DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus Review – Flying high made easy?

In the world of personal drones and quadcopters, there are few companies that have made as much noise as DJI Innovations. After the success of their first model as well as the second, the company is now back with the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus, an upgraded and revamped version of its predecessor. However, while the original model could be purchased for approximately five hundred dollars, both the Phantom 2 Vision and the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus cost well over twice as much. That puts them over the one thousand dollar mark and at that price, one must wonder just what it has that justifies that substantial price difference.

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In the following article, we are going to take a deep look into the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus and figure out two things. How does it differentiate itself from the original Phantom 2 Vision as well as whether or not those improvements are worth paying double the price tag for.

The features of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus quadcopter

A closer look at the new camera gimbal that helps take better video and phtographs.

A closer look at the new camera gimbal that helps take better video and phtographs.

Let’s start at the beginning, let’s look into the many features of DJI’s newest toy for grownups. How does it compare to the Phantom 2 vision? What features are new? What features are the same? Keep reading to find out.

It’s easier to take more stable shots

The biggest difference that the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus has with the normal Phantom 2 Vision is that it has its own built in gimbal active stabilization unit. What is a gimbal stabilization unit? In essence, a gimbal is a support that allows it to rotate around a given axis. In the case of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus, the support uses a series of three gimbals that allow it to remain stable in all three axis’s and all this regardless of how the quadcopter itself is moving or of the pitch and yaw. They all add up to an ability to rotate 360 degrees and a range of ninety degrees vertically. This makes it possible to capture footage in any direction either in front of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus or below. Thins of the range of motion as the bottom half of a sphere. The speed at which it can rotate and move is of ninety degrees per second and the power requirements for the gimbal is minimal, clocking in at a maximum of 900 mA.

This stands in contrast to the original Phantom 2 Vision that didn’t have this feature. What this does is quite interesting and legitimately positions the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus as the very best quadcopter that DJI has ever made. One of the major complaints that people had with the previous models from DJI (and this is a complaint that most quadcopter makers face) is that stabilizing the camera absolutely required a stable drone. Because the camera was fixed to the drone, every movement that the quadcopter made was reflected onto the camera and therefore, the footage that was being captured.

In contrast, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus placed the camera lens on the gimbal. This allows that camera to move, rotate and otherwise angle itself independently of the quadcopter. The drone is often subjected to movements that the user hasn’t intended. For example, winds that blow higher in altitude can throw the device off balance. But thanks to the gimbal system, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus’s camera is able to maintain a stable position and take fluid video as well as beautiful pictures.

What are the specifications of the camera itself?

All the stabilization mechanisms in the world won’t do much good if the camera itself isn’t good. Thankfully, the camera on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is very capable in its own right and in many aspects, it surpasses that of its fixed camera predecessor.

The camera has a 14 megapixel sensor, which equates to a resolution of up to 4384 by 3288 pixels. This resolution applies only to still shots however and not video. The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus’s lens has a field of view of either one hundred or eighty-five degrees, depending on the settings selected. The photos are always recorded onto a MicroSD memory card and by default, they are saved as Adobe DNG files.

For video recording, the camera has a full HD resolution of 1080p at thirty frames per second. For taking slow motion shots at a higher frame rate, the camera is limited to sixty frames per second and a resolution of 720p. Once again, the video files are saved onto the MicroSD card. Finally, the manufacturer of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus recommend that the camera be only operated in between temperatures of zero to forty degrees Celcius (which is equivalent to 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). It can probably be operated below or beyond those temperatures (knowing how much colder it is 500 feet in the air is practically impossible for the average owner) but to be safe, that is the target.

What about the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus quadcopter itself?

The drone in and of itself is largely the same as the previous version. However, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus has made a few significant improvements over its predecessor. It weighs in at 2.7 pounds, has a top lift-off speed of six meters per second (approximately 21 feet) and a top flight speed of 15 meters per second (just under 50 feet per second). Each propeller is nine inches across.

Power source and battery life

Behold! The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus in all its glory!

Behold! The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus in all its glory!

Just like with the older version, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus uses a 5200 mA battery that lets the user fly the quadcopter for up to 25 minutes at a time. However, in both cases, the system of how it integrates into the drone is much simpler than the first generation Phantom. The newer versions slots into the device easily and features an on/off switch. On top of that, the batteries can easily be charged by just plugging them into a wall outlet via the AC adapter or the car adapter, which can be purchased separately online or at the store where the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus was first bought.

Another new feature is that the battery has an indicator of battery life. This indicator comes in the form of four LED lights and are located on the tail end of the drone. When the four LEDs are on, that obviously means that the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus’ battery is fully charged and as the battery drains, the lights turn of progressively. This makes it easy to know how much approximate flying time remains even while the quadcopter is in flight. Tracking battery life is very important for the safety of the aircraft. Nothing is more infuriating that having a drone fall out of the sky at any moment because the user didn’t know how much battery life remained. With the new indicator system, this problem is eliminated with the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus.

