Drones have emerged as the new age gadgets for aerial photography and videography, writes Izwan Ismail
FLYING a drone used to be something that only professionals and serious hobbyists indulged in due to the complexity in operating it. However, drone technologies have advanced so much today that just about anyone, without prior knowledge, can fly the device easily. In fact, the latest drone in the market like the DJI Spark can be controlled easily using just hand gestures. It can also do all sorts of professional-quality video shots with a tap of your phone screen.
DRONE AS ACCESSORY
The rise of mini consumer drones like the DJI Spark, has also given a new meaning to drone hobbyists and enthusiasts. The drone is smaller than normal - palm-sized - and is easy to operate.
What’s so special about consumer drones like the Spark is that even if one has never flown a drone before, this device is easy to operate because one can substitute the remote controller with hand gestures.
When Spark takes off from your hand, it automatically enters Gesture Mode. This mode features advanced gesture controls like PalmControl, which lets users control Spark with hand movements. “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 DJI’s director of communication Kevin On.
“Spark’s 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,” he says.
Drones like Spark are designed as lifestyle drones. The idea is to enable people to take them around easily, placed in a bag or even pocket, and take good pictures and high resolution videos while on the go, just like a camera.
These drones also have a few preset shooting modes that can make your videos look as good as that taken by a professional videographer or filmmaker.
There is a shooting feature called QuickShot Intelligent Flight Mode that makes creating professional videos fun and easy.
Users only need to select a QuickShot and Spark will fly along a preset flight path recording a short video and tracking the subject. Previously introduced Intelligent Flight Modes such as TapFly and ActiveTrack are also available.
Developed based on DJI’s vision technology, a new TapFly sub mode called Coordinate allows Spark to fly to a location you have tapped on your mobile device screen.
TapFly’s Direction Mode lets you keep flying in the direction you tap on the screen. Using ActiveTrack, Spark will automatically recognise and track the chosen subject, keeping it at the centre of the frame for perfect shots of the subject in motion.
With the remote controller, operators can switch to Sport Mode and unleash Spark’s speed potential of up to 31mph (50kph). Sport Mode sets the gimbal to first-person view (FPV) by default, so the camera moves with you as you fly. Spark is also compatible with DJI Goggles for an immersive FPV flight experience.
SHOOT LIKE A PRO
Spark houses a camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that can capture photos of up to 12 megapixels and stabilised HD 1,080p videos under normal flight mode. Its two-axis mechanical gimbal and UltraSmooth technology dramatically reduce shake and rolling shutter effects to capture cinematic shots effortlessly.
It includes other DJI drone shooting modes plus 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 softening the rest of the image, creating photographs with a shallow depth of field. An array of filters and automatic editing templates available in the DJI GO 4 app enable the creators to quickly edit videos and share them directly on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Flying a drone like the Spark is also pretty safe.
Its FlightAutonomy system consists of the main camera, a downward-facing vision system, a forwardfacing 3D Sensing System, dual-band GPS and GLONASS, a high-precision inertial measurement unit, and 24 computing cores.
These features allow the drone to hover accurately with vision system assistance of up to 30 metres. It can also detect obstacles from up to five metres away. Like all recent DJI drones, 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, Spark will fly back to the preset home point. The Spark drone also integrates DJI’s GEO System or NFZ geofencing to provide up-to-date guidance on areas where flight may be limited by regulations or raise safety or security concerns - helping you to fly safely and responsibly.
The Spark drone is available at RM2,288.