DJI Spark Drone and Motorbikes

Some questions that you might have if you have read my other posts:

Don’t you have a DJI Mavic Pro drone?
Isn’t the Mavic Pro a ton better?
              Yes, the Mavic Pro is much better.
Isn’t the Mavic pro battery life longer?
              Yes, The Mavic pro Drone fly’s further and faster
Doesn’t the Mavic Pro have a much better camera?
              Yes, and the Mavic Pro has a much better gimbal as well.

The logical question must be if the specs on the Mavic Pro are so much better than that of the Spark then why are you discussing the Spark?  Because the Spark is awesome and slightly faster to setup, which turns out to be a very big advantage.
Here is an example that might help illustrate my point for people who don’t have drones.  I (like many people) have a great Nikon SLR camera that takes fantastic pictures, however most my pictures are taken from my camera phone because its always with me and quicker to setup. If I have a a far superior camera, why do I use the less quality camera to take my pictures? Because the SLR is large, bulky, needs more maintenance, charges differently, and more importantly the phone camera is “good enough”.  The same ease of use and ready setup is the reason I take the Spark more often than the Mavic Pro.  The Spark is small to pack, and I can get it in the air faster, so I decided to just keep it on the bike at all times so that if I need video I have it with me. However, if I know ahead of time that I need higher quality 4k footage or faster airspeed I will take the time to pack up the Mavic Pro.

Spark in Case

Quick details compare

  Mavic Spark
Price $999 $499
Weight 743g 300g
Storage Size 198x83x83 143x143x55
Max Flight Time 27 min 16 min
Max Speed 65 kph 50 kph
Typical Speed 36kph 21 kph
Gimbal 3-axi2 mechanical 2-axis mechanical
Video 1 / 2.3 CMOS 1 / 2 . 3 CMOS
Resolution 4K 30 fps 1080p
Pictures 12mp 12mp
Forward Sensing .07-15 m .02-5 m
Max ceiling 5000 m 4000 m
Still image 4000×3000 3968×2976
Max video bit rate 60 mbs 24 mbs
Storage FAT32 < 32 > exFAT FAT32 only
Spark in pannier

Summary it costs half as much but is smaller and not as agile – but it is still a very handy and capable drone.  The main thing for me is that I can unpack the Spark and be flying it from my phone to grab a few quick shots and get it packed back up much quicker. The Mavic – has to be unfolded – which doesn’t take all that long, but the gimbal clamp takes a while.  You must also reverse the process when packing it back up so entire setup and breakdown speed is much longer.  The Spark does not have a gimbal clamp and I have chosen to fly it only from my phone (I have a remote but don’t pack it on the bike).  Using only the phone to control flight allows me to launch the drone from the motorcycle and control it from the phone, without the need to remove the phone case making it much handier to get the shot with the Spark then it would have been with the Mavic Pro.  Lets say your on a trail, you don’t want to get ran over while setting up the drone; you want to get in and out as fast as possible and the Spark allows this. If on the other hand you have the time and you want to get the best possible, video or picture then the Mavic Pro is clearly the better choice. There has been a number of times that I had thought “man I wish I had the drone for this shot” and the Spark should help remediate that for the future as its always on the bike.

Spark in Tank Bag

What do I pack?  How does it hold up?

I got the Spark with the fly more combo kit (charger, remote, prop guards, etc.) but I have to say the best thing it came with was its simple little case that seems impact resistant and efficient.  The case holds the drone two extra batteries and extra props.  Even though it came with a battery charger, I don’t take it on the road with me as it’s a little bulky and not really needed.  I bought a third battery which fits on the drone and allows me to carry thee batteries in the case (about 40 minutes of video).  If I’m on longer trip I can manage to recharge the batteries without the battery charger by connecting a USB cable to the drone and let it charge the battery.  Charging the battery through the drone is not a great experience but you don’t need to pack nearly as much stuff and it’s the same cable that also charges the SENA headset (so its optimal for packing).

Spark – Osmo – Mavic

Side note – Osmo
side note you may notice that I have a DJI “Osmo” as well.  While I have only good things to say about the DJI Drones that is not the case for the “Osmo”.  The Osmo is a hand-held gimbal to stabilize a camera phone. The problem is that its heavy, doesn’t work well, has an odd charging cable and is difficult to actually use.  In short, I like the Spark and the Mavic Pro and I hate the Osmo and wish I had not bought it.

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