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The DJI Spark is one of my favorite pieces of technology of 2017. This little guy is an extremely durable and easy to fly entry level drone that captures some great pictures and videos. And through software updates the DJI spark has gotten all around better, but more importantly it now has some epic new picture capture modes. Aside from just giving you a 6 month later review, I really want to touch on these new picture modes as well.
One of the reasons I really like the DJI Spark is because its so small and you can take it with you anywhere. And since its so small you can fly it in doors but its still more than capable enough to fly out doors even in windy conditions. And it does all of this while looking like a toy, which its clearly not. And the best part is you can actually get it on sale right now for as low as $350. If you want to pick the DJI Spark up I’ll have a link in the description below and if you use the link it really helps out the channel. And if you want to learn more about the DJI Spark you can watch my full review and a versus video against the DJI phantom 3 by taping on the I icon in the top right.
First lets go over the coolest new feature on the spark and thats 360 degree images. All you have to do is fly the spark to where you want it and press to take the picture. And then the spark will slowly do a 360 degree spin all while taking multiple pictures from various pitch angles. The process it self does take about a minute and half and it does drain the battery pretty quickly. But after the process is completed you just go into the DJI App and stitch all the images together. And to be honest with you, I was blown away at how good the image came out. Because I was worried since it was so windy and the spark kept moving from where it initially started the process that the image was going to be an incoherent mess, but as you can see by the final result… its not. And Through the app you can adjust the image and zoom in on any particular point you’d like. Unfortunately you can’t share this 360 degree image on social media and let your followers manipulate the photo how ever they’d like. You can only show people how awesome your 360 degree pictures are directly from your phone. But since drones are becoming increasingly more popular I image its only a matter of time social media platforms will integrate such functionality.
But the DJI Spark does have 4 other new picture modes that are definitely much more useful for social media likes and just over all for great picture taking. Normally when you take a picture with the spark you’re going to end up with an image with a 3 by 2 aspect ratio. So certain subjects in an image might not get captured cause of the narrow field of view. But now you can take horizontal or vertical panoramas. And either of these modes is great for capturing epic landscape shots or pictures of tall objects. And just like the spherical images, when you tap to take the picture the spark will fly in place and take multiple picture from various angles and stitch them together. But unlike the 360 degree pictures these modes take much less time, they take about 15 seconds to complete. Now the spark also has a 180 degree panorama mode, but I personally think this is the least useful of the new picture modes. All it does is that I gets a little more of a wider shot than the horizontal panorama but with a lot more warping. And you cant go in and readjust the image like you can with the 360 degree picture. So I personally see no point to this picture mode.
Now just like every other phone that been released this year, the DJI Spark now also has a portrait mode. And basically when you take a picture the spark will take 2 images from two perspectives and mesh them together. And through the DJI app you can manually select what you want to be in focus and how much of a bokeh effect you want. But let me tell you, its not as good as the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, or Pixel 2 XL but hopefully it could get better through future software updates. Cause right now the blur effect around the subject in focus isn’t consistent on the edges. Either it misses the edges or goes over too much.
So those are the new features I wanted to talk about the spark cause honestly I think it really helps make the spark that much of a better product. And with these new picture modes Im going to be more inclined to take more stills with the Spark, cause up until now 99% of the time that I flew my drone it was to capture video. And thats because the Spark does a really good job of recording very smooth video through a combination of digital image stabilization, through the use of its 2 axis gimbal system and the drone it self does a really good job of automatically compensating for wind that otherwise would ruin your shot. And with the spark you can shoot up to 1080p 30 frames per second video. But the biggest drawback of using the spark in general is its over all size. Even though the spark does a really good job of counteracting random gusts of wind, if it too windy then its almost imposable to keep the drone stable and get good quality video. Thats the price you pay for using such a small drone. Another price you pay for using such a small drone is the battery life. The spark will typically last you 15 minutes of flight time and to fully charge its battery its going to take about 80 minutes. But even after 6 months of heavy usage the intelligent battery on the DJI Spark still manages to perform just as well as when I first got it. Just as long as you take proper care of it. But still if you plan on flying a lot with the spark I recommend you get a second battery.
Now what I don’t recommend you go out and get right away with the Spark is the optional controller which usually retails for $150 and is sold separately. In my opinion its over kill given what the spark is really intended for, an epic selfie machine. By default you can control the spark through the DJI Go App on your phone, and with your phone alone you can get a range of about 300 feet which is more than enough for a lot of people. The controls are responsive and through practice you’ll learn how to control the spark with a good amount of precision and be able to get some great shots. If you want to get the controller so you can fly the spark out up to 1.2 miles than I recommend you just get the Mavic Pro or a Phantom 3 cause the with the 15 minute flight time the Spark has to offer youre not going to get far. But I do want to give you an important heads up. If you do plan on getting a DJI Spark make sure your phone is able to smoothly run the DJI Go app with out freezing or crashing. Cause if not, you do run the risk of losing control of you drone mid flight. It almost happened to me since my primary phone right now is an iPhone 6s Plus and since we now apple deliberately slows down older phones to protect its battery it almost cost me a drone, cause I was not having this problem earlier in the summer. The App froze and since the last input was a hard right the spark kept flying to the right until it reestablished a connection and stopped. Even though the Spark does have a 3d sensing system on the front and a vision positioning system on its belly, (which admittedly have saved me from multiple crashes) you’re still prone to crashing into stuff from the sides or if the spark is flying backwards.
But even if the Spark does suffer from a harsh crash it does not care, as long as your propellers are intact you can fly. I have even flown my spark with cracked props multiple times. When a lot of people get their first drone they’re worried they are going to crash it and destroy it, but that not the case with the Spark, its built like a tank and thats why its a great first drone for any body especially at its current price point. It’s so easy to fly it can even fly on its own through active tracking, you can tap to fly or you can even just use gesture controls to fly it. Although gesture controls aren’t always perfect I have found that its a great way to take a quick selfie with a group of friends on the fly. And then call it back and get back to what ever you were doing. But still, gesture controls aren’t always perfect so you’re usually better off just flying your drone manually. And plus you can properly position your shot. But its a cool option none the less.
Hands down the DJI spark is still the best entry level ever drone on the market right now especially if you can get it on sale. Its easy to fly, you can take it anywhere, its super durable, and it takes some great pictures and video. The new panoramic picture modes on the spark allow you capture some breath taking images that otherwise aren’t possible unless you buy some specific equipment that cost more than just the spark it self. If you’ve been thinking about getting the Spark, get it. Its a great drone to learn how to fly with and once you’re mastered it you’ll be able to get some cinematic shots with it. But once you’ve out grown it you can upgrade to a more capable drone and rock out right out of the box. But obviously for the DJI Spark 2 I would like to see improved battery life, a 3 axis gimbal system and maybe obstacle avoidance sensors to the sides and the rear of the drone.