High Flyer? DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Drone Review
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+
$1,159 / £919 www.dji.com
The first known aerial photograph was taken in 1858 by French photographer and balloonist, Gaspar Felix Tournachon. It was a view of the French village of Petit-Becetre, captured from a tethered hot-air balloon, 262 ft. (80 meters) above the ground. Over time, aerial photography evolved via airships, planes, helicopters, and other iterations of flying machines. However, all of the aforementioned methods of elevated flight have one main thing in common: they require pilots and passengers. Taking into account that they are expensive to operate and require extended pre and post flight preparation, aerial photography becomes a rather foreboding process.
In my own experiences, aerial shoots have proven difficult to pull off. The window of shooting time was limited, the cabin was cramped, and the first time I ever stuck my camera out the window, the lens flew off and I miraculously caught it in mid-air. It was also roughly $250 for an hour.
But within the past couple of years, aerial photographers have been introduced to a burgeoning market rife with little flying machines that don't require passengers, don't need fuel to operate, and can fit inside a cubic foot. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the era of user-operated photography drones is upon us, and it's already kicking into warp speed.
With a handful of manufacturers to choose from, I wanted to take a look at the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone ($1,299) for a few reasons. Firstly, DJI is one of the more well-received brands. Secondly, the Phantom 2 Vision+ features a new 3-axis gimbal for improved camera stabilization, which is an issue amongst many drones on the market. Lastly, I shoot a lot of real estate photography and wanted to compare a plane ride with a Mark III to a photoshoot with a drone - the fact that the DJI Phantom 2+ can be payed for in four shoots as compared to plane ride rates is quite alluring.
If you have an interest in aerial photography and have been considering a drone, get ready for takeoff.
Note that there are legal restrictions on where drones can be operated. Be sure to find out what laws exist in your area before you engage in any drone use or photography.
- Supported Battery: DJI 5200mAh LiPo Battery
- Weight (Battery & Propellers included): 1284g
- 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: 2m/s
- Max Flight Speed: 15m/s (Not Recommended)
- Diagonal motor-motor distance: 350mm
- Sensor size: 1/2.3"
- Effective Pixels: 14 Megapixels
- Resolution: 4384×3288
- Recording Formats: Adobe DNG RAW and JPEG
- HD Recording: 1080p30 and 720p
- Recording FOV: 110° / 85°
- Control Accuracy: ±0.03°
- Controllable Range: Pitch : -90°－0°
- Maximum Angular Speed: Pitch : 90°/s
- 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
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ represents the company's flagship consumer model, improving on the Phantom 2 Vision by adding a Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal camera system. The Phantom 2 Vision is only outfitted with a jello-slaying rubber platform to ward off minimal gyration shake, while the new Phantom 2 Vision+ corrects for vertical, horizontal, and angular shake. With this new system, the onboard camera can be tilted up or down, greatly maximizing the range of the lens. DJI also offers the Phantom 2, which comes without a camera or gimbal. Users can purchase the H3-3D gimbal and mount a GoPro underneath the drone, which would feature the same functionality as the Phantom 2 Vision+ while supporting a different camera.
With that bit of technical fanfare out of the way, let's take a tour of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+. Upon opening up the box, you'll find the drone itself, fairly large remote control, WiFi range extender, charging cords, DJI 5200mAh LiPo Battery, a set of extra propellers, propeller tool, extra rubber bumpers, lens cap, gimbal lock, customization decals, and lots of literature. There's even a manual with flight instructions. The drone runs on the 5200mAh battery pack, which can be removed and charged independently, while the WiFi Range Extender features an internal lithium polymer battery and is charged via a Micro USB port. The remote controller, oddly enough, runs on four AA batteries, so you might want to toss a set of rechargeables in there.
|The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ with remote controller and DJI Vision-equipped smartphone application.||The drone's 5200 mAh lithium ion battery pack.|
In terms of dimensions, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone can fit inside a cubic foot sans propellers. The plastic propellers themselves are 9.5 inches, but the unit still does not consume a lot of space with them installed. In order to install the propellers, they must be screwed on by hand and then snugged using a special Y-shaped wrench. The wrench really only needs to be used to take the propellers off, and it's worth mentioning that two of the propellers are reverse-thread. The remote control of the Phantom 2 Vision+ is about the size of a full-size DSLR body with battery grip. The WiFi extender is roughly the size of an Altoids tin and sits atop a chrome bar along the top of the remote. The remote controller also has an adjustable spring-loaded clip used to hold a smartphone.
As for construction, count on everything being plastic, except for the gimbal and camera, controller joysticks, and of course hardware holding everything together on both the drone and remote controller. Another exception to the plastic rule are the four prop motors, which are essentially just very small magnetically-operated coil stator motors. These are miniature versions of the same electric stators (flywheels) you'll find on motorcycle and turbine engines. The gimbal with mounted camera appear to be very delicate, and DJI includes a gimbal lock, which is just a plastic piece to prevent the camera and gimbal arm from getting damaged in transport. A MicroSD card slot is present in the gimbal's base, as well as a system reset button. Aesthetically, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is neat, yet its red stripes on two of the prop arms cause it to resemble a pair of bowling pins. A set of blue and pink stripes are included to customize the look of the drone.
|The remote controller with DJI Vision app-enabled smartphone and WiFi range extender hiding behind it.||The propeller motors are simply miniature stator motors.|
As for the remote controller, it features a sliding Power button, Left and Right joysticks, S2 and S1 switches, and a chrome eyelet to mount a neck strap to. There is a movable antenna at the top of the controller that can be angled upward, which is recommended by DJI for attaining the best signal. The WiFi extender has two LED lights that indicate connection status, as well as the power level health.
