DJI’s Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient takes a stabilized digital camera to the sky, we go palms-on (video)

DJI's Phantom 2 Vision takes a stabilized camera to the sky, we go hands-on (video)

You could not have come throughout DJI earlier than, however this model is not any stranger on the planet of hobbyist drones. Even manufacturing studios use the corporate’s gear for aerial videography, however that includes much more cash than the typical shopper can abdomen — DJI’s three-axis digital camera gimbal alone can value as much as $three,500, on prime of about $three,000 for its newest six-rotor plane. And that is earlier than you embrace a digital camera plus a distant management. Thankfully, we now have a extra reasonably priced choice that also comes with digital camera stabilization: the Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient.

With a $1,199 price ticket, this all-in-one package deal is aimed toward prosumers who’re on the lookout for one thing extra critical than, say, Parrot’s AR.Drone collection. Whereas the latter’s designed for leisure, the Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient provides you a style of the superior maneuverability and digital camera options from DJI’s professional-degree merchandise. The comparatively mild 1.16kg drone encompasses a constructed-in 14-megapixel digital camera (with a 1/2.three-inch sensor), which is mounted on a tilt-axis gimbal beneath the stomach. The one bits that must be put in are the 4 self-tightening propellers, together with a swappable fifty seven.72Wh battery that lasts as much as 25 minutes (however takes from one to 2 hours to completely cost when depleted).

Gallery | 21 Photographs
DJI’s Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient takes a stabilized digital camera to the sky, we go palms-on

The package deal comes with its personal distant management. That is powered by 4 AA batteries and options spring-centered sticks, with the left one taking good care of peak and yaw, and the fitting one for shifting horizontally. To take off, maintain each sticks down towards the underside-middle of the controller till the propellers are lively. Doing the identical once they’re spinning kills the motors, or you’ll be able to simply maintain down the left stick till the propellers are idle. We initially discovered the controls to be fairly delicate, however over time we acquired the cling of it and managed to fly the drone with out by chance rushing — the highest speeds are 15m/s for flight (beating the AR.Drone 2.zero’s eleven.11m/s) and 6m/s for ascent or descent, each of that are fairly spectacular. If wanted, the sticks’ sensitivity could be adjusted via the drone’s desktop assistant software program.

With the iOS or Android app put in, you will get a stay stream of the drone’s view.

Now, with a purpose to reap the benefits of the drone’s digital camera, you will want to put in DJI’s app in your iOS or Android telephone, after which mount it on the controller utilizing the bundled clamp — it nearly managed to suit our HTC One Max. Because the telephone will depend on the drone’s WiFi hotspot as an alternative of the controller’s 5.8GHz radio, you will additionally have to mount the included WiFi vary extender onto the controller to get the 300m reception vary (we have managed to go as much as about 500m). With the iOS or Android app put in, you will get a stay stream of the drone’s view, in addition to the power to regulate the digital camera’s numerous parameters (tilt angle, subject of view, decision, ISO, white stability, publicity compensation, sharpness and extra) and get stay suggestions for the drone’s bearing, altitude and velocity.

This is the intelligent bit: If the drone goes out of vary or by some means loses contact, it’ll try to go again to its takeoff level and land, offered that its GPS is lively within the first place. One other fail-protected mechanism is that when the battery degree goes under 15 %, the drone will begin to descend and land routinely, so make sure you begin bringing the system nearer to residence whenever you get the primary battery alert at 30 % energy (particularly once you’re flying over water!).

Gallery | 19 Pictures
DJI Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient pattern photographs

Picture and video seize are toggled within the app, and when you get a reside stream in your telephone, the content material is definitely saved on a microSD card inserted behind the drone’s digital camera. On a associated word, the app additionally allows you to browse the reminiscence card’s contents, however you possibly can clearly take it out for faster entry by way of a card reader. By default, the soundless video is recorded at 1080p/29.ninety seven fps with a knowledge fee of slightly below thirteen Mbps, which means the bundled 4GB card can retailer about forty minutes of HD footage. We deliberately left the fish-eye distortion within the above uncooked footage compilation and our pattern stills, however you can even obtain the Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient’s Adobe lens profile to repair the distortion in Photoshop. Sure, Photoshop can repair each stills and video!

Because of the primary single-axis gimbal, the captured video may be barely shaky as a consequence of even a light-weight little bit of wind.

Video high quality-clever, you’ll be able to anticipate one thing near that of any good smartphone digital camera today, however because of the primary single-axis gimbal, the seize video could be barely shaky as a result of even a light-weight little bit of wind. Software program stabilization can solely achieve this a lot. Alternatively, for those who do not thoughts forking out €415 (about $560), you possibly can attempt Dronexpert.nl’s twin-axis, brushless gimbal package for the Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient.

The pictures we took throughout daytime assorted between 2MB and 4MB every. The picture high quality underneath the default settings is once more similar to that of smartphone cameras; it simply requires some retouching afterwards. We additionally advocate making an attempt the “exhausting” sharpness setting, in addition to switching to RAW mode should you want extra flexibility. The one notable drawback is that standard photographs taken at night time are severely underexposed, so you will need to tweak the publicity settings within the app, quite than counting on the default values.

In abstract, the Phantom 2 Imaginative and prescient impressed us with its ease of use, superior digital camera options, flight efficiency, battery life and fail-protected options. The one factor that is struggling to justify the $1,199 worth is the occasional video shakiness. However on the brilliant aspect, some corporations are beginning to supply easy gimbal modding kits to assist repair that drawback on this drone, so there’s no less than a enjoyable — albeit expensive — improve choice that does not require an excessive amount of technical information.

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