The DJI Spark is a compact drone aimed at the casual consumer. This drone features a 1080p HD camera and has been designed for portability, so it can be taken anywhere. It also comes with some cool features like gesture control that make flying easy and fun to fly!
This article will review the pros and cons of this small yet powerful device, to see if you should buy one too! We hope you enjoy our blog post on LucidCam, please stay tuned for more reviews in the future.
What is the DJI Spark?
If there’s one thing DJI is good at, it’s stuffing a ton of features and functionality into increasingly small drones — and nothing showcases this talent more than the Spark. Many still consider drones to be a niche piece of technology. It can be difficult to imagine flying a high-end gadget, which, as it may seem, is used only for fancy shots in movies and TV shows. DJI’s Spark is “democratizing the market and simplifying complex tech”.
- Small size.
- Supports gesture controls.
- Smartphone-controlled flight.
- Automated shots
- Tracking subject.
- obstacle avoidance
- GPS stabilization.
- Safety features include return-to-home.
- Easy to fly
- The battery lasts approximately 12 minutes.
- Phone control is limited in range and speed.
- Video limit to 1080p
- There is no support for high frame rates capture or 24fps.
- It could be simpler to use the app and video editing tools.
- A dedicated remote controller can be a costly add-on.
DJI Spark Review
Pricing and availability
The DJI’s Spark, which starts at $499 (PS519 AU$859), is the most affordable drone from the company. At this price point, it competes with other affordable drones like the $549 (PS439, AU$649) Parrot Bebop 2 and $399 (PS439, AU$629) Yuneec 4K Breeze.
You get the drones alone for 500 dollars, but you don’t get a remote control. You can add $149 (PS159, AU$259) to get the controller and extended range. Fly More for $699 (PS699 AU$1,199), comes with the remote control, a set of replacement propellers, and a shoulder bag.
Building Quality And Design
Spark is small. It measures only 2.2 inches by 5.6 by 56 inches (HWD) and weighs 10.6 ounces. DJI says it is smaller than a can of soda. The propellers are not foldable but they can be folded in for transport. You don’t need to take them out for storage so that the Spark can always fly. There are many colors. It is available in Alpine White and Lava Red as well as Meadow Green, Sky Blue, Sunrise Yellow, and Sky Blue. Our review model is Sunrise Yellow, as you can see.
The microSD memory is used to store photos and video. Although the removable battery claims 16 minutes of flight time per charge, our field tests showed that we were able to achieve 12 minutes. This is still significantly better than the six minutes that you get with small selfie drones such as the Dobby. The Spark has a micro USB port that allows you to plug it into your portable battery pack or laptop to charge its battery. Additional batteries can be purchased for a very reasonable $49.
The 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor is used in the camera. It’s the same sensor you would find in a pocket superzoom, but slightly larger than an iPhone’s sensor. The fixed 25mm equivalent lens can capture 12MP still images as well as 1080p video at 30fps or 24Mbps. For a cinematic look, you don’t have the option of shooting at 24fps.
There are also no 60fps and 120fps options to capture smoother footage for slow-motion playback. The DJI Mavic Pro supports 4K capture and offers additional frame rate options, so this drone isn’t as serious as the Mavic Pro. 2 axis mechanical stabilizers keep footage stable in flight time.
All the safety features you would expect are included in this design. GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning is included to help keep the Spark stable when flying outdoors. It can also be used to automatically bring it home if communication is lost or interrupted. The Spark can detect up to 16 feet away and adjust its flight path to obstacle avoidance. The Vision Positioning System is a down-facing array of sensors that helps keep the aircraft in place indoors.
The Spark is very stable. The Spark is very stable, even indoors. It stayed put even under moderate wind gusts, even though it was flying at a low altitude on a sunny Mayday. The DJI Spark is a DJI drone that we expect to fly well in the air.
Construction and Handling
Although the DJI Spark is small, its main body feels solid and dense. Due to heavy ribbing, the drone’s limbs feel sturdy. It’s evident that the Spark’s fuselage, which is made up of almost all of one piece of plastic, has virtually no seams.
