Bright sparks: the 11 best starter tips for the DJI Spark

Get off to a flying start with our favourite teeny quadcopter...

The Spark may be DJI’s smallest, most user-friendly camera drone yet, but it's no toy.

In the hands of a skilled pilot it’s a very capable flying machine, and a very decent aerial photography tool. We’ve written this guide to help you go beyond the Spark’s basic selfie-snapping functionality – flying it in more interesting ways, using more interesting features and enhancing its innate talents with the best app and accessory add-ons.

So read on, ready your drone and lift off into a world of fresh possibilities.

1) Make a take-off and landing pad

The Spark’s stubby landing gear means taking off from tricky surfaces like a sandy beach or grassy field isn’t recommended.

To avoid aborted take-offs and wrecked rotor blades, use the drone’s carry case as a take-off and landing pad. Or if you’re feeling fancy, launch it right out of your hand using the Gesture piloting mode (power it up, hold it out pointing towards you, then double-tap the power button).

You can even have the Spark land on your palm by holding it out underneath the drone in this mode; it’ll detect your hand and plop right down on it.

2) Earn mad props

Until you’re a Spark maestro, use your prop guards. That bears repeating: unless you’re really, really comfortable flying the Spark, snap on these plastic guards and make sure those rotors don’t chop anything they’re not supposed to (your mum’s roses, your collection of antique Ming vases, your eyeballs).

It protects the props as well as people and property, too: if they hit a hard surface while flying, they’re liable to shear off, which’ll mean you need to shell out for replacements (which cost RM90 a pair).

3) Be a gesture genius

Gesture mode shouldn’t be rushed straight into - familiarise yourself with how the Spark flies using your smartphone first. When you’re comfy with that, use the DJI Go app to learn all the gestures and, just as importantly, what the light signals mean.

For example, with Palm Control if the front LEDs are red, the drone won’t follow you; if they’re yellow, the camera is trying to locate your palm; if they’re green, it’s locked onto your hand and is tracking as intended. Once you're fluent in Spark-speak, you'll spend far less time waving at your confused drone and more time snapping selfie gold.