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DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with FPV HD Video Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- Super smooth video thanks to the 3-axis gimbal
- Crystal clear stills and live streaming video from the redesigned HD video camera with built-in FPV link
- Extra-long flight times of up to 25 minutes from the intelligent 5,200-mAh battery
- More flight power and security from the high-efficiency self-tightening propellers
- Advanced GPS-based navigation and programmable features you can set up via the built-in USB port
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The Phantom 2 Vision+ from DJI brings ready-to-fly into the professional realm. With its 3-axis gimbal supporting an all new custom 1080p video camera with Wi-Fi first-person-view (FPV) on your iOS or Android device, you'll be creating super smooth cinema-quality videos in minutes. The Vision+ eliminates setup headaches with the gimbal and camera already securely mounted and aligned at the factory. Just open the box, charge the batteries and screw on the props. This is the highest quality ready-to-fly solution ever made and will quickly become the standard for independent film makers, journalists, farmers, emergency personnel, extreme sports enthusiasts and aviation hobbyists.
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The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is currently the best option for a fully assembled, ready-to-fly drone or quadcopter with a camera. Whether you need buttery smooth video footage or still photos from the air, I have found that Vision+ will be the least setup time, most beginner-friendly, and *can* be less expensive than assembling a custom solution to do the same job (especially if you need first-person-view, FPV). You can read the full review on my blog, SOARINGDRONES .COM, but I've tried to hit the highlights here. I gave it a FULL 5 STARS based on the outstanding performance my unit showed. I understand some other folks have had problems with their copters and I don't discount the possibility that some combination of DJI quality control, user training or local RF interference will make any particular drone prone to crashing, but my experience out of the box was top-notch. I own the Phantom 1, the Phantom 2 (with gimbal) and Phantom 2 Vision, and for sheer ease of use and quality this one is the best of the Phantom lineup so far.
BEST FEATURES (WHAT I LIKED)
✔ GIMBAL: The standout feature of the Vision+ is the 3-axis gimbal with the 1080p video camera (14 MP still photos) built right in. DJI makes high-end gimbals and ventured into cameras late last year with the original Phantom 2 Vision, but that model had a single-axis gimbal with plastic construction. Now just over 6 months later comes the Vision+ with same camera specs and an all-metal design that integrates both the camera and the gimbal into a sleek, lightweight alloy. Finally, this new gimbal lets the camera **look straight down**, giving you a point of view that wasn't possible with the original Vision.
✔ BATTERY: Flight time of the Vision+ is about 25 minutes with the included **intelligent battery**. First introduced with the Phantom 2 Vision, this is the same 5,200-mAh battery used for all the Phantom 2 models and is light years ahead of the small battery (connected by a difficult-to-attach wire) included with the original Phantom series.
✔ DJI's VISION APP: For both Android and iPhone, the Vision App is the final aspect that separates the Vision+ from the do-it-yourself crowd and from the non-Vision copters in DJI's lineup. First released with the Phantom 2 Vision, the latest version of the app adds support for the Vision+ gimbal, but it's mostly the same app already used on the original Vision. I liked the radar positioning feature that shows the Vision+ in relation to your location. The Wi-Fi range is up to 700m with this version and, while there's some lag and you may need to suffer with 15 fps, it's very cool to see what the copter is seeing from over a quarter mile away.
CAMERA SPECS AND PERFORMANCE
The camera's housing has changed to all-metal and integrates nicely with the gimbal, but the basic specs haven't changed since the original Phantom 2 Vision. The sensor is capable of 1080p HD video at 30 fps (30p) or 60 interlaced frames per second (60i) and outputs 14MP stills in either sensor RAW (which programs like Adobe Lightroom 5 support for enhanced dynamic range and white balance tweaking) or the more standard JPEG format. Adobe's also providing lens correction profiles (especially helpful for barrel distortion) in their newest raw processing engine in Photoshop's ACR and Lightroom.
Back to the hardware, the lens also seems identical with an f/2.8 maximum aperture and a 140-degree field of view. The video can be cropped to still get 1080p footage from the center of the frame, yielding more natural looking videos without the extreme wide-angle look of the 140-degree lens. All in all the video from this camera has a slight edge over the GoPro Hero3+, and I'll be posting some follow-up stills and comparison tests.
BUT HOW DOES IT FLY?
With a camera and gimbal attached, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Vision+ is less nimble than the unencumbered Phantom 1. I did see a difference in flying, and I think it's because (not yet verified) that the software settings for how quickly the copter responds have been toned down a bit. It's much easier to fly the Vision+ smoothly, and we found it easier to keep the camera steady even if you factor out the gimbal. The Vision+ seems destined for a life of grand panoramic bliss as it glides across your favorite landscape or event.
