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Freewell ND filters for DJI Spark (4-pack Standard Day)

What’s in the box?

The new ND filters for the DJI Spark from Freewell come in a nice plastic box. Very handy to take with you when you go out to fly.

The box contains four filters (standard day pack):

  • Polarizer
  • ND4
  • ND8
  • ND16

Freewell also offers a bright day pack which includes Polarizer, ND16, ND32 and ND64 filter.

Freewell ND filter standard day pack

What are ND filters?

ND filters (Neutral Density filters) reduce the amount of light passing through the lens. On a bright day, the Sparks camera will increase the shutter speed to avoid the footage being too bright and overexposed. The downside to that is that the footage will look unnatural because of the absence of motion blur which make movements look smooth. The higher the shutter speed, the sharper each frame is being captured, thus removing the natural motion blur we are used to.

The rule of thumb when shooting video is that you set the shutter speed as close to twice the framerate. The Spark does 30fps so we want the shutter speed as close to 1/60th as possible. You can see the results of what the filters do to the shutter speed on a sunny day.

  • No filter: 1/1000
  • PL filter: 1/400
  • ND4: 1/240
  • ND8: 1/100
  • ND16: 1/60

Freewell ND filters

How do they perform?

The filters work great and the difference in footage is quite noticable. Colors pop-up and contrast gets improved by the use of a longer shutter speed. As far as my experience goes, I didn’t notice any obvious colour shifting when using the filters.

The most important part of using the filters is applying the bracket correctly. My first try to install them looked succesfully but after testing, they seemed to be seated too far from the camera. This resulted in vignetting (dark corners) when taking pictures. I took off the first bracket and tried to re-install the second one that came in the box. This time, I could mount the filters closer to the camera and the vignetting disappeared.

Although it’s something extra to carry with you when you want to go out and fly, it really pays off in most cases to use the ND filters.

Check out the test footage in the video below:

 

DJI Spark Unboxing & first impressions

DJI Spark – Unboxing and first impressions

Why I bought it?

Being active in the fpv-racing part of the hobby, most people will find this a surprising purchase. Why in the world would I buy a DJI Spark? If you check out my YouTube channel, you’ll find out that there are a lot of aftermovies of fpv-racing events I attend. For me, capturing the event is part of the fun the fpv-racing hobby has to offer. With the purchase of the Spark, I am hoping to find a decent platform to add some aerial shots to my videos. I want to be able to do this without the long preparation some other platforms require and without the risk people getting upset (or in the worst case even hurt).

DJI Spark

DJI Spark Fly More Combo

What’s in the box?

Running through the specs of the Spark, I decided to go for the Fly More Combo.
This pack features the following items:

The first thing in the cardboard box is a 16Gb MicroSD-card that DJI included as a gift in the Fly More Combo. It’s a Sandisk Ultra 16Gb card . Then there is the surprisingly small box the Spark Fly More Combo comes in. DJI clearly took a lesson from Apple as the packaging style is almost identical. In the box are two things: the travelling bag and a molded case, together with some documentation.

The molded case holds the Spark, together with the extra Intelligent Flight Battery and spare set of propellers. When seeing the Spark in person, it’s amazing how small it actually is. Although it’s a small aircraft, it looks very decent in build quality.

DJI Spark unboxed

DJI Spark apres unboxing

Out of the travelling bag comes the RC Remote Controller, a bit smaller than the one of the Mavic Pro. Compared to the Futaba T14SG I usually fly, this tiny transmitter feels a bit awkward at first, but I must say it does a really good job controlling the Spark. Then there is the charger with the charging hub which charges up to 3 batteries in less than 1.5 hours (55 minutes for 2 batteries, 50 for 1 battery). The charger also has two USB outputs to charge the RC Remote Controller (USB->MicroUSB cable included) and, if you like, a 4th battery through Micro USB on the Spark itself. The last items are the propeller guards that clip on in under 30 seconds to provide extra safety in situations where needed. They do add 38 grams to the Spark in total.

DJI Spark overview

DJI Spark overview

After unboxing all the items, there is not much more to do than charge the batteries and RC Remote Controller and get ready to get flying!

How does it fly?

First of all, despite its size, it’s amazing how stable the Spark is when flying, even in steady winds. I must say this really impressed me as I didn’t think a small aircraft of 300 grams would handle wind to good.

DJI Spark hovering

I like to take you through some modes and features that got my attention during the first uses of the Spark.

The first is Tripod Mode, which lowers the rates of the controls to make very slow movements. Also, the gimbal control is set to a lower rate to allow precise movements. The ability to lower the gimbal rate outside the Tripod Mode would be a welcome addition as it feels a bit to fast in general.

Active Track is another great feature that tracks and follows a person or object without the need of manual control. It can even automaticaly circle around the person or object while following. Adding the Obstacle Avoidance feature into the mix, this feature is quite safe to use if you keep its limitations in mind. The Obstacle Avoidance feature only sees what’s in front of the Spark. So when  you set it up to follow a subject sideways, keep in mind that won’t stop when an obstacle is on the left or right of it.

DJI Spark RC Remote

In Sport Mode you get a lot more speed out of the Spark, which is nice when shooting footage in a big area in a small amount of time. Sport Mode is easily selected by sliding the Sport slider on the RC Remote Controller to the right. The gimbal will follow the roll input when cornering, but stays level when moving straight forward or backward. When you can’t take-off in the proximity of your subject, Sport Mode can get you fast to your destination. You can then quickly change back to normal mode and shoot at a lower flying speed.

The Quickshot Modes are nice if you don’t want to waste time to manually shoot your footage. You can simply select a person or subject, tap the type of Quickshot you want (Dronie, Circle, Helix, Rocket) and press Go! The Spark will start the selected Quickshot and create a 10-second clip and return to the starting point automatically. Although I didn’t think I would use these automated shots, they come in quite handy.

The last feature I really like is the possibility to point the camera straight down and take top-down shots like this one. This might not sound like an amazing feature, but considering the size of the Spark and its gimbal, it’s really nice that it tilts all the way down to make top-down shots.

Those are the 5 features I like the most about the Spark so far.

I will continue to use the Spark for different projects and will report back with an update after some more experiences with this great little machine.