DJI is the veritable leader when it comes to both consumer and professional drones. Time and time again, they have come out with new and innovative features that continue to attract the interest of drone enthusiasts the world over.
One characteristic that DJI drones are known for is their wide range of flight modes. Aside from providing unique drone photography opportunities, the different flight modes also offer different ways of flying a drone. In this article, we take a detailed look at one of the most popular of these modes – Sport Mode. What exactly is Sport Mode and how can you make the best of it?
What is Sport Mode?
Sport Mode is a flight mode that is available in most of the modern DJI drones including the Spark, the Mavic Series, and the Phantom 4 series. This is a mode that was designed for maximum speed and maneuverability. To make this possible, all crash avoidance systems are disabled. Although GPS guidance is still available to provide stability, Sport Mode is generally not recommended for beginners.
How to activate Sport Mode
If your DJI drone comes with a dedicated remote controller, activating Sport Mode is as simple as flicking the physical switch to the S marker. Having a physical switch means you can easily switch back to P-Mode (Positioning Mode) should you get into a tight spot and want your optical sensors to start working again.
Speed and controls
In Sport Mode, your drone will let loose and unleash the full power of its motors. For most DJI drones, this means about a 30% increase in maximum speed compared to the standard P-Mode. Without any speed limiters, your drone can even take advantage of tailwinds to hit speeds higher than its rated maximum values.
Controller gain is also increased to make the drone more sensitive to your commands. The increased agility will allow you to make sharper turns and maneuvers that would not have been possible outside of Sport Mode.
GPS positioning is available in Sport Mode, so you still enjoy the benefit of horizontal stabilization. As always, the internal barometer keeps the drone hovering at a stable altitude.
As mentioned, all optical sensors and obstacle avoidance systems are disabled in Sport Mode. This is the reason why Sport Mode had hilariously been dubbed “Crash Mode” by the DJI drone community. Going into Sport Mode can be a fun and eye-opening experience but is particularly punishing for drone pilots who fly carelessly.
All Intelligent Flight Modes are disabled in Sport Mode. This means no tracking shots, pre-determined paths, or Cinematic Mode. Drone photographers have used Sport Mode to quickly travel to points of interest, at which point they disable Sport Mode and to capture high-quality shots.
Some pilots have been tempted to record videos while in Sport Mode in an attempt to capture just how fast their drones can go. Although nothing will stop you from recording such videos, take note that the video will likely be very blurry. Moreover, there is a good chance that the drone’s propellers will be visible in your video when you are flying at top speeds.
Tips for flying in Sport Mode
For beginner drone pilots, the first time they activated Sport Mode was a mind-blowing experience that showed them how unimaginably fast their drones could zip through the skies. It’s extremely fun and gets even more entertaining once you get the hang of the controls in Sport Mode. To make the most out of Sport Mode, here are our top tips:
1. Fly in a wide-open space
The fun of Sport Mode comes at a price, namely the absence of an obstacle avoidance system. If you are going into Sport Mode for the first time, we recommend doing it in a large and open space free from obstacles.
You might be tempted to think that you’re good enough to fly around obstacles like trees and buildings in Sport Mode but controlling your drone at top speed is a completely different beast. Since the drone moves faster, the braking distance will be a little longer than you are used to. There’s a good reason why even experienced drone pilots don’t go into Sport Mode all willy-nilly, and we hope you don’t learn this lesson the hard way.
2. Keep an eye on your battery
Sport Mode pushes your drone’s motors to their absolute limit, which means your battery will be drained faster than usual. This might be a problem if you’re racing from one spot to another to capture drone photos. Don’t worry about crashing due to a battery failure, though, as your drone can still activate RTH mode when the battery reaches critical levels.
3. Fly using FPV Goggles
If you want front-row seats to experience the breakneck speeds your drone is capable of, then we recommend flying with FPV Goggles. This brings a new level of immersion to drone flight, further enhanced by the no-holds-barred nature of Sport Mode. The video quality won’t be top-notch and will be inherently blurry, but it should look good enough to give you the sensation of motion.
Just make sure that you have a visual observer with you to maintain visual line-of-sight with your drone. This is even more important due to the absence of any obstacle avoidance technology.
Sport Mode is just one option in a wide range of flight modes available in DJI drones, but it might just be the most fun. By removing all limitations, you get to experience the very best performance of your drone. It’s also the most unsafe mode, so we recommend that beginners ease into it and test it out in a wide space that is free of obstacles.
All the usual advice on safe flight apply to flying in Sport Mode, but you will need to be even more vigilant. The effort to practice in Sport Mode is worth it, as nothing beats the fun of zipping around the skies at top speeds.