DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus Review

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus Review

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ model is an update to its ready-to-fly video enabled Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter. The Phantom 2 Vision+ gives you a more advanced and high quality camera, a better gimbal and stabilization platform, stronger GPS tracking, and a few other slightly improved features. The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is the best quadcopter for video on the market now – it offers superior, stable video at a relatively affordable price in an easy to use package. Read on for our full DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ review!

Phantom 2 Vision+ In the Air

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Design

For the most part, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ has the same design as its predecessor – same body, same propellers, same frame. However, the big upgrades are in its internal software, its gimbal system, and its camera. For those unfamiliar with the Phantom design, it is essentially a plastic framed aircraft with two supporting “U” shaped legs to enable landing while protecting the camera gear mounted below the body of the aircraft. All the electronics – the flight controller, the wireless links, the video encoder and decoder, and the wiring – are housed within a smooth and sculpted plastic frame that protects the quadcopter’s vital parts. The quadcopter has four arms that extend to the corners, where propellers are mounted onto the brushless electric motors at the ends.

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ really not a game changer in terms of design. The Phantom was a winning design, so why mess with success? Other competitors have similar designs (after all, these are quadcopters and they’re all going to look somewhat similar as they’re bounded by the laws of physics!) but DJI still delivers the sleekest and well manufactured design.

Phantom 2 Vision+ Camera

The original Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter came with a camera that has similar specifications as this newer model: 14MP CMOS sensor paired with an f2.8 lens that can capture Adobe DNG raw or JPEG images and video at up to 1080p at a speed of 30fps. You have control of ISO, exposure compensation, white balance, and you can choose from 140-, 120-, or 90-degree field of view. The camera certainly looks different than its predecessor and is much more compact and aesthetically pleasing in my view.

Much sleeker than the Phantom 2 Vision Camera

One major change this go around is that DJI essentially separated the camera into two components – the hanging lens and the flat pod of wires and electronics boards perched above it. What DJI has done is separate the components of a typical compact digital camera in order to decrease the weight and size of the parts of the camera that actually needs to be stabilized – the lens and image processor. Everything else is housed above the gimbal (though below the dampeners and still outside the housing of the quadcopter itself) and connected via wires – the microSD card slot, the brains and circuit board of the camera, and the Micro USB connection port. This seemingly small change has a very positive impact. It decreases the energy required to stabilize the lens by the gimbal, resulting in better battery life and a steadier shot – the gimbal just doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the lens stabilized. I think that in future generations we will continue to see this trend advance, with less and less of the camera located on the gimbal or even on the outside of the craft, and more of it tucked above or within the housing of the quadcopter. I’m actually surprised that the flat pod (for lack of a better word) with the camera internals isn’t tucked inside the frame of the quadcopter – perhaps there wasn’t room in the current body design, but I’d be willing to wager that we’ll see that in future re-designs.

Separated camera and gimbal system in up-close detail.

Phantom 2 Vision+ Gimbal

The gimbal is where we see the major changes in this update. It now offers 3-axis stabilization, which means that your shots will be much more smooth and fluid and will prevent jitters from pitch, yaw, and roll. The camera can tilt all the way down to film straight down on the subject which is another big improvement from the original Phantom 2 Vision.

View of the Phantom 2 Vision+ Gimbal

Phantom 2 Vision+ Flight Experience

The Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter is relatively easy to fly and it mirrors the experience of flying any other quadcopter from the DJI Phantom line. It is quick to set up – all you need to do is attach the four propellers, charge the battery (which takes about an hour), put the 4 AA batteries in the remote controller, charge the range extender via micro-USB, and familiarize yourself with the user manual while you do it!

The actual flying of the quadcopter is easy if you are familiar with any R/C devices. The integrated GPS aids significantly as it will keep the Phantom from drifting due to wind, off balance propellers, and general poor handling. The quadcopter has LED lights situated on the underside of its four arms to aid in directing the aircraft and also relaying information back to you. The two red lights are situated at the front of the Phantom and thus help you figure out which way you’re flying, and the rear two lights can be red, yellow, or green – red means there is a power issue (low battery), yellow and red means there are GPS-lock or interference issues, and green means you’re good to go!

Once you’ve calibrated the GPS and have the green lights, you simply push up on the left control and you are flying! The Phantom 2 Vision+ has plenty of power and is very responsive overall, and is a huge step up from smaller scale quadcopters. Its battery also runs for about 20-25 minutes of flight time, which is significantly better than previous models and a big improvement over the original Phantom line. It can reach altitudes of 1,000 feet, though you’ll hit the FAA ceiling of 400 feet way before the quadcopter runs out of power and range! Overall range is roughly 1/2 mile or 2,500 feet, though it will depend on the conditions that you’re operating under.

