4.0 out of 5 stars
By C. Harrington - Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2017
Wonderful Drone for Non-Professional Use
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. Despite the fact that the drone’s hull is roughly the size of a Twinkie, DJI somehow managed to cram in many of the same technology you’d find under the hood of the Spark’s bigger, bulkier bother: the Mavic Pro. But where should you place your hard earned money, and is the Spark right for you? Read on to find out. I have been flying drones since the debut of DJI's very first Phantom. I have since then owned every reincarnation of the Phantom lineup (with the exception of the Phantom 3 Standard and advanced), and currently have a Phantom 4 Pro, Inspire 1, Mavic Pro, and Yuneec Typhoon H. I shoot aerial videos/stills for real estate companies, construction companies, universities, and occasionally for weddings. I also fly a lot for personal enjoyment. I use Adobe Premier Pro for my video editing and Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop for image adjustments. Therefore, one of the most important factors for me is image quality and video resolution. So let's start there. Video footage is stuck at a maximum of FHD: 1920×1080 @ 30fps. No 24fps. No 60fps. No 120fps. No 4K resolution. 1920x108p @ 30fps is the only option DJI's Spark offers in terms of video options. This means that 99% of the beautiful, cinematic, smooth slow-motion aerial footage you see on YouTube is absolutely impossible to achieve with the Spark and therefore automatically places this drone in the "not meant for professional use" category. Don't get me wrong, though. 1920x1080 @ 30fps will produce great footage without a doubt. But I guarantee that your most loved aerial footage on YouYube was shot at either 24fps or 60fps. So by all means, please do not expect to mimic those types of videos with the Spark because it won't be achievable. I hate to be a downer, but I’m just being realistic. If this is your first Drone and you’re “looking forward to making amazing videos,” be forewarned that the Spark will not produce the same footage you see from Phantom, Inspire, Mavic, Typhoon, etc. Moving on… The camera is held in place by a 2-axis gimbal. Meanwhile the Phantom line, Mavic Pro, and nearly every other drone is equipped with a 3 axis gimbal. Is there a huge difference between 2-axis and 3-axis gimbals? It depends on how fast you fly. With a top speed of 31MPH, the lack of a 3rd-axis is somewhat apparent during yaw movements at that speed. Overall though, I am very impressed with the stabilization DJI's Spark offers. It remains very steady in adverse wind conditions which was a huge surprise for me. It's small enough to blow across the table with a shop vac, but is a force to be reckoned with when it's in the air. (See notes at bottom for an explanation of 2-axis vs 3-axis gimbals) As I just said, the Spark has a top speed of 31MPH as stated by DJI. I have personally reached 28MPH while flying next to my car for speed comparison purposes, but with the cruise control nailed at 31MPH it was never able to remain at the car's side (wife drove while I flew). The magic number I came up with after 10 back and fourth runs in an empty field was 28MPH. Once the cruise control was set to 28MPH the Spark was then able to consistently remain at my side. One important thing to note is that you can only fly at a top speed of 12MPH while using your phone as a standalone controller. In order to go faster than 12MPH you will have to purchase the dedicated controller. Flight time is advertised as 16 minutes, but I have never (62 flights to be exact) been able to keep it in the air for that amount of time. Depending on ambient wind speed and how aggressively I fly the Spark I consistently get between 8 and 12 minutes of flight time. Therefore, I highly suggest purchasing extra batteries if you want to fly for long periods of time. I asked DJI how they came up with 16 minutes and was informed that testing was done in a windless environment and also at a static hover. Completely real world testing, right? Not even close. 