About Lily Flying Camera

Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow are on a mission to change how you take pictures with Lily Flying Camera, an ultra portable, “throw and go,” drone-like device that works almost completely autonomously.

And while this technology represents a huge leap forward—and looks really cool to boot—is it right for you? We’ll get to this in a moment, but let’s first take a look at how the Lily Flying Camera works.

How Does the Lily Camera Work?

Born in University of California, Berkeley's robotics lab and developed over the past 4 years, Lily Flying Camera is claimed to fit in a backpack (it weighs just 2.8 pounds), require zero setup to use, and to fly itself without requiring a traditional joystick controller. All you have to do is turn it on, throw it in the air to get started, and then change its behavior using the companion app.

From there, Lily uses a wrist-worn GPS tracking device that fits inside a waterproof case, similar to a large watch, to track your distance, position, and speed and maintain a constant predetermined angle, including follow, slide up, side, lead, loop, and more. You can even instruct Lily to perform specific functions (such as recording in slow motion) any time an action occurs, such as when going over jumps.

Lily records video in full HD 1080p / 720p at 60fps (SloMo is 120 fps) and takes 12MP still photographs. It can fly up to 25mph, maintain a distance of anywhere between 5ft and 100ft from the user, and can even record sound through the tracking device, which is automatically synced with the video.

Comparable to most other drone-like devices, the Lily Camera has a 20-minute flight time. Once the battery starts running low, it will notify the user and if it isn’t “docked” within a certain timeframe, it will automatically land itself.

On top of this, the Lily Flying Camera’s body is sealed and its motor is insulated, making it waterproof up to one meter. In fact, Lily even floats, so if can be safely landed in the water.

With all of this in mind, is Lily really a “camera reinvented,” or just a gimmick? Is it worth your hard-earned money? Consider the following:

How Big is the Lily Camera?

According to the product’s website, Lily is 3” high, 10” around, and weighs 2.8 pounds, or about the same as a standard laptop.

As such, while the Lily Flying Camera is portable, it’s not as small as some of the smaller competition (specifically Zano – more about this shortly) and it will definitely take up some precious backpack space on longer outings.

Does the Lily Flying Camera Meet FAA Regulations?

The company claims that Lily always remains in line of site and flies under 400 feet, so is 100% legal and doesn’t fall under FAA regulations.

Lily Camera’s Battery Life

Speaking of longer outings, Lily’s battery only has about a 20-minute run time and will take about 2 hours to recharge. As such, if you’re out on a long hike or bike ride, you’ll have a fairly limited amount of recording time and will have to lug the flying camera around with you for the remainder of the day.

In addition, Lily’s lithium-ion battery cannot be replaced or swapped out, so you won’t be able to add the battery of your choice for longer life.

Lily Flying Camera’s Internal Storage

The good news is that Lily can hold up to 4GB (about 45 minutes) of video using a microSD external card slot, and “uses the same 12-megapixel Sony sensor found in the GoPro Hero3 and Ion Air Pro 3 action cam.” For full details, be sure to read through Lily’s Tech Specs.

Flying Cameras Galore

Speaking of the GoPro, while the Lily Flying Camera is certainly a leap forward in cinematography and videography, there is competition. This includes more drone-based options that carry GoPros, such as the AirDog and HexO+, but also includes built-in camera options such as the Nixie Drone and Zano.

While it’s true that not all of these options are as market-ready as the Lily, the point is that this market is developing quickly, and it’s all but certain that you’ll soon have a variety of options from which to choose.

Potential Downsides to the Lily Flying Camera

Perhaps the biggest downfall related to the Lily Camera is that it does not include obstacle avoidance. And while this probably won’t be a problem in wide open areas, if you’re looking to film in a forest or city environment, running into an obstacle at 25mph could quickly ruin your investment.

According to the company, you can define no-fly zones inside the app, although doing so will certainly limit your filming options.

In addition, Lily can only follow one tracking device at a time, although developers are working on providing the ability for Lily to track multiple cameras to one person.

Also, the tracking device is fairly large and bulky (which is also the case for most of the competition), which could get in the way if you’re biking or motorcycling.

Finally, the Lily Flying Camera uses a digital gimbal, and you cannot add your own external gimbal.

Lily Flying Camera Pricing & Refund Policy

At the time of our research, the Lily Flying Camera was available for preorder and was priced at $499 plus $20 S&H. However, after June 15, 2015, this price will increase to $999.

Regardless of the price you pay, your Lily Camera won’t ship until February 2016 and will include the following:

  • Lily Flying Camera
  • Tracking device with wrist waterproof case
  • Brick charger
  • Micro USB cable
  • User manual

While not currently available, the company claims you’ll be able to purchase replacement propellers on their website, as well as other replacement parts.

According to the company’s FAQ, “If you decide to cancel your pre-order before Lily ships, we will provide a full refund to you.” After it ships though, refunds don’t appear to be available.

Should You Buy the Lily Flying Camera?

Chopping to the point: To be perfectly honest, here at HighYa, we’re extremely excited about this new wave of flying cameras; especially Lily Flying Camera, since it appears to be the most market-ready device.

However, at such a steep price with unproven technology and no refunds, the Lily Camera might be best suited for early adopters that are passionate about photography.

Whether or not you decide to splurge on Lily though, one thing’s for certain; it will definitely change the way we take pictures and appears to fully earn the slogan of “camera reinvented.”

