Toby Gelston has been flying all kinds of drones recently. He’s flying the $999 DJI Mavic, the $500 DJI Spark and a cheap $130 drone he found on Amazon called the Bug, for the past couple of months so he can help you choose which one is best for you.
In a comparison video he posted onto his YouTube channel, PhotoRec TV, he compares the three drones and details the pros and cons of each.
Let's get this out of the way first; the $130 Bug 3 greatly hailed in comparison to the DJI Spark and the DJI Mavic. Right from the beginning Gelston had trouble getting it to fly properly; he describes the first time that he used the Bug 3, “The first time I flew this I pushed the up stick thinking it would take off and hover like all the other drones I’ve used. Nope. It shot straight into the air at an extremely impressive speed. I freaked out a little. Pulled the stick back down and the propellers turns off and it fell back out of the sky.” The Big 3 doesn’t have an altitude hold control, a gimbal, a integrated GPS control, and it doesn’t have obstacle avoidance, return-to-home, and there’s no visual feedback of what you’re filming. “What it does offer is a challenge … It’s a touchy and challenging drone to fly,” Gelston says not that it can be fun to fly but also he doesn’t recommend it for beginners or for someone that wants good photos or videos, which pretty much covers everyone.
Gelston moves onto the the DJI Spark and the DJI Mavic, which both have very similar specs, and goes over what he likes and dislikes about both.
For portability, the Mavic is small and lightweight and Gelston likes that. Now, the Spark is smaller and lighter than the Mavic, but it doesn’t fold in like the Mavic. Gelson however is fine with that fact because he says it still fits into his camera bag, even if it is a little awkward. The Spark does charge with USB and Gelston liked how he is able to fly the Spark indoors without worrying about running into space issues. He felt the Mavic was just too large to film in certain tight areas that the Spark was able to maneuver in.
But because the Spark is smaller, it has shorter fly time than the Mavic. The Mavic is capable of 24 minutes of fly time (closer to 30 now with the platinum version) and the Spark offers 16 minutes. “I’m almost always done getting the shots I need with the Mavic and have plenty of battery left. With the Spark it feels bit more urgent,” says Gelston.
Their range also differs. The Mavic can fly about four miles away from its users while the Spark is just over a mile. That difference does bother Gelston a lot however because to keep with US law you must keep your drone in sight at all times.
In terms of quality, both of them have the same sensor. But the Mavic is capable of shooting raw stills and offers a slightly wider fixed aperture than the Spark, which is f/2.2 on the Mavic and f/2.6 on the Spark. The Mavic also shoots 4K video with three axis gimbal support, while the Spark shoots full HD with two axis gimbal support. “In my testing, I certainly see and advantage with the Mavic in stills and video quality. The Spark isn’t bad. It just feels a touch behind what the Mavic provides in quality,” says Gelston.
In summary, Gelston says that Spark is a good first drone, but the Mavic offers a few additional advantages that make it worth the extra $500 for serious content creators that need to travel.