Video Streaming – FPV on Phone

Phantom 2 Vision+ Controller with iPhone

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ offers direct First-Person-View (FPV) capabilities with any iPhone 4S or newer (or a modern Android phone). It works by sending the video stream and telemetry data (think altitude, speed, etc.) via WiFi to your attached mobile device. This capability works up to roughly 700 meters or so with the included range extender, and is really quite valuable. In previous generations of Phantom quadcopters, you’d simply be guessing where your quadcopter was pointing at and what footage you were getting with your GoPro – unless you shelled out for a full FPV goggles system or other setup. But now, straight out of the box you can see what the quadcopter is filming real time – providing you the ability to frame shots and add depth to your flying experience.

The video streaming comes in anywhere between 320×240 at 15fps or 640×480 at 30fps, though even the lowest resolution is usually adequate for piloting the aircraft. The DJI VISION app allows  you to control the camera functions from your phone, including picture quality and resolution, ISO, exposure compensation, white balance, and capture format. Overall it has a clean and intuitive interface and it works smoothly. The images and videos can be transferred directly to your phone while the craft is in the air, but it is much quicker to transfer them via the microSD card once you land the quadcopter.

You can also control the direction of the camera from your iPhone, and it can use the internal gyroscope of the phone to tilt the camera – i.e. you tilt your remote and hands one way, and the camera will mirror that motion – so you don’t have to take your hands off the sticks to adjust on the phone itself, pretty smart DJI!

Bottom Line – DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Review

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

Is the Phantom 2 Vision Plus worth it for you? The Phantom 2 Vision+ is selling at $1,299 – a $100 premium above the original retail cost of the Phantom 2 Vision. I would say that it is very much worth it though, simply for the increased useability from the gimbal. It may seem small, but stabilization is the key to getting high quality footage and the Vision Plus is a huge improvement over the original Vision (which is now selling for just under $1,000, a $200 price cut). If you own a GoPro HERO 3+ Black or a high end compact of DSLR, it still may make more sense to purchase a separate gimbal for your own camera system and stick with the original Phantom 2, but for those looking for an all-in-one video quadcopter system, the Phantom 2 Vision+ is the way to go. Hope you enjoyed our DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus review and let us know what you think in the comments!

Where to buy?

Our recommended vendor for quadcopters is Amazon.com. Check out their pricing on the Phantom 2 Vision Plus here: Phantom 2 Vision+ on Amazon.com.

Another great option is B&H Photo and Video – check out their pricing on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ here: Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter on BH Photo and Video

Other DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus Reviews:

CNET’s Phantom 2 Vision+ Review

Gizmag’s Phantom 2 Vision Plus Review

Rackspace Studios gives us a first look and review of the Phantom 2 Vision+:

DJI’s Promotional Phantom 2 Vision Plus Video:

Tested does another great DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Review:

Flying the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus:

Another DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Review from Engadget:

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Specifications:

Specifications:

  • Aircraft
    • Supported Battery: DJI 5200mAh LiPo Battery
    • Weight (Battery & Propellers included): 1242g
    • Hover Accuracy (Ready to Fly): Vertical: 0.8m; Horizontal: 2.5m
    • Max Yaw Angular Velocity: 200°/s
    • Max Tiltable Angle: 35°
    • Max Ascent / Descent Speed: Ascent: 6m/s; Descent: 3m/s
    • Max Flight Speed: 15m/s (Not Recommended)
    • Diagonal motor-motor distance: 350mm
  • Gimbal
    • Working Current: Static : 750mA; Dynamic : 900mA
    • Control Accuracy: ±0.03°
    • Controllable Range: Pitch: -90°-0°
    • Maximum Angular Speed: Pitch : 90°/s
  • Camera
    • Operating Environment Temperature: 0℃-40℃
    • Sensor size: 1/2.3″
    • Effective Pixels: 14 Megapixels
    • Resolution: 4384×3288
    • HD Recording: 1080p30
    • Recording FOV: 110° / 85°
  • Remote Controller
    • Operating Frequency: 5.728 GHz-5.85 GHz
    • Communication Distance (open area): CE Compliance: 400m; FCC Compliance: 800m
    • Receiver Sensitivity (1%PER): -93dBm
    • Transmitter Power: CE Compliance: 25mW; FCC Compliance: 100mW
    • Working Voltage: 80 mA@6V
    • Battery: 4 AA Batteries
  • Range Extender
    • Operating Frequency: 2412-2462MHz
    • Communication Distance (open area): 500-700m
    • Transmitter Power: 20dBm
    • Power Consumption: 2W