I have said it before.. and I will say it again – drones are fun! Did DJI just release the most fun, most capable drone yet? Before we talk about the DJI Spark I do want to say that drones are more than fun. They are useful in creating more interesting content and accessing angles and views you wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture and share.  And this is true for photos or video. See the beautiful drone footage from Croatia.  They really open up some interesting possibilities but they aren’t cheap, they can be intimidating and have typically required a commitment to bring along – The DJI Mavic pro made big steps in solving that with a compact size that still offers serious performance. Now with the newly announced DJI Spark it’s clear DJI sees a market for smaller, cheaper and less intimidating drones. The size and weight of the Spark is impressively small- almost exactly 300 grams or .66 lbs. For comparison the Mavic Pro is 1.66lbs and noticeably larger, even when folded.

Cool Feature – using just touch and hand signals the drone can take off from your hand, rotate around you, follow you, snap selfies or group shots and perform a few other prescribed routes while tracking you. Range of course is limited with gestures and even with the app you are limited to less than 100 meters distance. Buy the Fly More Combo for $699 and you get the controller that gives you a 2000 meter range, that’s more than a mile, an extra battery and charger, prop guards and a carrying case. Charging is done via USB which helps to keep this all very portable – though charging through the drone is slow at 80 minutes via USB, charging through the hub included in the fly more combo is faster at 52 minutes and is capable of charging more than one battery at a time.

The DJI Mavic offers a 21-25 minute fly time – records 4k at 30fps as well as additional frame rates at lower resolutions including some for excellent slow mo – offers RAW or JPEG capture with a 28mm f/2.2 and a 3 axis gimbal correcting for roll, pitch and YAW – the footage I have captured with the mavic is just so buttery smooth – I suspect the Spark is going to be close, but some movements or in some winds footage is likely to be a little less smooth. Speaking of wind – The Mavic states a max of 24 MPh while the Spark gets a max rating of 18 mph.

Your range on the Mavic is significantly increased and with that additional flytime you can feel safe in going further and higher and knowing your drone will return.  The Mavic sells for $999 which includes a remote- you can fly the mavic with just your phone but range is greatly limited, similar to the Spark and the Mavic does not offer gesture control for movement though you can do the selfie shot and simple tracking. The fly more combo gets you three batteries, a smart 3 battery charger (sequential- not simultaneously), extra props, a carry case and doodad that lets you turn a battery into a phone charger for $1299.

Which Drone Should You Get?

If you are looking for ultra portable, fun and easy the Spark will do the job. I just said on a recent video the best drone is the one you have with you and being able to always have this along is pretty sweet. But if you need to go higher, further and/or want 4K – you should consider the Mavic. And if you really don’t care about portability get the Phantom 4. The DJI Spark will sell really well. Though everyone should get the fly more kit – 16 minute flight time and an 82 minute charge time doesn’t really set you up for lots of fun. Having at least ONE extra battery is in my opinion mandatory. Additional extra batteries will cost you $49.

More details and a complete spec comparison of the Mavic, Phantom 4 and Spark can be found at photorec.tv/spark. I’d love to know which drone you are most interested in and why – is the Spark enough for you? Leave those in the comments below.

 

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 Rainy Day Reflections of Seattle's coolest public library - I almost said coolest building but the new Amazon spheres are crazy cool. I like living in the future - now if we could just ecotopia this place up all would be peachy!
 Upper Sunbeam Falls - Powered by melting snow(seen at the top of the frame) - Captured with GH5 and 12-35 f/2.8 lens 0.4 second exposure.
 @maudelou crosses the suspension bridge over the Ohanepecosh River on the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail - Mt Rainier National Park Captured with the GH5 and 12-35 f/2.8 lens


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