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DJI’s Spark drone was already feature-packed, but now it can do even more

DJI Spark best drones under $500
When it launched in May, DJI’s diminutive Spark drone impressed us with its slew of intelligent flight modes and clever gesture controls.

Now the company wants you to have even more fun with your flying machine with the release of a firmware update that lets you easily grab a 180-degree, panoramic photo. Offered alongside the existing Vertical and Horizontal Pano modes, the new 180 mode stitches together 21 individual photos to create even wider panoramas of your favorite scenes.

DJI has also improved the photo resolution when shooting in ActiveTrack and Gesture Modes, allowing you to capture 12-megapixel images with a resolution of 3,968 × 2,976 pixels.

You also have a new gesture to start and stop video recording. This adds to Spark’s existing set of gesture controls that include follow, send away, beckon, and snap selfies. To start and stop recording remotely, all you need to do is get within two meters of the Spark and raise one arm out to your side, as shown in the image. To let you know it has understood your gesture and is about to start recording, the drone’s front LEDs will blink red. To stop recording, simply repeat the gesture.

DJI has also enhanced Spark’s QuickShot flight modes that prompt the quadcopter to fly along a preset flight path while recording a video, tracking the subject as it flies. The update means you can now choose in which circular direction the drone flies during Circle and Helix modes, offering users even more control over their shots. In addition, Dronie mode now offers more height, while Rocket mode should now create smoother shots.

The firmware update offers overall performance improvements, too, “including better responsiveness to input from the remote controller, enhanced connectivity between the aircraft and remote controller, as well as flight logging for the Intelligent Battery system,” DJI said.

Well received, but …

The Spark has been largely well received by consumers and reviewers alike, with DJI’s smallest quadcopter offering an impressive feature set for just $500. But there’s been concern over reports of a handful of machines losing power midflight, causing them to crash to the ground.

In recent days the Chinese company acknowledged the issue and said it would launched an investigation. “Flight safety and product reliability are top priorities,” a DJI spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Our engineers are thoroughly reviewing each customer case and working to address this matter urgently.”

For the vast majority of Spark owners whose machine continues to operate as they should, the new features loaded with this week’s update offer even more opportunities for a fun flying experience.

Install the update by downloading it to your Spark and remote controller, which will also update the firmware on the Intelligent Battery system. You’ll also need the latest version of the DJI GO 4 mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices.

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