The DJI Spark: Why I Held Off Getting into 4K

     I have been flying Quadcopters for the last year. Some people call them drones, but to me those drones are aircraft used to take out high value military targets. They have four propellers, so "Quadcopter" seems to describe them more accurately. In the week I've had it, I've had a number of flights with it. One near a secluded beach and one flight in a busy harbor town.  And in that time I've had to learn a significant amount of knowledge. These devices require a lot of responsibility and sensibility to fly; they are not toys.  Federal guidelines require, because of its weight, that I register it with the Federal Aviation Administration. I've also come to the conclusion that while these products are great tools of creativity, the potential for other nefarious uses are all also there. 

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    The Spark was a natural progression from the sizes of Quadcopters I've already flown. I've flown a Sky Viper Nano Drone:

This was my first quadcopter. I made the video in iMovie(?) on an iPhone. This toy is an ornery little beast. If you don't watch out it will gouge out an eye for sure. It has an auto-take off function and once you dial in the stick, it is a fun little toy.

The Sky Viper has its own pre-programmed launch and land buttons, but when it takes off, it is a little squirrelly. You've got to adjust the trim on the controls almost every time. That takes a little off of your flight time. Once dialed in and you get used to flying it, it's probably one of the more fun quadcopters to fly.  Another great feature of the Sky Viper is that it takes a beating. It bangs into things and keeps on ticking. It is a tough little sucker and that's what makes it a really fun toy. I was carrying this with me everywhere for a while and I would charge it using a battery pack. It takes about 30 minutes to charge completely, but it only lasts about 3-5 minutes. Great starter quad to learn how to fly indoors. and then I moved up to a Holystone Predator:

The Holystone Predator is a perfect beginner quadcopter with a lot of features. It's really quick, responsive, and you can change the batteries so you can fly longer. 

The Holystone Predator is a perfect beginner quadcopter with a lot of features. It's really quick, responsive, and you can change the batteries so you can fly longer. 

Both Quadcopters have their own idiosyncrasies and helped get me ready for the Spark. The Predator is a complete Quadcopter you control in a "Sport" mode. Sport means it is extremely responsive to the controls and it is zippy. What's really cool with the Predator is that it has 3 speed settings (slow, medium, and fast) and it can also go headless (making it easier for children). Headless System is explained here: you were thinking of getting into Quadcopters and looking for one to practice with, the Predator is really good. Although it doesn't have a camera, it has a lot of features for such a small device and at a great price point. You can also get batteries and multi-chargers for it really cheap. 

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The DJI Spark is the smallest quadcopter in the DJI product line up. It is this main characteristic that led me to purchasing it. It can shoot 30 fps at a 24 mbps Bitrate in HD at 1920x1080p with its 12 megapixel camera. It's basically a flying iPhone. The picture quality on it is pretty amazing. It has its hiccups here and there, but only if you move it really quickly. When you have smooth actions it looks really great. That was the second characteristic that had me purchase it.

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While 4K is all the rage, I can barely store all of the camera footage and photos now, and I have close to 12 Terabytes! 4K imaging must be difficult to manage and severely expensive. You also have to have the hardware to manipulate it too (faster processor, memory, fans, heatsinks, monitors, etc.). If you're into details and numbers, these are some of the specs for the DJI Spark:

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4k looks amazing when compared to other footage, but we've had 1920x1080p for a little while now, and it is acceptable. It looks really good on small monitors, laptops, cellphones, and other mobile devices. 

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The Mavic is compact when folded up, almost as small as the spark, but not when you have the wings out and add the prop guards  Not everybody is a fan of this emerging technology. The Mavic Pro, with all its accessories looks a little scary, like a device Batman would use. The Spark comes in different colors and is way cuter.

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The Spark is not like the other "toy" products. DJI makes a quality product and there is a lot to learn before flying. I've since joined a couple of groups and forums specifically devoted to learning how to "pilot". The Spark is quite capable of producing some amazing imagery. Check out some of the footage I shot. I hope you dig it.

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Digital Ninja® out.