Whereas the smaller Alta 6 is capable of lifting a cinema camera with transmitter and prime lens attached, the larger lifting power of the Alta 8 (9.1kg v the 6.8kg of the Alta 6) will be able to accommodate a more substantial rig.
Even after a day that started at 5am, Katya Nelhams-Wright (one half of aerial footage specialists The Helicopter Girls) still manages to sound enthusiastic about the prospect of flying the Alta 8. “You’ll now be able to lift a RED or [Alexa] Mini, a master prime [lens] and a follow focus,” she says – a significant increase in payload over the Alta 6 and one that allows full control of focus from the ground.
Having owned and operated the Alta 6 since it was first launched, Kat has extensive experience of the Freefly product range. “[An] Alta and a Movi is a great combination,” she says. “It’s tried and tested and I get smoother results using the system.”
Another potential upside of the Alta 8 is Freefly’s Synapse flight controller – in Kat’s words it offers “really smooth and connected” flight, and is based on the developers’ own experience as aerial cinematographers.
So what’s the drawback? Well at $17,495 for the drone (without a gimbal, batteries, transmitter or receiver) the Alta 8 is going to be out of the question for a lot of factual shooters, especially owner-operators. But for cinema and drama use, the ability to fly and, crucially, control heavy rigs and high-end prime lenses will make it a viable option for productions looking to get aerial shots without scrambling a helicopter.
Full specs for the Freefly Systems Alta 8 are available on the company’s website here.