New Gear: DJI Phantom 2 Vision plus!



I finally jumped into (the deep end of?) the pool…  I bought a “drone”.  I’ve been wanting to get into aerial photography for a long long time now.  I’ve seen the drones available for a while now and I’ve watched them mature into a product that takes images that are sell-able but also into a product that’s somewhat easy to fly in terms of being able to not be terrified about losing it into the water.  It’s still not what I’d call easy to fly and there’s definitely skill involved but it’s to the point where I’m already getting some decent shots from it.

This isn’t really a review but more of a collection of my thoughts and some explanations as to why I went with the setup I did.  DJI makes the most well known drones in the photo business.  They’re sold completely ready to fly.  Charge the battery, read the manual (no, really, READ IT!), get GPS lock and go.  They’ve got a few different versions though so it’s worth sharing them with you and explaining the differences as I see them.  The phantom is their entry level option and it’s a quad.  They make larger options that can lift bigger cameras but those are more expensive and not quite as user friendly.  Basically, they’re something I might upgrade to if needed but hopefully not (the costs more than doubles to fly a small interchangeable lens camera and then doubles again for a DSLR).  DJI makes the phantom and phantom 2.  Basically the newer version flies 33.5mph up from 22 and can fly for 25 minutes up from 15.  You trade this for a more expensive quad and the batteries are also $150 each -vs- ~$20.  But for me the extra speed and time were worth the investment since I’m flying over water and in wind basically always.  I wanted the added safety net.  The next portion of the option I chose is that it’s the “vision plus”.  They also sell the vision as well as gopro options.  The vision is DJI’s better camera and comes with a gimbal and FPV (first person video, I see what the camera sees via an app on my phone from the ground).  The first version had FPV but it was a much lesser quality camera and had no gimbal (so you’d get blurry shots at times but video was VERY blurry).  I could have gone with a gopro version but even providing my own camera that option is more expensive.  I also feel DJI’s vision plus is a better still camera as it shoots in .DNG and there’s a LR/PS profile for lens corrections in post.  You also get exposure compensation from the app while flying which is a huge help.  The gopro option is about $600+ more expensive as well.  The popular opinion is that the gopro’s video footage is better as it’s 4k and video raw capable but if you’re only using regular old 1080p I honestly think the vision plus gives you better metering and better AWB so there’s less to process in post.  Both systems are certainly good, but unless you need 4k or RAW I’d go with the vision plus personally.


Upgrade wise I can already feel myself wanting a better camera as both the gopro and vision plus use very small sensors.  I want to get something on it that has an APS-C sensor and some bracketing options but I also want to keep the FPV working…  I’m leaning towards a ricoh GR but I’ve been reading about motor and rotor upgrades that could possibly let me fly one of my fujis or my sony NEX5…  I feel I need a lot more practice flying the phantom as is before I start adding weight to it or changing anything that’ll make it more complicated.

I’ll be posting a lot more from the phantom as I get more practice with it.  My goal is to use it for landscape and architecture work.  It’s been a blast so far and draws a LOT of attention wherever I take it.  Feel free to drop a comment below or email me if You’ve got any questions.

22 thoughts on “New Gear: DJI Phantom 2 Vision plus!

  1. Awesome shots! I just purchased a vision plus today, can’t wait to use for hiking and rock climbing pics. I’m curious… How did you take the panoramic shots? Is there a setting just for this ? Also, do you have a FB page. I would love to add you.


  2. all the photos you posted are taken with the camera of phantom 2 vision plus? are edited on PC? excellent photos

    • These were all taken with the phantom 2 vision plus camera and edited with Adobe LR and PS on my iMac.

