DJI's Phantom 2 Vision is pretty much the benchmark for ready-to-fly (RTF) quadcopters for aerial photos and video. Well, it was the benchmark until the new Phantom 2 Vision+ arrived.
The quadcopter itself seems unchanged from the Phantom 2 Vision. You'll find all the same convenience features like color-coded, self-tightening propellers for easy installation and replacement, and a slot-loading battery pack (no connectors to mess with here) that delivers up to 25 minutes of flight time. If you don't stop to charge up its batteries or read the manual, it can go from out of the box to up in the air in about 10 minutes.
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 or JPEG images and video at up to 1080p at 30fps. You can also control ISO, exposure compensation, and white balance, and choose from 140-, 120-, or 90-degree field of view.
The biggest change is what is supporting the camera. With the original Vision, the camera was on an antivibration platform stabilized only on the tilt axis and the tilting range during flight (remotely controlled through the mobile Vision app) had a range of 60 degrees. The Vision+, however, 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 now do a 90-degree tilt letting you shoot straight down.
The quadcopter's integrated GPS autopilot system allows it to hover at a specific altitude and hold its position so you can get the exact shot you're after. The GPS also gives you a return-to-home fail-safe that will signal the Phantom to fly back to your takeoff spot and land in case you travel out of range or simply panic.
And if you're after more of a drone experience, the Phantom 2 Vision+ is fully compatible with DJI's Ground Station capabilities, which lets you plot a GPS path for the Phantom to navigate autonomously.
Also new for the Vision+ is increased range for the Wi-Fi extender. Sitting on a bar attached to the radio controller, the extender delivers the first-person view from the Vision+ camera to an Android or iOS device using the DJI Vision app (that can also be clamped on the controller). The Vision was capped at 300 meters, but the Vision+ can travel up to 700 meters (2,296 feet) away.
The app not only lets you pilot from a first-person perspective and control the camera, but it's also what delivers important telemetry and flight information such as altitude, direction, flight distance, and speed.
Lastly, DJI added a safety feature to prevent flights that are too close to large and small airports.
We'll have a full review in the near future, but if you know you want one, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is available for pre-order for $1,299.