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Apples and Oranges: Forget Either/Or = Spark/Mavic

Oliver Blitz

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Jun 17, 2017
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A lot of folks, especially those new to drones and/or aerial photography, seem unsure whether to get a Spark or a Mavic (I have both). These aircraft are in fact different enough that the choice should be easy, if you are not also new to photography.

Keeping it very simple: Both are flying cameras. Both are easy to learn to fly, both are very reliable and well made. One is more compact, if that matters, and one is more expensive, if that's an issue. But with those and a few other obvious differences put aside, what matters most is what kind of pictures you need. The analogy to earthbound cameras is simple:

The Spark is like a flying basic smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. You'll get decent pictures and video in the context of those sorts of cameras. More than adequate for any social needs, either on social media or in email/texts to family, etc. Also more than good enough for light sorts of use in blogs, record keeping of ongoing projects, etc. more or less casual advertising, and so on. In other words, if a phone and or simple point-and-shoot is enough camera for you on the ground, it will likely be enough in the air.

The Mavic's camera is considerably more advanced. It's not a full-blown pro camera of course, but rather in the "prosumer" realm. If you do a lot of post-shoot processing and editing, if you need to use filters, if you like to have a lot of adjustable camera settings, etc. etc, then the Mavic is probably best for you.

Beyond the consumer/prosumer cameras themselves, there are some less obvious things that can affect your photography in differing ways. A feature of the Mavic is that it doesn't draw possibly unwanted attention nearly as much as larger drones; the Spark is even better in this regard, the average observer will view it as a toy, it's very non-threatening. But you give up, for the moment at least, a number of cinematic flight modes.

Range and flight times do differ, but many of us never find reasons to fly further away than a few hundred yards, and 15 minutes is more time in the air than you might think.

Another thing that should not be a basis for choice is aircraft stability. Both of these aircraft are very capable of handling quite a lot of wind, so don't think you'll be giving much up in that regard with the smaller Spark.

Bottom line, if you can live with the excellent but modest camera, the Spark is a great choice, otherwise go with the Mavic.

Hope these somewhat random observations/opinions help someone a bit.
 
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aviscomi

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IMO 1 is an overpriced toy (i.e. Spark) and 1 is a technical marvel (i.e. Mavic)
 
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Oliver Blitz

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IMO 1 is an overpriced toy (i.e. Spark) and 1 is a technical marvel (i.e. Mavic)
Well let's see. You can buy a Traxxas Aton with removable 2-axis gimbal (I have one) for about $400 and spend another $400 on a GoPro. It's bigger though. The result is a flashy, fast aircraft that takes so-so vids and crappy stills. Or you can go full-stop and buy a Karma, and well, yes... Or an obsolete Solo. Wooo. Or a Parrot or a Breeze... yawn. Show us where you can buy anything remotely as capable, either as an aircraft or as a flying camera, for $500 in any size, let alone miniaturized to this astonishing degree. The Spark is on the very bleeding edge of current technology, it is an incredible piece of engineering, and no, it won't haul your uncle's six-pack down the beach, so therefore it's a failure, right? This is the direction of the future, some of us have been agitating for !!smaller!! for several years and DJI is first on the block, first with the Mavic and now the Spark. Wait five years and we'll see sub-200 gram machines with more agility, stability, flight-time and image resolution than any current pro-sumer class machines. The technology will force the market to follow, the days of 20K camera ships will be gone, just as we are now seeing major magazine covers shot with Iphones. This new little masterpiece isn't what everyone needs, but it should be celebrated, not disparaged.
 

aviscomi

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May 27, 2017
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Mind you that I have 2 Sparks...with that said, the Parrot BeeBop 2 package now sells for less than the Spark and includes RC, goggles, battery & backpack. It also uses the same WIFI technology as the Spark with minimal video lag and a single 1 step connection process and parts are dirt cheap. Yes, Parrot is also getting out of the consumer drone market. Please don't hype the Spark as a technological marvel when it uses the same basic WIFI technology as a $75 Walmart Drone
 
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jimbug

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May 27, 2017
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68
A lot of folks, especially those new to drones and/or aerial photography, seem unsure whether to get a Spark or a Mavic (I have both). These aircraft are in fact different enough that the choice should be easy, if you are not also new to photography.

