In case you hadn’t noticed, drones are pretty popular now. In particular, photographers love to take sweeping vistas from above. This week, DJI launched a brand new mini drone that has made the whole photo community excited. The $499 Spark takes 12MP photos and fits in the palm of your hand.

– The Spark shoots HD video and high-quality 12MP photos

– It weighs just 10.6 ounces but it has auto-stabilization and GPS

– Top speed of 31 mph, flight time of 16 minutes

The $499 Spark

While the price of drones has dropped sharply in recent times, most people cannot justify the cost. You would have to be pretty dedicated to selfies to shell out for the $999 Mavic Pro, for instance. As a result, drone ownership is still quite exclusive.

At $499, the DJI Spark is not dirt cheap. But if you have any interest in taking pictures or video, the new drone is within reach. The specs do not match up to those of more expensive aircraft, but you have all the basics.

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For starters, the on-board camera has a large 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that takes 12MP photos via a F/2.6 wide-angle lens. You can also record full 1080p HD footage, with the two-axis gimbal keeping things steady. The Spark uses software to reduce rolling shutter effects and track moving objects.

You can control the drone from your smartphone, with the option to set predetermined flight paths. The 3D Sensing System avoids obstacles, and you can actually control the drone with simple hand gestures. Make a picture frame with your fingers, and the drone takes a selfie. Raise and move your palm, and the drone will follow like an obedient airborne mutt. It’s great for pretending you’re a Jedi using the force.

$499 spark drone review 01

With a top speed of 31 mph, the Spark isn’t going to break any world records. That said, it’s mighty powerful for a drone that weighs just 10.6 ounces. The arms are immovable, but this quadcopter is easily small enough to fit in your backpack. You get 16 minutes’ flight time on a full charge, which is enough to go exploring.

$499 spark

What we ❤️

Finally, a drone that is affordable for enthusiasts. It’s also perfect for folks who like to travel light.

Room for improvement

It’s asking a lot at this price, but 4K video or RAW photos would have been nice. Maybe next time, eh?

Availability

The DJI Spark is already available for pre-order, although the drones are selling like cold lemonade on a hot summer’s day. The base price is $499; you pay an extra $200 for a dedicated controller. Shipping is due to start on June 15th.

Are you tempted by the $499 Spark? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Meet Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.

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