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.
The new compression standard is set to reduce video file sizes by half to save space and speed-up transmission, paving the way for more portable 8K footage.
Sony recently confirmed plans to launch a successor to the video-centric a7S II. We don't even know the name of the camera, but Jordan already has a feature wish list for the new 'a7S III' – and it doesn't include 8K.
The Profot B10 is the first studio flash system that can be used when shooting with an iPhone camera.
The Pixii camera is an interesting little rangefinder camera that features a 12MP APS-C sensor and lacks a rear LCD display, opting instead to pair with your mobile device, which can be used to view and transfer images.
Sirui is launching an Indiegogo campaign for a wide-angle answer to its existing 50mm F1.8 anamorphic lens. The 35mm APS-C lens will come in a Micro Four Thirds mount with adapters for other systems.
Sony has added a 12-24mm F2.8 to its top-shelf 'G Master' series of lenses. It's the widest constant F2.8 zoom currently offered for full-frame, with a hefty price tag to match: it will sell for $3000 when it ships in mid-August.
Take a look at the view from Sony's new ultra-wide F2.8 zoom – we paired it with the a7R IV for some initial shooting.
Canon's EOS-1D X Mark III is one of the best DSLRs ever made. With fast burst speeds, great video quality and impressive autofocus, the 1D X III is equal parts cinema rig and sports shooter. Find out how it fares against steep competition in our full review.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that Nikon will announce successors to its Z6 and Z7 camera systems by the end of the calendar year.
Canon says the event, set to take place at 14:00 CEST in two days on July 9, will be its 'biggest product launch yet.'
The Verge Video Director, Becca Farsace, shows how she built a custom Raspberry Pi camera with effectively zero coding knowledge over the course of just three days.
The EOS R5 has been in the works for some time, and Canon has published a handful of specifications, but there's still plenty we don't know. What are you hoping to see from Canon's forthcoming flagship camera?
Canon's CE-SAT-IB satellite camera was destroyed alongside six other satellites during Rocket Lab's ironically-named 'Pics or It Didn't Happen Mission.'
This sample gallery includes images from our recent review of the Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD zoom lens. Check out these photos to see how it performs, from wide-angle to telephoto and everything in between.
The Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD provides a wide zoom range in compact, weather-sealed design. Find out why it's Chris and Jordan's new favorite travel lens.
Kodak Portra 800 is a wonderful and versatile color film. And any rumors of it being discontinued, we're pleased to report, are simply untrue. That's a good thing, because it's capable of producing lovely results in all sorts of conditions.
Boering has left the World Press Photo without much of an explanation from either him or the organization, but he tells DPReview the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the WPP to change the way it makes money.
The standard-size deck of playing cards features unique photography-oriented artwork and act as cheat sheets for photographers.
The Sony ZV-1 and Panasonic Lumix DC-G100 are the first cameras we've seen that are overtly designed with vlogging in mind – and the changes they represent could have implications for the future of all cameras.
The utility allows the E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and E-M5 Mark II cameras to be used with video conferencing apps over USB.
Olympus is showing final images of its under-development 150-400mm F4.5, which it says will arrive this winter. An unspecified macro and 8-25mm F4 Pro have also been added to the lens roadmap, and the E-M1X's AF gains bird detection.
The scam, which involves sending fake copyright violation notices, has been circulating on the social media platform since at least June 9.
Fujifilm is one of just two producers of tape media (the other being Sony) and it is hard at work on a breakthrough that will allow single tape storage drives to offer 400TB capacities in the coming years.
The National Parks Service says it's investigating the incident, which took place just two days after the park opened following a shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional full frame lenses are usually large and have fast apertures. In this episode of DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan argue that there's a need for slow professional lenses – inspired by some of their favorite Micro Four Thirds lenses.
The camera maker joins Olympus, Fujifilm and others is a legal tussle over US digital camera technology patents held by DigiMedia Tech.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) photographs the sun every 0.75 seconds. In its first decade in space, the SDO has captured more than 425 million images of the sun. NASA has compiled these images into an amazing time lapse, come check it out.
The lens is available for Leica M, Sony FE, Nikon Z and L-mount camera systems, and now holds the title as the world's widest rectilinear lens for full-frame camera systems.
Tamron's new 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 is a versatile zoom lens for Sony E-mount. Well-suited for travel photography, it's compact, lightweight, and fast/quiet to focus.
Fujifilm has announced that its GF 30mm F3.5 R WR wide-angle lens for its medium format cameras will ship in late July or early August.