DJI Spark: The Best Portable Drone?


Recently YTD got hands on the DJI Spark Combo package. The combo package comes with a lot of extras and a $200 premium over the simple Spark. The first things we noticed was the absolutely minimal size of Spark. If you think Mavic Pro was small, then you need to check out the Spark in person. The weight and dimensions of Spark makes it a perfect go-to drone for beginners. Despite its tiny foot print, it packs a lot of tech and sensors. From tracking movements to avoiding obstacles, it has covered all the latest features. After spending a month with the device and testing it both indoors and outdoors, we noticed a number of impressive and not-so-impressive things about this little drone.


Inside the DJI Spark Combo Package

  1. DJI Spark
  2. Remote Controller with up to 2 km signal range
  3. 2 Batteries (1480 mAh)
  4. Propeller guards
  5. 2 sets of propellers
  6. 3-Slot battery charging dock
  7. Micro-USB charging cable
  8. Battery charger adapter
  9. DJI branded carrying bag for controller and its accessories
  10. DJI branded Styrofoam case for the Spark, Propellers and 2 extra batteries

Flying Experience of Spark

There are a number of ways to fly the Spark. Since the basic Spark does not come up with the remote controller, therefore, it can be launched right from the palm and controlled through hand gestures. Another way of controlling spark is through the DJI GO 4 app on an iOS or Android device. However, the flying distance would be limited to 100 meters and height to 50 meters. In order to take full advantage of Spark’s capabilities and to experience a more stable signal quality, Your Tech Dose highly recommends getting the Spark controller. It not only extends the range up to 2 KM but also ensures a steady signal. Not to mention, having a physical controller is much more intuitive than using virtual sticks on the DJI GO 4 app.


Using DJI Spark indoors

Although Spark is not marketed as an indoor drone, however, in our indoor flights, it performed flawlessly. Most of the times it was getting between 10-13 GPS signals under the roof, surprisingly , the stability was hardly compromised whilst flying without the GPS. Thanks to its advance sensors and obstacle avoidance features, DJI Spark exceeded all our expectations in the indoor flights. However, it is highly recommended to use propeller guards and maintain a safe distance from the device while flying indoors.


Battery Life of Spark

There are a number of factors that influence the battery performance of Spark. While flying outdoors, it is important to keep a check on wind speed and heat levels. From our experience, in moderate wind speed of 15-20 Km/h, Spark did a pretty good job of maintaining its position and capturing stable footage. However, it resulted in a battery loss of about 60 to 80 seconds. As far as the heat levels go, Spark provided the best battery time during the sunset when it wasn’t as hot as mid-day. Lastly, using propeller guards also reduced the flying time by 60-70 seconds.

On average, DJI Spark gave a flying time of 13 minutes on a single charge. 2 new batteries were used to test the above mentioned flying time.


Gimbal & Camera Quality of the DJI Spark

The camera of Spark is more of a mixed bag. DJI makes a lot of consumer drones with 3-axis gimbal for stabilization, however, due to the minimal size of the DJI Spark, they could only fit 2-axis gimbal. It performs pretty well most of the times, however, there have been a few instances, where a significant jerk was felt while panning it from left to right.

Furthermore, Spark has the 1/2.3” CMOS image sensor capable of taking 12MP stills, and the video resolution of up to 1080P at 30 FPS. It would have been much appreciated if DJI would have managed to provide 60 FPS video.

By today’s standards, the video quality is just average, however, one thing that Spark really excels at, is its remarkable image quality. The 4K sensor certainly provides a much crispier photo with a nice level of photo saturation.


Verdict on Spark’s performance

Spark offers a lot of amazing features in a small package. Although the video quality is not as good as some other drones, however, the portability and overall user experience makes it the best drone in its price.


 

Best Accessories for GoPro in 2017



GoPro has been around for many years and they have been known as the pioneers of the action cam industry. One of the primary reasons behind GoPro’s success is the portability of its cameras. These action cams can be held in the palm of your hand and yet they manage to offer class leading video quality. Quite Impressive! However, what’s more impressive is the fact that they can be used to make videos from virtually any angle. This is where the magic of GoPro accessories start. There are numerous accessories available for GoPro cameras to enhance their productivity. Interestingly, these accessories are not just made by GoPro, but there is a huge market for third party accessory makers. If you are searching for the latest GoPro action cam, then check out the exclusive review of GoPro Hero5 Black by Your Tech Dose.


List of Best GoPro Accessories

Before further ado, let us present you the list of Top 5 accessories of GoPro. Please note that these are based on personal use of over 1 month. Needless to say, the link for each accessory is also provided. You just need to click on the name of your desired accessory and you will be redirected to its amazon listing.