The DJI’s Spark is easy to use. Simply attach the propeller guards and turn it on. Finally, you can take off with it.
You can also skip the remote controller to command the DJI Spark using hand gestures via the new PalmControl feature.
After scanning your face, the drones can take off from your palm. You can then control the drone by waving your hands at it. You can command the drone to fly towards you by waving your hand. After that, you can create a frame with your fingers for it to take a selfie.
PalmControl is intuitive, but it can be difficult to use if you need to do more than basic navigation commands. The drones will only respond if you wave at it in the right manner. Selfies are only activated a third of the time when we make the picture frame gesture.
DJI Spark – Features
All the sensors that you would expect from an advanced drone are found internally. The Spark can communicate with up 24 satellites simultaneously for precise positioning. The front has a 3D Infrared Sensing Camera for obstacle avoidance
DJI’s vision system, which is incorporated on its underside, includes a downward-facing camera and an IR sensor. This allows it to hover indoors even if there’s no GPS/GLONASS.
The Spark, like the Mavic Pro, will record a video with a downward-facing camera. This footage is then referenced when you use the return-to-base landing feature.
The camera’s 1/2.3in sensor captures 12MP still images and 1080p video at 30fps, rather than the 4K on the Mavic Pro. Additionally, the lens is only two-axis stabilized rather than the 3-axis. The third axis is digitally stabilized.
DJI Spark – Performance and App
The Spark can be controlled from your smartphone via a Wi-Fi Direct connection with a range of 100m. This makes setup easy. You can control the Spark using the DJI GO 4 App.
You will not have access to your smartphone controls unless you purchase the Fly More Combo Pack. These controls are not as precise as a physical control with two sticks for fine adjustment. This can cause the video to be a little jerky when you rotate the drones and adjust their position. TapToFly mode allows you to select where the Spark should go. This allows you to focus more on the view.
The DJI Spark Drone can fly as fast and as nimble as any drone DJI, and it is a joy flying once your hands are used to the virtual sticks. However, I thought the 100m range was a bit optimistic. My iPhone 7 lost Wi-Fi connection on several occasions. There is a safety net and the Spark will use its return to home function in case of loss of connection. It provides peace of mind.
The optional remote control unlocks Sport mode, which allows for a top speed of 50 km/h. This is significantly faster than what the smartphone app allows. You can also use the remote control to travel up to 2km.
Additional safety features include the built-in “No Fly Zones” feature in the app that warns you if you flying in restricted areas. The drone will not take off if you are within a certain range of an airport.
You can also edit your videos, including adding music and effects. This app is useful for sharing your videos quickly on social media.
Quick Shots make it easy to create cinematic shots. They include motions such as ‘rocket’ which allows the drone to ascend vertically and shoot downwards; a circle that revolves around a target and ‘helix’ which is cinematic and offers more movement options around the target than the other motions.
Helix was responsible for the Spark’s two-time sideways landing into a tree. One time it was being flown by a DJI representative, and the other when I was testing it. You can now set the distance for each maneuver using the DJI GO 4 App. However, even though I set it at 15m, it went into a tree. Although the Spark was unharmed, it was an emotional moment. Sometimes the target tracking would fail. Occasionally, the Quick Shot modes might lose track of the target. This was mainly due to Helix’s sweeping movements.
Spark’s gesture recognition is another big draw. After enabling advanced gestures within the app, you can launch it from your hand and it will hover in front. Next, place your face in front of the camera and hold your open palm in front. The Spark will turn green to indicate that it is locked and can be controlled by you.
The Spark will follow your palm movements and you can pan it left and right or up and down to get the perfect shot. When you are ready to take a picture, draw a Y shape with your arms. The Spark will move closer to you, but it will still be a target. The Spark will follow you as you walk around.
You make gesture control with both your hands when you are ready to take a photo. A 3-second timer will then start, giving you plenty of time to strike a pose. Although it may seem a little Star Wars-y, when it works it is amazing and makes it easy to get a quick shot. It is also great for group shots that are difficult.
This was however a little hit and miss when testing. Sometimes, the camera wouldn’t lock onto my palm and sometimes it would take a while. The lights can sometimes be difficult to see when you trigger a selfie because the drone is a little farther away. This meant that I ended up with many photos of me framing the motion, unsure if it was taking a picture or not.
