DJI Mavic Air vs. Mavic Pro vs: Spark? It’s a tough decision, but the answer is actually pretty clear depending on your needs and budget.
In a little more than a year, DJI has launched a slew of drones — all extremely accessible, easy-to-fly, (relatively) affordable and wildly popular.
The DJI Mavic Pro with 4K video, which launched in October 2016 wowed fans for being a foldable drone — the Chinese dronemaker’s most compact drone at the time. Then DJI came out a few months later with the DJI Spark in May 2017. It was smaller (though not foldable), but it really sparked fans’ attention with its gesture control abilities, turning drones into the stuff of Jedi Mind Tricks. It was a slightly lesser quality drone in terms of camera quality, and features like the RC transmitter came at an extra cost, but it still seemed an incredible valuable nonetheless.
And now, the DJI Mavic Air seemingly combines the best of both worlds. It’s incredibly small and folds up to be even smaller. It has the 4K video of the Mavic Pro, plus the gesture control capabilities of the DJI Spark.
- Related read: DJI Mavic Pro vs. Spark: which is better?
- Related read: DJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium: which is better?
But there ARE some cases where the Mavic Pro or Spark may actually be a better option for you.
First, let’s start with a table comparing what I think are some of the most important factors to look at when deciding if a drone is right for you:
|DJI Mavic Air||DJI Mavic Pro||DJI Spark|
|Flight Time||21 minutes||27 minutes||16 minutes|
|Max Video Resolution||4K @30 fps||4K @30 fps||1080p|
|Max Photo Resolution||12 MP||12 MP||12 MP|
|Longest side (folded)||6.6 inches||7.8 inches||5.6 inches|
|Longest side (unfolded)||7.2 inches||12 inches||5.6 inches|
|Weight||0.9 pounds||1.6 pounds||0.6 pounds|
|Obstacle Sensing||Forward and backward||Forward||Forward|
|Control modes||Gesture, Mobile Device and Remote Controller||Movile Device and Remote Controller||Gesture, Mobile Device and Remote Controller (extra fee for remote controller)|
|Max Wind Speed Resistance||29 - 38 kph||29 - 38 kph||20 - 28 kph|
|Interal Storage||8 GB||None||None|
|ISO range (video)||100 - 1600||100 - 3200||100 - 3200|
|ISO range (photo)||100 - 3200 (manual)||100 - 1600||100 - 1600|
|Sensor: Effective Pixels||12 MP||12.35 MP||12 MP|
Still not sure what that all means?
Here’s a deeper dive into why you should buy each drone.
Why you should buy the Spark over the Mavic Air
If you’re really on a budget, the Spark is for you. At just $399, it is half the cost of the Mavic Air. However, that does NOT include a controller, meaning that you’ll have to control the drone entirely via your phone. The issue with that is it reduces how far you can fly and generally reduces how precisely you can fly. It also means you’re 100% reliant on an external device (your phone or iPad) to operate your drone.
- Click here to purchase Spark at B&H Photo
- Click here to order Spark directly from DJI
- Click here to order Spark from Amazon.com
Of course, the cost of the Spark with a controller is $599 — still cheaper than the Mavic Air if your budget is tight.
Keep in mind that since you’re paying less, you’re also getting lesser video quality, less flight time, only a 2-axis gimbal and you forego the backward obstacle avoidance.
DJI Mavic Air vs. Mavic Pro
Why you should buy the Mavic Pro over the Mavic Air:
Given that the Mavic Pro is more expensive, it’s going to have the most to worry about when the Mavic Air hits shelves.
If battery life is important to you, you’ll without a doubt want the Mavic Pro, which comes in at 27 minutes vs. the Air’s 21. Plus, upgrade an extra $100 to the Mavic Pro Platinum and you’ve got 30 minutes of flight time AND quieter motors.
- Buy the Mavic Pro from B&H Photo for $999
- Buy the Mavic Pro from DJI for $999
- Buy the Mavic Pro from Amazon for $999
Photographers may also want to consider sticking with the Mavic Pro, which has a better camera including more advanced tracking options, greater ISO range for video and cinema 4K and UHD 4K video resolutions.
So which of these three drones do YOU want most? And for the next question, if money was no object, which drone would you want most?
Personally, I say Mavic Air! It’s small, easy to fly, extremely compact and still does not compromise on video quality! I can’t wait for you to try out the Mavic for yourself!