THE NEW MINI DRONE: A DJI SPARK REVIEW

THE NEW MINI DRONE: A DJI SPARK REVIEW

June 16, 2017

THE NEW MINI DRONE: A DJI SPARK REVIEW 

The new DJI Spark is as small as a soda can, and DJI's most advanced yet affordable consumer drone to date. With all new features, pilots can now entirely control the drone with their very own gestures, or even have the Spark take-off and land right in the palm of their hand.

For such a small drone the Spark comes equipped with all new features, a 1080p 12-megapixel camera, and an obstacle avoidance system so users can soar through the skies with ease. With its ready to fly design, portability, and price point, the Spark could be the perfect drone for pilots of any level to unleash their creativity. 

DESIGNED TO FIT IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND

Small, compact, a with the option to choose colours including Meadow Green, Sky Blue, Sunrise Yellow, Lava Red, and Alpine White, the Spark brings a fresh, fun and more toy-like look in comparison to previous drone models offered up by DJI. 

The most noteworthy thing about the Spark's design is its extremely compact size. The Spark is extremely lightweight, weighing in at only 300 grams. Yet for such a tiny drone, DJI has still managed to jam-pack it with a ton of powerful and innovative features

Left to Right: Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red, Sunrise Yellow

The Spark itself is designed with extremely durable, high quality material which makes the drone feel very solid in your hand. The Spark's arms do not fold up like the Mavic's, but due to the Spark's sheer size the drone is still extremely portable and compact. 

Pilots can launch the DJI Spark directly from the palm of their hand

The drone's propellers can be easily attached and detached with an easy twist and lock mechanism. Users simply twist the propellers while pushing down onto the drone to lock them in place. Designed with reinforced carbon fibre, the propellers are extremely sturdy to prevent bending or breaking. The propellers are also foldable so users can easily pack them up and take them wherever their next adventure takes them. 

Propeller guards are sold separately for additional safety when flying the drone

Overall, the Spark features a high-quality, durable design, and its compact size ensure that the drone is easy to store and transport. Though it is small, the drone does not sacrifice power or stability, and ensures that users get the best flight experience possible. 

BATTERY LIFE

Taking the perfect shot from the air can take time. According to DJI, the Spark features a battery life of 16 minutes. In testing, we found that the Spark had around 13 minutes of flight time, and were prompted to land at 10% battery life. Depending on how you are flying, pilots could potentially reach the full 16 minutes. 

DJI Mavic Battery

The basic Spark package includes one 140w battery. The battery also features LED status lights so that users can easily see how much battery life they have left.  When using the USB charger, the battery will take approximately 80 minutes to fully charge. DJI officially recommends fully charging the Spark's batteries at least once every three months when not in use. When the Spark's battery is less than 10%, the drone will automatically enter Hibernation Mode after around six hours of no usage. 

FLIGHT PERFORMANCE AND RANGE

For speed seekers, the Spark features a maximum speed of 50 kph. The Spark can also withstand wind speeds between 20-28 kph. For its tiny size, we found the Spark to be extremely stable in wind thanks to DJI's extremely dependable, high quality stabilization technology. When flying in high wind while in Gesture Mode we did find that the Spark was slightly more difficult to control, and would recommend caution when flying under these specific conditions. 

DJI Spark

When using your cell phone users will get approximately 100 metres of range, which is impressive for a basic cell phone and Wi-Fi connection. With the exclusive Spark Remote Controller pilots will get an extended 2 km of range. 

Remote Controller

DJI Spark Remote Controller

A convinient feature of the Spark is that users can pilot and control their drone via their own mobile device for a convenient and easy flight experience. With your cell phone as the remote controller, users will gain around 100 metres of range.

While flying the Spark we found the on-screen controls on our mobile device's touch screen to be extremely responsive. The piloting controls were very user-friendly, and did feel and react like real physical toggles, though an actual remote controller would give users slightly more precision when piloting. 

DJI Spark with mobile device

The Sparks optional Remote Controller greatly extends the range of the Spark and gives users more control over their drone thanks to the ability to handle physical toggles and buttons. With the remote controller, pilots will be able to extend the range of their Spark to approximately 2 km.

DJI Spark Indoors

The Spark’s remote controller fits mobile devices 6.5‑8.5 mm thick and up to 160 mm long, without a phone case. The remote controller also supports 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz dual‑band Wi‑Fi frequencies. The Remote Controller is included in the Spark Fly More Combo but can also be purchased separately. 

