DJI Spark: Hands-on Review and Comparison

Meet the new DJI Spark – small, colorful and powerful flying camera drone that you can take anywhere. DJI puts it out there as the most glorious best-looking smallest, most compact looking and feature-rich drone that they have ever created. In this review today we are going to unveil the DJI Spark pros and cons.

Model DJI Spark
Size (L×W×H) 5,6×5,6×2,1inches
Weight 0.66lbs
Camera 1/2.3” CMOS; 12 MP; 1920×1080 30p
Hover Time ~14-16 minutes
Range 1.2 miles
Price $299 (Discount on Amazon.com)

The DJI Spark is a mini-camera drone of the Chinese market leader DJI Innovations and it is known for the integrated camera, smartphone control, gesture control and innovative intelligent flight modes. Also it is famous for the camera modes that are ideal for taking selfies. In this DJI Spark review we clarify what the DJI Spark does in theory and practice and what the pros and cons of the drone are.

Even with the first rumours about the DJI Spark, the drone community wondered if the DJI Spark would be a true FPV racer or a mini drone.

Now the secret is revealed: the DJI Spark is not an FPV racer with strong and agile flight performance, but rather a particularly compact and portable camera drone with focus on aerial photography and selfies. These selfies – a.k.a. “dronies” are individual or group portraits from the air – can be recorded very comfortably and simply with the DJI Spark. Thus, the DJI Spark has lower price tag than the DJI Mavic Pro and extends the product range of the market leader DJI to a portable, safe and at the same time diverse drone model on the consumer drone market.

Package

Visually, the DJI Spark is a feast for the eyes. The chic, familiar design with the white housing gives a high-quality impression and blends well with the well-known DJI ecosystem. The DJI Spark looks similar to other DJI camera drones, but it weight less and has smaller dimensions: it measures 5,6×5,6×2,1 inches. Weights DJI Spark only 0.66 pounds that makes it the smallest and the most lightweight drone DJI has released (upon the release of Tello Drone, yet it is not manufeactured by DJI)

DJI Spark can’t be folded, so it can be compared to the DJI Mavic Pro it terms of size in it folded state. DJI Innovations also equipped the DJI Spark with foldable propellers that can be quickly assembled and disassembled within seconds thank to the quick-change mechanism.

Apart from charger and micro-USB cables the DJI Spark comes with so-called prop guards (propeller protectors), which are clamped to the rotors and ensure greater safety during the flight.

In addition, the DJI Spark features a microSD card slot that works with up to 64 gigabyte UHS-1 SDXC memory cards. 16 gigabyte microSD card is included.

DJI Spark isn’t waterproof.

Design and Features

The DJI Spark is the first mini-drone aircraft of made by DJI Innovations With a particularly low weight of only 0.66 pounds and comparatively small dimensions of 5,6″×5,6″×2,1″, the DJI Spark is easy to transport and ready to start at any time. The foldable propellers can be quickly assembled and disassembled thanks to the Quick Release mechanism.

The maximum airspeed of the DJI Spark is 31 miles per hour (in Sport mode). Thanks to DUAL-band signal transmission (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz), the DJI Spark can transmit not only remote control signals, but also the camera image in real time also known as “live feed transmission”. The drone control is performed by the virtual joysticks in the DJI GO App (works both on iOS and Android) or by an optional controller (that will cost you additional $100). The latter is included in the Fly More Combo package.

The DJI Spark is also compatible with the DJI Goggles. The connection to a mobile device is made by pressing the power button and connecting directly to the WiFi network of the DJI Spark (Spark-xxxxx). If the aircraft is paired with the optional controller, the WiFi network of the remote control must be selected in the smartphone.

In addition, the DJI Spark is equipped with front obstacle and 3D sensors as well as the typical Vision Positioning System underneath the housing. The DJI Spark is GPS-controlled and can hold its own position. The sensor technology of the Spark not only provides more safety and stability during flight, but also is useful for many intelligent flight modes.

Camera Features

On top, DJI equips the DJI Spark mini-drone with a 12-megapixel camera with 2-axis gimbal. On the video side, the DJI Spark enables recordings with a resolution of 1080p at 30 frames per second. The live image is transmitted and displayed at 720p at 30 frames per second.

The camera quality of the DJI Spark is appropriate for this price range. Our impression is that the picture or photo quality with a resolution of 12 megapixels for conventional aerial photography is sufficient for home use. Unfortunately, the DJI Spark does not support Adobe’s own DNG raw data format like other DJI camera drones as photos can only be recorded in JPEG format. This restricts the possibilities of home post-processing.