Pano mode is another option, which combines 9 images to create a panoramic shot. These images can be taken either horizontally or vertically, depending on what you are trying to achieve. Shallow Focus is another great option for portraits. This simulates the background blur effect ‘bokeh’ by tilting the smartphone up and down. The effect is then applied to the image through software.
Video edited using DJI GO 4 app
Although the actual video quality and image quality aren’t as good as the Mavic Pro, they still deliver great results. Although the still images at 12MP are sharp and vivid with vibrant colors, they lack a bit of dynamic range. The video also has a lot of detail from aerial shots.
The Mavic Pro’s small sensor makes things less clear in low light. The light fades and images become more softened and noisier, so it’s best to capture the day.
DJI Spark – Camera
Spark features a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor. It captures 12-megapixel still images at ISO 100 to 1600. It can also capture HD video (1.920×1,080), at 30 frames per second. Spark is perfect for taking anywhere, and Spark has both image and video files that can be shared on social media.
It was not easy to pack this much power into such a compact package. UltraHD video (4K) and raw image capture are not supported. The camera is not stabilized on three axes like other DJI drones. Windy days and aggressive flight movements can cause camera movements that are not desirable in your videos.
Smooth video can still be achieved if the pilot uses measured inputs. Advanced photo shooting modes, such as auto exposure bracketing (up to three shots) or a setting that captures horizontal, vertical, and spherical panorama images using automated drone movements and camera movements, are still available. Spark is attractive for photographers who are interested in low-altitude aerial photography.
There are several special modes for still photography. You can snap 12MP images using the DJI Go App’s shutter button. To access Panorama and Shallow Depth of Field shots, you can change the mode of shooting. The first locks onto the subject and fly approximately two feet straight upwards. The JPG is a combination of several images. It blurs the background, much like an aperture wide-angle SLR lens. It was very subtle and barely noticeable in my attempts to use it. Below is a standard image. On the right, you can see the Shallow effect.
Spark can be controlled with just your hands. Spark offers advanced gesture controls such as PalmLaunch or PalmControl that allow you to control Spark with your outstretched hands (use propeller guards).
PalmLaunch is equipped with FaceAware technology that detects the operator’s location and launches from your hand to a stable hover. PalmControl lets you control the drone with your hand. This gives you a Jedi knight-in-training appearance.
You can also use gestures to take photos, record videos, and make other recordings. Is it possible? My results varied. Spark can sometimes track my hand and understand gestures with amazing accuracy. However, there have been a few instances when Spark was unable to follow my Jedi mind tricks.
Spark’s newest feature, the Gesture Controls, is a whiz-bang, attention-grabbing feature. Let’s get to it first. You hold the Spark in the palm of your hand, camera facing you, at arm’s length, and tap its power button twice in quick succession. The camera pans upward and downward until it locks onto your face. The front lights turn green and the motors spin up
To take off, you must let it go. It took me a while to let it go my first attempt. But once I did, it flew into the air. It fell to the ground on my second attempt. I had let it go too quickly. It was my third attempt and I knew what to do. You’ll be able to feel when the Spark is ready for your hand.
Now, take a step back. Place your palm towards the camera. When it recognizes your hand, the front lights will turn green. The drone will fly to your left if you move your hand left. This is truly amazing tech. You’ll need to move the drone farther away from you in order to capture better footage.
Intelligent Flight Modes
The Spark is remarkable because it packs many of DJI’s core capabilities in a small fuselage. A 3D sensing camera allows for collision avoidance in forwarding flight. The down vision positioning system allows for precise hovering up to 30 feet above the ground. Do you crave speed? Spark also includes the Sport mode. This allows for some more aggressive flying at speeds exceeding 30 mph.
The drone inherits all the standard Intelligent Flight Modes found on DJI’s range. It also includes a few new features. Below is a complete list of the modes available.
- Active Track/Follow Me: this feature allows pilots to select an area or object that the drone should follow. It’s a rare feature, but it works extremely well.
