scenes from some of the most visually stunning blockbuster films, depending on the experience level of the pilot.
The Alta 8 includes a molded plastic attachment that protects the machine from the elements and allows for flying and shooting in most weather conditions. If you are looking for that dark, ominous thunderstorm scene, the Alta 8 can handle the elements to provide you with the shot that you are looking for.
SYNAPSE Intelligent Flight Control System
The SYNAPSE system is a highly intuitive system that allows for professional flight paths and expert photography and cinematography. It can hold positions in inclement weather and maintains excellent performance without requiring excessive work from the pilot.
Velocity clamps allow the pilot to adjust the speed of the drone quickly and easily, allowing for maximum precision and minimal fatigue. There is also a Height Hold uses accelerometer, barometer, and GPS readings to let the pilot hold the drone to a specific altitude, making for incredibly stable shots from the air.
The Return to Home feature keeps the Alta 8 set at a fixed elevation to prevent collision with any obstacles that may exist below the particular plane. This allows you to focus on the quality of your film and the angle of your shots rather than worrying about other items that may cause harm to the drone or create a nuisance in your shot.
With automatic data logging, users can stay on top of the health of the drone and get an idea of the performance level in real-time. With the help of a microSD card and a data viewing app, owners of the drone will have constant updates about the overall functionality of the device.
Pros and Cons
Although the Alta 8 boasts an impressive resume based on its features and specifications, there are both positive and negative aspects to the machine. See below to determine if the pros outweigh the cons for your personal preferences.
- Lightweight frame – At only 6.2kg (13.6lbs), this is a fairly lightweight machine that is easy to carry.
- Strong Carbon Fiber Construction – Despite its lightweight, the carbon fiber construction allows the Alta 8 to carry a more comprehensive rig without hindering the performance or causing a decrease in picture quality. The Alta 8 can mount up to 9 kg or 20 lbs. of cargo, making it one of the strongest in its class.
- Quick Release – Because the Toad in the Hole quick release system has been updated, the Alta 8 allows users to easily switch transfer between top and bottom loading, giving you more options for beautiful shots
- Weather Resistance – The lightweight plastic enclosure provides plenty of protection to the power board, allowing you to fly this machine during even the rainiest of days. Production won’t need to be halted just because of inclement weather conditions.
- Dual Battery System – The dual battery system provides up to 45 minutes of battery time, giving you one of the most reliable drones on the market.
- 4k Video – The built-in camera shoots in 4k, so you will be producing gorgeous footage even if you don’t have an external camera to attach.
- Easy to Control – Thanks to the vibration isolation system and SYNAPSE intelligent flight control system, the Alta 8 provides optimal control and smooth flying for any experienced pilot.
- Automatic Data Logging – An underrated feature of the drone, this allows users to constantly monitor the performance of the machine, letting pilots know when they may need new gear or updates. The data is logged in real time via a micro SD card, so collecting and analyzing data is seamless and transparent.
- Compact – The Alta 8 can be folded in on itself to reduce to half of its functional size. This makes for easy transport and minimal required storage space.
- Ground View and Sky View Compatible – Thanks to quick release, you can benefit from fantastic aerial shots from downward or upward facing angles. This means that you’ll be able to capture shots of the sky and the ground without much effort at all. While many drones function exclusively on a downward angle, the Alta 8 provides you with a unique, distinctive perspective that is sure to impress.
- Professional Quality Movies – When used in conjunction with the
- Extensive Testing – The Alta 8 has undergone high levels of testing by some of the best pilots in the industry in order to ensure that the features and benefits of the machine are up to the highest of quality standards and that performance is second-to-none.
- Easy to Use Companion Application – The Alta mobile app is intuitive and easy to use, giving pilots access to all relevant flight information such as mode, voltage, altitude, vibration levels, and temperature. This allows you to monitor the drone throughout the flight and easily access flight data and drone health.
- Agility – The Alta 8 can fly at up to a 45-degree angle, giving the user fantastic control of the device and allowing for plenty of camera movement to create smooth, action-packed scenes with minimum vibration.
- Pelican Case Included – The drone comes with a strong, lightweight pelican case that will make transport even easier and protect the device when it is not being used.
- Best-in-Class Support – Alta has long been known as having one of the best communities among drone pilots, and their customer service is top-notch as well. If you have any issues or questions, the Alta team will be there to help you out and provide constant support. Other users are very active in the community, offering advice and highlighting new features.