In terms of actually piloting the drone, both the S2 and S1 switches need to be flipped up and the WiFi extender needs to be powered on. The S1 switch places the drone in calibration mode by flipping it back and forth several times, and the S2 switch will change the drone's Home location (we'll get to that soon). The left joystick powers the drone up, down, and turns it left and right. The right joystick moves the drone forward, backward, sideways to the left, and sideways to the right.
|It's good to be at home by Nightcrawler12|
from Best photo of the week...
|Tiny tree by Kaappo|
This year, plenty of amazing cameras, lenses, accessories and other products came through our doors. As 2017 winds down, we're highlighting some of our standout products of the year. Check out the winners of the 2017 DPReview Awards!
Maybe you want better photos in low light. Maybe you're tired of digital zoom. Whatever the reason, if you're looking for a capable, beginner-friendly camera to grow and learn with, we've got you covered.
The Olympus 17mm F1.2 promises to open up new possibilities for Micro Four Thirds shooters seeking razor-thin depth-of-field and smooth, 'feathered' bokeh. Take a peek at our extensive sample gallery.
Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes 'zoom'? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated-level shots of your child's soccer game. Keep reading to find out which cameras we think are best for sports and action shooting.
Still yearning for an Aperture replacement? Here's a quick overview of RAW Power, a Raw image editor for iOS that pairs with the Mac application introduced in 2016. Take a look at some of its capabilities.
Video features have become an important factor to many photographers when choosing a new camera. Read on to find out which cameras we think are best for the videophile.
Tech lover Albert Lee was one of the first to pre-order the intriguing 16-camera module Light L16. Two months in, here's what he has to say about using this not-so-little computational camera.
The public art installation featured blurred portraits, ostensibly captured by the artist under that same underpass... except they weren't. They were actually portraits of comedians, pulled from the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival program.
Edelkrone has upgraded its SliderOne with a SliderOne Pro and introduced a new generation of Wing and Wing Pro models, all while simultaneously improving the app that controls its entirely lineup.
People have waiting a long time for the Canon 85mm F1.4L IS lens, but how does it compare to Canon's 85mm F1.2L and Sigma's 85mm F1.4 Art? Phillip Pettit of Lensrentals took all three lenses for a spin to find out.
Affinity Photo for iPad, one of the first full-featured Raw editors designed specifically for tablet use, has been named Apple's Best iPad App of 2017. And what's more, it's currently 50% off!
VSCO Messages allows VSCO X subscribers and free users alike to share text, images, photo editing 'recipes', VSCO journal entries and more.
Flickr has revealed their top 25 photos of 2017, and there are some truly stunning shots in the mix.
Testing of the Canon G1 X Mark III is well underway, inside of the studio and out. We've just added it to our test scene comparison tool, where you can take a look at its performance side-by-side against peers like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V.
Whether it's a trip to the beach for some snorkeling or scrambling up a 10,000 ft volcano, the Olympus Tough TG-5 proved to be a great travel companion for Jeff. That's why it's his 2017 Gear of the Year.
Last year, the DJI Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Professional took top honors in our end of year buying guide. Read on to find out who it this year for beginners, consumers, prosumers, and professionals at a price tag less than $2,000.
Meyer Optik Goerlitz is resurrecting yet another classic lens. This time, the company has set its crowdfunding sights on the Primoplan 75mm F1.9, a lens originally manufactured in a run of just 2,000 back in the 1930s.
The folks at Kolari Vision—an infrared camera conversion company based in New Jersey—recently tore down a brand new Sony a7RIII, giving everybody a peek at the camera's much-improved weather sealing.
Resource Travel's Brandon Cunningham recently joined The Giving Lens for a 10-day adventure in India. A trip he won't soon forget, to a country that left him in "sensory and soul overload."
Meet the new Freefly Movi, a handheld gimbal stabilizer designed by cinema stabilization pros for use with the iPhone. Freefly is calling this little beast "the world's most portable, adaptable, and intuitive cinema robot."
Photography portfolio site PhotoShelter is adding their voice to the growing group of online companies that are speaking out in favor of net neutrality, and against the FCC's upcoming vote to kill it.
The Direct app would replace the current Inbox on the Instagram app, doing for Instagram what the Facebook Messenger app did for Facebook on mobile.
Qualcomm's latest high-end mobile chipset offers higher frame rates and a wider color gamut, among other important camera improvements you can expect to see in next year's flagship smartphones.
Photographer Josselin Cornou recently got trapped in a blizzard in the Snowy Mountains of Australia with his Fujifilm GFX 50S and new Tamron 15-30mm F2.8 lens. Find out how they held up to 110km/h winds and -15°C temperatures.
While film nostalgia reaches an all-time high, Seattle-based pro photographer Sofi Lee is turning back to 'digicams' made between 2008 and 2011.
The fixed prime lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it's here that you'll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, which cover ranges from 28-75mm equivalent, so image quality is top-notch.
With a capacity of 512GB, Samsung's new UFS chips take built-in storage on smartphones to desktop-PC levels. Will this eliminate the need for microSD slots?
Photographer Josh Rossi decided to go big for this year's Christmas card, so he recreated the Star Wars: The Last Jedi poster using himself, his wife, and their two kids.
In response to a NY Times article about how some traffickers were using Instagram as part of the illicit animal trade, Instagram has added a content advisory screen that pops up to warn users any time they search for hashtags "associated with harmful behavior to animals."
Kodak is expanding its instant photography lineup today with the release of the Kodak Mini Shot Instant 10MP camera. A tiny little digital camera that spits out either 2.1 x 3.4-inch or 2.1 x 2.1-inch prints.