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My Spark - observations and comments
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8856 44 2017-6-2
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milksteak
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Flight distance : 137369 ft
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Just creating a thread to share my findings as I play with the drone.  
Shallow Focus:
I really like the idea of this function, similar to the iphone7, except it's not easy to take selfies with it to get that effect.  DJI's implementation is kind of genius, as a hobbyist photographer the results aren't very natural, a bit heavy handed, not entirely clean (look under my right arm/elbow).  As a regular jane, my gf really likes the effect though.  Also if you're off-center of the frame then there's a high chance of mis-focus.  I personally feel the point of these photos goes against what I want from a selfie taken from a drone (wide, showing the environment from hard to reach angles).  However, this function is still valuable to me as at least I finally have "someone" to take vacation selfies of myself and my gf, and this function lets me do these faux-portrait shallow focus shots if I felt like it.

PANO:
I did a pano test to see how it worked.  The vertical pano looks to be two photos stitched, not very "tall". Horizontal is done by what looks like a stitch of 4 shots.  Pressing the shutter will make the spark first yaw right, take a photo with a level gimbal then the gimbal pitches down and takes another, then it yaw's to the left and then takes two more at different pitches.  It's actually a longish process, but the effects impress me.  I'm amazed this can be done from mid-air in the wind without any manual input besides point and click.   Attached photo has slight color editing.  Also, users doesn't seem to get access to the individual shots. The pano is also only stitched by the processer when you tap to view it within the playback section.  You'd need to view/stitch each pano individually, as group download does not work for panos.  Kind of slow things.  Quality of the pano is good, but moires easily.


Wishlist:
1. Vertical pano: this is a drone we're talking about, let's get more height for a taller pano !
2. Shallow Focus: Unless I'm missing how to enable it.  This needs a self-timer.  If I wanted a shot like this, I don't want to always look like i'm tapping on my phone in these types of photos.

Next post will be about the gesture controls.  I want to put another session or two into this function before I comment, and let my gf have a go at it to see if it's just me that struggles with the hand wave.  

2017-6-2
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Jimmers
Second Officer
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Do you have example photos to post?  It sounds like you meant to include pics but there aren't any attached.
2017-6-2
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milksteak
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Please excuse me, I'm not sure if this will display correctly, my first time posting photos.


IMG_5389.JPG
IMG_5388.JPG
IMG_5389.JPG
IMG_5388.JPG
2017-6-2
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milksteak
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Ugh, uploading photos is confusing on this forum.

Let's try this again.  Here's a few more pano shots, one of them is the vertical example:



4E609DF5-D1CC-4AFA-988F-5DA522375040.jpg
4E609DF5-D1CC-4AFA-988F-5DA522375040.jpg
IMG_5391.JPG
2017-6-2
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milksteak
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Ok I think I figured out this wonky 4 step attachment thing.

Here's one where there's movement in the background (cars on the highway), and also some kind of weird exagerrated perspective distortion in the trees from the "bottom-right" frame of the 4-shot pano.  Not sure what caused that.
IMG_5392.JPG
2017-6-2
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DhiAn
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Thanks for sharing! Like the pano wide angle view but let down by that photo with twisted tree. Hope firmware updatable. Also, would've been nice to access individual images for external stitching.

Due to jpeg-only support, no much we can do to extract details from those dark & over exposed areas. I really hope DJI/some one provides a way to access the raw. Otherwise, for serious photography, this drone looks pretty limited.
2017-6-2
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DhiAn
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Thanks for sharing! Like the pano wide angle view but let down by that photo with twisted tree. Hope fireware updatable. Also, would've been nice to access individual images for external stitching.

Due to jpeg-only support, no much we can do to extract details from those dark & over exposed areas. I really hope DJI/some one provides a way to access the raw. Otherwise, for serious photography, this drone looks pretty limited.
2017-6-2
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#shotxclvck
Second Officer
Flight distance : 3423294 ft
United States
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why
no video?
2017-6-2
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Nikon 1
Second Officer
United States
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Thanks, Milksteak!  Very interesting shots.  Are you controlling from your phone?
2017-6-2
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milksteak
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Nikon 1 Posted at 2017-6-2 16:04
Thanks, Milksteak!  Very interesting shots.  Are you controlling from your phone?

