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Come on DJI, really?!
So I bought my Mavic Pro because it was the best drone (at the time) for portable travel. Then the smaller Spark came out. I scoffed at the Spark initially because it was marketed as a novice selfie drone. But it’s much more capable than that.
I wanted to try out the Spark and see if it’d replace my Mavic Pro as my primary hiking, backpacking, sailing, and general travel drone.
I found I wasn’t using my Mavic Pro very much because, well, I’m lazy. When I’m on the go I like to keep moving. It takes up room, I have to stop and take my pack off, take all the lens covers and gimbal holders off, unfold the arms, install my iPad Mini holder to the controller, connect the controller, calibration, etc. Those of you with the Inspire or Matrice are all laughing at me right now, I know.
But I don’t use drones for high-end commercial work, save for the occasional realty job or non-profit. The aerials I do are really just for blog posts and putting up on social media. I could much more easily take the Spark out of my pocket, throw it up into the air, take some photos, and be back on the move in a matter of seconds.
So, true story, I was putting the finishing touches on my post comparing the Spark to the Mavic Pro from a lightweight travel perspective. Just as I was polishing things up I received an email from DJI – “Join DJI for a New Adventure! Adventure unfolds.” Fuck, are they releasing a new drone tomorrow as I’m getting ready to prep this post? You bet they did.
Here’s their release video:
So do I get the Mavic Air too? Is it better than both the Spark and the Mavic Pro?
The Mavic Pro vs the Spark vs the Mavic Air
Where the Mavic Pro is better than the Spark:
- RAW photo capability. The Spark captures JPG only.
- 4K video, shoot up to 120fps at a resolution of 720p. The Spark can only shoot 1080p at 30fps.
- Higher video bitrate for more detail in video. The Mavic writes at 60Mbps where the Spark can only do 24Mbps.
- Long-ish flight time of 27 minutes versus the Spark’s 16 minutes of flight time.
- 3-axis gimbal. The Spark is not dampened around the vertical axis.
- Higher speed & wind performance.
Where the Spark is better than the Mavic Pro:
- More than half the price of the Mavic Pro!
- One full pound lighter than the Mavic Pro (the Spark, with battery, weighs just over half a pound).
- Control it without even needing a controller.
- Charge it via USB – no AC power needed. This is huge!
- Quieter than the Mavic Pro – be more inconspicuous with it.
Enter the Mavic Air
So the Mavic Air takes what I love about the Spark and combines it with what I love about the Mavic Pro. It really seems like a slightly larger Spark with the insides of a Mavic Pro. Could be the perfect answer for me.
- Quick & easy setup, control it with hand gestures.
- Can record 120fps at 1080p, and up to 4K video at 30fps.
- Video bitrate received a massive boost up to 100Mbps.
- Can output stills in RAW format.
- Protected 3-axis gimbal.
- Fast speed & wind resistance.
- Added rear obstacle avoidance.
- Cheaper than the Mavic Pro! But still more expensive than the Spark.
- It’s actually smaller than the Spark for storage, and only weighs five more ounces.
- Flight time is a compromise between the Mavic Pro and Spark, advertised at 21 minutes.
- 8GB of internal storage.
- More flight & photo modes.
For you table-viewer types:
|Spark||Mavic Air||Mavic Pro|
|Price||$399, no controller||$799, controller included||$999, controller included|
|Folded Size||(Folding NA) 5.6" x 5.6" x 2.2"||6.6" x 3.3" x 2.67"||7.8" x 3.3" x 3.3"|
|Weight||.66 lbs||.95 lbs||1.62 lbs|
|Max Flight Time||16 minutes||21 minutes||27 minutes|
|Speed||31mph, no wind||42mph, no wind||40mph, no wind|
|Gimbal||2-axis (no yaw), -85 to 0 pitch||3-axis, -100 to +22 pitch||3-axis, -90 to +30 pitch|
|Video Modes||1080p @30fps||1080p @ 120fps to 4K @ 30fps||720p @ 120fps to C4K @ 24fps|
|Max Video Bitrate||24Mbps||100Mbps||60Mbps|
|Obstacle Avoidance||Front & down||Front, down, & rear||Front & down|
|Hand Gestures||Yes, palm landing||Yes, no palm landing||No|
|Control Signal||Wi Fi||Wi Fi||OcuSync Radio|
Standby for the arrival!
I’ve ordered my Mavic Air and it ships on January 28th. Stay tuned!
Check it out for yourself at B&H Photo Video.