  1. JOBY Suction Cup with Locking Arms: This is ideal for capturing videos on the go. Whether you are taking a flight or going for a drive, this mount is strong enough to keep up will all sorts of turbulence! Currently it’s under $20, which makes it a great deal!
  2. Manfrotto Pixi Extreme Tripod: If you are into photography then chances are that you would be familiar with the brand, Manfrotto. Basically, they make some outstanding camera stands and tripods. This mini Tripod is no exception. It is portable, versatile and helps you capture steady videos on your GoPro. It’s just under $30 for now, must check it out before the price goes up!
  3. Wasabi Dual Battery Charger: If you are travelling often with your GoPro, then chances are that you would want to keep a few extra GoPro batteries with you as well. This is where this charger kicks in. It can charge up to 2 GoPro batteries simultaneously so that you never have to worry about running out of juice. Plus, It’s super economical at just $7.50.
  4. GoPro 3-Way Grip and TriPod: This is one of the best official accessories offered by GoPro. This Grip can be adjusted in 3 different angles for flexibility. Furthermore, it also comes with a detachable tripod stand which can be adjusted from the bottom. It is definitely one of the most functional accessories available. It can be yours for $69.
  5. GoPro Karma Grip: Last year, GoPro announced their first Drone, called Karma. Basically, it has a modular design, which means that it uses a combination of the GoPro Hero 5 camera, a 3-Axis camera stabilizer, and the quadcopter itself. The Karma Grip is basically the GoPro stabilizer, which could be the remedy for the shaky videos. Whether you are climbing a mountain or going for a sprint, this grip would ensure that all your footage stays perfectly balanced and jerk-free. It is available for $299.

What about the GoPro Karma Drone?

Your Tech Dose would have definitely recommended the drone as it provides a perfect combination of steady aerial and ground footage. However, the consumer reports are not in the favor of GoPro Karma. There are way too many complaints and dissatisfied customers to recommend one at the moment. Hopefully GoPro can resolve the issues soon and then we can add it to the list of recommended accessories!


 

 

DJI Phantom 3 Standard, The Best Beginner’s Drone?


Not long ago, a Hong Kong based company DJI, made a lot of hype with their “flying toys”. Back in 2013 around the time when the DJI’s first iteration of Phantom lineup was launched, many people considered it a toy. However, with the passage of time, they started realizing the endless possibilities of this drone. Subsequently, with more awareness and demand, many other players also started offering quadcopters. The demand for drones saw a huge jump when DJI started providing camera gimbals in their model lineup. It gave a whole new perspective to the drone user. DJI added their own camera system with a 3-axis gimbal for enhanced stability during flight. It wasn’t long after that, they introduced their cheapest iteration of Phantom series with built-in camera, called the Phantom 3 (P3) Standard.

The Phantom 3 lineup had three different models with the P3 Standard being the entry level one.


Specs of DJI Phantom 3 Standard

  • 2.7K & 1080P Video Recording at 30 FPS
  • 2.4GHz Wireless Connection
  • 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilization
  • Up to 25 Minutes of Flight Time on a Single Charge

The primary differences between the P3 Standard and its Bigger siblings included a better camera with 4K recording, greater flight range and a stable signal with a few extra positioning sensors. However, these improvements come at a steep price. Currently, the P3 Standard is available for under $450 on Amazon. Whereas the P3 Professional costs well over $700. Similarly, the latest DJI Phantom 4 will set you back around $850. Hence, for beginners the safest choice in terms of price is definitely the P3 Standard.


How Easy is it to Fly the DJI Phantom 3 Standard?

As per our experience, it takes about 5 minutes to set everything up for flight. The set of pre-flight checklist includes:

  • Checking the Battery Levels of Drone, Controller and Phone.
  • Calibrating the Remote and the Drone.
  • Checking the GPS Signal Strength and Location.

There is a DJI GO app for Android and iOS devices, which makes the flying experience very convenient. The Take-Off and Landing can be done with a few taps in the app. Furthermore, the First-Person Video (FPV) is also transmitted to the user via the DJI GO app. However, one consistent problem with the P3 Standard is the lack of signal stability. We have extensively tested the drone in multiple environments, and the Live View was getting stuck quite consistently. Hence, it is highly recommended not to break the line of sight during strong interference. However, the drone is capable of automatically returning back to its take off position in emergency situations like low battery levels or loss of signals.


Verdict on the DJI Phantom 3 Standard

Having tested the P3 Standard for over a month, it is safe to say that it is one of the best value-for-money drones in the market. However, if you are looking for something to travel with, then it is highly recommended to consider DJI’s portable line of drones like the DJI Mavic Pro ($999) and DJI Spark ($500). In essence, it all depends on the preferences, however, in case of overall value, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard certainly provides a lot of Bang for its Buck!


 

Camera Comparison: iPhone7 Plus vs. DSLR


When iPhone 7 & 7 Plus were launched last year, a massive hype was created by the dual-lens camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus. Many consumers assumed  that it can be used as an alternative to DSLR cameras. The hype of dual-lens created a tremendous amount of curiosity amongst users, especially photographers. In this review, we will do some camera crunching and see if the assumptions are true.


How does the dual lens camera work?