Yep, this is with my phone.
2017-6-2
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milksteak
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  I just felt like I could share some opinions and examples of other less-explored features and quirks of the spark.  There's a bunch of great examples posted by reviewers on youtube already.  Check out Kai's review where he posts a footage flying over en edge of a cliff or mountain.  It's pretty nice.

If that's not enough, here's an unedited shot from a quick flight a few inches above water seconds after I got pushed a new firmware from DJI (I really regretted trying this).     
2017-6-2
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milksteak
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For those interested in looking at the jpegs in post, here's a link to fullsize unedited JPEG SOOC from the Spark, and as a bonus, one from an iphone6s plus for reference purpose.  
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.co ... 0spark%20iphone.zip



2017-6-3
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hallmark007
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Ok I have to ask what are you talking about when you say, "why no video"
2017-6-3
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hallmark007
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milksteak Posted at 2017-6-3 05:49
For those interested in looking at the jpegs in post, here's a link to fullsize unedited JPEG SOOC from the Spark, and as a bonus, one from an iphone6s plus for reference purpose.  
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2895857/milksteak%20-%20spark%20iphone.zip

Good job milksteak thanks for this.
2017-6-3
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milksteak
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I had my first oh sh%# moment today with the Spark.  The DJI App froze while I was inputting full reverse and a slight descent...over water.
Fortunately it was able to detect the "ground'.  It stopped and hovered only a few inches above the water.  UNCOMFORTABLY close, you can see the wakes in the water from the tiny propellers.  I had to force exit the app and re-open to gain control again, which was when the video stops.  

I don't know if it's an app bug, or if it was my iphone's fault.  Lesson to learn?  Regardless if it's an app bug or not, ALWAYS check the phone preflight for any apps stubbornly running in the background, and exit them all!!    It took me a bit too long to figure out what was happening on my phone.  I hope my reaction time will be faster next time to force exit the app if it happens again.  I'm just glad it didn't go in the water or backup further into edge of the lake and drop in, or hurt any of the curious swans n ducks.  I'm now terrifiec to fly without a physical remote.

it was a 3+ minute video, i just trimmed it to the "good" part.  





2017-6-3
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Kdog420000
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Looks like that goose was gonna attack! Lol
2017-6-3
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Nikon 1
Second Officer
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Milksteak - As a new pilot who is waiting on a Spark FlyMore, I really appreciate your posts, photos and videos.  Please, keep them coming!

2017-6-3
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Nikon 1
Second Officer
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Your second video caused a similar reaction in my lower digestive tract when I saw the propellor ripples on that lake.  Thankfully, I read your post before watching it or I'd have thought, "One Spark Down."

Again - Thank You for your posts!
2017-6-3
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#shotxclvck
Second Officer
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milksteak Posted at 2017-6-2 20:34
I just felt like I could share some opinions and examples of other less-explored features and quirks of the spark.  There's a bunch of great examples posted by reviewers on youtube already.  Check out Kai's review where he posts a footage flying over en edge of a cliff or mountain.  It's pretty nice.

If that's not enough, here's an unedited shot from a quick flight a few inches above water seconds after I got pushed a new firmware from DJI (I really regretted trying this).   https://youtu.be/QhYNfr7e8fM

nice! thanks for the view!
2017-6-3
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AZwaygd4g2xI
lvl.3
Flight distance : 674938 ft
France
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Very interesting, thanks for sharing. It didn't attempt an RTH while hovering over the water did it?
2017-6-3
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fans874d0d53
lvl.4
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Thanks Milksteak!
2017-6-3
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Jimmers
Second Officer
Flight distance : 49623 ft
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Kdog420000 Posted at 2017-6-3 08:34
Looks like that goose was gonna attack! Lol

I thought the same thing!!!  It was on a roll!
2017-6-3
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milksteak
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AZwaygd4g2xI Posted at 2017-6-3 09:36
Very interesting, thanks for sharing. It didn't attempt an RTH while hovering over the water did it?