- Automatic Return home: When the battery is low, the drone returns to its take-off point and safely lands. It can also land precisely at the original takeoff point.
- The drone’s return home performance is outstanding, considering that it can land within a radius of 10 meters.
- Tap Fly The drone will fly to a particular location when it is tapped on-screen. It will avoid obstacles and other obstructions.
- Tripod Mode Limits the maximum flight speed at 2.2 MPH and decreases joystick responsiveness for smoother, more cinematic shots.
- Quick shots These are the new cinematic modes that this drone can use.
- Dronie: The drone can fly backward or upwards with the camera fixed on the target.
- Circle: The drone orbits the target.
- Helix: The drone can fly upwards and spirally while following the target.
- Rocket: The drone rises straight up while the camera points downwards.
Gesture Control is also available, which allows users to control the drone’s flight without having to use an app or controller. This is probably the most popular feature of the drone. It’s also quite exciting. You have several flight modes, including Palm Take-Off and Palm Landing, Portrait, Wave and Palm Control.
It can also take self-portraits or waves to engage in Follow Me subject tracking. Even when pilots are wearing sunglasses or hats, the drone can recognize them. Gesture Controls were well implemented and executed.
The drone’s front-facing Obstacle Avoidance System is another highly-respected feature. These sensors are 3D and allow the drone’s to detect obstacles in its path and warn pilots when they become dangerous. The drone will alert the pilot if it detects obstacles in its flight path. This prevents a crash. It also has downward-facing sensors to help it land safely.
DJI promises up to 16 minutes of flight time under the best-case scenario flight. Either use the Fly More Combo Pack charging cradle or directly attach the Micro USB charging port to the drone.
The real-world flight took me between 11 and 13 minutes. This is not amazing. It can take a while to charge the batteries, so it is worth buying extra batteries. These can be very expensive at PS55 per pop. It makes the Fly More Combo even more appealing.
Even though I had three batteries, I found the battery life to be a problem. It’s also one of the DJI Sparks’ greatest weaknesses.
DJI has announced that Spark will be receiving news from DJI that it will significantly limit the functionality of its current product line if users fail to register through a DJI Go account. This follows a court ruling that says that the FAA does not have the authority or the right to charge $5 to register a drone.
The Spark weighs more than 8 ounces so it would have been subject to the FAA registration requirements. It’s easy for you to see the Spark and feel it in your hands. The average adult pigeon is about 13 ounces. And the FAA hasn’t attempted to regulate them.
DJI has taken over the registration of the FAA. I support responsible drone ownership and DJI’s implementation is a minor concern for novice pilots. You can get into trouble flying the Spark, but it’s not difficult to do so.
You don’t need to register if you are opposed to buying a Spark or any DJI drone. There are other options–the Yuneec Breeze has a design similar to the Spark, and Yuneec will not require you to set up an account in order to have full functionality.
Should I Purchase the DJI Spark?
The DJI Spark is great fun to fly. Quick Shots allow you to take dramatic shots even if you are not a professional drone pilot. When they work, the palm controls are great. We hope that the bugs will be fixed in future software updates.
However, Spark’s price may be a bit high at PS519 for the drone alone. To make the most out of the Spark’s capabilities, you might consider purchasing the Fly More combo pack (PS700) which includes additional accessories such as the remote control, charging case, charger cradle, and case. The drone price is $499 and the combo packs $699, respectively.
The DJI Spark, if you don’t want to spend as much on the DJI Mavic Pro drone, is an excellent first drone. It’s just a shame that you have to buy the more expensive bundle in order to get the best out of it.
In this article, we’ve given you reviews of the DJI Spark and its pros and cons. Although the Spark is intended to be a drone for everyone, I believe most users will find it frustrating with its battery life. This makes having at least one spare battery an important accessory.
We hope that these insights can help you find your next drone and getting the drone, whether it be for racing or just to capture breathtaking images from the sky. But if you want a more versatile quadcopter in a small form factor, and are interested in learning to fly it manually, the DJI Mavic Pro is a stronger, albeit more expensive, choice.
If you have any questions about what we talked about in this blog post please contact us! Our team is happy to answer all your queries. Good luck buying!.