The Lily Camera is the point-and-shoot camera of drones

Just toss this compact quadcopter into the air and it takes flight, keeping its camera on you and whatever you do.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
2 min read

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Lily is a flying camera for people who are more concerned with getting the perfect shot than piloting a quadcopter.

Shaped like a giant M&M with propellers, you can pull the Lily Camera from a backpack -- it measure 3 inches high (8cm) and roughly 10 inches square (26cm) and weighs just 2.8 pounds (1.3kg) -- and toss it in the air and its motors will kick in automatically as the drone takes flight. The body is completely sealed, too, so along with flying it in the rain or snow, you can actually toss it into water.

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There is no radio controller for the Lily Camera, or at least it's not a typical one with sticks and switches. Instead of worrying about things like pitch and yaw, you just strap on a puck-shaped tracking device.

Using a combination of GPS and visual subject tracking, the puck lets Lily know your position, distance and speed so it can keep you in the shot.

Once Lily is locked onto you, the flying camera can be set to hold its position, hover in place and simply rotate to keep you in frame or you can have it circle around you instead. Lily can also be set to perform a fly out for perfect dronies or just have it have it follow your every move. A mobile app lets you program other flights paths as well as changing camera settings and editing and sharing your clips and photos.

Out in front is a built-in camera that uses the same 12-megapixel Sony sensor found in the GoPro Hero3 and Ion Air Pro 3 action cams. Along with 12-megapixel stills, that camera can capture 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second or 720p at 120fps. Plus, the tracker has a built-in mic that's synced with the camera, allowing you to capture audio from the ground.

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Since the quadcopter is tethered to the tracker, it has a more limited range than other drones. Altitude is set from 5 feet (1.75 meter) above you to a maximum of 50 feet (15m) with a minimum distance of 5 feet from you to a maximum of 100 feet (30m). It can reach a top speed of 25mph (40kmph).

Photos and video can be stored to 4GB of internal storage or you can pop a microSD card into an external slot. What you can't pop in is a fresh battery. The internal lithium-ion pack is good for up to 20 minutes of flight and takes 2 hours for a full recharge.

The Lily Camera won't start shipping until February 2016 and will be priced at $999 when it does. That converts to roughly £650 for UK buyers or AU$1,300 in Australia. However, to raise awareness, Lily (the company, not the drone) is running a 29-day preorder campaign letting you pick one up for $499 (about £325 or AU$650).