Recently, DJI released a new firmware update to add/enhance the features of Spark.
Added features are:
1) Gesture mode photos is upgraded from 2 megapixels to 8 megapixels.
2) A new 180 panoramic mode.
3) Starting and stopping video recording in gesture mode.
In my opinion, these are very good features and it made the Spark a lot more appealing now. Personally, I love the 180 panoramic shots. When selected, on the click of the button, Spark takes 21 photos starting from center and for 7 columns. One column in the middle, and 3 more columns on the left and on the right. Each column is made up of 3 photos, slightly tilted up(still avoiding the propellers), straight & level and slightly silted down. During the downloading process, the DJI GO 4 app will automatically stitch all 21 photos together to give you a high res panoramic shots with little distortion when compare to iPhone panoramic shots.
So what is in it for photographers? Spark is small in foot print, it takes half the time to setup as compared to Mavic Pro, and the ability to take the 180 Panoramic shots just gave the spark a slight advantage over Mavic Pro if taking still photos is the main priority. Spark will offer the photographer a new perspective in the kind of shots he can get.
I have always wanted to test out how Good the Active Tracking of the Mavic Pro is in the 3 dimensional space using another drone. Today I had the chance to try out with my buddy on a 550 size hexacopter.
I had some difficulty trying to get the Mavic to recognise the hexacopter as it is rather small if I keep a safe distance. After a few trial and error, I managed to move in close enough to let the Mavic lock on. Tracking is generally smooth, and the obstacle avoidance system ensures the Mavic is kept at a safe distance from the subject. I could observed the Mavic did some emergency braking when the subject made a sudden slow down in speed. However, the Mavic will lose track when the subject makes a change in altitude to disappear from the screen.
In conclusion, I will say the Active Tracking is usable, but not in all situation. Especially, if the subject moves very randomly or moves up and down beyond the vision range.
Had another window today to do quick flight with a friend. She wanted to try out the Mavic Pro before deciding whether the Spark is more suitable or the Mavic Pro is better.
Today’s wind condition was moderate, and Mavic was able to hold position really well. The test went on smooth and I did a quick flight on mode 2 stick configuration. I am a mode 1 flyer, but trying to get myself to be able to fly in both modes. Doing point of interest flight in mode 2 manually was a bit more challenging, but I think I manage it.
Had the privilege to go to Melbourne’s famous Great Ocean Road Trip. Together with my wife and a little helper “Mavic” we had some amazing holiday. Mavic was small and light and almost un-noticed when I bring it along. I did not encounter any issues when I pass through custom check at airports and etc. The batteries were all kept in a fire-safe battery bag while in transit.
At the coast of Melbourne, the wind conditions were very high and I need to fly with extreme caution. Mavic can still handle it, but it will always complain that the wind speed is too high and must fly with caution. So I normally fly out to the max of 25% to 30% battery utilization, reserving 70% battery life to fly back, just in case Mavic needs to fight against strong head wind. If you encounter strong head wind and Mavic is not making much progress, try either flying lower or higher to see if there is a change in wind direction at different altitude. I did encounter in one occasion when Mavic complain that the battery is too cold as well. If that happens, you can either takeoff and hover at 2 meter height for a short while to allow the battery to warm up by itself or remove the battery and warm it up with your body heat.
For me I always fly within line of sight(LOS). It is always tempting to have a “One take” shot, but flying beyond line of sight is extremely risky especially when you do not know the place well. There are also some rocks in Melbourne that cause magnetic interference. So be sure not to just fly high too quickly, always allow Mavic to takeoff and hover at a low altitude for a while to observe the flying behaviour. Some how, in Melbourne I also encounter the GPS switching to alternate / backup GPS a few times. So if such incident happen, start bringing the Mavic back and don’t risk flying too far.
Melbourne seems to be a drone friendly place, and some people even applaud me when I landed Mavic. There are some places with helicopter flying around. Be sure to check if that area is a no fly zone for UAVs before flying.
One last tip, please have a few memory cards. Each time the Mavic returns safely, swap out the card and put in a blank card before flying out again. Why? In case the mavic never return, at least you still have some footages captured. Not all is lost.
