We had been watching the drone market for a while and wondering whether we could or should invest in one. The high-end drones are relatively high-priced, which means it’s not an expense, but rather an investment. And with our long-term plans of downsizing and traveling in a Class B RV, every inch of space can be precious at times.
Then, along came the DJI Spark. It’s a compact drone that is at least a much lower investment than other drones on the market. It also is quite a bit smaller than any other drone manufactured by DJI, which is the leading manufacturer of high-quality drones.
So we plunked down our money at Amazon for the DJI Spark Fly More Combo. By ordering the Fly More Combo, you get the base unit, the remote control, replacement propellers, propeller guards, two batteries, a battery charger, a storage case, and a carry bag.
In our opinion, the extra cost for the combo package is well worth it. These units are pretty rugged for what they are, but a solid storage case and a well-made carry bag for transport are essential. Due to its size, the batteries are smaller than on other drones, which means only about 15 minutes of flight time for each one. Getting started with two is necessary, and we have since added a third battery. (We also added a very inexpensive but impressive gimbal/camera guard.)
While propeller guards aren’t always necessary depending on where you’re flying, we have found them to be invaluable in areas with trees — you can use your imagination on why!
There is an old saying about how the best camera for any situation is the one you have with you. The Spark is lightweight and compact, which is why we’re more likely to carry it with us, especially when traveling in the van.
We have used it in several different situations where any other type of camera just could not have gotten the shots we wanted. This includes what you would expect, like high overhead shots of our camping locations. But we’ve also been able to get shots downstream on a river we were camped next to in northern Michigan.
We also used it to check out a part of a forest in Tennessee that you could go through on a trail but couldn’t get to some of its best features without traveling in the underbrush. By using the drone, we were able to capture video and pictures without going off course and possibly damaging the environment we were there to enjoy.
Recently, we used the drone to get before, during and after shots of a roofing project at our house. The ability to check things out from the air can put a whole new perspective on an experience, whether it’s a home project or a visit to a historic lighthouse.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show how capable drones can be. So, we decided to write about whether the Spark is worth the money.
The Spark has served us well for many months now, capturing high-quality videos and photos that we cherish. There is a steep learning curve with any drone regarding how to fly it effectively and safely, and how to shoot video and pictures properly. Connecting a drone to a controller can take a few steps that may seem daunting to the uninitiated, but you get used to the sequence quickly. In our case, we are using the purchased remote control to fly the drone and an Android phone for our control screen. That means making sure you connect all three items correctly via onboard wifi. (You can fly the drone using just your phone and the DJI app, but we’ve heard about some issues with the drone losing its wifi connection to the phone, which is scary. Plus, the remote control allows you to go further distances, both vertically and horizontally, than when using just a phone.)
The quality of the photos and videos is quite good. It may not be the highest resolution you can find on the market, but for capturing the moment and sharing it online, the Spark is a great all-around machine.
It also has a control setup that allows you to fly Spark with gestures made with your hands and arms once the unit takes off. That’s even trickier to learn and execute than the already daunting remote control flight system, but it can be fun and offers you some different opportunities to get unique perspectives, such as a selfie from high above. (Plus, you can use it to amaze people by commanding the drone with your secret Jedi powers.)
For it size and price, the Spark has a lot of great features, like a Return to Home function that brings it back (relatively close) to the spot from which you launched it. With the device being so small, it can launch and land in the palm of your hand, which can be a benefit when the ground you’re on is uneven or you’re worried about the propellers kicking up too much dust for the machine when leaving or returning.
As we mentioned before, the DJI Spark, even though it’s on the more affordable end of the spectrum, will still set you back about $500 or $600 with the combo package. But to get started in the world of droning, that’s only about half the investment that the next largest small-footprint drone (the DJI Mavic Pro) will run you.
Drone flying isn’t for everyone — and unfortunately, government intervention is becoming a hindrance in some areas. Nevertheless, we still enjoy our drone and what we’re able to do with it.
Hit or Miss?
This is our first drone, so admittedly we don’t have any experience to make a comparison. But based on its small footprint and ease of portability, mixed with a high-quality build and the great photos and videos it can shoot, we’d call this one a hit if you can afford to invest in it.