Here's your first look at Sony's new Airpeak drone -- and DJI has nothing to fear

Sony Airpeak
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony finally gave us a clear look at the Airpeak, its new drone aimed at professional photographers and videographers. During a CES 2021 press conference, CEO Kenichiro Yoshida unveiled the company's new quadcopter. Here's what we know so far. 

Sony initially teased the Airpeak back in November, but didn't reveal much more than a few shadowy images. At its unveiling at CES this week, we finally got a clearer look.

Our first impression is that it's big. As the Airpeak is designed to use one of Sony's Alpha mirrorless cameras, it needs some serious lifting capabilities. In the press images, it's shown with a Sony A7s III with a Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens, which together weigh roughly 2.3 pounds. 

Similar to the DJI Inspire 2, the Airpeak's dual landing skids retract when the drone is in the air, helping to ensure an untrammeled view when rotating the camera. A three-axis gimbal sits below the drone and connects to the Sony camera of your choice. While Sony's Airpeak does look impressive, whether videographers will switch from the DJI Inspire 2 remains to be seen.

There also looks to be a second, small built-in camera just below the main body of the Airpeak, and just above what appear to be two obstacle-avoidance sensors. 

From this first look, it would seem that the Airpeak is going after the DJI Inspire 2, which starts at $5,299 with the Zenmuse X5 micro 4/3 sensor, but costs $7,599 with the Zenmuse X7, which has a full-frame image sensor. 

By comparison, the Sony Alpha A7s III costs $3,498 for the body alone. However, Sony is most likely assuming that whoever purchases the Airpeak will already own one of the electronics giant's cameras, which helps to defray the overall cost of the system. And, videographers will also have a wider choice of what lenses they want to use.

A larger issue — and one that involves a lot more uncertainty — revolves around DJI itself. The company has been put on the U.S. Entity list, which could make it harder for the Chinese-based drone maker to source parts and technology from U.S.-based companies. However, it's unclear at this point how much this will actually hurt DJI, and if the designation will continue once Joe Biden is inaugurated as president later this month.

Sony did not mention when the Airpeak would be available, nor how much it would cost, but a press release from November stated that the product would launch this spring.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.