The LED light indication system doesn’t only provide information about battery life either. It employs a color system and illumination patterns that let the user know a good many things that are going on with the drone. For example, the lights can be either green, amber or red, depending on various factors. But on top of that, the lights can either be solid or flashing intermittently. On top of the obvious battery life, this also lets the user know things such as the state of the built in GPS system or whether the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is about to fly out of range of the remote transmitter.

More Information on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus Quadcopter

Right out of the box, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is pretty much ready to be flown around. What that means for the user who just purchased one of these devices is that there will be no or only very little assembly required. For example, the transmitter (the device that communicates the controllers’ flying instructions to the quadcopter) is already mounted on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus. Only a few things such as the rotors need to be attached to their respective engines but doing so doesn’t require any complicated tools. In fact, common household tools can be used without a problem. Also, the rotors are self-tightening, which means that there is absolutely no risk of one flying off during flight.

Range of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus

Speaking of the transmitter, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus now has an impressive range of 2625 feet which equates to approximately 800 meters. Of course, to achieve this type of range there needs to be minimal interference between the controller and the receiver. Therefore only in open environments is this possible and doing so in an urban environment where buildings and such can interfere will reduce this range.

The built in GPS system

One big issue with the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus (and quadcopters in general) is that the multi-rotor design makes for an aircraft that is quite complex and difficult to keep stable during flight. To make sure that it remains as stable as possible, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus uses a navigation system that is based upon GPS technology.

However, enabling the GPS is entirely up to the user as it is also possible to switch it off entirely. As mentioned previously, the main advantage of turning the GPS Attitude mode on is that it maintains the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus stable. It also keeps the device motionless (both in altitude and horizontally) whenever the operator takes its hands off of the controller. All in all the GPS attitude mode on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus allows the user to take video as smoothly as possible as well as take still photographs from a perfect standstill.

When the GPS Attitude mode is disabled, these features are no longer available. In this case, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus does not try to maintain a stable position and it is entirely up to the user to maintain a stable flight path or maintain a fixed position. Releasing the controls doesn’t stop the device if it is already carrying any momentum. If it is already moving horizontally, it will keep going. This mode can make it extremely difficult to take smooth footage with the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus and the same goes when trying to capture still photographs. It is nevertheless possible to take shots in this mode but achieving quality results requires incredible skill on the part of the person piloting the drone.

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus knows where its home is

The GPS is all about keeping the quadcopter on a stable flight path though. As mentioned previously, the range between the controller and the receiver is limited. If for any reason the signal should be lost between the receiver and the controller, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus will stabilize at sixty feet in the air and make a straight line for the home positioned defined during the initial GPS calibration of the device. Once there, it will automatically land and shut itself down.

The controller

A closer look at the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus' Controller. Notice how it's possible to attach a smartphone for easier navigation.

A closer look at the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus’ Controller. Notice how it’s possible to attach a smartphone for easier navigation.

When it comes to actually flying the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus, the controller has many features that make the operator’s life much easier. While the controller itself may appear to be largely the same as its predecessors, there are a number of improvements that make it better.

One of those features is the Intelligent Orientation Control. This feature keeps the orientation of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus somewhat fixed in relation to the person holding the controller. It essentially attempts to keep the tail end of the aircraft pointing towards the operator at all times. The big problem flying any quadcopter had was that the yaw control (i.e. the rotation) really has no limits to as how many rotation the aircraft can make. The end result can be that the person flying the drone doesn’t know anymore what way is front and what way is back. This in turn makes for very difficult flying of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus. By keeping the tail end of the drone pointing towards the controller, spatial orientation is greatly simplified and disorientation becomes a thing of the past.

Seeing through the cameras lens

Taking shots with a camera through which it is impossible to see can only lead to an exercise in frustration. To remedy this, the camera on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus can be controlled with a smartphone app through a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi controller. The app is available for both iPhones as well as Android devices and the controller features a mount on which the phone can be attached.

This gives the user a screen through which they can always see through the camera’s point of view. The app also allows the user to begin or stop recording, tilt the camera up or down, take snapshots and adjust various camera settings (shutter speed, ISO, etc.). The app also feeds important information about the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus such as GPS position and radar view for detecting potential collisions before they happen.

Conclusion

All in all the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is perhaps the best quadcopter available today. At the very least, it is the best that DJI has come up with yet. Many of its improvements are designed specifically for improving photography and video shooting in mind. Of course, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus thousand dollar plus price point is not negligible, but if the funds are available, it is hard to recommend a better quadcopter.