the latest digital camera drone from American-based


As a drone fanatic, I used to be intrigued to find EXO Drones, a U.S.-based, client drone firm. Although the corporate has had shut ties to Chinese language drone maker Hubsan it was just lately acquired by American firm OpenStore.

With its OpenStore tie, EXO is selling itself as an alternative choice to Chinese language drones like DJI (extra on whether or not it’s honest to name it an American drone firm later) OpenStore paid $2.9 million in an all-cash supply in August 2022.

The concept of a U.S.-based client drone firm is actually compelling given the lengthy listing of nice causes to buy an American-made drone. However the actuality is that the very best digital camera drones will not be made within the U.S., largely attributable to elements like weak manufacturing infrastructure and excessive price of labor. Realizing all that, my curiosity was piqued once I just lately had the possibility to fly EXO drone’s newest launch, the Blackhawk 3 Professional.

So, will the Blackhawk 3 Professional make the listing of the very best digital camera drones made within the USA? Properly, not but. Whereas EXO drones (owned by Miami-based OpenStore) designs and handles the success of the drones, they’re nonetheless manufactured exterior the U.S.

The Blackhawk 3 Professional begins at $1,249 however is at the moment on sale for $949 on their web site and solely $849 on Amazon. Given the lower cost tag, plus different potential advantages of procuring on Amazon like ultra-fast delivery, a further 5% again with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card, and straightforward returns, procuring on Amazon is a no brainer.

Order the Blackhawk 3 Professional on Amazon for $849

The No. 1 purpose why the Blackhawk 3 Professional stands out is its spectacular 53 minutes of flight time. This is likely one of the longest flight occasions you may obtain on any client drone. Amongst different highlights of the Blackhawk 3 Professional: 

  • 200 Mbps HDR 4K video high quality
  • 9+ mile vary 
  • 1/1.3 inch CMOS Sensor

Study extra in regards to the latest drone from the American-based drone firm, EXO drones, and extra of those options in my assessment of the Blackhawk 3 Professional right here:

Blackhawk 3 Pro drone by EXO

Am spectacular 53-minute flight time (nearly)

Once I initially opened up the Blackhawk Professional 3, I used to be shocked to see just one battery included within the package. Nonetheless, after studying by the specs, I noticed, you don’t want spare batteries. 

The Blackhawk 3 Professional has a 53-minute battery life, one thing you don’t see on daily basis within the drone market. For example, DJI’s newest client drone launch, the DJI Mini 4 Professional has 34 minutes (or 45 minutes once you buy a further clever battery).  

Once I took the Blackhawk 3 Professional out to fly, I used to be out flying, the drone obtained very near reaching that 53 minutes of flight time. I used to be notified of a low battery after round 47 minutes, and personally, I by no means danger flying as soon as I get that notification. 

Nonetheless, it’s value noting, that the controller nonetheless had loads of battery left when the drone was low battery. By buying an additional battery (for a further $150), you could possibly fly the Blackhawk 3 Professional for hours.

The prolonged flight time is sort of spectacular, however there are some particular trade-offs, specifically the battery measurement and weight. 

It’s nearly double the scale and weight of the DJI Mini 4 Professional’s battery. With the battery, the drone itself weighs 600g at take-off, in comparison with the Mini 4 Professional at 249 g. 

The burden of the drone is vital not solely as a result of it makes it simpler to move however for authorized causes. Drones beneath 250 grams don’t should be registered with the FAA for leisure operations

Blackhawk 3 Pro drone by EXO

Blackhawk 3 Professional digital camera and clever options 

To fly the Blackhawk 3 Professional, you’ll have to obtain the EXO app and join your telephone to the controller. The app and controller are each user-friendly. The drone additionally has an prolonged exploration function permitting you to fly with a 9+ mile vary on a single cost. 

The primary few flights had been easy with a pointy 4K video high quality. The 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor permits for wealthy coloring and pure lighting transitions. The video high quality on the Blackhawk 3 Professional holds as much as the very best client digital camera drones available in the market.  The Blackhawk 3 Professional additionally has a permitting for low-light captures. However whereas the digital camera high quality is nice, the flying high quality? Not a lot.

