If Yuneec’s Typhoon drone is the BMW of drones (as I once called it), then its Tornado drone is the Hummer.
But that’s not to say it feels or flies like one – it just looks like how a droneified version of one would look. It’s huge, it’s powerful, and it houses one of the best cameras out there – the Panasonic micro four thirds camera sensor on a stabilized 3-axis gimbal.
The first time I flew a drone for an audience in 2013, I was terrified. What if I didn’t get the GPS lock right but needed to return to home? What if it went haywire during takeoff and land and skidded across the ground?
That was the state of drones just 2 years ago. Less than steady or reliable, and if you weren’t 100% confident on a Phantom 1, you shouldn’t be flying an S1000. (For the record, I still haven’t flown an S1000).
So let’s just say I was terrified when I was asked to fly Yuneec’s new 11-pound Tornado drone ($3,499 on B&H photo) during a fly day at Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma, Calif. to demo some of their new gear—including the Tornado.
But I had no reason to be. The Tornado flies just as simply as the Typhoon, Yuneec’s competitor to DJI’s Phantom. If anything, it’s even more stable since it’s so large. The design is impressive. It can hold three rechargeable batteries, giving users about 40 minutes of flight time.
What really makes the Tornado a standout drone is the integration with the CGO4 gimbal camera (sold separately). The CGO4 gimbal camera incorporates a Panasonic GH4 micro four thirds camera sensor with a 3x optical zoom lens, housed on the 3-axis gimbal system.
Above is footage I took from the Tornado and CGO4 camera at the winery, not color corrected or edited in any manner to show true footage out of the box. I did notice the camera has a tiny bit of a rolling shutter effect when pointed directly into the sun, as seen in the shot pointing at the winery building.
Other things I love about the Tornado:
- Smart design: Arms fold in so it’s easier to pack (relatively – it’s still huge)
- Lightweight: It’s a carbon fiber frame so although it looks huge, it’s not unreasonable for a tiny person like me to carry
- Ease of use in mind: even though it’s targeted for professionals, it still has all the safety features that Yuneec is eager to promote in its hobby drone, the Typhoon. The tornado includes return to home, auto landing, and five rotors for safety
- Integration with Panasonic GH4 camera: of course! The footage looks amazing!
Yuneec’s products, like a fine sports car, are consistently sleek in design. More importantly, it’s stable. It stands true to Yuneec’s mantra of “easy to fly and safe to fly.” And that’s what’s so powerful about this drone. Someone flying a drone should be able to focus on the environment around them and the photos they’re taking – not the vehicle itself.
My expedition to Sonoma to demo the Tornado was with about a dozen people who had never flown a drone before, and each one of them was able to take off, fly and land the drone with no prior experience other than the Typhoon just minutes earlier. The Tornado is not for hobbyists (unless you are a hobbyist who has about $8,000 total to spare on the camera, drone and lenses). But for a filmmaker or anyone else needing mega high-quality video for professional purposes in a ready to fly product, this copter is a no brainer.