Aerial Photography | Why I don’t use the DJI Spark controller any more

aerial photography

The drone went screaming across the sky!

Rocketing away into the distance as if on a desperate dash for freedom…

“I’m a wild bird!”, it seems to shout as it uncontrollably and inevitably became a speck on the horizon.

With all the calm-control of a monkey on speed, I frantically pressed every button whilst holding the controller aloft and screaming “NOT INSURED!”

This drone was outta here.

#Aerial Photography

Being able to get a different perspective on a subject and location is always great. My personal favourite view is looking straight down. It’s a view we don’t often get to see but aerial photography from drones is making it more common. You can make anything look interesting when you have a different viewpoint. But this new viewpoint comes with its dangers.

aerial photography

Flyaways happen. There are things you can do to reduce them, but using a controller is not necessarily one of them.

Early reviewers said you needed the controller.

“You should buy the fly-more package because you are going to want the controller eventually!”

They came at it from the point of view of the Mavic and Phantom owners they were. They had their use-cases and were trying to fit the DJI Spark into that.

The kind of aerial photography I want to use it for is different.

#Would You Ever Use The Controller?

If you are looking to get a drone for your own Vlogs or for your own Instagram Story videos, you probably won’t need all that the Mavic offers. You might also, not need to stump up the extra cash for the Spark controller.

aerial photography

#Reviewers Say You Need It Because…

  • Connection: The controller offers a more stable connection. This is true. Even in the middle of nowhere, with minimal radio interference, I get poor signal when connected to my phone. Especially if I fly more than 20ft away. But I don’t really do that. For vlogging, I use the Active Track modes to follow, dolly and circle myself when I’m out shooting. I don’t need to fly far away. If I lose connection, or it loses sight of me, it just stops. It’s usually also low enough that I could just grab it again too.
  • Range: You can fly further away when using the controller. Again, this is true. But, I rarely fly far away. Firstly, I’m scared of losing it. Secondly, you are legally required to keep it within 500m of yourself. I generally use it to film dynamic shots of myself when I’m out getting some photography. If it’s for an aerial photograph shot I am pretty close to the drone, just out of frame.
  • Sport Mode: If rip-roaring through the landscape; banked turns and occasional views of you propellers are your thing, then you need the controller. You need it because it unlocks Sport Mode. 30Mph of speed, which for such a small drone looks incredibly fast. It is, no doubt, fun! But, it doesn’t get me any footage for my Vlogs or images for my aerial photography views.
  • Easier To Control: Physical controls are easier to operate when flying around getting dramatic reveals of the landscape. But, this is not my main use and I could get by without these shots. If these types of shot are worth the extra money of the controller to you, you should probably get it. But, you can still do them without it. It just takes a little more skill.


My main use for the DJI Spark is as a second cameraman. To get dynamic footage of myself out in the environment. For this, I do not need the controller. I use:

  • Active Track modes (Track and trace)
  • Tripod Mode for manually and stabley following a subject
  • Quickshot Modes for automatic, dramatic shots and quick clips for Instagram 


The only time that I would get the controller out, connect my phone with the cable, pair the controller with the Spark and fly around is if I wanted to get some aerial photography.

It could be done without the controller, but the connection is a little more tenuous. If I were flying more than 20 feet away, I would use the controller but, as I said, this is not my main use for the DJI Spark.

I like to get it out, set up, get the shots, pack it up and move on. Always moving quickly to gather the content I need for the Vlog or Instagram. That is where the DJI Spark and phone control really shine for me.

They are immediate.

Thank you for reading this far. Are you a drone owner? Do you have a fly-away story? Would you ever ditch the controller? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out the other great content on Instagram or Twitter and don’t forget to leave a comment so I know you dropped by. Also, check out the Vlogs I film with the DJI Spark on my YouTube Channel!

Thanks again, have a great day, stay creative, Watch Less, Create More,

Ta Raa!


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