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DJI Spark vs DJI Mavic Mini – Which Is Best?

DJI Controller

Back in May of 2017 (which can feel like eons in a high tech field like that of quadcopters), DJI released the Spark drone. It was on the small side, measuring just over 5.5 inches square. That makes it a “mini”, but not a “micro” or a “nano”, machine. It was popular and performed well. It was soon retired, but the predecessor the Mavic Mini has caused some debate on the DJI Spark vs Mavic Mini.

The Mavic mini may be one of the best drones for the price on the market today. We recommend it for drone roof inspections.

History of DJI Spark vs Mavic Mini

DJI Drone ModelSparkMavic MiniStandard Image Size3968 x 29764000 x 3000Lens Field of View (FOV)81.9 degrees83 degreesISO Range100 – 1600100 – 1600Shutter Speed2 – 1/8000 sec.4 – 1/8000 sec.File SystemFAT32FAT32 and exFAT

 

If you use the Spark camera in Shallow Focus or Panoramic Mode, your image size will be significantly reduced. Also, you can get a wider ISO range on the Mini’s camera in Manual Mode (100 to 3200). Further, we suspect that DJI may have simply rounded up when calculating the image size for the Mavic Mini. Even if they didn’t, the size is basically the same for both cameras.

Panoramic Modes for the Spark include Vertical and Horizontal. In Vertical Mode, you can have the camera take 3 photos in quick succession and then combine them into a (vertical) panorama. In Horizontal Mode, it will take 9 photos in a grid pattern and then combine them into a (horizontal) panorama. You might be able to take such an array of shots on your own, but why bother when you can let the drone do one of the things it’s really good at?

For video capture, both are capable of full high definition (FHD) videos at 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 30p frame rate and each produces MP4 files. The Mavic camera offers additional frame rates ranging from 20p to 60p. It also can give you 2.7K resolution which is 2720 x 1530 with frame rates of 24, 25, and 30p. The Mavic system sends video data faster (bitrate = 40Mbps) than the Spark (24Mbps) meaning it gets the job done faster and (hopefully) with fewer glitches. So in general, the Mavic gives you more options and theoretically better video than the Spark.

Once more we come across some modes, collectively called QuickShot Modes, for the Mavic Mini – Dronie, Circle, and Helix. Dronie is what you might call “normal” video mode. Circle and Helix automatically move the drone in the shapes described by their names – in a circle and in a helix or spiral. Again, you could probably manage this yourself, once you’re good enough, but why not let the preprogrammed drone brain do it for you?

That covers the Big Three virtually completely. You may still have a few questions about other features and specifications. We’ll try to discuss them all below.

What Else Should I Know about the Spark and the Mavic Mini?

Some of the following items we’ve touched on a little above, but we’ll expand on them a little more here.

Size of DJI Spark vs Mavic Mini

The actual size of the Spark is 143 x 143 x 55 millimeters, giving it a diagonal distance without propellers of 170mm. The Mavic Mini, on the other hand, isn’t quite so easy to describe because you can fold it up. When unfolded (i.e. open and ready for flight), it measures 150 x 202 x 55mm and has a 213mm diagonal. It folds down to 140 x 81 x 57mm for storage and transport. When you add props, it measures 245 x 289 x 55mm.

The Spark has propeller guards that cover just over a quarter of the diameter of each propeller on its outer rim. The Mavic has a special 360-degree set of guards that you can attach as needed. There are two relatively large pieces – one for the props on the left side of the drone and another for those on the right. If you’re a good enough pilot and don’t think you need the protection and extra weight of the guards, you can easily remove them.

Obstacle Avoidance

The Mavic Mini is better at detecting obstacles. It can do so in a range from 0.5 to 10 meters. The Spark can manage to stay out of the way of objects that are from 0.2 to 5 meters away.

For those who live in mile-high country, you should be aware that the Spark has a maximum service ceiling of 13,123 feet (almost 2.5 miles), and the Mini has a max takeoff altitude of 3000m (just under 2 miles). All of these measurements are from sea level.

Windy Conditions, Rain and Temperature

And for those who fly in windy country (virtually everyone, at one time or another), you should note that both of these machines can withstand about 17 to 18 mph winds and still do what you ask of them.

You can operate both copters in weather of virtually any temperature you’re likely to encounter. They can handle temps of 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be outside flying my drone in anything outside this temperature range, would you?

Both drones have dual operating frequencies of 2.4 and 5.8 GHz, though due to local restrictions, you may not be allowed to use the 5.8 frequency. You should be able to transmit a signal from the remote to the drone for about 1.2 miles, as long as you have an unobstructed view.

There is a Live View app, available for both iOS and Android, that has a flight tutorial amongst its many features. So if you need some help getting started, DJI tries to cover that for you too.

As far as I can tell, neither of these drones are waterproof, so you’ll want to wait for the rain to stop before taking your quadcopter outside. If you can find a large enough room, like a gym, you can practice indoors to begin with. One perk of doing so is that there’s no wind to contend with!  In terms of rain the DJI Spark vs Mavic mini is a draw.

How Much Do These Drone Cost?

As noted at the top, DJI no longer produces the Spark, so you’re not likely to find what you want direct from the manufacturer’s website. However, you can find all sorts of combinations of equipment elsewhere. So, the cost of a Spark will really depend on which offer you’re looking at. In general, you can expect to pay from about $450 to $650.

As of this writing, the Mavic Mini (not to be confused with the Mavic Mini 2) is still available from DJI for $399, or for $499 for a combo version. At first glance, this makes it seem cheaper than the Spark. However, that’s not really comparing apples to apples. The same package from another source (say, the same source from which you find a Spark price) could easily cost more than a Spark. Depending on your source for a Spark, you might be able to negotiate a lower price too.

Conclusion of DJI Spark vs Mavic

In the end, since you’re going to be shelling out several hundred dollars for either one, features and capabilities probably matter more to you than cost. Pick the one that will do what you want, save up some cash, and make your choice. Being a DJI product, you’re not likely to regret it, no matter which one you choose.

Hal Simmons

When I first started flying drones I was always afraid of damaging my drone. I would always be thinking what if. I questioned myself often and as a result it made me question various aspects of flying drones. In the process I learned a lot. This is why I feel I have a lot of information that will be helpful to beginners and intermediate drone enthusiasts. Of course I still have a lot to learn so join me on this journey and I am sure you will enjoy the adventure ahead of us.

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