- Expensive – This is not a drone for the first-timer, as the price tag is steep no matter where you find it. The standard cost comes in at a whopping $17,495.
- Requires UAV Certification – Due to the high-end specifications and professional nature of this machine, you must have UAV credentials in order to legally operate this drone. Again, this is a machine for experts, and plenty of experience is required to make this a worthwhile purchase
- Requires other Purchases – If you want to take advantage of the full functionality of the Alta 8, you will need to purchase other items in conjunction with it. This includes a MoVI gimbal, a transmitter with a compatible receiver, batteries, landing gear, and an FPV system. For those already turned off by the hefty price tag, this may be another hindrance.
Did You Know
…the Alta 8 folds to 50% of its operating size, making it the most packable drone in its class?
Who is the Product Ideal For?
With such high-end specifications and expert-level features, the Alta 8 is a machine that is built for professional film makers who are easily able to justify its exorbitant price tag. While extremely durable and highly reliable, this is a drone that requires quite a bit of experience, so much so that UAV certifications are required to fly it legally. For those who have been flying drones for some time, this may be just the item that they are looking for.
The drone offers many features that make flying a breeze for the professional cinematographer. If you have experience with other high-end drones, the Alta 8 can provide you with some upgrades and an enhanced ability for breathtaking shots and videos. With ground view and sky view options available, you’ll benefit whether you are shooting for commercial or creative purposes.
The Alta 8 is an advanced enough drone that is can be used at major studios in the development of blockbuster films or thrillers that require extensive aerial footage. Its 4k abilities and multiple camera options make it an excellent device for capturing professional, high-quality video that will impress even the most experienced film critics.
Production companies will be making a great decision if they invest in the Freefly Alta 8. With its superior performance in any weather conditions and ability to work with the top lenses and rigs in the industry, it is ideal for licensed filmmakers who are used to producing content at a professional level. This isn’t really a product for the independent worker, unless he or she has a lot of disposable income. It works better for a production firm or professional cinematography organization.
Who Shouldn’t Buy the Alta 8?
Needless to say, this is not a machine for the first-time drone owner. If you don’t have experience flying drones, you are better off avoiding this and opting for a far cheaper machine that doesn’t require certification. Chances are that you may be throwing thousands of dollars down the drain if you try to fly the Alta 8 without prior experience. Despite its intuitive flight system, this is still a machine that is built for professionals that have years of experience with aerial cinematics.
Even if you own or have flown cheaper, more basic drones, you should avoid the Alta 8 until you’ve taken the steps necessary to learn the inner workings of more advanced camera movement machines. You may have produced some nice home videos with your current drone, but that doesn’t mean that you are ready to operate this machine. There’s a reason that this requires UAV credentials. You are better off buying a mid-range drone if you have some prior experience. This will help you to understand the more advanced controls so that you can master high-end maneuvers and learn to prevent potential damage. Once you’ve learned these and received your UAV certification, you can consider upgrading to the Alta 8.
Even with the proper experience required to fly this, this is not a drone for someone on a budget. It is one of the more expensive machines on the market. While most professional shooters will tell you that it is worth the price, it may not make sense for you to drop the money on it if you don’t require the Alta’s entire scope of functionality. There are more budget-friendly options out there that provide ample performance and create wonderful videos. The Alta 8 is certainly a step up from some of these, but you should make sure that it will be worth it for you before purchasing it.
The Freefly Alta 8 is a top-of-the-line machine that possesses a boatload of professional features and is capable of shooting some of the most beautiful scenes you’ll see from a drone. It is durable, reliable, and provides a long list of options that will make any professional cinematographer envious. For expert videos, the Alta 8 is not matched by many other drones on the market, and it is generally viewed as a quality device that is well worth its price tag if you can afford it and if you have the experience and certification required to fly it.
If you are a novice or intermediate pilot, however, this is not the drone that you are looking for. You’ll want to increase your skill level and hone your abilities with less expensive drones before even considering purchasing this item. The Alta 8 is really designed with production studios and professional filmmakers in mind, and the price tag is evidence of that. While you may want to benefit from the advanced features and superior specifications, it will not be worth it for you unless you are profiting from the use of the machine and if you have the UAV credentials that are needed to legally operate this advanced contraption.
Overall, this is a heavy-duty, high-quality drone that is perfect for commercial purposes. It will work seamlessly for any experienced drone pilot while capturing awe-inspiring, magnificent scenes and providing real-time feedback and maintaining a professional feel. This is a drone for true professionals who are striving to produce their best videos to date.