The Blackhawk 3 Professional promotes a spread of Clever Flight Modes, like ‘Observe Me’, “Return to Residence’ and GPS Routing.  However whereas some options like return to dwelling, labored superb, others didn’t work in any respect. Once I put the drone into Observe Me mode the drone appeared to malfunction and crashed into the grass. 

I attempted this mode a number of extra occasions, however I used to be unable to get Observe Me mode to work. I continued flying with out utilizing the clever options, nevertheless, I rapidly confronted one other impediment once I obtained an error alert relating to my gimbal. 

The error notification repeated time and again with a loud beeping noise. Fixing and recalibrating the gimbal was easy. Nonetheless, it takes a while and the beeping and error message repeats loudly till the error is fastened. 

I attempted to discover a setting to show off voice notifications or the quantity, however I couldn’t. Total, the footage captured was clear and top quality, however the general flying expertise was rocky. 

The Blackhawk 3 Pro battery (left) vs. DJI Mini 3 battery (right)
The Blackhawk 3 Professional battery (left) vs. DJI Mini 3 battery (proper)

By way of worth, the Blackhawk 3 Professional’s closest DJI drone competitor is the DJI Mini 4 Professional. The DJI Mini 4 Professional begins at $759. The DJI Mini 4 Professional is $90 cheaper than the Blackhawk 3 Professional. 

Beneath is a side-by-side comparability of the specs of the 2 drones: 

Blackhawk 3 Professional DJI Mini 4 Professional
Value  $949 $759
Takeoff Weight 600g < 259 g 
Dimensions (folded)(L×W×H) 118.7 x 172.5 x 67.6mm 148×90×62 mm 
Max Flight Time 53 minutes  34 minutes
Max Wind Velocity Degree 8 10.7 m/s
Impediment Sensors Downward  Omnidirectional
Picture Sensor 1/1.3-inch CMOS 1/1.3-inch CMOS
Max Video Res 4K/30fps 4K/100fps

The Blackhawk 3 Professional’s most spectacular function stays the battery life, together with the utmost wind pace. Each drones have related digital camera options. The Mini 4 Professional has barely higher video decision. 

In nearly each method, the DJI Mini 4 Professional wins. 

The DJI Mini 4 Professional additionally has omnidirectional impediment avoidance, whereas the Blackhawk 3 Professional has downward avoidance. This makes the DJI Mini 4 Professional a significantly extra secure drone than the Blackhawk 3 Professional. The Blackhawk 3 Professional has impediment sensors situated on the underside of the drone. On the flip aspect, the Mini 4 has them in each route. 

With the Mini 4 Professional, you’ll get monetary savings and have a safer drone.

Is the Blackhawk 3 Professional value it?

The flying expertise was not seamless, particularly relative to how straightforward it’s to get DJI drones up within the air. Significantly with follow-me mode, I even struggled to get it to work. Not solely is that problematic on it’s personal, however that doesn’t incite a number of belief or confidence in different facets of this drone’s flight.

If patronizing American firms is a precedence for you, then actually contemplate buying this drone.  With out outright naming DJI, EXO’s advertising and marketing techniques have leaned into the group of anti-DJI pilots.

“For greater than a decade, there was little technical competitors in digital camera drones,” in keeping with a press release on EXO’s web page. “One model with no competitors means they will do no matter they want- they usually do. Excessive costs, non-existent assist, and promoting your personal knowledge to China.”

That’s all a transparent jab at DJI, which has been met with issues (notably from authorities businesses) about knowledge privateness. It’s gotten so brutal for DJI, that the corporate is on a authorities blacklist.

However EXO isn’t precisely made in America, provided that manufacturing happens abroad. Don’t purchase this in case your aim is shopping for a “made in America” drone.

Nonetheless, with EXO you’ll expertise lots of the perks of shopping for American, like supporting the native economic system and having extra dependable customer support. And whereas the flying expertise will not be as easy as DJI and different China-made opponents like Autel (it will possibly truly be fairly dangerous at occasions), right here’s the silver lining: You’ll hardly discover the distinction in post-production by way of video and picture high quality. 

Buy the Blackhawk 3 Professional drone on Amazon at the moment for $849