I believe it would have after a few minutes of lost connection.  I wanted to get it the f@%^ up and out of there ASAP, so that feature wasn't tested this time, haha.
2017-6-3
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milksteak
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BATTERY observations

Flight time:
I'm getting from as little as 11 minutes but also as much as 14 minutes.  I didn't actually do battery tests against features so this is all just gross speculation, but I think I may be getting longer flight time when I keep it above a certain height (like 15m or 20m?) and just keep it in the air (minimizing multiple launch/landing).  I believe it's more power hungry when it's hovering low, and especially when i mix in some gesture control stuff, and multiple launch/landing will get me down to like 11min.  I'm also not factoring in wind conditions, which varies each time I'm out.  I'm sure someone will eventually do a strict battery test, so I'll leave that to the pros.  I'm not interested in doing multiple rundowns of my battery to test these things.  

The "intelligent" battery is rated at 1480mah and the app shows 1410mah capicity for my particular unit.  Pretty good.

Charging:
The battery is very sensitive to heat.  It does not like to be charged during or immediately after a full-on discharge/flight session.  You'll need to wait I'm guessing about 15 to 40 minutes depending on ambient temperatures to let the battery cool down to when it's happy to let you charge it. I think it wants to be somewhere around under 40degrees C.   

I noticed this when trying to minimize downtime by bringing a USB mobile phone charger with me to the park.  After nearly depleting the battery I plugged the power bank into the spark but it would not take charge.  The right led would blink instead of the standard running left-to-right led display.  This blinking far-right led means the battery temp is too high.  Ambient temp is about 34degrees C.   I gave up and decided to go home to charge, which is a 5 minute bike ride, and then sat the Spark in front of a fan and set the room temp on the A/C to 24degrees and plugged it into the supplied usb wall charger.  It still took another 20 minutes before the LED status changed from "too hot to charge" to "charging".  

USB Powerbank Charging:  yes it works.  But most chargers probably won't charge as quickly as the DJI supplied wall charger since it goes up to 3A.  I don't have a QC powerbank so I can't comment or test that.

Thanks guys for the positive feedback.  I'll keep posting when I can find time.
2017-6-3
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milksteak
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Jimmers Posted at 2017-6-3 14:14
I thought the same thing!!!  It was on a roll!

it was not happy!!
2017-6-3
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Nikon 1
Second Officer
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Yes - Please don't sacrifice your Spark to a very territorial goose!
2017-6-4
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TJM
lvl.4
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Thanks so much milksteak! I appreciate your time.  It is nice to see real world examples of what the spark capable of.
2017-6-4
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Webdrone
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milksteak Posted at 2017-6-3 17:17
I believe it would have after a few minutes of lost connection.  I wanted to get it the f@%^ up and out of there ASAP, so that feature wasn't tested this time, haha.

A few minutes sounds like a long time for RTH, can't it be set in the software ? 30 seconds would be my max ;-)

As for the battery refusing to take the charge when it's warm that's great as that's the best way to kill it!

Thanks again for sharing your testing, this really looks like a great "vacation" drone that you can probably use "everywhere" (i.e. except in sensitive places) unlike the Mavic.
2017-6-5
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kev001
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milksteak Posted at 2017-6-3 18:14
BATTERY observations

Flight time:

Great news about USB charging via power bank.  Thanks
2017-6-7
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Jimmers
Second Officer
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What is the difference between "Confirm Follow" and "Beckon" in Gesture mode?  Obviously one causes the Spark to follow you and the other to return to you but both look like you make a Y with your arms.  How does the Spark know the difference?
2017-6-7
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milksteak
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Jimmers Posted at 2017-6-7 17:08
What is the difference between "Confirm Follow" and "Beckon" in Gesture mode?  Obviously one causes the Spark to follow you and the other to return to you but both look like you make a Y with your arms.  How does the Spark know the difference?