Now read: The Risks of Backing a Crowdfunded Campaign

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13 Customer Reviews for Lily Flying Camera

Average Customer Rating: 1.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 0 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 0 1 star:  13
Bottom Line: 0% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 13
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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    I bought six

    • Orlando, FL,
    • Feb 19, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I spent $3,000 on six drones, and where is my money?

    This was a SCAM since the beginning!

    I won't put my order number because somebody can use my order number to receive back my cash.

    Lily Flying Camera is a scam!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Lily Flying Camera scam

    I pre-ordered this camera on November 10, 2015, with no updates from the company. In October of 2016, they stated that they could not find my order. Later when they found it, they promised to start delivery in December of 2016.

    I just received an email (on January 12, 2017) informing me of a money refund for the price paid back one and a half years ago. I sent them several emails and no response was received. I was still hoping to receive the camera and did not request a refund.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Never investing in a crowd sourcing company again. Thanks Lily

    • Canton, Ohio,
    • Jan 19, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been waiting well over a year for this drone. The company stopped all communications after 12/20/16. Now they won't respond in any forum, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, direct email, etc.

    I requested a refund, and have not received a response. They have 66,000 investors and over $34 million in deposits, yet they stop communicating.

    I hope Lily realizes they are giving the crowd sourcing community every reason to run away. What appears to be a scam has stopped me from investing in any of these companies. I have been ripped off twice now, with false promises of a great product and years (yes years) of delays and excuses.

    Shame on you Lily, I hope your management will man-up and give everyone their money back. If you don't, what goes around, comes around. Ask me how I know.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    over 1.5 years waiting, asked for refund, and no reply

    • Texas,
    • Jan 9, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This is a scam, sham, and sorry operation, swindling money out of the public.

    They do not care, and I really don't know how they get away with it. They will not answer emails asking for a refund, that's what these nerds are doing. I wish I could see them face to face, I could make them wish they had never seen me up close and personal.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 12 out 13 people found this review helpful

    What a scam!

    • Valencia, CA,
    • Nov 10, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Hey guys, demand your money back. After the very first delay, I demanded my money back (and got it) because hell, it had been A YEAR at that point. Malls go up in 2 months. If they could not get this thing up and running in a year, something smelled rotten.

    It's a scam, plain and simple. Even by the time they get it right, if they ever get it right, it will be obsolete.

    There will be waterproof drones, better camera resolution, probably a longer battery life. If it smells like a dog, if it looks like a dog, if it sounds like a dog, it is a dog!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Major Hype, Major Disappointment

    • UAE,
    • Nov 7, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    After suckering in preorders with a slick promo/advert, the guys at Lily have not delivered its drone nor provided any refunds to disgruntled buyers. They mock the customers with email updates on how the testings are ongoing but continued to push back delivery dates. Back in early October, I received an email from Lily asking for more information for a refund with a promise for a full refund within 15 days. But I've yet so seen a refund not hear from these clowns.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Crowd funding people's hobby

    • United Kingdom,
    • Oct 15, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was one of those who was duped into backing the development of this with the promise of delivery in February 2016 (over a year away at that point).

    Since then, things have slipped several times and info from Lily HQ is becoming increasingly frustrating. I've backed projects like this before and am fully aware that things may not go exactly to plan; that's the risk you take.

    However, Lily seem to be taking the mickey and it seems clear that the product/prototype was nowhere near the development stage they pretended it was when they solicited pre-orders.

    Rather than providing professional, contrite updates, all that backers get are flippant, upbeat mailshots bragging about what fun the development team is having endlessly tinkering with this gadget at our expense.

    Whilst I have nothing against a bunch of student hobbyists having a great time, I resent being duped into paying for them to do so.

    My advice to anyone looking for a camera such as this is to go for something else or, at the very least, wait until this one is in stock and shipping (if that ever happens) before you part with any money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 8 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Excuses

    • Kalaru, NSW Australia,
    • Oct 14, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Lily is not committed to its customers. I have been waiting over 2 years. Still, haven't received the product. Now they are saying that they're having problems with the international flying law even though thousands of drones are being sold in Australia. Lily is just full of lame non-commital excuses.

    Ashley is their customer service advisor and has no real substance to her excuses. I can't get real answers. No, I would not recommend the purchase of lily.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 16 out 17 people found this review helpful

    Lily Camera - not delivered.

    Clearly many investors in Lily (like me) have been mugged. Lily has made interest on our investment, and are waiting until most of us are fed up and asked for refunds, so that they can then sell more units at full retail price. Scam! They have failed to deliver as they promised and seem to be having cute financial and marketing teams but poor technical ability (on purpose). Avoid (do not invest), you have been warned.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 16 out 16 people found this review helpful

    Not delivered and no refund so far.

    • San Francisco,
    • Jul 29, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I did order the Lily camera in May 2015 for promised delivery in February 2016. Now it's late July and I tried to cancel my order because the camera does not seem to materialize. At first they promised to fully refund, but after two weeks of emailing back and forth, they deflected the issue to their sales partner 'Tilt'. I am not sure if I'll ever get my money back.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Refunded

    Started off as excited to order down a Lily despite being a concept. Nearly 2 years later have binned the idea & invested in an upgrade from my Phantom 2 to Phantom 4. At least I can fly it. Refund with Lily was straightforward. Disappointed to have pulled out, but cannot wait forever.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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