To my mind, the Spark is a fantastic product, building in much of the appeal of the rapidly-growing drone market with the realities of day-to-day life. The technical accomplishment of the camera-drone is handled with such aplomb by DJI’s hardware/software combination that it’s very easy to forget how much is going on.
The flight time is on the short side, but not too brief to get a few great shots. Big pro rigs like the Inspire only offer a few more, yet that has hardly held users back. The size doesn’t help the Spark in wind, but that is simple physics and all similarly compact drones have the same drawback, and it could cope with a breeze (as well as beating the Breeze).
Sadly there is no RAW output, probably the biggest disappointment to serious photographers, but the JPEG quality is good and crisp, and the chances are you’ll be working with good light. After all, if you’re not, why not just move your viewpoint? The sky is the limit now (well, up to a point).
For those looking to capture video, the selfie and helical selfie shots are simple and effective, while the possibilities of the active track modes offer capabilities that a cinematographer would enjoy, allowing you to swoop past a subject and keep it in frame with very little practice.
Better yet, the possibility of adding a radio controller at your leisure, allowing up to 2km range (local regulations notwithstanding) and faster flight speeds (not that this seemed a problem) offers a nice upgrade path into the droning world without asking for too much up front.
I did encounter a few problems, not least that the app crashed a couple of times while I was using it. There is also next-to pointless ‘full-screen’ mode which, when accidentally activated, can be a little terrifying. 4k would be nice, too. But the value offered by this drone – the potential to revolutionize your photography, and have fun doing it – seems well worth a few minor annoyances.
All I would say, though, for first timers is this: with great drone, comes great responsibility. In reverse, the drone’s sensors won’t detect a tree, or a face, until the drone hits it. Lack of all-round collision detection sensors seem the only serious failing in this drone, and yet a couple of years ago collision sensors were unheard of.