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First Look: DJI Phantom 2 Vision

Easier to fly and shoot with built-in proprietary HD camera and smartphone control interface

By Jeff Foster | October 23, 2013

DJI first introduced a prototype "shell" of the Phantom Vision back in April at NAB in their tradeshow booth, but they're finally gearing up to ship them in early November. I've had the chance to test a prototype over the past couple of weeks and am more than impressed with it's stability, maneuverability and overall ease of use and function. This is my "First Look" review of what I can show you and tell you about the Phantom 2 Vision and the iOS/Android App that controls the FPV with heads-up info display.

The Phantom 2 Vision is a GPS-based multirotor quadcopter operated by remote control that has a built-in HD camera that can be controlled by your iPhone or Android device. It has a rechargeable battery pack that will give you up to 25 minutes of flying time and you can preview and assist your flying on the smartphone screen while setting the pitch of your camera remotely and recording either video or taking still images in real time. This ready-to-go combination will have you up and flying in no time and the stability and ease of flying the Phantom 2 Vision is greatly improved over the original Phantom - thanks to newly-designed hardware and software algorithms that control it.

 

Out of the Box

The Phantom 2 Vision requires little setup right out of the box. Just assemble a few of the components such as the props and the phone holder onto the remote, charge everything up and install 4 AA batteries into the controller and you're ready to prepare your setup for first flight. You will need an iPhone or an Android OS smartphone to download and run the DJI VISION App (available free in the iTunes Store or the Google Play store). 

The Phantom 2 Vision has the new style self-tightening rotors and props so not only is it easier to distinguish which props go onto which rotors, but they also stay tightened after each flight. DJI has provided a special wrench for installation and preflight checks.

The integrated HD camera captures both still images and video. At the time of testing, it captures 1920x1080 video at 30fps and currently JPG images 4384x3288 @72ppi. I spoke with DJI's Colin Guinn today and from what I understand, DJI will be providing a utility that will allow you to convert or open/save/export the RAW image files in some fashion, but I have no knowledge of whether it will be Windows-only or also Mac OS compatible.

I was impressed that they actually stamped the camera optics specs right on the bezel, unlike other POV camera manufacturers that seems to elude these specifications. The Phantom 2 Vision has an F/2.8 140º FOV with a wide dynamic range.

The camera comes pre-attached to the Phantom 2 Vision and is mounted with a shock-absorbing bracket. The camera's pitch (tilts up and down) is controlled remotely by the smartphone App. DJI will also provide a 4GB microSD card so you'll be able to capture video and images right away. I don't know of any camera manufacturer that provides a media card with the purchase of your camera these days.

There is also a USB port on the front of the Phantom 2 Vision for configuration and calibration purposes. However, you will need to download a special version of the PC Assistant software (Windows only) as you cannot use the old Naza PC software - it won't even recognize this device. The remote control also has its own PC Assistant software.

Existing DJI Phantom users will drool over the new 5200mAh battery that will provide up to 25 minutes of flying time under normal conditions. The battery cage contains the proprietary battery and charges with a provided charger. My tests charging the battery that came with with the test device took approximately 1-1/2 hours to fully charge a completely depleted battery, but times and rates may differ in the shipping production model.

The battery plugs directly into the compartment so no clumsy plugging/unplugging to install or power on the Phantom 2 Vision. The power button also serves as a battery charge indicator that diminishes in the number of bars as the battery level decreases.

The Phantom 2 Vision also comes with different color sticker options so you can customize your unit or use a different color if you're flying more than one at a time in a group. 

There is a rubber cap for the camera that fits fairly snug and a "cheat sheet" quick reference card that tells you what messages the flashing LEDs mean.

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