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DJI launches new low-cost drone

DJI has announced the Spark, an easy-to-use mini camera drone that lifts off from the palm of the hand. It will be available in Australia from the end of this month at an RRP of $849, with distribution from CR Kennedy & Company. 
The DJI Spark uses a 1/2.3-inch, 12 megapixel CMOS sensor which shoots HD 1080p video. The camera has an f2.6 wide-angle lens with a 25 mm equivalent focal length. A 2-axis mechanical gimbal and image stabilisation technology reduces shake and rolling shutter effect. It is powered by a LiPo battery with a maximum flight time of up to 16 minutes. 

Making a square with your fingers tells the Spark to take a still image

The Spark (DJI calls it Spark, dropping the ‘the’, but we will stick with common English usage) is the first drone that users can control by hand gestures alone. When it takes off from the user’s hand, it automatically enters Gesture Mode. This features new advanced gesture controls like PalmControl, which lets users control the Spark with hand movements. In Gesture Mode, you can also send the Spark up and away from you, take a selfie, and call it back with just your hands.

‘Controlling a camera drone with hand movements alone is a major step towards making aerial technology an intuitive part of everyone’s daily life, from work and adventure to moments with friends and family,’ said Paul Pan, senior product manager at DJI. ‘Spark’s revolutionary new interface lets you effortlessly extend your point of view to the air, making it easier than ever to capture and share the world from new perspectives.’

The DJI Spark fits easily in almost any bag and weighs just 300 grams. It will be available in a choice of five colours, although first shipments are white only.

In the new QuickShot Intelligent Flight Mode the Spark will fly along a preset flight path while recording a 10-second video and tracking a subject along the way.

Four QuickShots are available: Rocket, sending Spark straight up into the air with the camera pointed down; Dronie, flying up and away from your subject; Circle, rotating around the subject; and Helix, spiraling away from a subject as it flies upward.

Previously introduced Intelligent Flight Modes such as TapFly and ActiveTrack are also available. A new TapFly sub mode called Coordinate allows the Spark to fly to a location you tap on your mobile device screen. TapFly’s Direction Mode lets you keep flying in the direction you tap on the screen. Using ActiveTrack, the Spark will automatically recognize and track an object you choose, keeping it at the centre of the frame.

A 3D Sensing System will actively sense obstacles in front of the aircraft.
With the remote controller accessory, operators can switch to Sport Mode for speeds up to 50 kph. Sport Mode sets the gimbal to first-person view (FPV) by default, so the camera moves with you as you fly. The Spark is also compatible with DJI Goggles for an immersive FPV flight experience.

The Spark includes many previous DJI drone shooting modes with two new additions: Pano and ShallowFocus. In Pano Mode, the camera creates horizontal or vertical panoramas by automatically adjusting its gimbal and heading, taking a series of pictures and stitching them together. ShallowFocus allows you to put part of a picture into sharp focus while the rest of the image is softened, creating photographs with a shallow depth of field.

An array of filters and automatic editing templates available in the DJI GO 4 app enables creators to quickly edit videos and share them directly to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

The Spark’s FlightAutonomy system consists of the main camera, a downward-facing vision system, a forward-facing 3D Sensing System, dual-band GPS and GLONASS, a high-precision inertial measurement unit, and 24 powerful computing cores. These features allow Spark to hover accurately with vision system assistance at up to 30 metres, and sense obstacles from up to 5 metres away.

Like all recent DJI drones, the Spark can return to its home point automatically with a sufficient GPS signal. While using the remote controller, if the battery gets too low, connection is lost, or the operator presses the Return to Home (RTH) button, the Spark flies back to the preset home point while sensing obstacles in its path.

When flying with the remote controller accessory, the Spark allows for 720p real-time video transmission from up to 2km away.

Local RRP for the DJI Spark, including an aircraft, a battery, a USB charger and three pairs of propellers, is $849. A Spark Fly More Combo including the aircraft, two batteries, four pairs of propellers, a remote controller, propeller guards, a charging hub, a shoulder bag and all necessary cables will be released later in the year. 

A ‘DJI Care Refresh for Spark’, a new one-year coverage plan, will enable Spark customers to obtain up to two full replacements for a small additional charge. 

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