DJI Spark drone is child's play to fly
FLYING a drone is rarely child's play.
In my short 'career' as a drone tester, I've been hit in the face by one (and still bear the small scar to prove it), and had one literally fly off on me, never to be seen again. Both involved the same model of drone which seemed to have a mind of its own - and an app which repeatedly failed to work.
That can't be said of the DJI's smallest drone, Spark.
This is a drone that anyone can fly.
In fact, my 13-year-old son was flying it in minutes - and teaching me a thing or three in the process.
It's selling point is that it can be guided by simple hand gestures - and you can launch it off your hand - and have it land back on your hand. (Best with guard on)
It is simple to launch - and features a return to home function making it a lot harder to lose.
But it's when you start using the DJI Go 4 app, particularly on an iPad, that you see what this baby can really do.
You can easily lock in on a target and have it follow it, whether it be a child in park or dog running down the beach.
But it goes well beyond just that. It features superb cinematic filming controls which allow it to soar into the air and perform manoeuvres while capturing smooth, stabilised video.
Modes include rocket, dronie, circle and helix and the end result is the sort of footage only experienced drone operators could expect to achieve.
Other Intelligent Flight Modes including TapFly, which lets you send the drone to a specific spot, and ActiveTrack that sets the drone to follow you or another subject that you select onscreen.
Using QuickShot, Spark automatically flies along a preset flight path while recording a short video and tracking a subject along the way.
The 1080p HD camera delivers not only great video but also sharp aerial photos.
A new 180 mode stitches 21 individual photos together to capture 180-degree panoramic images.
The photo resolution when shooting in ActiveTrack and Gesture Modes has also been improved to capture images at 12- megapixel resolution of 3968x2976 pixels.
One of the coolest features is how it creates little videos, using what it considers the highlights of your footage, complete with mood music, ready for posting on social media.
The Australian retail price of DJI Spark, including an aircraft, a battery, a USB charger and three pairs of propellers, is $859.
The Spark Fly More Combo includes an aircraft, two batteries, four pairs of propellers, a remote controller, propeller guards, a charging hub, a shoulder bag and all necessary cables, with a retail price of $1199.
With a battery life of about 15 minutes, you will probably want to go for this option.