Let me start off by saying that both the DJI Spark and the DJI Mavic Pro are both great drones but depending on who you are you might find one to be a huge disappointment or the other to be a massive overkill. As a filmmaker, as a photographer I want to share with you guys my perspective on which drone may be right for you now. TL DR: if you’ve never flown a drone in your life and you’re looking at one of these to be your first starter drone that is capable of doing more than just a few tricks I would say go straight for the Mavic Pro.
|Size (L×W×H)||3,2×3,2×7,8 inches||5,6×5,6×2,1 inches|
|Take off Weight||1.62 lbs||0.66 lbs|
|Max Speed||40 mph (65 kph) in Sport Mode (no wind)||31 mph (50 kph) in Sport Mode (no wind)|
|Max Ascent Speed||16.4 ft/s (5 m/s) (Sport mode)||9.8 ft/s (3 m/s) (Sport Mode)|
|Max Descent Speed||9.8 ft/s (3 m/s)||9.8 ft/s (3 m/s)|
|Sensor||1/2.3” CMOS; 12.MP||1/2.3” CMOS; 12 MP;|
|Lens||f2.2, 26 mm (35 mm format equivalent)||f/2.6, 25 mm (35 mm format equivalent)|
|Max Video Resolution||Cinema 4K: 4096×2160 24p||FullHD: 1920×1080 30p|
|Gimbal||3 axis||2 axis|
|Flight Time, Range, Battery and Live Feed Transmission|
|Hover Time||~20 minutes||15 minutes|
|Range||4-4,5 miles||1,2 miles|
|Battery||LiPo 3S 3830 mAh, 11.4V||LiPo 3S 1480 mAh, 11.4V|
|Live Feed Quality||
||720p@30fps (Wi-Fi only)|
|Price||Check on Amazon.com||Check on Amazon.com|
Size wise they both take a very similar amount of space: just to give you guys a reference I have the peak design 20L backpack and they both take a similar amount of divider space and in terms of video and image quality you’ll be future proofing yourself with the 4K capabilities of the Mavic Pro.
Mavic Pro vs Spark: Features
It’s Andrew from djibestdrones.com and I recently caught the drone bug as I would literally try to fly my drone every chance that I can get. It’s incredibly addicting and it’s a lot of fun and the best part is in the recent years the DJI drones have become a lot smarter a lot safer and more importantly a lot easier to operate. Both the Mavic Pro and the Spark have active tracking tripod mode and other features that help make your drone footage look a lot more professional and a little more epic which in the older iterations would have required a bit of a learning curve on the controls to pull off very similar looks.
Both drones have automated return to home features which means if you ever lost connection with the drone while it’s in the air it will be able to fly back to its takeoff position on its own. Both quadcopters have obstacle avoidance which means that the drone can detect that is close to something it can prevent itself from crashing into it. It’s not completely foolproof and it’s going to be dependent on a lot of factors but as long as you’re not reckless with your drone the failsafe measure will kick in. That said of course you still need to know all the safety guidelines and be mindful of your surroundings before each flight as long as you know what you’re doing and you practice enough you wouldn’t have to worry about losing your drone or hurting yourself or hurting others around you.
Why to Chose the Spark over the Mavic Pro
If you’re looking at one of the drones to be your first drones you’re going to have to ask yourself a few questions like that: “What will be the purpose of the drone?”, “How serious are you going to get with it?”, “What are you expecting out of these drones?” and “How I know, I mean expound, like a relationship – but you’re dropping anywhere between 500 to 1200 dollars – I need to be sure what you’re going to be using the drone for?.
If you just want to have fun – you want to be that cool person at the party with a drone – or if you travel a lot you want to bring something a little tiny little something that’s inexpensive to film some aerial footage when you’re traveling you don’t want the hassles. You might consider the Spark – it’s nice, its small, its compact and it’s portable. The 1080p HD footage isn’t too shabby and honestly the video quality is good enough for a lot of people out there and unless you’re an experienced video editor you’re likely not going to have a machine that can edit 4K anyway.