Camera Quality

DJI Spark 2-Axis Camera

Featuring a 1080p 12-megapixel camera with a 1/2.3" sensor, pilots will be able to capture incredible aerial video and still shots. The Spark is equipped with the same sensor as the Mavic, the only notable difference being that the Spark does not have the processing power to shoot 4K or even 2.7K video. During our flights we found footage to be extremely smooth and stable. The two-axis mechanical gimbals ensures that any potential shakiness is reduced along with any rolling shutter effect. 

DJI Spark Intelligent Flight Modes

The DJI Spark supports ShallowFocus and Pano modes, which gives users the ability to shoot horizontal or vertical panoramas. Within the DJI GO 4 app users can even edit their video and images on the spot with automatic filters and templates, then upload them straight to social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. We found the editing process to be extremely easy to use and a nice addition to the overall Spark experience if users are looking to make fun, basic edits. 

OBSTACLE SENSING

Any potential crashes can be avoided thanks to the Sparks built-in obstacle avoidance system. The Spark has the ability to avoid obstacles up to 16 feet in front of it. With both front and bottom facing sensors, the Spark will automatically avoid objects autonomously so that users can fly with peace of mind. 

DJI Spark Gesture Mode

During testing we found that the Spark did a good job of autonomously sensing and stopping if an object was in its path. However, we would recommend being cautious when flying near objects that are smaller than 1-inch in diameter. . 

INTELLIGENT FLIGHT MODES

Creating stunning and dynamic shots  is just a tap away thanks to the Spark's groundbreaking new intelligent flight modes. 

The Spark is the first DJI drone to feature brand new TapFly submodes including Coordinate and Direction. In Direction Mode the pilot can conveniently tap a place on their screen and the drone will fly in that direction. In Coordinate Mode, if users tap a spot on their screen the Spark will fly in that direction while maintaining altitude. 

DJI Spark Intelligent Flight Modes

The Spark additionally features familiar Intelligent Flight Modes found in the DJI Mavic Pro and the latest models in the DJI Phantom series. With ActiveTrack users can have the Spark autonomously follow a subject and keep it in the centre of the frame. In Trace Mode, pilots can draw a path on their screen and have the drone follow that route automatically. And in Profile Mode, users can have the Spark follow the profile of an object of their choosing. 

The Spark additionally features familiar Intelligent Flight Modes found in the DJI Mavic Pro and the latest models in the DJI Phantom series. With ActiveTrack users can have the Spark autonomously follow a subject and keep it in the centre of the frame. In Trace Mode, pilots can draw a path on their screen and have the drone follow that route automatically. And in Profile Mode, users can have the Spark follow the profile of an object of their choosing.

With the new PalmControl Mode users will feel like they're in a Star Wars movie, controlling the drone with The Force, and will have the groundbreaking option to control their drone without a remote controller or their or their phone. 

With DJI's innovative "deep learning gesture recognition" pilots can now control the movement of their Spark, have the drone take off or land in the palm of their hand,  or even take photos with only their own hand gestures. For quick and easy Selfies, users simply raise their arm, wave their hand, or make a frame shape with their fingers to move the Spark and take a photo. 

Left: Trace Mode  Right: Profile Mode

In QuickLaunch Mode, the Spark uses "FaceAware" recognition which enables users to launch the drone from the palm of their hand. Additionally, in the new Quick Shot Modes, users have four different "one tap" automated camera control options that are made to allow users to easily capture footage with an enhanced cinematic look and feel. 

The Four new Quick Shot options include Rocket, Circle, Helix, and Dronie. In Rocket, pilots can have the Spark fly straight up while having the camera pointed downward. In Circle Mode, the Spark is able to fly in a continuous circle around an object. Helix mode is similar to Circle Mode but will fly in a circle around an object while flying upwards. Lastly, Dronie Mode will enable the drone to fly backward and upward while the camera is locked onto a subject. 

In QuickLaunch Mode, the Spark uses

While testing the various new flight modes we found they all worked well. We found that the Spark really shined when it came to taking quick selfies and short videos. For pilots looking to try out the new Quick Shot modes we recommend being aware of your environment as to avoid the Spark potentially crashing into an object while taking an autonomous shot. When Quick Launching from the palm of your hand we would also recommend taking caution in high winds and even using propeller guards on the drone to ensure safety.

DJI Spark ActiveTrack Gesture

Considering the Spark's overall design, performance and features the Spark is a great mini-drone for users of all levels, but will particularly cater more to the needs of beginners or casual users. The Spark's new Quick Shots Modes give pilots the option to take creative and dynamic shots quickly and easily. As well, the ability to control the drone with only your hand movements is an extremely fun and innovative feature. For its size, camera, features, and price point, the Spark is the ideal drone to take your aerial adventures to new heights.