Ask any drone enthusiast about the best brands, and the name DJI is bound to come up. With the Spark, DJI decided to move from their norm, high-end drones for photography and videography, and instead opted to make an entry-level device. That in itself makes a DJI Spark review worth looking at, although there are more reasons for that as well.
Another reason is the limited options remaining. If you’ve considered buying the Spark at any point, you should know that DJI has stopped production of the device. Consequently, a review could help you decide once and for all before the model becomes unavailable. Ultimately, this is what we provide you with below, and it can help you determine if it’s still worth looking at as a potential purchase.
DJI made this as an entry-level device, and the features matched that intent, especially when it was first released. Also, with this offering, DJI set a standard with some of the features they included. It’s a couple of years since the release, and whether the features are still worth the money is a question that potential buyers want the answer to. Hopefully, the drone’s review below can provide some extra clarity on the subject.
Design-wise, DJI did a stellar job with the creation of the Spark. It’s compact and lightweight since it only weighs 300g. That said, according to the Trusted SourceHow to Register Your Drone Register your drone at FAA DroneZone either under part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers. If you are not sure what kind of a drone flyer you are, check out our User Identification Tool or visit our Getting Started webpage to learn more. www.faa.gov , only drones in the 250g or less weight range can avoid registration. As such, you’ll still need to get the right permits to use the device.
That aside, the mini machine doesn’t offer foldable wings, which is an increasingly common feature in modern drones and one that provides easier transportability. This is understandable, considering that it was released in 2017.
Additionally, the functionality is impressive. Even to date, you can use the tool for video recording and taking pictures, and the quality is still more than good enough. There’s the option of smartphone control, although a dedicated controller is also available. Another aspect of the functionality is features like gesture control that work amazingly well.
The device has a maximum range of 1.2 miles depending on the controller you’re using. It can also move pretty fast in the right conditions. Lastly, the flight modes included are an extra asset, although we will delve deeper into that below.
Like other DJI drones, it feels robust and solid enough to take to the skies and come back in one piece. However, in case you damage any components accidentally, DJI offers ready replacements so you can fix the device.
Of course, the drone crashing into obstacles would lead to more damage, so DJI has included a front face obstacle avoidance system. That way, it can alert the user to change course whenever an obstacle is detected.
For an entry-level drone, the flight time is nothing to scoff at, although at the moment, it’s not the most impressive. Sixteen minutes is more than enough to record the footage or pictures you want. Also, given the top speed, your drone could fly quite far in this short period.
The camera included in the DJI spark’s design comes with a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor coupled with a 25mm F/2.6 lens. Given the form factor, it’s entirely understandable that the sensor is as small as it is. However, it’s still bigger than the sensor in the iPhone 7, which has been known to produce some decent stills and video.
It’s capable of producing 12MP stills and 1080P video at 30fps. Notably, this is still pretty decent video quality and may prove sufficient, especially for the entry-level market. That said, more and more drones in today’s world offer 4K resolution or higher.
Consequently, the resulting images and video from the drone remain sharp. There are, of course, several picture modes you can use depending on the effect you want. Examples include single shot, interval, panorama, shallow focus, and burst mode.
Given the F/2.6 lens, the camera is entirely capable of producing shallow focus in stills and video. However, with the shallow focus mode, you get the added functionality of adjusting the focus point in post-processing.
There are various aspects to the speed of the DJI spark, including how fast it ascends, descends, and the lateral quickness. Both the ascend and descend speeds max out at about 9.8ft/s. As for the lateral speed, it maxes out at 31 Mph. Notably, this speed is only achievable in sport mode and without wind. As such, you would need the controller, which isn’t included in the initial purchase.
To keep the cost in the entry-level budget range, the Spark is sold without the controller. However, you still have the option of the phone app.
The app in question is the DJI GO 4, and it’s compatible with a suite of other DJI drones, including the Mavic series, Phantom 4, and more. As such, the functionality is definitely top tier. That said, it is limited in some aspects, such as the speed we mentioned before.
Additionally, the maximum range of the app is 100m which is a fairly poor showing of the drone’s capabilities. Nevertheless, it’s pretty simple and intuitive to figure out. You can find the camera shooting modes on the right, while the flight modes for the drone are conveniently stacked on the left.