Keeping it very simple: Both are flying cameras. Both are easy to learn to fly, both are very reliable and well made. One is more compact, if that matters, and one is more expensive, if that's an issue. But with those and a few other obvious differences put aside, what matters most is what kind of pictures you need. The analogy to earthbound cameras is simple:

The Spark is like a flying basic smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. You'll get decent pictures and video in the context of those sorts of cameras. More than adequate for any social needs, either on social media or in email/texts to family, etc. Also more than good enough for light sorts of use in blogs, record keeping of ongoing projects, etc. more or less casual advertising, and so on. In other words, if a phone and or simple point-and-shoot is enough camera for you on the ground, it will likely be enough in the air.

The Mavic's camera is considerably more advanced. It's not a full-blown pro camera of course, but rather in the "prosumer" realm. If you do a lot of post-shoot processing and editing, if you need to use filters, if you like to have a lot of adjustable camera settings, etc. etc, then the Mavic is probably best for you.

Beyond the consumer/prosumer cameras themselves, there are some less obvious things that can affect your photography in differing ways. A feature of the Mavic is that it doesn't draw possibly unwanted attention nearly as much as larger drones; the Spark is even better in this regard, the average observer will view it as a toy, it's very non-threatening. But you give up, for the moment at least, a number of cinematic flight modes.

Range and flight times do differ, but many of us never find reasons to fly further away than a few hundred yards, and 15 minutes is more time in the air than you might think.

Another thing that should not be a basis for choice is aircraft stability. Both of these aircraft are very capable of handling quite a lot of wind, so don't think you'll be giving much up in that regard with the smaller Spark.

Bottom line, if you can live with the excellent but modest camera, the Spark is a great choice, otherwise go with the Mavic.

Hope these somewhat random observations/opinions help someone a bit.

Finally! An objective opinion on the Spark vs Mavic debate. Mavic wasn't for me and the Spark is. I don't want to spend time editing 4K video. That's why I sold my Mavic. Spark creates a nice little short video for me that I can "Regenerate" a few times until it works. I'm not sure why there are so many Spark haters out there, but it's tiring to hear it called a toy over and over again.

Concerning your second post: I was just thinking today about the fact that the DJI plans and the drone market in general is headed to smaller even more capable quads going forward. They probably are working on noise reduction strategies as well.

As far as the price is concerned, it's not that they are covering their costs plus a small profit. They have huge research and development costs in staying on top of the market by pushing the envelope with the latest sensor, gimbal, microprocessor, and camera technology. Not a cheap task.

Thanks for your objective opinions on these two great products. It was a breath of fresh air for me.
 
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Oliver Blitz

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Jun 17, 2017
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15
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65
Mind you that I have 2 Sparks...with that said, the Parrot BeeBop 2 package now sells for less than the Spark and includes RC, goggles, battery & backpack. It also uses the same WIFI technology as the Spark with minimal video lag and a single 1 step connection process and parts are dirt cheap. Yes, Parrot is also getting out of the consumer drone market. Please don't hype the Spark as a technological marvel when it uses the same basic WIFI technology as a $75 Walmart Drone
Parrot video quality is an utter failure due to the attempt at software gimbal emulation. Fly one around a bit rather than sitting still or flying straight-line and look at the resulting distortion. Parts are dirt cheap for a reason, as is the demise of the product. In any event, bash the Spark all you want, but just because a component has become inexpensive and is sold in WalMart does not make it bad. Quite the opposite, it often means that it's highly successful. Bashing of this sort contributes nothing here.
 

aviscomi

Well-Known Member
Premium Pilot
Join
May 27, 2017
Messages
1,110
Loc
Philadelphia, PA
Parrot video quality is an utter failure due to the attempt at software gimbal emulation. Fly one around a bit rather than sitting still or flying straight-line and look at the resulting distortion. Parts are dirt cheap for a reason, as is the demise of the product. In any event, bash the Spark all you want, but just because a component has become inexpensive and is sold in WalMart does not make it bad. Quite the opposite, it often means that it's highly successful. Bashing of this sort contributes nothing here.
Differing opinions...I love the USA
 

Brent

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Jun 8, 2017
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29
Age
40
I love it for its size (fully expanded) and quality of video's and stills. Stability and reliability thus far are perfect. Loving mine!!!
 

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