The Quadcopter DJI Spark Review
100m Control Range
1 hour Recharge
16 min Flight Time
12 MP Camera
Drone technology has come a long way over the years. The Shenzhen based Chinese technology company, DJI, has managed to position itself as the market leader when it comes to battery powered camera quadcopter drones. One of the coolest creations to roll out of DJI’s production line in the recent past is the technology packed DJI Spark camera drone. Like all drones from DJI, the Spark comes ready to fly straight out of the box.
DJI Spark Quick Facts
The Spark is quite tiny, measuring 143 by 143 by 55mm which is just slightly larger than a human hand by a few centimeters. It weighs around 300g and will stay in the air for about 16 minutes from a single charge. The drone comes equipped with a 12 Mega pixel camera mounted on a 2-axis gimbal. It is primarily a gesture controlled drone, although a controller is offered as an option. There is the standard kit and a Fly More kit equipped with all bells and whistles including a spare battery and a controller.
DJI Spark Design
Due to its small size, the Spark might be confused for a toy, which it is not based on the kind of advanced sensors it comes equipped with. The first thing you notice about the drone on a closer look is the build quality. The overall design is quite beautiful with the thick motor mounts giving it a robust appearance. Several color options are available (red, white, yellow and blue), but all of them have a dark gray underside which makes it more visible in flight against a bright sunny background.
Bright red and green LEDs located on the underside of each motor mount give the drone’s directional orientation and enhances visibility as well. Small silicone landing gears provide impact protection on hard landings and provide the camera with some ground clearance. Proximity sensors at the front feed into the collision avoidance system to provide additional safety during forward flights and when landing.
DJI Spark Review
Pros and Cons
Small drone that uses the latest in satellite navigation technology.
Supports Gesture Control
Control the drone and take pictures with a wave of your hand.
Forward Obstacle Avoidance
Avoid flying into trees and walls with active collision avoidance.
Limited Control Range
You can’t fly this drone out too far But then again, its made for selfies.
Only 1080p Videos.
Not full 4K resolution, but you will still be impressed by its quality.
Short Flight Times
The flight tiems could be improved in order to give you more flying fun.
The best input device a human being can have is his own hands. One of the most fascinating things about the Spark is how easy it is to operate especially in gesture mode. Charging the battery is all the pre-flight you need to do and the device is ready to go. Battery charging is through a USB port and takes about 45 minutes. There is no messing around calibrating the sensors and pairing with other devices involved. For takeoff, press the power button twice to instruct the drone to scan your face, place it on your palm and raise it. The Spark automatically goes into gesture control mode and takes off.
Extending your palm in front of your face while in flight also switches the drone into the gesture mode. In this mode, the drone responds to your hand gestures and moves up, down, left or right corresponding to similar movements made by your hands. Wave it good bye and the Spark will fly further from you to a distance of up to 20 feet. To take a photo, you make a square frame around your face using your thumb and index finger. After you are done taking selfies, bring back the drone by making a figure Y with your arms on top of your head.
As fun as it may be, the gesture control on the Spark is not as perfect as you would wish it to be and you might have to repeat a single gesture multiple times before the drone gets it and responds. For this reason, an external controller is a good thing to have. The Spark Fly More Combo comes with a controller and some added parts like the propeller guards and a spare batter. The optional controller, like the drone itself has a high quality feel to it. There is no screen on the controller, but a provision is made for mounting a mobile phone to act as a screen enabling you to see your videos and in-flight data.
Device pairing must be done for this setup to work, of course. The pause and return to home buttons as well as the mode select switch are dedicated buttons. The mode select switch on the controller switches the drone into sport mode, also known as fun mode. This is the mode that gives you complete control of the drone and unlocks the 31mph top speed. The forward collision avoidance sensors are switched off in this mode, leaving only the down facing sensors to avoid hitting the ground.
DJI Spark Review Video
It is also possible to control the drone from your phone via a dedicated DJI app. The app displays the live camera image on the screen, and the controls are superimposed on it. Camera movements are achieved through slide controls displayed on the screen while two virtual sticks control the drone. A few dedicated buttons for either landing the drone at its current position or sending it back to base for safe landing are provided as well. Managing the photos and videos, including editing, is quite straight forward in both the android and iOS apps.
The Active Track mode allows the Spark to fly itself by following a given subject. In this mode, forward proximity sensors are enabled and allow the drone to avoid obstacles in its path. The Quickshot mode allows capturing of the image around you. In this mode, the drone goes around and vertically in a spiral while capturing the images automatically.
Photos and Videos
With 2-axis gimbal mounted 12mp camera capturing videos at 1080p and 30fps, the quality is not exactly professional standard. While still images are of good quality, shooting complex videos is a bit difficult and quality is compromised by the 2-axis gimbal.
DJI Spark Review Summary
While the Spark is not the equipment for professional photographers, it is a great tool for amateurs. The ease of operation and the capability makes it a great drone to have although a few problems with the gesture control and limited range while using mobile phone app control can be a bit difficult to live with. The offering of traditional standard accessories such as the controller separately allows you the option of saving some money, and using your smartphone as a controller.
Portable Mini Drone