Outside of the price, we all want the details on the camera. Those expecting a palm-sized camera drone to blow it out on specs will be left a bit disappointed. Instead of a three-axis gimbal, the Spark relies on two-axis mechanical gimbal and electronic stabilization to smooth out the rolling shutter and shake.
The sensor inside the camera is slightly bigger than what you find in your smartphone. The iPhone 7 features a ⅓” sensor, while the Spark jumps this to a 1/2.3″ sensor. What that means is more light entering the camera, so better pictures and more cinematic moments.
Spark’s camera can capture 12 MP stills and 1080p at 30fps. Yeah, no 4K. That’s a disappointment when the iPhone 7 it compares its sensor to can capture the UHD.
Baked into the new DJI GO 4 App are four QuickShots:
Rocket: The spark ascends with the camera pointing downward.
Dronie: Exactly what it sounds like. You are in focus, and the drone flies backward to give that wide angle feel.
Circle: You guessed it.
Helix: My favorite. If you ever watched an action movie, you’ll recognize this effect with the subject in frame with orbits widening out with each pass.
There are two new shooting modes inside the DJI Go 4 app. Pano will have the Spark shooting along either horizontal or vertical axis and stitching together a clean panoramic shot. And the ShallowFocus mode. It gives off the bokeh effect seen in professional photography. The iPhone 7 Plus does the same thing, and it works pretty well. It won’t replace an amazing lens on a DSLR or mirrorless, but it’s a damn cool effect on a camera drone.
DJI Spark Controls
The company is all in on gesture control. Within 10 feet, you can control the Spark’s movements, including landing, taking off, directional flying and more. Yes, you can take a selfie with it.
Out to 100 yards, your smartphone can handle the flight controls. Its max range of 1.2 miles is dependent on the controller in the Fly More Combo.
TapFly and ActiveTrack are both represented in the Spark allowing you to set up shots.
DJI Spark Performance
It fits in your hand and weighs as much as a can of soda. Performance is pretty damn relative here. In sport mode, top speed can hit 31mph. Using the remote controller, you can reach out to 1.2 miles and downlink to your phone in 720p. In the real world, figure on about a mile due to interference, line of sight, etc.
Battery life is pretty damn impressive at 16 minutes. And you have to love the ability to charge the Spark via a micro-USB port on the back. In addition to the solid battery life, the DJI Spark is fully compatible with the DJI Goggles.
What is it Lacking?
4K. That one hurts, but understandable considering the tech being built into the Spark. No three-axis stabilization hampers those who want more than a selfie drone. But for $499, it’s hard to gripe. DJI wanted to strengthen its hold over the consumer drone market, and it needed an affordable platform.
I’d go with a Mavic or Phantom 4 Pro, but it’s all about personal preference. Those just dipping their feet into the drone pool may be best served with what is an excellent starter drone.
DJI Spark Goes Apple
Everyone gets a color. Alpine White isn’t the only color palette DJI knows. The Spark is also available in Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red and Sunrise Yellow.
Preorders start today with shipping slated for June 15. Here’s hoping there isn’t a Mavic debacle of last year, but the company seems to have the manufacturing kinks worked out. Dropping 4K and the three-axis gimbal makes life a bit easier. Now, the company has drones at every price point – beginners all the way to professional and enterprise customers.