A complete Review & Comparison of DJI Phantom Drones- Photography & Videography

DJI Phantom Drones- Photography & Videography

Comparison of DJI Phantom Drones- Photography & Videography

You may be confused with different models of DJI quadcopters and wondering which model is the best for taking high quality pictures and recording smooth videos. If you are a professional filmmaker or photographer, factors such as the camera specs and flight duration of a drone are definitely the priorities of your research.

The expectations varies among different users, some say, most of the drones give them nothing more than grainy pictures or shaky videos, and that would be very disappointing if one needed the drone for commercial use. However there are a lot of satisfied users who highly recommend their drones to others. At the end, it all depends on what you expect when you buy a drone. Here I’m going to completely make it clear for you about the detail of each DJI drone and their cameras, so that you’ll know exactly which model of phantom you should be looking for.

First off, you need to know the difference between types of DJI phantom models and their related upgrades. You don’t want to be one of the many confused buyers who were disappointed buying the wrong model. Here in below I’ve group them for the ease of understanding.

The model names are in bold text, the rest are just details of the particular model.

1. DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro 

2. DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro Video Camera

3. DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter with Integrated FPV Camcorder

4. DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with FPV HD Video Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

5. DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0 Quadcopter with FPV HD Video Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal Video Camera

 Update: for more info about DJI phantom 3 please refer to this page

I haven’t mentioned the prices, as they are subject to change. However, the first quad in the list is the cheapest and they get more expensive as you go down the list.

DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro

This is the first generation of phantom model produced by DJI. It is also known for DJI phantom one. The Camera is not included for this quad, but it has a GoPro mount. The drones is also compatible with Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal for more stable videos. Any type of Go-pro camera can be install and used with it..

Note: All the GoPro cameras have the same dimensions (41x59x30 mm), so no worries whether you have hero3+ or hero 4.

The flight time is around 10- 15 minutes. The quad doesn’t come with First Person View (FPV) feature. The price is fairly cheap comparing to other Phantom models. However, here are a few important things to concerns when buying this drone;

The drone needs to carry extra weight lifting up the camera which gives less flight time, a few users reported they have had not more than 7 minutes for each flight. Also it seems that the suppliers are no longer producing Zenmuse Gimbal for this drone, meaning that you may find a few items in the market with higher price tags which increases your total cost of purchase. Moreover, the GoPro mount included with this drone is not as stable as Zenmuse Gimbal.

New versions of this particular model have been released,they are version 1.1.1 and version 1.2.1. The only upgrade related to the quality of the camera, is the added carbon fiber anti-vibration anti-jello mount that helps for smoother video recording.  

 

Here is the video of Phantom 1 review.

 

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro Video Camera

 DJI came up with a new drone called phantom 2 including Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal. The addition of the 3-axis gimbal provides better stability of the drone. The gimbal covers the three dimensions- yaw, pitch and roll- during the flight, providing super smooth stability for GoPro cameras in compare to the original mount used in phantom 1. DJI also upgraded the battery to increase the flight duration up to 25-28 minutes. The flight time is a very reasonable and consistent 15 to 20 minutes with a GoPro attached.

 

However, with this model, users are now more concerned for the lack of FPV. Although You can get a live stream using GoPro Wi-Fi connection, the problem is, the signals from camera interferes the one used for the drone and you may lose connection. Another complain is that, even if you use the GoPro Wi-Fi signal streaming to your phone, the connection will be lost at the distance of over 150 meters (~490 feet). There are couple of suppliers that provide FPV kit, googles and receivers, you can buy separately and install them to your drone, but the equipment are not user-friendly to install.

 

The first video shows the GoPro Wi-Fi range test and  the second video is about how to install FPV to your drone.

 Testing phantom 2 + GoPro Wi-Fi range

How to install FPV on your phantom 2 drone

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter with Integrated FPV Camcorder 

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision was introduced to the market with new capabilities. The quad has its own integrated camera with the resolution of 14MP Stills, and 1080 p for video recordings. DJI make it easier for photographers and filmmakers by eliminating the hassle of mounting additional camera and gimbal to the drone. It is a complete ready-to-fly drone and the FPV feature has also been added to this model.

There are two transmitter/receiver systems for this drone. The Wi-Fi part is operating at 2.4 GHz similar to a router setup, and it is used to transfer the FPV from the camera on the Phantom Vision+ to your smartphone. The second transmitter/receiver is a typical RC servo controller system that is operating at 5.8 GHz. There will be no frequency interference between the FPV transmitter and the drone.

However, some usesr believe the DJI 1-Axis gimbal still can not beat  Zenmuse with 3-Axis. Also a few users warned that hat the Phantoms camera is not as good as GoPro as it takes grainy pictures at nights and it needs enough lights.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter with Integrated FPV Camcorder

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with FPV HD Video Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

DJI has now ventured into cameras and also made their own high-end gimbals for Phantom 2 Vision +. The 3-Axis gimbal is now added to provide smoother videos. The difference between Vision and Vision+ is the original Vision has 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, the new gimbal lets the camera look straight down, giving you a point of view that wasn’t possible with the original Vision.

 DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ review

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0 Quadcopter with FPV HD Video Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal Video Camera

Phantom 2 Vision + V3.0 is the upgraded version of Vision +. The changes are, the stronger rotors, stiffer propellers, built-in rechargeable battery with indicators of the battery level showing on the transmitter, and finally, a controller roll that has been added to the transmitter to tilt the camera up and down easily. In older version you needed to do this using the feature provided in the software.

Here is the video showing the differences between vision + and vision + V3.0

Aerial photography is getting more exciting thanks to drones. If you are a professional photographer or filmmaker, with no doubt, learning how to take aerial photos and commercial videos will be a big plus in your future career.

Image by Adam Meek

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