Bug 3 $130 drone vs DJI Spark $500 drone vs DJI Mavic $999 drone. Which one would you want?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwB2rRnvHeA
Go Cheap for a First Drone?
I was curious. The DJI Spark at $500 ($699 for the recommended Fly More Combo) is still pretty pricey for someone considering their first drone and I wondered how these much more affordable drones on Amazon compared. So I picked up the Drocon Bug3 on Amazon - $130 bucks, throw in a cheap action camera that does 1080 or even 4K for $60 and you have some significant savings versus the DJI Options - is it worth it? There is a common misconception that ALL drones are hard to fly and you should practice with something cheaper so crashes aren't as costly. It isn't a bad idea BUT most of the time the cheaper drones ARE much harder to fly. With DJI drones like the Spark and the Mavic you press a button and the drone takes off and hovers at 3 feet, waiting for further instructions. You don't need to do anything. Then press the stick up it goes up. Stop pressing the stick up it stops and hovers. Move it forward toward an obstacle and it will warn you before stopping short of running into the tree/wall etc. Yes, DJI still makes drones you can crash, it's just that they are easy to fly carefully as you practice.The Drocon Bug3 is not like this. The $130 drone does not provide one button take off, altitude hold, GPS, a gimbal for stabilized footage, no way to see what the camera is capturing, no way to control the camera. It does provide a touchy, racing style drone that is fun and challenging to fly. Just know that I crashed it more times on the first day of flying than all the other drones I have ever flown combined! I do not recommend it as a first drone or a drone to buy if you desire good photos/videos from the air. For aerial photography/videography, the DJI drones have a big advantage AND are much easier to fly.
DJI Spark vs DJI Mavic
I love the portability of both. The Mavic folds small and fits nicely in my camera bag where my 70-200 lens usually sits. The Spark doesn’t fold up, but still easily fits in my camera bag though it feels a little more awkward. The Spark is lighter, the batteries are smaller and it can charge via USB making it extremely portable. When you sit it next to an unfolded Mavic you realize just how much smaller it is- and that makes the flying fun - I found myself launching this indoors and outdoors in environments that the Mavic just felt too large to comfortably fly in - and that’s pretty cool.You trade off some features for the smaller size of the Spark. While the Mavic is capable of 24 minutes flight time, closer to 30 with the new Platinum. The Spark offers just 16 minutes in ideal conditions and in flying both of these - I am almost always done with getting the shots I need with the Mavic and have plenty of battery left. With the Spark, it feels fairly urgent to get the shots I need in that shorter timeframe. The Mavic is faster and while you can switch the Spark into sports mode I have struggled to get very cinematic looking shots when it that mode, the Mavic in normal mode is fast enough and remains smoothly controllable. You also sacrifice range - the Mavic can be flown nearly 4 miles away, the Spark just over a mile when using the controllers for each- honestly here in the United States, you need to keep them both in sight at all times so the difference doesn’t bother me much. And it’s important to mention that the spark at $500 does not come with a controller - you control with the DJI app on your phone - that range is much more limited, just 100 meters and while the Mavic is capable of this too it’s really not something I recommend. The lack of tactile feedback and trying to keep your eyes on the drone plus the screen that your fingers are partially obscuring just make it awkward.Difference in the external controllers too with the Mavic providing an LCD screen with some basic info (though everything important is also displayed through the app so you don’t really miss out on info but I find it nice to have my altitude and distance in a dedicated spot), you also have a 5 way configurable stick that is replaced by a simple button on the Spark controller and a few additional customizable buttons on the Mavic controller.But of course the Spark can be flown without any controller at all via gesture mode and not something available on the Mavic - it feels a bit gimmicky and at times I struggled to get it to do much other than take off and land on my palm but when it works it is fun to use and certainly impresses your friends.Both cameras share the same sensor though the mavic is capable of shooting RAW stills that gives you more editing capabilities, offers a slightly wider fixed aperture f/2.2 vs f/2.6 in the spark and, shooting 4k video with 3 axis gimbal support vs just 1080 and 2 axis gimbal in the Spark at a lower bit rate. I my testing I certainly see an advantage with the Mavic in stills and video quality, especially in lower light. The spark isn’t bad - it just feels a touch behind what the Mavic provides in quality. I haven’t really noticed a difference between the 2 axis and 3 axis gimbals - the spark video looks just as stable smooth.You do see a noticeable difference in control options for both photos and video in the app - Not only does the Mavic provide the RAW shooting you have color profiles for video and you can customize the speed of the gimbal for very controlled, cinematic looking shots - not possible on the Spark.The Spark is cheaper, lighter, smaller and in some ways more fun to fly but does not provide 4k and its image quality/video quality is decent but not quite as good as the Mavic.The Mavic costs more but offers image and video quality that I love using in my travel videos along with the extended flight time and faster speed while remaining cinematic and still being portable enough to bring along just about everywhere.I think the Spark makes a great first drone but the Mavic has those additional advantages that make it worthwhile for the serious content creators that need to travel.I recommend the Fly More Combo for both drones - the extra batteries are useful and having the multi-charger for both drones makes a big difference in how quickly you can get flying again. I recommend buying from B&H Photo - no sales tax outside of NY state.