Also, most of the drone controls are customizable to give a more enjoyable experience. You even have a gesture control sub-menu that can help you make the most of the feature. Lastly, the app includes editing templates, meaning you can import your photos and video, edit them lightly, and send them to your social media accounts within minutes.
Everything is taken a notch higher by getting the dedicated controller. As we mentioned, it is available but for an extra cost. Once you have the controller, you can make full use of the 1.2-mile range and engage the sport mode. Even at the 1.2-mile distance, you should get real-time 720P video transmission to the controller.
One thing about the sport mode worth noting is that it activates FPV. As such, you can get more from the experience by getting DJI googles. However, that is another expense that some users may not be willing to take on. Finally, the controller offers added precision compared to the app.
The flight performance of the DJI Spark says nothing of its entry-level placement in the market. It’s intuitive whether you’re using the controller, app, or hand gestures. One reason for this is the front face obstacle avoidance system. The device even has downward-facing sensors to make landing more intuitive.
Additionally, it has a compact, aerodynamic design that seems to have no issues taking to the air. Even the gimbal and camera are positioned close enough to the drone to ensure they don’t have any negative impact on the flight of the device.
With Active Track, you select a target for the drone to follow while recording. It could be you or any other subject you’re recording.
In Tap Fly mode, the drone basically guides itself to a spot you selected on your phone’s screen. Of course, it will avoid obstacles in the way as well. If you have experience in photography, you’ll know that tripods work to stabilize the camera to get clearer shots.
Tripod Mode on the drone works more or less the same way. It puts a 2.2 Mph cap on the flight speed, making the camera more stable for clearer shots. This mode also reduces the device’s responsiveness to give the camera and gimbal more time to adjust.
As for the Automatic Return Home, it’s one measure included to keep you from losing your drone. When the battery gets low enough, the drone returns to the take-off spot and lands.
Lastly, there’s the Quick Shots flight mode. The settings included here work in conjunction with the camera to achieve various cinematic effects. They include Dronie, Rocket, Helix, and Circle. Using the Circle setting, for instance, prompts the drone to orbit a target.
With the other settings, you can get the drone to fly backward and upwards, straight up, and even to spiral, all while the camera is locked onto a target.
The user experience is another positive of the DJI Spark. This is especially true due to the hand gesture support in the device. You can take stills even without having to use your phone or controller.
Of course, to familiarize yourself with these hand gestures, you’ll need to find the settings in the dedicated sub-menu in the app. The fact that the prompt for take-off is scanning and recognizing your face is also impressive.
Nevertheless, there are some minor gripes as well. For instance, the gesture control won’t work as well under the midday sun due to the camera 3D vision system not being good under harsh lighting. However, if you can find some shade, it should work just fine.
The weight of the DJI spark, as we mentioned above, is 300g, and therefore it’s slightly above the 250g limit set by the FAA. It’s still lightweight, but you’ll have to register it. According to the Trusted SourceFAA Drone Registration (Video Walkthrough) - How to Register Your Drone How to register your drone with the FAA. All drones weighing 0.55 lbs or more must be registered. Fly legally and start your drone career on the right foot. www.dronepilotgroundschool.com , an unregistered drone, even one as affordable as the DJI Spark, can attract a fine of $27,500 or more, so you have no choice.
The dimensions are reflective of the weight, and as such, it’s still compact enough to hold in your hand. Having foldable wings would make it a little more compact and easier to transport, but it’s not a feature you get with the Spark’s design.
The DJI Spark is a little pricy for an entry-level device, given the price range of competing models. However, it also packs a few extra features that might make the additional cost worth it. Also worth remembering is if you like the drone enough, you’re probably going to want to add the controller and maybe even the DJI goggles for the full experience.
There are, of course, a few extra features where the Spark is concerned. One example is its ability to recognize the pilot even when they’re wearing a hat or sunglasses. Others include the precision landing, incorporated GPS and barometer to keep the device stable in flight, and more.
With a couple of years in the market, the DJI Spark is still a decent offering for the first-time drone owner. With it, you can familiarize yourself with drone photography and videography before deciding whether to venture deeper into the field. As shown by the DJI Spark review above, it also works well as a recreational device, especially if you can add the goggles to your setup so you can experience FPV flight. That said, it probably won’t be available for much longer, so if you want to purchase it, you should do it soon.