12 minutes is the most you will get in the real world. Of course you can’t have flight time without a battery, right? Charge time takes an average of 45-50 minutes and has been consistent for me since I received this on June 1st as a tester. As with all DJI batteries it has a LED indicator which allows the user to see its charge at any given time. You can also charge the spark with a micro USB cable which is very convenient. I have plugged it into my car’s charging port a few times to add some juice while traveling to different locations and it works just fine. You can also use a portable battery pack as well. But be forewarned that charging the Spark’s battery via a portable battery pack takes a few minutes shy of forever. The same holds true for a car’s charging port. If you want to get the 45-50 minute empty-to-full charge time you will have to plug it into a wall. Range is advertised as 100 yards with a cell phone and 1.24 miles with the dedicated remote controller. Personally I have never been able to exceed 85 yards with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and my wife’s iPhone 7 Plus offered no increase (I flew it away from me on a football field and my wife marked where control input no longer worked. 10 times / 85 yards was the maximum distance). The remote controller holds true to DJI’s 1.24-mile claim. In-fact I’ve reached 1.76 miles. But here is the kicker… battery life will not allow you return all the way home most of the time if you fly out that far. I flew out to 1.24 miles 10 times and automatically turned around to return home. Not once was I able to make it all the way back. 50% of the battery was always exhausted before I reached .85 miles and sometimes less depending on ambient wind conditions. In terms of range I will say that the Spark is capable, but the battery is not. Let’s talk about the Spark’s claim to fame. Hand gestures. Yes, they work. Yes, they are cool. Yes, it will make you feel like Darth Vader. All-in-all, the palm launch functionality and hand gestures are a very welcomed technological addition. Not having to pull out my phone or the remote in order to get a picture has been a great time saver and eliminates a small amount of hassle. My phone can be dead and I can forget the remote controller at home, but I can rest assured knowing that I’m still able to control the drone without those things. If you’re like me and literally never take pictures of yourself with your drone, this will be gimmicky and useless. But if you’re a selfie stick addict who wishes your selfie stick could extend another 50 feet, then this will be a very welcomed feature. Final word: The DJI Spark is meant to fill the gap between serious dronies / professionals and those who just want to have fun without breaking the bank. It’s essentially an entry-level drone and nothing more. If you already own the Mavic Pro / Phantom / Inspire, the Spark will just be a dust collector on your shelf once you realize how inferior it is to what you already have. --------------------------------------------------- Note 1: A 3-axis gimbal is not necessarily better than a 2-axis gimbal. Saying a 3-axis gimbal is better is like saying a car is better than a motorcycle simply because it has more wheels. Both 3-axis and 2-axis gimbals have their own pros and cons. 3-axis gimbals generally provide better video stability than 2-axis gimbals. This is because 3-axis gimbals stabilizes your video on all 3 axis (yaw, pitch and roll) while 2-axis gimbals stabilizes only on the pitch and roll axis. Jello, or jittery horizontal movement, is more obvious in videos taken using a 2-axis gimbal due to the lack of stabilization in the yaw axis. 3-axis gimbals are able to greatly reduce and sometimes completely eliminate jello due to a third motor that helps absorb unwanted movement in the yaw axis. However, 3-axis gimbals are heavier and more expensive than their 2-axis counterparts. They also draw more battery power due to having more motors. This is part of what keeps the cost of DJI's Spark down, and also extends the battery life. Note 2: Buy the prop guards. Especially if you plan to launch the Spark from your hand a lot. I’ve been hit once while the Spark was taking off and it hurt. It’s not pleasant to get hit by a drone’s propellers, so always be sure your hand is completely flat. Note 3: Buy a landing pad, especially if you are uncomfortable with catching it with your hand. The Spark can easily land on pavement, but grass is a challenge because there is no landing gear and also because the props are so low to the ground. You can also use cardboard or some other homemade pad. The good thing about nylon landing pads is their resistance to water. Cardboard will become soft when placed on wet grass.
1.0 out of 5 stars
By Anthony G - Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2018
Cant recommend the Spark. Major flaw. Please read.
