We’ve been seeing rumors and leaks for a new DJI drone for some time now, and the wait and speculation can now end. DJI has officially announced the Spark, a very portable, compact drone ready to get even more cameras into the sky.
Our own John Velasco was in attendance at the New York event on May 24. The new drone and more were announced, stay tuned for all of our coverage.
Overview of the DJI Spark
Early leaks were fairly accurate in depicting the DJI Spark. We are looking at a fixed propeller arm quadcopter that is smaller than the Mavic Pro. Utilizing familiar folding propellers and a fairly new approach to controlling the machine, Spark is promising to be an easy to use camera, nearly ready to fly on a whim.The concept is simple: You basically need a professional crew to fly the Matrice drones, need a second pilot at least to fly and control the Inspire 2. You need a nice case or big backpack to haul around a Phantom drone, not to mention the time and planning that needs to go into preparing for a flight with the above machines.
The Mavic Pro opened up a new segment, identifying a serious demand from users, offering a compact and easily transportable drone with a great camera. Up until recently, the FAA registration rules meant that the Mavic Pro needed to be registered before flight, and adhere to strict rules of the air. The Spark is small enough to bypass some of this.
Focusing on immediacy, the DJI Spark was designed to be easy to use, simple to control and fit in your pocket. Your smartphone has all of these things, but only tells the part of the story of what you are seeing, Spark will include the side of the story showing how you are experiencing your adventures.
Double tap the power button while the drone is facing you, and it handles the rest. It tracks you just by using your palm, face your hand toward the drone and it stays right where you want it.
The DJI Spark takes portability to a new level, providing a nearly-ready to fly drone that you can slip into a purse or backpack. Packing similar cameras to the Mavic Pro, you’re assured pretty decent images. What it really boils down to then is how you control this new drone.
There is no big, fancy and powerful controller for this small drone, just a compact optional remote. You do not get a hand-held computer capable of connecting with the drone up to several miles away, instead, it only connects up to 1.2 miles, but you should try flying using your connected mobile device. DJI has been furiously updating the DJI GO 4 app in the last few months, time to put it to use for something new.
May 2017Release Date
The DJI Spark introduced a brand new segment for the drone company, launching a tiny machine that packs more fun features than powerful specs. This drone had everyone talking about the Jedi mind tricks you can play with the machine, using the front camera and object detection to accept hand gestures for some basic controls. All of these fun flight features made for a focus on two other features, the ability to fly without a remote control in hand and making you the object of the flight.
The DJI Spark is small enough to easily pack around wherever you might like to go. It's powerful enough to combat some decent winds and the 12MP camera can snap some fun photographs. While the camera may have a 4K sensor on the inside, it only records 1080p video. The HD video resolution allows the use of the extra pixels for image stabilization. The Spark mechanically stabilizes two-axis of movement, using the sensor cropping to handle side-to-side image stabilization. Admitting that this makes for some of the worst video capture from a DJI drone in the last 5 years, we can't deny that that is still pretty good, and the compact nature and low price of the drone make it well worth consideration.
There is an optional dedicated remote control, but the DJI Spark was designed to work by hand, literally. Gesture controls maneuver the machine through the air from take-off to landing. Snap photos with a basic gesture and control the thing with your Jedi mind tricks. Face your palm to the machine and the front facing sensors will make the drone travel with you.
Hand gestures include:
- Wave to send drone out approx. 10 feet
- Create a box with your fingers to snap a photo
- Two handed wave and hold out your hand to trigger landing
There are extra controls available through the remote control, or your connected smartphone, including the full suite of DJI smart features from ActiveTrack, TapFly and more.
Adding value to the recently announced DJI Goggles, connect your new headgear to the new drone for the immersive experience.
Quickshot camera modes
The newly introduced Quickshot features include several flying modes and easy editing within the DJI GO 4 app. We’re working on a dedicated post to explore this in entirety, but for now, Quickshot includes:
Rocket – the camera faces downward and the drone rockets straight up.
Dronie – the camera faces the subject and flies slowly upward as it backs away from the subject.
Circle – the camera keeps a focus on the subject and the drone flies around it in a circle.
Helix – the camera keeps focus on the subject and the drone both flies outward, upward and circles around. Basically, it combines the Dronie and Circle functions.
Once your video is captured, enjoy fast and easy editing. Tap the button in the DJI GO 4 app and your footage will be automatically edited down to a quick and fun video, music included.
Accessories and options
DJI has created the expected assortment of accessories to get the most out of your new DJI Spark drone. We’ll cover these in detail later, the quick list includes prop guards, charging hub and charging box. Of course, the remote control is an optional purchase and with support for the DJI Goggles, you can grab those as well.
DJI is in the habit these days of providing drones as is, then adding optional packages with more accessories, the Fly More bundle does just this for the Spark. An extra battery, extra propellers, a carrying case, a charging hub and more are included. Best of all, the Fly More bundle includes the remote control.
While the DJI Goggles are their own beast, they do work with Spark, look to drop $450 on the headset if interested.
Finally, you can opt into the DJI Care Refresh program, an additional warranty plan that provides repair services and an exchange program. Swap out your defective or otherwise destroyed drone up to two times.
Looking at the spec sheet, we have a decently powerful flying machine. The DJI Spark houses what appears to be the same camera sensor as the Mavic Pro at 1/2.3-inch, however, the Spark is limited to just 1080P video. The camera is gimbal mounted to get the most of your shot.
DJI says the Spark will go up to 31 mph, but that is using the optional remote and in Sport Mode, which turns off most smart features and collision sensors. Speaking of, the Spark has forward facing obstacle avoidance only. Flight time with the 1,480 mAh battery clocks in at a maximum of 16 minutes.
GPS and GLONAS keep your new machine hovering with the same accuracy as the Mavic Pro, that includes front facing sensors to both track you as the pilot and to avoid collisions. Return to Home functionality is supported as well, as we should expect from all higher-end drones today. Tap the button or allow the drone to automatically return home when the battery gets low.
Look to the spec sheet below for all the details.
|Size||6.69-inch (170 mm) diagonal without propellers
143 mm x 143 mm x 55 mm (5.62 x 5.62 x 2.16 inches)
|Weight||0.66 lbs (300 g)|
|Max speed||31 mph|
|Max service ceiling||13,123 feet (4000 m)|
|Max ascent/descent speed||9.8 ft/s (3 m/s)
9.8 ft/s (3 m/s)
|Battery||1,480mAh Lithium Polymer - Removable.|
|Battery life||Max 16 minutes
Ensure safe landing: 12 minutes
|Range||Max 1.2 miles from controller
100 yards from mobile phone
|Camera||1/2.3" CMOS 12MP
Image resolution: 3968x2976
|Video recording||FHD - 30fps (1920x1080)
We expect support for lower resolution and other frame rates, but nothing is listed yet.