DJI Phantom Vision+

Smartphones, hi-tech cameras, and security videos are making the world eminently recordable, allowing us to monitor and revisit our every move. If you want to get started capturing videos and photos from the sky the DJI Phantom Vision 2+ is the perfect start up. It is an easy-to-set-up and ultimately simple-to-pilot quadcopter drone for aerial photos and video. It's fun to fly, well-constructed, has very good battery life for its class and can painlessly be set to navigate a flight path autonomously. It allows joyriders to gain a birds-eye view of nearly any terrain.

DJI Phantom Vision 2+

Features:

The camera on the Vision+, though it looks different, also seems to be the same, at least in specs: an f2.8 lens paired with a 14-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that can capture Adobe DNG raw and JPEG images and video at up to 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60fps. You can also control ISO, exposure compensation and white balance, and choose from a 140-, 120-, or 90-degree field of view.

The Vision+ has a three-axis gimbal similar to the one available for use with a GoPro camera on the Phantom 2. The gimbal actively stabilizes the camera in roll, pitch and yaw directions keeping the video looking smooth even with sudden movements. Plus, the camera can do a 90-degree tilt, letting you shoot straight down, straight ahead and anywhere in between.

The propellers have to be spun on, but they're clearly marked so you don't do it incorrectly and they're self-tightening so they lock on as soon as the copter spins up for take-off.

The key piece that makes the Vision+ easy to fly for beginners is the built-in DJI Naza-M flight control system. It's made up of an inertial sensor, barometric altimeter, a compass, GPS, LED flight indicators and a controller that gets them all to work together.

Before you fly:

The copter's battery is charged via an included wall charger or an optional car charger, while the range extender pulls its power from a Micro-USB port connected to a computer or wall adapter (not included). The remote control needs four, AA-size batteries, so be prepared to change them if neccesarry.

You'll need a smartphone loaded with DJI's Vision app, which among other things lets you see what the camera sees, control the camera and its settings, view real-time flight telemetry and set up an autopilot flight plan with up to 16 waypoints.

DJI Phantom Vision 2+ on the sky

Fly away:

Power on the Vision+, the remote control and the wireless range extender. Once the extender is ready (it takes about 30 seconds), you'll connect your phone's Wi-Fi to it and then open the Vision app.

Calibrate the compass which requires little more than rotating the copter once horizontally and once vertically, operation you'll do before every new flight.

Take off and have fun!

If you have no experience with any radio-controlled aircraft, a good idea would be taking your first flights out in an open area where there are no people or distractions.

Using the Vision app, you can also set up a GPS-navigated flight path for the Vision+ to follow autonomously. The integrated ground station functions in the Vision app let you set up to 16 waypoints just by tapping on your smartphone's screen.

Initially, you'll probably navigate by sight, but the Vision+ is relatively small and you don't have to send it all too far away before you'll have trouble seeing it and using its lights and markings for navigation. At that point you'll be flying using your smartphone's screen, which can be difficult if you're flying out in full sun. Just one more thing for new pilots to keep in mind.

The quadcopter's GPS autopilot system comes in particularly handy for those just starting out. When locked onto a minimum of six satellites the Vision+ will hover in place and hold its position. This allows you time to stop and potentially avoid a crash. Also gives you a return-to-home fail-safe that will signal the Phantom to fly back to your take-off spot and land in case it flies out of range, the controller is powered off or the signal is lost between the controller and the Phantom for some other reason.

Having the camera and gimbal all set and ready to go out of the box is great. There's no need to attach or connect anything, and it even comes with a 4GB microSD card for storage; cards up to 32GB are supported. All the camera's settings and controls are managed through the Vision app. However, every time you take a photo the screen goes black for several seconds. It's a little unnerving at first and then it just becomes irritating. On the upside you can capture in Adobe's DNG raw format and JPEG.

For video, you can just tap record and it will start to capture wherever you point the camera. A slider on the left side of your screen lets you control the camera pitch. You can also use your smartphone's accelerometer to control pitch simply by rolling your device forward and back. The result is, sadly, not very good. There are tiny high-freq vibrations in the gimbal which aren't obvious until you look at the jerky video from rolling shutter. If your main concern is to get the best possible video and photo quality, try the quadcopter Phantom 2 where you can attach your own camera.

Conclusion:

If you have no interest in taking professional photos and high quality videos the way to get in the air and start seeing the world around you from a different perspective, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is an excellent entry point for aerial photos and videos.

However, if you think you want to have fun and enjoy the views but have no much experience with a drone, you'll want to buy an extra set or two of props, because those will break first in the line of fire!


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