Although the DJI Spark does not support the image quality of many other drone models or comparable action cameras due to the lack of 4K support, the compact camera drone, which was mainly developed for the selfies, delivers a decent video resolution of 1080p at 30 frames per second. Live feed transmission is available in 720p at 30 frames per second streamed to the smartphone. Latency is 200 ms which is quite high even compared to the Mavic Air. In general, FPV image and telemetry data as with almost all DJI models is a feast for the eyes. All important data on the flight status and the essential flight parameters are intuitively displayed on the smartphone screen.

With Shallow Focus and two new panorama modes, the DJI Spark offers three new photo modes apart from the regular stills recording. In the Shallow Focus mode, the DJI Spark uses a front camera and the 3D sensors to create a photo with a depth of field or bokeh effect, which is characterized by a fuzzy, blurry background and a sharp main subject. In addition, the DJI Spark supports two new panorama modes in which both panoramic and horizontal panoramic images can be created with the push of a button and are fully automated.

In Vertical Pano Mode, the camera drone combines a total of three individual photos into one overall picture, while in Horizontal Pano Mode, a total of nine individual pictures are merged into a panorama. The gimbal settings as well as the orientation of the flight direction are made automatically in the panorama modes.

Intelligent Flight Modes

TapFly

The DJI Spark is DJI’s first camera drone that supports new sub-modes of the well-known TapFly mode, namely TapFly Coordinate and TapFly Direction. In Coordinate mode, all you have to do is tap on the FPV display so the DJI Spark flies to the given point, keeping the altitude. In Direction mode, the DJI Spark flies in the direction that has been set on the screen.

Active Track

Of course, the familiar mode Active Track must not be missing in the DJI Spark. As usual, the camera drone can recognize a high-contrast object (for example, a person or a vehicle) using the 3D sensors and automatically follow the subject in various recording modes (trace and profiles).

QuickShot

Quick Shot mode has four different recording modes, which provide different image or video results. In Rocket mode the DJI Spark ascends while the camera is pointing down. In Dronie mode, the DJI Spark flies backwards and upwards while keeping the camera focused on the selected subject. The circle mode is similar to the well-known POI mode (Point of Interest) and results in a circular movement of the quadcopter around an object. The latter QuickShot mode – the helix mode – causes a spiral, upward flight movement around an object.

Overall, all four shooting modes provide a variety of high-quality and highly creative ways to capture aerial photography videos. The video results are particularly gentle and can be put together in a short time to form a complete video and posted on a video platform like YouTube or Vimeo with the built-in DJI GO 4-app editing program.

Gesture Mode

New and especially noteworthy is that the DJI Spark can be piloted by hand movements – the so-called gesture control. For example, the Spark recognizes the pilot’s palm. By moving up and down your hand the DJI Spark will ascend or descend respectively. In this mode the DJI Spark can be completely piloted without a smartphone or flight controller.

In practice, the gesture control is extremely reliable and very intuitive. In addition, gesture control comes with the ability to launch the DJI Spark from the palm of your hand or land on the palm of your hand. This impressed us very much during the flight and is a worthwhile feature in practice – after all, there is not always a safe place to take off or land the drone.

Battery and Range

The battery charging contacts can be found on the bottom of the DJI Spark. The drone can be charged via USB-cable or regular charger, that depends on you. The battery charging time when using a conventional USB charger is about 80 minutes. Typically, there are corresponding LEDs on the battery, which indicate the state of charge.

The battery runtime of the DJI Spark is about 16 minutes due to the 1,480 mAh strong 3S battery. The rechargeable battery can be recharged with either the included Charging Hub or conventional USB cable.

The drone range is variable and depends on one thing. this thing is called a remote controller: if you don’t own one then your flying range is limited to 260 feet and altitude is no more than 165 feet. But when you connect the drone to the remote controller your range is increased to 6500 feet. Feel the difference!

The DJI Spark can easily withstand stronger gusts of wind (wind speeds from 29 to 38 kilometers per hour) and reaches a reasonable top speed up to 31 milesper hour. Thanks to the Vision Positioning System, the DJI Spark is like a small bird in the air at lower altitudes and should not only delight beginners but also professionals.

Conclusions

The DJI Spark is a notable newcomer to the DJI ecosystem. With the Spark mini drone DJI Innovations can now also gain a foothold in the market of portable selfie drones and offer a corresponding product for the home-use aerial filming. Not only the low weight, but also the intuitive smartphone control and the new, diverse flight and recording modes are absolutely stunning.

On the negative side, some may find the price a bit too high and the lack of range without the remote controlled could be a serious issue for those who aren’t few to drone piloting but doesn’t want to spend much money on it.