The DJI Spark is DJI’s most affordable drone, costing around £500, it’s also the smallest and lightest drone they have ever made. This not a review, but more of me sharing my experience of using the Spark itself – as this is the first drone I’ve used.
The DJI Spark is small and portable – weighing in at 300g, with a plastic outer shell to keep it light and protected. The drone body itself has a footprint no larger than a smartphone but the propellers are fixed into place and cannot be folded in unlike the Mavic Air – which ends up being smaller than the Spark when the propellers are folded in.
The Spark is also fitted with a bunch of obstacle avoidance tech to help you keep your drone in the air safely. On the front of the drone you can find the 3D Sensing System which uses infrared to scan and avoid obstacles in front of the drone, there’s also a Vision System on the bottom of the DJI Spark which helps the drone keep its position and also allows it to hover indoors or where you can’t catch a GPS signal.
You’ll also find the battery on the bottom, which will let you fly for around 15 minutes but the battery is removable and also has built-in indicator LEDs so you can see how charged the battery is and also some rubber feet on the bottom to stop the drone sliding around when it’s on a surface. On the front is the camera, but I’ll be talking about the camera later.
Flying the drone is pretty simple once you’re used to the controls, I flew it with the controller most of the time but you don’t need to have the controller to start flying (although I’d recommend that you pick one up).
The drone has a couple of modes, a normal mode and sports mode. I flew in normal mode most of the time but I did try out sports mode a few times too, and it flies pretty fast with a top speed of 31mph. The drone also held up pretty well in windy conditions which I was quite surprised by, but if it is windy I’d make sure that you’re flying in an open area.
Range is also something to be considered, and this is where the controller really comes to play, I found that I could fly the drone around 600ft (just under 200 metres) before losing signal but obviously, that can vary depending on the environment that you’re flying in. If you do lose signal like I did once, the drone will automatically use the Return to Home function and start flying back to where you took off from – so you can then pick up the signal again.
The DJI Spark also has a few tracking modes which can track an object, but one of the more interesting things was gesture control, all you have to do is hold the drone in the palm of your hand and then press the power button twice once you’ve turned it on. It’ll take off and then you can use your hand to move the drone – it’s quite cool to play around with but I had to move my hand slowly or the drone would lose track of where my hand was.
The DJI GO app is the main control hub for the drone, it allows you to configure settings for both the drone itself and the controller. But most importantly, it allows you to see the camera feed from the drone in real time, which I think is essential. The app is fairly simple to use and the interface isn’t cluttered considering the amount of information that is presented at once.
The app also allows you to copy media from the drone and you can edit videos inside the app and share them with the DJI community. The app also keeps a full flight log of where your drone flew so you can take a look at the routes that you have flown.
Personally, I think the best way to fly the DJI Spark is with the controller as it gives you a simple and well-designed way to control the drone and also the camera.
The controller features two joysticks, one for moving the drone upwards, downwards and rotating and the other left, right, forwards and backwards. On the front of the controller, you also have easy access to the Return to Home button, emergency brake and custom function button. There’s also the switch that lets you change into sports mode if you want to pick up speed.
The back of the controller is for essentially controlling the camera, there are buttons for changing between photo and video mode and also tilt controls.
That’s about it for the controller, there’s also a place to put your phone so you can get a live feed of the camera, and also a micro USB port if you don’t want to connect to the controller over Wi-Fi.
Now, the camera – probably one if the important things for a drone so you can get some nice photos for Instagram or your drone flight montage on YouTube. The camera on the DJI Spark carries a 12-megapixel sensor that shoots up to 1080p video at 30fps with a bitrate of 24mbps. The bitrate is quite important because it means that each frame the footage will be sharp without pixelation or distortion.
The camera quality overall is impressive for how small this drone is, I found that footage looked best on days where there was a blue sky with a few clouds in the sky as when it was overcast the camera struggled to handle the dynamic range – but otherwise I’m very happy with it. The camera captures plenty of detail for both photo and video, and with a little editing of the photos, you can make them look really great.
If you’re looking for a drone on the market and don’t have an enormous amount to spend, because let’s be honest – they can get quite expensive, I think the DJI Spark is a great option – especially as a first drone. It’s small and portable and still gives you great results.