The official party line is it will be available mid to late June if you reserve one.
When you look on DJI authorized resellers they are saying 97 days at the end of August. But privately the resellers are talking about a cautious third quarter after the delivery problems of the Mavic Pro. You can pre-order your Spark today with a reseller by paying a deposit of £100.
Initially the DJI spark is only available in white but you can order a variety of other colors: Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red and Sunrise Yellow. The splash of color is nice way to personalize your drone in a world of drones that are usually a mix of gray, white and black.
Starting price for this UAV equipment is £519 for the drone and £699 for a combo, which includes a remote controller, an extra battery some prop guard and a carry bag. The combo will be the best seller but will be a longer wait.
What Happens at Start Up
When you turn it on and hold it out in front of you, the Spark uses the camera to look for its pilot.
When the camera sees you, utilising face recognition and it has locked on to you, it can take off and hover within seconds of powering on.
Controlled via a new remote controller, your mobile device or even your hands, the DJI Spark signals the next generation of intuitive drone operation.
DJI has also developed an advanced flight control system to make flying even more fun and intuitive.
They call it ‘Deep Learning Gesture Recognition’ which lets you capture ‘Dronies’ using simple hand motions. Another step in the direction of autonomy is PalmControl mode which controls the DJI Spark‘s aerial movement by hand. This means that you can leave your remote controller and phone at home and still have the ability to fly the Spark.
Hold up a palm and move it side to side, and the Spark follows your hand. Wave at it, and it flies 10 feet away, keeping you centered in the shot. When you walk around, the drone continues to track you. A two-handed “picture frame” gesture snaps a photo.
To finish wave at the Spark, hold out your hand, and it flies down and lands in your outstretched palm.
DJI hope this product will allow drone aerial photography to be done by a much wider audience.
Automatic Flight Settings
DJI has six automatic flight maneuvers called Quickshots in the companion app
- Pano:This mode shoots both horizontal and vertical panoramas by automatically adjusting its gimbal and heading.
- ShallowFocus:This feature uses the DJI Spark‘s 3D vision technology to create photos with a shallow depth of field.
- Additional camera modes include:
- Rocket:The Spark ascends with the camera pointing downwards, capturing the scene below
- Dronie:This setting makes the drone fly backwards and upwards, with the camera locked on its subject
- Circle:A self-explanatory feature that circles around the target
- Helix:With Helix, the Spark flies in an upward spiral around the subject
The Spark features existing DJI features –
TapFly mode which enables you to control your drone with a simple tap of your mobile device. Using DJI’s bespoke vision technology, the drone either flies in the direction of your tap or exactly where you tapped while actively sensing obstacles depending on the settings you choose.
ActiveTrack makes its return and allows the Spark to automatically recognise objects of different shapes and sizes to enable tracking based on what they are and how fast they move. There are two versions of this feature currently available on the Spark:
- Trace: Track your target from in front or behind, or even circle around it.
- Profile: Follow your subject from a fixed perspective
The camera is full HD, and the still camera is 12MP. There is no 4K which means the Spark is not for commercial aerial photography. It’s more like a flying smartphone.
The Spark’s camera has been designed to ensure that all imagery us consistently sharp with little-to-none colour aberration and distortion. Featuring a f/2.6 wide-angle lens with a 25mm equivalent focal length, the camera’s five elements are arranged into a single group that fit into a compressed frame.
Small and compact like the drone itself, the camera features a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor which allows for stabilised video at 1080p and stills at 12MP. The use of larger pixels means that the DJI Spark is sensitive to light and can record colours with precision. Keeping the camera in place is the 2-axis mechanical gimbal coupled with UltraSmooth technology which dramatically reduces shake and rolling shutter effects.
The aerodynamic, lightweight design is optimised for minimal wind resistance. The front-mounted gimbal and camera are flush with the aircraft which increases the overall stability of the system.
But what really hits you is the DJI Sparks size – it is so so small.
Contrary to earlier speculation the Sparks limbs don’t fold into the drone like the Mavic Pro.
An innovative HD Wi-Fi system allows 720p video transmission from up to 2km away.
A powerful 50kph of propulsion means you can expect a steady flight at speeds of up to 31mph in Sport Mode.
The DJI Spark also makes use of a powerful FlightAutonomy system which includes the front-mounted camera, its vision positioning system, a 3D sensing system, dual-band GPS, an inertial measurement unit and 24 computing cores. This allows Spark to hover accurately with VPS assistance at up to 98ft, sense front-facing obstacles from up to 16ft away and also land safely every time.
The Spark can return to its home point automatically. If the battery gets too low, the connection is lost or you hit the Return To Home button, the little quadcopter flies back to a pre-set home point while avoiding obstacles in its path. The Spark’s downward-facing camera also captures images of the area surrounding home point and references these images for a safe landing.
DJI Sparks Battery Life
The DJI Spark uses a high-energy density LiPo battery and features 12 intelligent protection features which ensure greater safety during flights. Additionally, the mini drone’s battery can estimate remaining flight times, which offers a heads up on when to land in real-time.
The battery life of 16 minutes is the most disappointing aspect about this drone.
Roy Horton writes about the drone industry, aerial photography in Cornwall and the South West for DPS.