DJI Spark – Intelligent And Small
DJI has really invested in autonomous flight modes and sensing technology for drones. The new DJI Spark inherits these features from its older siblings and can even be controlled by hand gestures alone. Flying Spark seems really easy, even if you’ve never flown a drone before. The palm take off and landing as seen in the videos is impressive.
The Intelligent Flight Modes we know from more professional DJI drones – such as TapFly and ActiveTrack – can also be found on Spark. It has the ability to automatically recognize and track an object you choose keeping it at the center of the frame, and incorporates a 3D Sensing System that detects obstacles in front of the aircraft.
DJI Spark takes off from the operator’s hand and automatically enters “Gesture Mode”, which lets users send Spark into the air and shoot a video with pre-defined flight paths, like circling, following or filming from straight up. That sounds really cool, doesn’t it? But those among us with filmmaking minds will wonder how well they can control and frame a shot with just gestures. The DJI Spark will probably not fulfil a professional shooter’s demands, but for those seeking a little more control, Spark can also be operated via a a mobile device or a dedicated remote (optional accessory).
Lightweight Body and Camera
The DJI Spark weighs just 300g. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to take this drone anywhere you like, the size and weight may also come in handy in terms of drone regulations. In several countries, the DJI Spark will be considered a toy and hence not require a license. This can be a great advantage for news shooters and documentary filmmakers.
Unfortunately, the camera is as light as the drone itself, offering a resolution of only 1080p. This might scare away many professionals, but personally I’d like to see how well that 1080p footage looks like before making a final verdict. We know by now that some 1080p cameras look really good, while other 4K cameras not so much. DJI drones, however, do tend to offer a video image that leaves a lot to be desired, so let’s hope that the DJI Spark brings some improvement here.
Made for the Masses
We saw it when the DJI Mavic was released: people went crazy over these small drones, and the DJI Spark is likely to have an even greater impact as it is highly targeted at the typical gadget-loving consumer. That’s probably the reason why Spark will be available in five different colors, because consumers want to customize their gear, right? You can choose between Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Sunrise Yellow and cinema5D Red. That last color is actually called Lava Red, but I couldn’t resist. We like the Spark just for this color alone.
With the optional remote controller, operators can switch to Sport Mode and increase Spark’s top speed to 31 mph (50 kph). Here’s where the gimbal switches to first-person view (FPV), so the camera moves with you as you fly. Spark will also be compatible with DJI Goggles for FPV flying.
In QuickShot mode, Spark will automatically create a 10-second video from your flight that can instantly be edited on your mobile device and shared on social media.
Unlike the 3-axis mechanical gimbal of the DJI Mavic, the DJI Spark is restricted 2-axis only, with a third axis stabilized via software. This is probably one way they managed to make the drone so small. The flight time limit of 16 minutes for the Spark is another limitation, where the Mavic offers up to 27 minutes.
Flight Safety, Accuracy, and Precision
In terms of flight safety, DJI Spark uses the main camera, a downward-facing vision system, a forward-facing 3D Sensing System, dual-band GPS and GLONASS to navigate its environment. Furthermore, the Spark can hover accurately with its vision system at up to 98 feet (30 meters) and sense obstacles from up to 16 ft (5 m) away.
Spark also integrates DJI’s GEO System and NFZ geofencing to provide up-to-date guidance on areas where flight may be limited by regulations or raise safety or security concerns.
Live video can be achieved with the optional remote controller accessory, at a resolution of 720p from up to 1.2 miles (2 km) away.
Price and Availability
The DJI Spark is available for. It will include a battery, USB charger and three pairs of propellers, and cost $499.
It will start shipping in mid-June. For more information see www.dji.com
What do you think? Will the DJI Spark be a tool that you could use for your own personal or commercial projects? Let us know in the comments.