The two newest drones from DJI are giving each other a run for their money. It's the DJI Spark vs Mavic Pro!
Both of these drones are great entry points into the drone world for the new drone owner, but they come with quite different size, weight and camera specifications. And then there is the price difference!
In this detailed review I am going to show you exactly what matters, and how to pick the right one for you (in the last section).
There are also lots of videos in each section to help explain some of what these DJI drones can do.
And as someone who has gone through all of this just recently to buy my first drone, I know how complex and difficult it can all seem. Don't worry, I am here to help :>
Note: To read this review you can either read the whole thing, or jump to the relevant drone or section using the quick navigation below.
I know not all of you want to read everything.
Any questions, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment.
5.6 x 5.6 x 2.2
3.2 x 3.2 x 7.8
The DJI Spark has arrived and it's pretty impressive.
I thought the Mavic Pro was the best thing since camera drones were invented, but this has taken it to a new level, at least as far as portable camera drones go.
To start, let's break down some of the more interesting specs:
More Info: DJI Spark Specs
The spark is a super-small & light, yet fully functional drone that can take awesome pictures or video. Sure, it can't do 4K but this is the trade off - size and weight vs camera. (more on that later).
This drone is aimed at the recreational market not the drone pros.
But the big thing about this drone is that it is "insanely small" and light and still packs in most of the features of it's bigger brother the Mavic Pro (details on the Mavic further down).
Instead of talking about dimensions and weight, let's compare the Spark (5.6 x 5.6 inches) to something you might have lying around. like an iPhone 7 Plus (6.3 x 3.1 inches).
As you can see below, the Spark's body is smaller than the iphone plus, and smaller than two iPhone pluses layed side by side (when you include the arms and blades of the drone).
It's pretty damn small!
And weight? Well the Spark is about 10.6oz and an iPhone plus is about 6.6. So it's about 1.5 times the weight of an iPhone.
Something this small and light you can pretty much stick in a big pocket, purse or backpack no worries at all.
This is something you can have with you at almost any time and anywhere.
Despite the super small size of this baby, DJI have managed to pack in a 12 Megapixel video camera that can shoot 1080p HD video.
So, although it is probably not for video pros (no 4K), most people will be blown away by the quality.
Casey Neistat got hold of one of the early versions of the Spark and compared the video quality of the Spark vs Mavic head to head in this video (and this was a pre-release version of the drone too):
DJI have been adding more and more shooting features to each drone they release, and the Spark has gotten some upgrades even the Mavic Pro does not have.
Most of the drones you can buy these days have such cool features as:
But now the Spark has even more ninja-like modes to help make it into more of a "selfie" drone.
Gesture Modes (Become a Drone Jedi)
You can use your hand to guide the drone around, up, down, closer or further. Just like a Jedi. Sweet!!!
Then, when you are ready, you can create a picture frame with your fingers and a timer is set to take a picture (giving you some seconds to get rid of your stupid fingers :>).
I have cut the rather cheesy DJI Spark video to the right time so you can see how this gesture stuff works. It's pretty crazy. This thing can even take off and land from your hand - like a pet bird!
With this drone being more for the recreational market, it comes as no surprise that the Spark has a bunch of super-vibrant colors you can choose from:
The basic model of the Spark does not come with a remote controller. The Spark can be controlled from a phone or using the hand gestures I mentioned above.
However, if you want to really experience the Spark with full control and to the maximum distance possible, you really need to get the Spark remote control.
You can either buy it separately or as part of the Spark Fly More combo.
Spark Remote Control Pros
For those who want to get a little more techy and really know what this drone can do, here you go.
Like the Mavic Pro, it is fully GPS capable and has a built-in return to home function. So, if things go wrong in-flight (lost connection, you have no idea where it is etc) then you can call it back. You just need to make sure you take off from a clear area so it can return home safely.
The batteries that DJI make are not just batteries, but "smart" batteries designed to help ensure the safety of such powerful LiPo batteries.
The drone also has forward and downward facing sensors to help avoid collisions and dodgy landings. Unlike the far more expensive models like the Phantom and Inspire, there are no side or back sensors, so you really need to know where you are and what is around you. (I already had a near miss with a tree branch, as I just did not see it! It was on the side of the drone)
The camera is also top-notch with a 12 Mega pixel sensor that is larger than an iPhone's. So the quality is great (check the video from Casey earlier).
It also comes with a 2-axis gimbal, so has mechanical stabilization - which means super smooth video and camera shots (unlike what you can do with your phone or GoPro). It is missing sideways gimbal stablization though, but in most situations it is not a big deal.
The Spark is basically the smaller and cheaper brother of the Mavic Pro. If you are looking to get into drone photography or just want better shots of your sports, activities, time with the kids then this is a great starting point.
But, before you make a complete decision, I recommend you check out the differences with the Mavic Pro below.
Note: Currently you can only get the Spark with the "fly more" combo - which means you get more cool stuff that you will buy later anyway (spare battery, multi-charger, cables, bag etc). I ended up buying most of the items you get in this pack separately anyway. As you really do need them.
Before the Spark we had the DJI Mavic Pro.
The Mavic Pro is a combination of an easy to carry and high quality camera drone. I absolutely love mine.
You can throw it in almost any bag, unfold it, and be up in the air in minutes. I take it everywhere and can take shots that I have never taken before. And, because it is so small and portable, you don't look like you are carrying a drone around.