It depends on which position/mode the spark is currently in.  If it's in the face/palm control position which is about 1-2 meters from you, then the alternative to the hand wave is the "Y" which will send it back and up 2-3 meters to the "follow me" position.   If you're doing the "Y" from the follow me mode, then it knows  you must mean "beckon" and not stay or reactivate "follow me" mode.
2017-6-9
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Jimmers
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milksteak Posted at 2017-6-9 19:43
It depends on which position/mode the spark is currently in.  If it's in the face/palm control position which is about 1-2 meters from you, then the alternative to the hand wave is the "Y" which will send it back and up 2-3 meters to the "follow me" position.   If you're doing the "Y" from the follow me mode, then it knows  you must mean "beckon" and not stay or reactivate "follow me" mode.

Thanks for the clarification!
2017-6-10
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nwhit
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Flight distance : 374 ft
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Would it be possible to upload an AEB-3 or 5 set of pics? Want to try merging as HDR to see what the cam is capable of. Thanks.
2017-6-10
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milksteak
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nwhit Posted at 2017-6-10 15:28
Would it be possible to upload an AEB-3 or 5 set of pics? Want to try merging as HDR to see what the cam is capable of. Thanks.

Here's a 3 AEB set with the drone parked.  (I don't know if it can do 5?)
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.co ... 20-%20On-ground.zip

It's not really a great HDR scene to begin with.  You could probably just work with just the single middle exposure and just bring up shadows a bit without out too much noise.  I feel like the steps could be much more aggressive especially since these are JPEGs.

Since the scene wasn't that taxing,  I tried the ultimate HDR scene, an indoor + window outdoor shot, should require more aggressively bracketed AEB but I can't set any of it with the spark.  Maybe it can be added later in a firmware update.  As you can see it's not bracketed wide enough to get the curtains or sky/clouds.   https://dl.dropboxusercontent.co ... me%20conditions.zip
note: this one has some frame shift as I was hand-holding the spark on this one.
2017-6-10
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nwhit
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milksteak Posted at 2017-6-10 18:35
Here's a 3 AEB set with the drone parked.  (I don't know if it can do 5?)
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2895857/AEB%20-%20On-ground.zip

The dropbox link comes up saying it doesn't exist, so can't get pics.
2017-6-13
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QuanthonyTrang
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Thanks milkysteak for the tests.. and that ultrasmooth EIS is amazeballs.

Biggest test...
Do people care?
Do they know you are flying?
Do they feel inquisitive or are they afraid?
Do they even notice the drone?
Can they hear it but not see it??

And finally, did your gf comment on the size, how cute it is and how long it last?
2017-6-13
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milksteak
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QuanthonyTrang Posted at 2017-6-13 17:54
Thanks milkysteak for the tests.. and that ultrasmooth EIS is amazeballs.

Biggest test...

The gimbal should effectively make it OIS though, rather than electronic.

1.  Do people care?  They either stop to watch or they don't care, it depends.
2.   IInquisitive?  Yes, some, Afraid?  Not really, maybe annoyed though, don't fly this around people trying to get some peace and quiet
3.  Notice it?  If you can hear it you'll notice it.
4.  Yeah, it's got the drone hum, but in a higher pitched buzz.  And since it's so small, you'll probably hear it before you'll see it, especially as a passersby
2017-6-15
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nwhit
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Thanks for the AEB3 samples. Here's the merged and tone mapped result, but reduced in dimensions for upload. Not bad for 12 MP jpg originals, considering the lowered rez for posting here.

Reduced Pic

Reduced Pic
2017-6-15
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Thor1
First Officer
Flight distance : 196837 ft
Canada
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thanks Milksteak, even though i do appreciate your posts the only reason i commented is because i wanted to type "Milksteak". figured it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
2017-6-15
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Dom
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France
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Please let us know how is the video on the phone when you flight with the RC.
Is it smooth ? And Is it still smooth if theSpark is 100m away ? And 200m away ? 500m away ? Etc...
Thanks.
2017-6-15
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