Should you get a DJI Spark?

1:50 PM 0 Comments

After flying the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced for a couple of years, I realised that even though I was going hiking surrounded by beautiful landscapes, I could not find the space to take the Phantom along and so I was leaving this amazing, and expensive, piece of equipment at home, while I could have been taking great videos and pictures to show.

I started taking pictures with my DSLR and kind of forgot about the aerial views, until DJI did it again, and came out with this amazing piece of technology which is the Spark.

I bought it almost immediately and was blown away by the quality and the size of it. Obviously it is a trade off: some functionalities I was used to have with the Phantom are missing, but I am not a professional photographer or videographer, and my pictures are mainly for a social media audience, and the Spark is awesome for this task.

Moreover, the price point is quite attractive, at the time of this article the Spark combo sells for $599, while the Mavic goes for $1099.
Obviously the Mavic is a completely different machine, offering better performance all around, but for an occasional, hobby grade use, the Spark ticks all the boxes.

What you get in the box

DJI Spark flymore combo
In the flymore combo you get plenty of important accessories, which you will not regret having. Surely the most important is the radio controller, which not only extends the range, but allows a finer control. 
An additional battery, a multiple battery charger, a spare propeller set, the prop guards and two carry bags complete the kit.
The colour choice

The DJI Spark is meant to be less of a professional tool, and it is designed to appeal more to a young audience. Its appearance reflects this choice and you can buy it in five different colours

DJI Spark colours
The DJI Spark comes in five different variants: Alpine White, Sunrise Yellow, Lava Red, Sky Blue and Meadow Green
Technical specifications

The Spark comes with some amazing specs for its tiny size:


$499 (Spark only)
$599 (Spark + controller)
$699 (fly more combo)
Control systemSmartphone or transmitter
Weight 300 grams
Flight time≈ 12 minutes
Operating rangeUp to 2000 meters (FCC)
Up to 1000 meters (CE)
Max speedUp to 50km/h

Camera specifications

Photo resolution12 MP
Video max resolution1080p
Compatible camerasDJI proprietary camera only
Stabilisation2 Axis brushless gimbal
Focal Length25 mm equivalent
Sensor1/2.3" CMOS 
Supports / connectionsMicro SD / USB
Photography DetailsISO 100 - 1600
Format JPG
Single Shot
Time Lapse
Auto Exposure Bracketing
Burst Shooting
Panorama (180° and 360°)
Shallow focus mode
Video DetailsISO 100 - 3200
Live view
MP4 and MOV formats
1080p 30fps

Battery specifications

Cell number3 (12,6V)
Capacity1480 mAh
Battery price≈ $49

The controls

The Spark is the only drone produced by DJI which can be controlled either by a smartphone (iOS or Android) or by a remote controller, sold separately or in the fly more combo.
While controlling the Spark with the phone/tablet is an extremely effective way of piloting, mainly because of the portability and the setting up speed, using the controller really offers an advantage in terms of precision and distance.
The controller speaks both to the phone/tablet and with the Spark via Wifi, using the 2.4 GHz and 5.8GHz bands and allows a flight range of up to a kilometre in CE areas and up to 2 kilometres in FCC areas.

One of the best things about the Spark is the DJI GO4 app interface: like the last drones produced by DJI, the Spark takes advantage of the powerful control tools offered by the app, which helps pilots during the flight and now offers a simple editing tool and online sharing shortcuts.

One of the main upgrades coming from older DJI products are the intelligent flight modes, which at the moment, for the Spark, are six:

DJI Spark intelligent flight modes

This is a standard RC type of flying, either with the virtual joysticks on your smart device or with the remote controller

This mode is one of my favourites and it allows you to quickly film a scene introducing a cinematic movement...automagically!
Once you tap the Quickshot icon you can choose between these modes

Rocket - which turns the camera vertically down while the Spark climbs vertically;
Dronie - the Spark flies backwards and upwards while the camera is locked on the subject;
Circle - You choose the subject, the height and the speed while the Spark circles around it;
Spiral - The Spark climbs while circling around your subject.

the Spark follows the subject, either from the sides or from the front / behind

Just click a point on the screen of your smart device and the Spark will fly there

All the movements are slowed down to allow for a much smoother filming

This is one if the most discussed features of the Spark, with some saying it is just a gimmick, and others loving it. I tend towards the first group, given that to me, the pleasure of flying comes from manoeuvring the aircraft myself.
What it does is to allow the "pilot" to take off, zip around, take selfies and movies without the need for touching the sticks, all with their hands movements. As of now, this is what you can do

Palm launch - holding the Spark in your hand, it scans your face and takes off at the push of a button
Palm control - By moving your open hand left / right / up / down the Spark follows the movement while the camer is locked on you
Away and follow - Just wave the Spark goodbye and watch it fly back a couple of meters and start following you
Beckon - Open your arms to call the Spark back to you
Selfie - Simulate the frame of a picture with your fingers and the Spark will actually take one
Record - Lift one arm and lower the other to start filming


To me the Spark, and now the Mavic Air, are the most portable - high quality quadcopters on the market today.
The Spark is oriented towards a more general public than the Mavic series, but it offers an excellent performance at a fair price.

Personally I think I found my "to go" personal aerial photography platform, and I am super happy to have invested in it.
Now the debate is wether to sell the trusty Phantom 3!