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DJI is always coming out with new drones that make all other drones look like trash in comparison, but this time they came out with the Spark which makes their own drone (the Mavic Pro) look overpriced. Why go with the Mavic Pro when you can get the spark with all of its cool features and compact size? That’s what I’m going to try to answer today. To be clear, we have both drones to compare for this article, but we haven’t had the Spark for long, so this article could change in the future. I’ll try to make it as accurate as possible for the time being.
Obviously, if you compare the base price between the Mavic Pro and the Spark, the Spark is going to be cheaper, but how much cheaper? Well, that all depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you just want to fly slow and take a few videos here and there, you can probably go with the base model of the Spark for $499. Although, if you’re serious about learning to fly like a pro or you want to travel faster and farther away, the Spark combo package that comes with the controller for $699 is the better way to go.
The Mavic Pro at $999 is definitely going to leave a bigger dent in your pocket, but with the Mavic Pro and the Spark, there’s more to consider than just the drone. Batteries, for example, are going to be much cheaper for the spark, which drives the cost for the Mavic Pro up even more if you want to fly longer. When you buy a drone, one thing you should consider is that you will most likely be paying an additional 25% or more on accessories and DJI care (damage insurance) in the future, so the more expensive the drone is, the more expensive your accessories will be.
The size of the spark is not very different from the Mavic. When you fold the Mavic up, it’s pretty small, but when you’re actually flying, that’s when you notice the real difference in size between the Mavic Pro and the Spark. The Mavic is just way bigger, so it can be tricky to fly through tight spaces like doorways or hallways. Plus, the Spark is much quieter due to the weight reduction and smaller propellers. This makes it perfect for flying in places where you don’t want to bother/annoy anyone.
I’m sure you thought the Mavic camera was better than the Spark, right? Well, it isn’t, at least not for some types of photos. Since the spark is so new, it has new features that no other DJI drone has yet. One of them is called ShallowFocus. Using the ShallowFocus mode, you can take pictures with a shallow depth of field (like portrait mode on the iPhone).
There’s also two new Pano modes for taking automatic panoramic images. The first mode is for taking vertical panoramas. The other mode takes horizontal panoramas, but there’s a catch. It takes pictures vertically and horizontally in a grid-like format to create a larger panoramic image with more details in the scene.
When you buy the DJI Spark, you’re basically getting a drone that doesn’t require a controller of any kind. If you want it to fly, turn it on, double press the power button, point it at your face so it recognizes you, then it will start flying. If you want to move it, there’s a gesture for that. If you want it to come close to you, there’s a gesture for that too! If you want to take a picture, you guessed it, more gestures. When you’re done, you can catch it with your hand and it will automatically turn off. Now that’s some future tech right there! You can’t do any of this on the current Mavic Pro. Maybe these features will come on the Mavic Pro 2 one day.
We don’t know much about it, but there’s going to be a docking station that the Spark can land and take off from. Based on patent leaks, it could allow you to do some pretty cool things, but who knows at this stage. This section will be updated when more info is available
The Spark is small when you’re flying, but the Mavic still has a better size for transporting. It will fit almost anywhere that a large camera lens will go. The Spark is still really small, but because it isn’t foldable, it isn’t as easy to shove in every place possible. One of the things you’re paying for with the Mavic Pro is the folding parts. The parts on the Mavic are more complex, there’s more material, and it takes much longer to assemble than the Spark. That’s why the Spark has a more simple design.
I’ve always liked the Mavic Pro controller, and the controller for the Spark is very similar, but it doesn’t have all of the same features. The main thing that you get with the Mavic Pro remote is Ocusync, DJIs Premium communication technology. Ocusync will give you a max control range of 4.3 miles vs only 1.2 miles with HD Wi-Fi on the Spark. Because of Ocusync, the Mavic Pro is also able to communicate wirelessly with the DJI Goggles, providing better range, lower latency, and additional options like 1080p streaming instead of 720p.
The Mavic Controller also has a bright LCD screen that shows you all of the most critical flight information. You can view things like speed, altitude, distance from home, battery life and more.
The Spark uses a different kind of sensor for obstacle avoidance. It’s a custom infrared sensor which can detect obstacles in low resolution. The Mavic Pro uses two RGB cameras that can generate much higher resolution obstacle maps. This allows it to detect smaller obstacles at farther distances.
Not everyone likes to fly fast, but I certainly do! One thing that makes the Mavic Pro faster is its size. With a speed of 40MPH, the Mavic Is 10MPH faster than the Spark in Sport mode. There’s another area where the Mavic is faster, and that’s when using the obstacle avoidance. The Spark can avoid obstacles while going up to 7MPH, but with the better sensors on the Mavic Pro, it can do the same thing at 22MPH.
Flight time isn’t the most important aspect of drones, but if it’s too low, it can feel like you don’t have enough time take all of the shots that you want. Advertised flight time on the Spark is 16 minutes and on the Mavic Pro is 27 minutes. I usually get about 21 minutes with the Mavic Pro and I tested 13 minutes with the Spark.
I think for photos, the Spark might be a better drone, with all of its new photo features and gesture control, but video is where the Mavic Pro really shines. The most obvious benefit is 4K which gives you a sharper picture with more detail, but did you know that the Mavic Pro also has better stabilization? On the Spark, you only get two axis stabilization vs three axis stabilization on the Mavic Pro. Why is that Important? When flying in low wind conditions, the two axis stabilization will work fine, but if there’s a big breeze, the drone will occasionally yaw back and forth which causes the video to wiggle left and right. With three axis stabilization, this isn’t a problem because that’s what the third axis is there for.
On the Mavic Pro, you can also shoot in 1080p 60FPS for slow-motion videos. There’s even a 720p 120FPS mode, but to be honest, I don’t use it often because the quality is pretty low.
Out of all the features that the Mavic Pro has, compatibility with DJI Goggles is just icing on the cake! You should be able to use DJI Goggles with the Spark by plugging it into the USB port on the controller, but we haven’t tried that yet since we don’t have the optional controller for the Spark. With the Mavic Pro, you don’t even need to plug the DJI Goggles into the controller because they have Ocusync built right in.
We’ve had the Mavic Pro since before it was announced and have been through a lot with it. I personally became attached to the Mavic because of its small foldable design and great video quality. Now we have the Spark, and I’m not sure which drone I like more. I haven’t had it long enough to know for sure, but I think I’ll be flying to Spark more when I need to operate in tight spaces.
I can point out the differences between the Spark and the Mavic Pro, but ultimately, you will have to decide which one is right for you. Do you want 4K? Do you need longer flight time and range? Do you like to fly faster? Do you want full wireless support when using DJI Goggles? Maybe you just want something small, easy, and feature-rich to start out.
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