This is the brand new DJI Spark! $399 It’s the smallest, most affordable drone DJI has ever built, yet it is still packed with tons of smart features and premium benefits!
I already covered Spark unboxing and first impressions in another post, you can check that out.
Spark weighs just 300 grams (including battery and propellers), and can hit tops speed up to 31 mph in Sport Mode (remote controller needed)! The HD camera captures 12 MP still images, and records 1080p, 30FPS video footage. All of this mounted on a two-axis mechanical gimbal powered with UltraSmooth technology, is not only an incredible feat, but actually works really well in the real world. In one of my test flights the wind was gusting around 15-20 mph. But as hard as the wind was pushing, the video footage remained incredibly stable. I was very impressed.
One of the unique and neat features of Spark is that you can fly the drone with just your phone or tablet. You do not need a separate remote controller (DJI GO 4 App is available for both iOS and Android). The max transmission range while flying Spark with your phone over WiFi is 100 m (262 ft) distance, and 50 m (164 ft) height. If you choose to buy the dedicated controller sold separately (coming soon!), that range is extended up to 2,000 m (6,561 ft) while maintaining a live video feed!
Setup and flying Spark is a cinch! You can be up and flying in about 30 seconds. Not needing to charge and find a dedicated Spark controller is great. My phone is always on me, and it just makes sense to use it as for a quick and easy flying experience of Spark. All I need to do is turn on Spark, connect via WiFi on my phone or tablet, launch the DJI GO 4 App, and I’m all ready to fly! DJI has not only included all their GO 4 app features found in their other drone products, but a lot of other bonus features as well: one-button takeoff and landing, full camera exposure controls, and the Return to Home mode, to name a few. This is a great feature to have and always offers a peace of mind when flying, especially for beginners! If the drone flies out of sight or disconnects, it will automatically come back and land right where it took off. Or you can change this in the settings to “Dynamic Home Point”, automatically changing its Home Point to the User’s current coordinates based on mobile’s GPS – super cool!
One major feature I’ve come to love is Object Avoidance. Using the front object avoidance sensors, Spark will prevent itself from flying forward into any object. In my testing, this feature worked great and wouldn’t allow me to fly forward into any subjects or objects.
The 12 MP camera captures splendid aerial photographs, and the 1080p video looks fantastic! Image quality looks great and the gimbal is very stable, giving smooth aerial video shots. I’m very happy with the results! Not only do I have full exposure control over the camera, but it has cool built-in camera modes, like Auto Exposure Bracketing for HDR photos, Timed Shot, and even Shallow Focus, which creates photos with a shallow depth of field with its 3D vision technology. In addition, In Pano Mode, I select vertical or horizontal, and Spark will auto pan and tilt the camera mid-air to capture photos with enough overlap to stitch together for a dynamic wide angle panorama shot!
DJI has also included smart shooting modes, like Active Track. Active Track will auto-follow your subject and keep them in camera frame, even if that object is moving. You can even tell it to auto rotate around the object as well, while tracking and moving simultaneously!
There are other smart shooting modes as well. QuickShots are perfectly automated flight paths that create cinematic footage for you. After a QuickShot is complete, the DJI GO 4 app automatically generates a 10-second preview for you to check out. You can then edit your shot and share it to social media if you’re satisfied with the results. I personally like the Dronie feature which automatically pulls back and away, keeping the user in center frame. For roundabout shooting, Circle keeps a steady distance and height around the subject while flying around it, while Helix lets Spark fly up and spiral around. Finally, Rocket commands Spark to pull straight up and away above your subject.
Another cool new feature DJI has implemented with the Spark is called Advanced Gesture Control. This is where you can feel like a Jedi Knight and control the Spark with just your hands!
To PalmLaunch, face the camera, press the power button twice, wait for the front LED’s to turn green, and the drone will slowly take off from your hand. I could see this being very useful if you’re on a boat or in tall grass. Another useful feature is PalmLand which is the same idea as PalmLaunch in reverse. With the drone in the air, face the camera, put out your hand, the aircraft will check for a human in front, and then land in your hand after recognition. With PalmControl, you can raise, lower, and rotate left or right and the aircraft will follow your movements. Wave your hand for a couple seconds, and the Spark will auto fly up and away a few meters, then start following you. There are other Advanced Gesture Controls as well, which make flying Spark a truly unique experience.
Overall flying and stability of Spark is top notch. Flight times should give you up to 16 minutes on a full battery charge, and in my testing Spark prompted me to land at around 10-12 minutes. I’m sure I could have pushed this flight a little longer and I could have hit that 16-minute mark, but I highly recommend against this. It is always better to be safe than sorry! In my tests, each battery would fully charge in just about 50 minutes! That’s very fast and convenient. In less than an hour, I could go back outside and keep flying!
I love Spark’s small and lightweight size. Even though I normally don’t enjoy flying drones with a phone using on-screen flight controls, Spark’s controls are quite responsive and allow a bit of small accurate flying control. That said, I can’t wait for the dedicated remote to be released soon. This will be great to have! The smart QuickShots are neat and work well, perfect for those mountain-top selfies or large family portraits. The front object avoidance sensors worked great and wouldn’t allow me to crash.
To close out this review, I think Spark is an incredible drone! It has great build quality, is packed with cutting edge features, and all of this is inside a small and portable form factor at a very affordable price! It’s the perfect drone for all of you who were on the fence about spending money on a professional DJI drone experience. This new DJI drone will Spark your creativity and give you an open world of aerial photo and video possibilities!