Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • Extremely compact size
  • 300g weight
  • Very stable in the air
  • Vision system for accurate positioning
  • Intelligent flight modes
  • Gesture control
  • 1080/30p video
  • Video live streaming
  • Easy to fly with optional controller
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Gimbal is only 2-axis
  • No Raw photo support
  • No 4K video
  • Gesture mode can be hit or miss
  • Short 16-minute flight time
  • Challenging to fly using phone as control
  • Optional remote controller is required to fly beyond 100m
  • No prop guards included in base model

Overall Conclusion

The DJI Spark is a very capable drone in an impressively compact package. It's loaded with features, is small enough that you can take it virtually anywhere, and is reasonably priced. There's something here for everyone to like.

It's an excellent choice for hobbyists, travelers, adventure athletes, or anyone else who wants a drone small enough to fit in a bag or small pack, and can produce great photos and video. It's also extremely easy to fly (with the controller), making it a good choice for first time pilots. Gesture control, while not perfect, presents some interesting creative possibilities as well.

The Spark fits in the palm of your hand and is a great choice for anyone who wants a very portable drone.

Photo by Reza Malayeri

Experienced drone pilots and professional photographers may find that it's a jack of all trades, but a master of none. The camera is a bit anemic for professional work, and the low top-end speed may may be limiting to some. But, hey – it fits in your pocket, right?

One of the Spark's attractive features is its $499 price tag, but if you're going to buy it we recommend spending $699 to get the Fly More bundle that includes a controller and other accessories. The controller makes the Spark a much more usable drone, and the extra battery and charging hub will be useful. It also includes prop guards, which we recommend if you plan to launch it using gesture control.

In Flight

The Spark is remarkably agile and stable in the air, especially considering its size. It supports three primary methods of control: gesture control, smartphone control, and an optional remote controller.

Gesture control isn't 100% reliable, and works better in some situations than others. Taking selfie photos using gestures worked about 80% of the time in our experience. Gesture control in video mode worked less reliably for us, and we're hopeful that DJI might improve this via firmware updates.

Using a phone to control the Spark allows you to control more of its features, including intelligent flight modes such as Active Track and TapFly. It provides virtual controls for manual operation, but it's more difficult than using a dedicated remote. Phone mode also limits operation to a radius of about 100m.

It's possible to control the Spark using only gestures or a smartphone, but we think most people will be much happier with the optional controller.

Photo by Reza Malayeri

The optional remote control really allows the Spark to spread its wings, giving you much better control and significantly more range for line of sight operation. In our opinion, the remote isn't really optional if you're going to do much more than take selfies.

The Spark has a 2-axis gimbal that controls for pitch and roll, but not panning. To be fair, it's tiny, and it controls pitch very well. Roll is generally stable, but we did encounter some 'roll drift' when the camera would roll to the left or right.

Image and Video Quality

We don't yet have a standardized test for drone cameras, so it's difficult to do side-by-side comparisons, however it's fair to say that the Spark can create some very nice images as long as you're aware of its limitations.

The Spark's 12MP 1/2.3" sensor is similar to what you would find in a modern smartphone, and it comes with the same limitations. Take that in context: the Spark itself is tiny. If you want a bigger sensor, there are bigger drones. If you've mastered the art of photography on your phone, you can get great shots with the Spark as well.

The Spark's 12MP 1/2.3" sensor is similar to what you would find in a modern smartphone, and it comes with the same limitations. Take that in context: the Spark itself is tiny.

Notably absent is support for Raw image capture. We suspect this won't be an issue for the vast majority of people who buy a Spark, but it will be a limitation to more serious photographers. That's unfortunate given how small and useful this drone can be, and as we've seen, Raw images from cell phone cameras can retain a lot of detail.

On the video side of things, the Spark maxes out at 1080/30p video. The 24 Mbps H.264-based codec won't deliver as much detail as cameras with higher bit rates, but the quality is sufficient for YouTube, social media, and other online use, and we suspect that's how most people will use it. There's no 4K video option.

Size

We're guessing that most of the interest in the Spark stems from its small size, though undoubtedly some will be attracted by its price tag as well. If you're in the latter group, and extreme miniaturization is not be your primary concern, it may be worth considering a couple other models from DJI's own product line.

At around the same price as the base model Spark, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard includes a dedicated controller, 3-axis gimbal, Raw image capture, 2.7K video, and 25-minute flight time.

The Phantom 3 SE goes even further and adds a vision system as well as 4K video, including DCI 4K/24p with a 60 Mbps codec, and it still costs less than the Spark with the optional Fly More bundle. Basically, you're giving up some functionality in exchange for the Spark's tiny size, so if size isn't a critical factor it's worth considering other options.

The Spark's tiny size makes it extremely versatile, but if you don't mind a larger model you can get better specs and performance from one of DJI's Phantom drones at around the same price.

Photo by Reza Malayeri

The Final Word

DJI has created a great little drone with the Spark, packing a ton of features into an extremely small body. It's an engineering feat to be sure. In the process, they've also filled a gap in the drone industry, throwing open the barn doors and making drones approachable and accessible to a much wider audience.

Sure, you give up a few high end features in exchange for size, but we think the majority of Spark users will find the trade-off reasonable. In balance, the Spark provides the right features for its intended audience and will make it easy for a lot of people to explore new avenues of photography.

And we'll admit it – it's also a heck of a lot of fun to fly.

DJI Spark Rating (based on recommended 'Fly More' bundle)

Build Quality

Ease of Use
Camera Gimbal

Sensors/Flight Control System

Range (with controller)
Weather Resistance (rain/wind) Portability
Battery Life Crash Resistance/Repair Cost
Value
Overall Rating