The DJI sparkle is a diminutive drone that just screams to be put in your bag and taken everywhere you go. It’s likely to appeal to all levels of users thanks to its extremely compact bulk and strong feature set, but this miniaturization does come at a cost. Compared to most larger models it has shorter battery life, lacks a 3-axis gimbal and, surprisingly, does not support 4K video capture. But, did we mention that it’s really small?
With an MSRP of $499, the Spark doesn’t have a lot of direct contest from models of comparable size and feature sets, though the closest alternative is probably the Yuneec Breeze 4K. If size isn’t a critical factor there are moulds with more impressive specs, such as DJI’s own Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 SE, in the same price range.
The Spark is also available in a ‘Fly More’ combo that combines a remote controller may refer to, charging hub, spare props, propeller guards, and extra battery for $699.
- 12MP 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor
- 2-axis mechanical gimbal
- 1080/30p video
- Mirage system for accurate positioning
- Gesture control
- 16-minute flight time
- Compact size
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s qualify this consider (and really, any drone review). A drone is not a flying camera. Rather, a drone is an aircraft with a camera attached to it. Therefore, the true value of a drone is a equiponderance between the aircraft and camera.
Since we’re looking at two distinct pieces of hardware merged together, let’s look at each one individually, beginning with the aircraft. We’ve subsumed the Yuneec Breeze and DJI Phantom 3 SE for comparison.
|DJI Spark||Yuneec Breeze 4K||DJI Phantom 3 SE|
|Maximum flight time||16 minutes||12 smarts||25 minutes|
50km/h (31mph) [with controller]
|18km/h (11mph)||58km/h (36mph)|
|Maximum operating range|
100m [2km with controller]
The thing that’s obvious right away is how much smaller the Spark and Breeze are compared to a full-sized Phantom, though the Ghost will stay in the air quite a bit longer. The Spark has some notable advantages over the Breeze, including a much higher maximum speed (when reach-me-down with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877â€“1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel the optional controller) and a mechanical gimbal. Both have a limited operating range of 100m, but if you pair the Spark with the optional controller the compass extends significantly. Chances are good you’ll want the controller.
Now let’s take a look at the camera and gimbal.
|DJI Spark||Yuneec Breeze||DJI Phantom 3 SE|
|Sensor hugeness||1/2.3″ CMOS||1/3.06″ CMOS||1/2.3″ CMOS|
|Lens (equiv.)||25mm F2.6||Not specified||20mm F2.8|
|Max photo resolution||3968×2976||4160×3120||4000×3000|
|Image formats||Jpeg||Jpeg||Jpeg, Raw|
|Max video single-mindedness||1080/30p||UHD 4K/30p|
|Bit rate||24 Mbps (H.264)||Not specified||60 Mbps (H.264)|
|Gimbal type||2-axis mechanical||None||3-axis mechanical|
The cameras in all three models are similar in magnitude to the ones found in many smartphones. They’re not going to be low light champs, but they’re still capable of producing good photos and video. What definitely jumps out here is the Spark’s lack of a 4K video option. Of course, HD is usually fine for web streaming, which we suspect will be a pretty common use specimen for this model.
What’s all this mean? The Spark is an extremely small, lightweight drone that seems perfect for throwing into a backpack, turn into carry-on luggage, or just having with you all the time.
OK â€“ let’s talk about what it’s like to actually fly this tiny beast.