The much rumoured mini drone from DJI is being launched on 24th May (25th May in Singapore).
My first impression of this drone is “Oh it is so cute and pretty!”. Then came the question of “Who is the target customers?”. From the specs of very short setup time, 2 axis gimbal, 1080p video and ultra portability, I guess it is aimed at people who does loads of selfie photos and videos for social media that do not requires very high quality video.
At this point, a close contender to this drone is the Hover Camera sold by Apple. The price point is similar (US$499), flight time is similar, weight is similar, but comes with dual battery and 4K video in a very safe cage not guard. The down side of the Hover camera is the lack of 2 axis gimbal and the option to have a dedicated remote controller. Both drones are targeting at the same group of consumer.
Overall, I think the SPARK might have a slight advantage over the Hover Camera in terms of overall video usability for social media due to the 2 axis gimbal and the obstacle avoidance ability. But each drone has it own advantage over the other. If you are a first time drone user, spark might be a good entry point due to it’s portability and the ease of control via gesture. However, if you want a higher quality video, then start with at least the Mavic Pro.
Since DJI bought over Hasselblad, they have integrated the best of both world into one. The m600 from DJI with the Ronin MX can now have full control over the Hasselblad H6D-100c(53.4mm by 40mm sensor) via the DJI GO 4 app.
One may think that this is nothing great or new, but to have full integration and full control is something that most fine art photographer is dreaming about.
DJI has once again set the bar higher for their competitors!
** RP Innovations SG reserves the right CLOSE the registration early once quota is reached.
** We will be updating the RC Tank Battle Event, Terms and Conditions on our links.
** Participants to provide their own 1/16 RC Compatible RC Tank | Tamiya Battle System Compatible
RC Tank and Battle Systems
. 1/16 Scale RC Tank (Tamiya, Heng Long etc)
. Tamiya / Compatible Battle System Ready
. 2.4Ghz Remote Controller
. FPV Mini Camera (5.8Ghz 40 channels Vtx)
. FPV Monitor / FPV Goggles (5.8Ghz 40 channels Vrx)
. Maintenance and Charging Station (You can bring your own tools and chargers, as power points will be supplied)
** You are free to use your own FPV Equipments, as long as they meet the required specifications above.
Yesterday, Canon released their first industrial drone, the PD6E2000-AW-CJ1, to compete in the UAV market. It is an All Weather search and rescue drone that can see even in extreme low light. With ISO of 4,000,000. The camera carry a 2megapixel full frame sensor and records at 1080p
This drone is estimate to have a price tag of US$20k. Not to sure if this includes the camera. The camera is said to be able to use with some of the EF lenses.
The all important question is “Is Canon 2 years too late?” DJI already have a very robust m600pro that can carry almost any camera with many failsafe features. DJI also has a full range of zoom, thermal cameras for search and rescue and industrial inspection. Will Canon end up like 3D robotics, GoPro and etc, where their UAV endeavour almost wipe out their profits from other area of business? The only unique feature is the ability to see in extreme Low light. Is this feature going to set Canon apart from the rest? Time will tell. Personally, I don’t have high hopes.
Yesterday, DJI announced the new Matrice 200 series. The smaller brother of the m600 who is meant for a different purpose, but possessing the same robustness.
The m200 uses the Zenmuse X series of camera which is lighter and more compact. This leads the the question of whether m200 will canibalise the Inspire 2? For now, based on the specs, m200 and I2 although shares the same camera, but the recording capability is very different. For industrial use, they will not require ProRes or RAW recoding.
For the details of m200 please visit: http://www.dji.com/mobile/matrice-200-series
22 Feb 2017, Inspire Pilots Singapore finally see her Inspire 2 landed in her Airbase. Till date, her Airbase have the following :
1) Phantom 3 pro
2) Phantom 4
3) Mavic Pro
4) Inspire 1 with X5 and X3
5) Inspire 2 with X5s
With a brief moment of test flight, we could feel that the Inspire 2 has packed more power as compared to the Inspire 1. Video quality between X5 and X5s has yet to be compared. Hope to be able to do that soon. With a dual battery system, it definitely gives the pilot more confident that this baby is going to come back even when one battery is down. Inspire 2 also have a better mechanism to secure the props.