All the standard Phantom series features are present including the emergency automatic landing at your home point, intelligent orientation control and GPS/manual stability control.
DECISION: With the price drop on the original Vision to $999 and the introduction of this new model, you've now got a quandary: spend what you would have spent last week on the Vision to get this new, improved model, or save $300 and go for the older (6 months, mind you!) model with only a single axis. For me, the question comes down to a simple choice--if you're looking to make serious movies that people will actually want to see, go for the Vision+. The extra stability from the gimbal and the elegant camera design are worth every cent and the whole system is now so tightly integrated that this new model has become more than just a "Vision with a gimbal". It's a whole new generation.
✔ $1300 is a big price tag. This is not a quick decision for most people. Do the reading and think in advance if you can stomach a total failure due to your own fault or some external circumstance. If you can't risk this much money, don't buy it.
✔ The camera is stuck on the copter. The most alluring competitor to this copter is the Phantom 2 with a 3D Gimbal and some GoPro variant. If you already a GoPro Hero3 (preferably 3+), then buy the Phantom 2. If you have an older GoPro or none at all, then buy the Vision+. The advantage of the GoPro combo is that you can use the GoPro for other projects, like diving, surfing, biking, driving too fast, etc. The Vision+ camera stays put and is only usable in the air.
If you merely want to *experiment* with first-person video and like playing with the latest toy, consider the Phantom FC40, also from DJI, or the even cheaper Parrott AR 2.0 drone that uses your smartphone to view and control the craft in flight. Both of these will satisfy your novelty itch and cost less than half as much as the Vision+. But those the budding film-maker or someone who uses a quadcopter for their job (farmer, realtor, emergency response, government), the Vision+ is the real deal. You take it out, screw on the props, charge the batteries and fly, with plenty of time left over to watch the videos you take!
Thanks for reading my review and do remember to check out my blog if you'd like to see other videos and see the full review, including more depth about what a gimbal is and why you need one.
Let it soar!
When it comes to the camera being able to shoot straight down gives you a much better view allowing you to be able to know what your landing on, in case your not there to see it. It also offers great shots when rapidly climbing from the ground. The gimbal is awesome with a steady shot throughout the video. The normal vision 2 had a vertical stability tilt, but not horizontal so the image was rarely ever level with the horizon. Having a gimbal is HUGE upgrade over the last one.
The Vision Plus also appeared to be a lot faster than the regular vision 2. I got up to 45 mph with the wind (wind was about 5-10 mph).
DJI seems to know what they are doing and has really put a lot of thought into this product, software and even packaging. As some have said they appear to be the emerging Apple of China.
The only thing that I'm really looking forward to is the Ground Station firmware update for the the Phantom 2 Vision Plus. I called DJI directly and they stated they were working on it, but they couldn't offer a date. Ground Station allows you to use an app on the iPad to fly the Vision Plus autonomously. You can basically upload a flight plan to the Phantom through bluetooth on the iPad and it will carry out the flight by itself and even land itself at the end. This is an awesome feature, but again its only currently available for the Phantom 2. I know a lot of people are going to pushing DJI to get that firmware update done ASAP.
Overall this is an awesome product. With the addition range and ability to take more stable videos and pictures, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is something you will want to own. I took it in front of my house to take a flight and by the end of the first battery there were 10 kids and 10 adults wanting to know how it worked. We are at the beginning of a new revolution that will change our lives for the better. Imagine programming you phantom to drop off something small to a client or friends house, deliver a pizza, documents, etc. Hopefully the FAA will lift the ban on commercial usage like most other countries have. The only thing that they will need is a centralized system that flight plans can be monitored by to ensure that the autonomous flight vehicles do not hit one another in flight (and if you are flying by remote an avoidance feature). This can't be that hard to do.
I love mine and you will too
UPDATE: 5/10/2014 I have been flying my Phantom 2 Plus for several weeks and it's still going strong. I'm very careful to ensure everything is set correctly before each flight to avoid a user error crash. My longest flight so far was over 3,000 fee out (not up), which is is a huge improvement over my previous Phantom Vision 2 (only about 1000 feet tops). I would recommend optional prop guards and at least 3 batteries to get a nice flight session. I also suggest slowly descending during landing as the phantom can sometimes wobble quite a bit within 20 feet of the ground. Finally, I would land the Phantom before you reach 25% remaining battery as I have sometimes had control issues below 25%.
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