The dual lens mechanism is capable of utilizing both lenses together as well as independently. These lenses are fixed at two focal lengths, in iPhone 7 Plus case, 28mm and 56mm with an aperture of f1.8 and f2.8 respectively. The lenses work coherently to take a “Portrait Photo” in which the background is digitally blurred. This results in a shallow depth of field, which is ideal for capturing portraits and close-ups.

Apart from working together in Portrait mode, these lenses can also work independently at their respective focal lengths. For instance, in Photo mode, 28mm lens is used unless the user decides to zoom in. At 2x zoom, 56mm lens powers up the image. Hence, one clear advantage of having two lenses is that they can attain an Optical Zoom of 2x instead of Digital Zoom (which just digitally crops the original picture). Hence, it translates in to a much refined and better picture quality when zoomed in.


What about the Video Quality?

With better lens and a mighty A10 Fusion chip inside a sleek form factor, this is the area where iPhone 7 stands out the most. It’s ultrafast and responsive when it comes to capturing videos. It has plethora of video qualities to choose from, maxing out at Ultra HD resolution at 30 frames per second (fps). It is also capable of recording slow-motion videos at up to 240 fps. The new iPhone also comes standard with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which in theory should reduce the jerkiness while recording handheld videos. However, this is one area that needs a lot of refinement, as the OIS didn’t work as expected.


Is it good enough to replace a professional camera?

Let’s find out.

Starting with some numbers. A new iPhone 7 Plus starts from around $850 and goes up to over $1000 for its 256GB version. So for the sake of this comparison, we’ll be using a combination of a Digital SLR camera and an upgraded Lens, which collectively costs around $950. The lens paired with the Nikon D5200 DSLR is from the popular Sigma Art series, which has a Focal range of 18-35mm at f1.8.

Camera Comparison of iPhone7 Plus and Dslr
Camera Comparison of iPhone7 Plus and Nikon D5200

From the comparison, it can be deduced the pictures taken from the DSLR are much more crisp and well lit. Another important thing to note is that the iPhone struggled a lot while focusing on the subject and it required a lot of effort to engage the “Depth Effect” or blurred background in simple words.


Verdict

iPhone’s camera has definitely improved a lot and it boasts class leading technology. However, replacing a professional camera with an iPhone 7 Plus would be a stretch. Serious photographers know the worth of wide optical lenses and the iPhone definitely isn’t capable enough to replace them as yet.

However, having such an advanced camera system in such a sleek form factor is definitely commendable. Apple has done an outstanding job in blurring the lines between portability and professional quality. Hence, it is definitely a step in the right direction!


 

Hands on & Review: GoPro Hero5 Black


The market for action cams has evolved a lot over time. With more players coming in the industry, it has become rather difficult to choose the right one. However, the pioneers of the actioncam industry, GoPro, has introduced their latest iteration of the ultimate camera, The Hero5 Black. I bought this camera in January and I have been using it along with the Hero 4 Silver. Hence, This review will briefly touch upon the comparison between the two generations of GoPro as well.


Unboxing Experience

The unboxing experience was quite similar to the previous generation of GoPro. It comes in a nice vertical box with the Hero 5 secured on the top with one of its mounts. Underneath the new matte textured Hero5 are a number of booklets which include instruction manuals, warranty information and GoPro stickers. There is also one removable battery included which has been redesigned with new charging pins and has a slightly higher capacity (1220 mAh/3.85V) than its predecessor (1160mAh/3.80V). Also included is the charging cable which has been upgraded to USB Type-C (step in the right direction).


First Impressions & User Interface

After putting everything aside and looking at the camera, the first prominent thing to notice is the newly developed 2″ capacitive touch screen. It is definitely more responsive, brighter and bigger than the Hero 4 Silver’s screen. Some new features that really makes the new Hero 5 standout include:

  • Voice Commands for easy control and more flexibility.
  • Completely waterproof body which allows the user to interact with the touch screen whilst inside its shell.
  • Although the resolution is still limited to 4K at 30fps, but it is also capable of recording 720P at 240 fps and 1080P at 120fps, which is great for slowmotion video recording.
  • The software is much more User friendly, probably due to more screen space.
  • The new USB type-C is definitely a welcoming change, as it makes it easier to use one cable for multiple devices.
  • Integration with Apple Watch makes it much easier to record and take pictures.

Room for Improvement

Although it is a significant improvement from the Hero 4 Silver, however there are still some flaws in the device

  • The Battery life has reduced marginally (about 10-15%), and the new battery terminal means that the Hero4 users won’t be able to use their charging accessories/batteries with the Hero5.
  • There are still a few glitches in the software specially regarding the Voice Command and touch screen interface.
  • The cost of waterproofing the body has translated into a bulkier Hero5 when placed next to its predecessor.

Verdict

After using the new GoPro for over 5 months, I can safely say that it is a worthy upgrade. However, there are a few bugs that limits the functionality of voice commands as at times it just simply ignores them. However, I am quite sure that the new software would easily solve this glitch. Furthermore, I would also much appreciate if the colors could be a bit more accurate. Nonetheless, it is definitely a significant improvement over its predecessor.