In that case the DJI Mavic Pro would be an overkill but of course if you’re looking for something a little professional something you can possibly make some money with higher quality has a lot more control then the Mavic Pro will be the best bang for your buck. Not only can you achieve professional results with it – you can also use it for leisure, for vacation, for travel because of that friendly foldable form factor. Honestly, I can tell you both drones took up the same amount of space in my bag despite the smaller form factor of the Spark. Again, because the Mavic is collapsible and makes the width to be very similar to that of the Spark.
Now regardless of whichever drone you decide to go with I would highly recommend getting the Fly More Combo – these kids provide an extra battery which will increase your flight time the Mavic Pro. You’re going to get pretty close to about 25 minutes per battery while the Spark may be close to 15 minutes per battery: trust me, before you know it the low battery level warning will come up and the drone will be forced to return to home so having these extra batteries will just prolong the fun. In addition to that the fly more combo for the DJI Spark comes with a remote control which in my opinion is insanely necessary: having physical joysticks instead of using the touch interface off your phone makes the flight experience a lot better.
Why I Prefer the Mavic Pro over the Spark
And here’s my advice: at least for me the image transmission signal was a lot stronger without the cable it completely ruined the experience for me. It honestly felt like I was playing an online video game, like an MMORPG where you’re playing this character you’re running through this large part of town with a lot of players but you have severely high latency so you can barely move a few feet and you’re dropping frames like crazy – that’s honestly what it felt.
As you can see on the picture above the folded Mavic Pro even smaller in size than the Spark.
When I was operating the Spark with the RC controller through the Wi-Fi or the Bluetooth over my phone it was just that bad and I have disconnected from my Spark before and that was a scary thing because I wasn’t able to reconnect with my Spark with the control or with the phone so I literally had to watch it come home and for whatever reason it couldn’t land because I took off near the edge of the sidewalk. So it was literally hovering over the edge of the sidewalk and I had to wait. The battery died before I can retrieve it so yeah, it was bad experience. Also, I highly recommend using the cable if you’re an Android user: I believe the Spark will come with a cable for you if you’re an iPhone user otherwise you’re going to need to buy a USB to micro USB adapter.
Let’s talk about the gesture controls on the DJI Spark a bit. This is something that DJ I was heavily pushing when they first announced the Spark: you can take off the drone and land the drone on the palm of your hand and if you put your hand in front of it you can control it like a Jedi. If you wave at it, it will fly back and widen its distance from you to get more stuff and frame and if you do a frame gesture it will take a photo and to be really honest with you all that all that stuff is super gimmicky except the palm takeoff and the palm landing – that’s actually pretty freaking cool.
So when the gestures work – they work, when they don’t – they really don’t and you really have no way of knowing that it worked other than the blinking lights on the Spark but it really doesn’t give me a lot of confidence when I wanted to take a photo of me. I’m sure in due time the operator will be able to master the gesture controls on their Spark but for the most part that’s not what I would get the drone for – I don’t need it to do some tricks I just want to fly my drone up look at some amazing scenery capture and share it with my friends and family and that’s to me is what I want to get the drone for.
That’s the fun part of the drone being able to pilot it and record some cool stuff with it so why did prefer my Mavic Pro over the Spark – it just doesn’t fit my need as a filmmaker. As a video enthusiast I value the extra controls of the Mavic Pro which gives me the ability to shoot in 4K. Shooting in 4K is definitely one of them but I also have the option to shoot in different picture profiles, different frame rates, control the white balance and so on whereas the Spark is limited to 1080p 30 frames per second and a default standard profile. In my line of work we like to include some aerial footage in our wedding video so to have control of our footage to match what we shoot without professional cameras just helps mix our work a lot more seamless and because for me both drones took a very similar amount of bag space I figured what the Mavic Pro I would at least have a lot more flexible options.
For you it could be a different story – you probably don’t need that much flexibility or maybe you don’t have the extra $600 for the Mavic Pro then in that case go for the Spark. It’s honestly still a very fantastic amazing drone but if you’re a little more serious than that then I would highly recommend trying to save up for the Mavic Pro. Look for the sales and if you can pick up the DJI Mavic Pro for cheap I would say go for it because the value that you get out of the Mavic Pro greatly exceeds that of the Spark.