DJI as a company puts out some very nice products. I currently have the Mavic Pro, and came from the Spark. Now this is why I am only putting down one stars. The Spark has a major flaw, the battery can come lose, detach and the drone comes crashing down. Happened to me on two occasions. First time it was about 2 feet off the ground, right at take off, Spark came down, landed in grass, I didn't realize what had happened till the second time. The next time I was about 35-40 feet up and coming over a rock sea wall. Thats when it happened, the drone and the battery were both falling from the sky, two separate pieces. Now I have a broken drone, luckily i have insurance. Well I decided to do a little research online and found this to be a common problem, a problem that DJI is aware of. I call DJI and they even tell me over the phone that they are aware of the issue, but dont have a fix at this time. I tell them i would like to return this item, for a refund or credit so that I could purchase a different drone. They tell me, they cant do any of that, they can only send me the same item that I already have through insurance, and i still need to pay the deductible. Well thanks to Amazon I was able to return, they helped out. So with my personal experience I can not recommend the Spark. I can Recommend the Mavic Pro which I've been flying for at least six months with no issues. As far as DJI in the Customer Service area, Its horrible. I hope no one needs to ever call them, they stink. Go to YouTube and type "DJI spark battery falling out" there is your flaw!
5.0 out of 5 stars
By Liz - Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2017
PERFECT for what we need it for!
Your browser does not support HTML5 video. I had previously purchased a "toy" drone for my husband to use, it was only like $150 and he said it was really hard to fly. He has been wanting a real drone, but they are all fairly expensive and kinda big. So when he saw a preview video for DJI's Spark - he was all over it! The Drone: The drone by itself retails for $500, so this Fly More Combo from DJI is absolutely worth it! You get a bunch of accessories you would/should buy anyways and save about $150! You can definitely use the drone without the remote, but having the remote gives you the distance - up to about 1.25 miles. You get about half that distance without the remote (just using your phone). The drone is very small, just about the size of your smartphone, maybe even smaller! It is very light, weighing less than a pound, but the motor is very powerful AND stable! It has a 1080p camera, which is very clear and takes pretty good video. The gimbal is only 2 axis so it is a little limited in terms of what directions you can point the camera, but you have to keep in mind that this drone isn't necessarily made for professional videos. This is a consumer friendly drone - easy enough for the everyday person to use and figure out. If you need a 4K camera, you shouldn't be looking at this drone. Flying: This is the perfect drone for 1st timers. I had never flown my husband's toy drone because it always looked like he had such a hard time flying it. We went to a DJI demo event at the Micro Center store near us and I got to fly the Spark and it was SUPER easy! You can fly the drone 3 ways: 1) Gesture mode using only your hands to control it, 2) Using the DJI app on your smartphone, 3) Using the remote controller (with your smartphone connected to it). It is small enough that you can launch it directly from your hand or the floor. You can also land it and catch it with your hand. In Gesture mode, you turn on the drone, then double tap the button on the back of the drone, wait for the motors to start running and when you feel it has enough lift, you give it a little toss in the air and it will start flying. Then you take a step back and put your hand out with your arm straight to let it find you. Once the front lights turn green, that means it has found you and will follow your hand gestures. You can wave it away to send it about 10-20 ft in the air, give it a minute to track you again and then you can give it a gesture to take a photo! How awesome is that?? No more having to ask people to take photos for you! (That's really the real reason I wanted this drone - so I can have a personal photographer when we go on vacation! LOL!) If you don't have the remote controller, you can still fly the drone with just your smartphone - the app has virtual joysticks on the screen for you to control it. However, I definitely recommend getting the controller because I think it's easier to control and you get longer distance. The DJI GO 4 App: The DJI app is actually pretty cool too! I haven't used it much, but my husband has been playing around with it. There are different Quick Shots that you can do like Rocket, Dronie, Circle and Helix which will give you some professional looking shots. It also has Active Track where you can select your target (yourself or anyone else) and the drone will follow them as they move. After you are done recording, it will automatically create videos for you from your footage and include music. You can also edit the videos yourself, which my husband tells me is very easy. I've attached a video of my husband's first test flight video. Testing it out and playing with the app to create the video. Be careful, you may get a little dizzy! LOL! Enjoy!