So, what are the important specs for the Mavic Pro:
More Info: DJI Mavic Pro Specs
The Mavic Pro is aimed at anyone who wants to get serious about drones and drone photography/videography but does not want to be limited by the size.
It is a seriously portable drone with capabilities that are just short of what the previous king of the heap (the Phantom 4) can do. BUT importantly, with the huge size and difficulty to transport it.
It is small enough to slide into a big pocket, backpack or purse. That is for sure. Of course, I would throw a protective bag around it first :>
It is not as small as the Spark, but, because the arms fold in, the profile of the folded drone is in some ways more impressive than the Spark (not sure why they did not add that feature - weight? expense?).
This is what they would look like side by side: Spark vs Mavic Pro
The Mavic Pro collapsed is 2.4 inches narrower than the Spark, but also just over two inches longer. However, because it collapses into such a tidy package, I think it wins on the portability front (if you ask me).
The camera and gimbal on the Mavic Pro are a step above the Spark's. Which kinda makes sense as it is more expensive and also aimed at a more "pro" market in terms of video/camera quality.
The full capability of the camera is 12MP for photos (with RAW format available), and up to 4K on video. Of course, it also does 1080 HD and a few other resolutions in between, if you want to save space on your sd card.
For frame rates, you only get up to 30fps on 4K, but more options if you lower the resolution (1920×1080 has up to 96 fps). So, serious videographers will probably want to either accept the limitations or think about moving up to a Phantom (or Inspire).
Now you will want to check out some 4K footage on Youtube (it's quite amazing):
The Mavic Pro has loads of built-in intelligent flight modes to make your videos look even more epic.
And most of them are super-easy to learn too. Just give yourself a little space outside and play around. It only took me one or two tries each time, and I was good to go.
These are the main modes:
There are a couple more like Follow Me (which is the old Active Track) and also a straight line back to you (Home Lock) and Waypoints (create a GPS track and it can re-follow it).
So, this baby can do almost anything - either from the controller or with the help of these intelligent modes. Why not get a great shot with the help of the drone's internal computer :>
The Mavic Pro operates almost always with GPS assistance. This helps it keep stable when it is flying (even hovering - wind almost does not shift this thing) and also know exactly where it is and has been. So, if something goes wrong, it can return to home very easily and safely. And with something like a drone, that is a feature you can't live without.
The Mavic also has smart batteries, like all DJI products. So the charging and usage is controlled by the battery. This means it is safer and lasts longer.
Like the Spark, the Mavic also has forward and downward facing sensors which helps you to NOT crash into things and also avoid issues when landing. The weight and size of these drones means neither has side or back sensors, so you still need to be careful of your surroundings
The camera is a notch above the Spark's with a 12 Mega pixel sensor that can shoot RAW photos (for better post-processing) and up to 4K video. The image quality for the size of this drone is quite simply stunning.
The 3 axis gimbal offers insane stability for your videos. When you watch any Mavic Pro footage you will struggle to see it move (apart from the drone flying). Yet, if you watch the drone in the air, it moves a little, all the time. The gimbal is impressive.
Want to see a detailed rundown of all the features in action, watch DJI's video below:
The Mavic is slightly larger and heavier than the Spark but offers a more professional camera and flexibility with the flight modes and control.
If you are serious about getting into drones and videos or photos from unusual locations (the views from above can be stunning) then this is one of the best places to start.
Note: If you are serious about getting into the Mavic Pro, I recommend grabbing the Fly More Combo which comes with all the added accessories you need. (It was not available when I got my drone and I ended up having to buy everything separately later anyway - extra battery, car charger, bag etc).
It's a tough choice, but if you take a look at the main areas the decision should become clearer.
The Spark wins hands down here at less than half the weight (not including the controller) and about 2/3 the length.
But, keep in mind, the Mavic Pro collapses (the Spark does not) so the final collapsed size is quite different. The Mavic can pack more easily even though it is 2 inches longer (but not as wide when collapsed).
The Mavic wins here as it has up to 4K video and RAW format for photos. That means it is meant more for the pro market.
Also, the gimbal is a full 3-axis gimbal so can move sideways as well. Something you may not notice in most situations, but is helpful for some shots.
The Spark has some more ninja moves when it comes to hand gestures and take off/landing from your hand. This drone was really built for the recreational market so it makes sense it is great for: group shots, selfies etc. This is where the Spark excels!
The Mavic has a longer range and longer flight time with one battery. It also has more flight modes like waypoint tracking that are meant for people who want to really control where the drone goes and what it does. Again, it is meant for a more "pro" market.
The Spark is about half the price of the Mavic (although with the Fly More Combo only about 30-40% difference).
So, if you are unsure about getting a drone, paying less is a great idea. You just need to have a think about what you will be doing with it and if you really intend to get serious about it or have the opportunity to use it for great aerial videos (vacations, local parks etc).
Note: Keep in mind a drone cannot be used in National Parks, in case you are heading to one of those on vacation! And in built up areas or around airports is usually a no-go for most locations. Here is a lot more info on how to use, and where you can fly your drone.
First time recreational flyers who just want to buy their first drone should go for the Spark. It has all the functions, camera and power you need to do almost anything you could imagine with a drone.
If you plan to get more serious, or need more functionality with the camera and drone, the Mavic Pro is a great entry point. I find it is also easier to pack, because it collapses and fits into more places without a special case.
Either way, you won't be disappointed. DJI products are top quality in construction and super easy to use. So, you will be up and flying in no time!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!