  3. Very nice photography! Beautiful subject beautifully captured. I am just beginning to explore the uses of this photography for my business, which would be used to capture historical architectural elements and to use in conjunction with photogrammetry software. But, in the interest of full disclosure, it’s also how I’m spending most of my free time these days, just for personal photography. There are a lot of valid concerns about the safe and responsible use of this technology and I believe that in this coming year their will be regulations put in place to deal with these issues. As long as the regulation recognizes that there are legitimate recreational, commercial and life safety uses for these vehicles, I’m all for it. I am interested in forming a user group for professionals that are interested in staying ahead of the curve and keep abreast of regulatory actions and have a voice. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me and let me know. I have a few professionals interested already and welcome more input.

  4. BEAUTIFUL images. I shoot architecture and am thinking about a vision + but the local dealer has said the 3d gimbals are fragile and DJI repair parts are hard to get and their support sucks. He has been waiting a couple months for parts and says there is a rumored gimbal redesign ?
    Have you had the same issues? Any gimbal shenanigans? Would you recommend a Vision + for a very novice first-timer? i.e. crashes?
    thanks, wonderful work.

    • Gary,
      I’ve been lucky I guess? I’m a first time flier with no crashes and no issues. I love my vision plus and love the results it provides and I love that it’s IQ is better than a gopro (which I own but don’t love IQ wise). I’d say go for it but I’ve had no issues yet so what do I know? Insure it and buy a new one if you need to?

      Good Luck!

  5. Have you try to adapt it yet, I want to know if this will fly with a dlsr or at least a conoast system camera, similar to the nex5. Considering it can fly at 30mph I’m assuming it has enough power (although probably not recommended). But I’m begging for better picture quality with this.

  6. Hello. The camera kit has a manual setting? And as the camera noise at high ISO? Do you think that pictures from the camera kit have decent quality? Can you send me 1 photo in RAW format?

    • I’m actually not using the RAW files (even though that was one of the key reasons I went with the vision plus). Why? Because the .jpegs have better AWB and the same tones and noise and LR handles both just as well. I’ve been shooting both side by side just in case but have never needed the RAWs and a lot of the time their WB is actually so far off LR can’t compensate. There ARE manual controls through the app on your phone. It’s not super easy to do but they’re there. “high isos” are terrible, anything above 160 is pretty bad. It’s like a gopro or older cell phone in terms of IQ in anything but good light.

  7. Hello,

    lovely photos! i have just purchased this baby and i love flying it around, stitching panos was good too but my problem is the noise, i am shooting in RAW and kept the ISO on 100 hoping it will help but its pretty bad!

    for some reasons your photos donest have much noise although some are taken at dark hours of the day, can you please help me out on the settings? I’ve got a project coming and i am trying to deliver something neat!

    couldn’t be that you’re using JPG which can have less noise?

    finally, thanks for sharing the knowledge and the outcome, this page have helped with the decision 🙂


    • Tony,
      Trust me there’s plenty of noise in these…. Jpg might be helping but I’m not sure. I shoot both and use the better file once in get to LR. I’ve been playing with some noise reduction lately but it seems to pull out most of the detail since its so small from the wide angle lens. I’ll be upgrading to a larger sensored compact for next summer once I sort out a FPV setup that works. Shooting early and late is a trick that helps and hurts. It helps with dynamic range issues but makes noise worse in shadows if it doesn’t expose correctly. Always try to not open up the shadows if you can.
      Good luck!

  8. thank you,

    i used topaz, kept the shadows and helped a lot, overall the quality is not bad if used for web or a small print, i hope you agree with me,

    on the other hand, most of my shoots stitched panoramas, you think reducing the angle helps? doesn’t make a difference in quality?

    too many questions ha? i know i do have the device but i don’t have the experience or the place to keep testing, its hustle here to keep flying this thing

    i am defiantly sending my DSLR up in the air once i get the hang of this and make some cash 😀


    • I stick with the adobe suite. Not saying there’s not better options out there but it’s just what I’m comfortable with. The shots are great for web or small prints. I’ve also done larger canvases without any issue. You need to either shoot a pano or leave the image with the fisheye distortion to keep the corners looking good. I do panos whenever the light and flight will allow. Never too many questions! As for where I’m going next, I’m looking at either adding a ricoh to the phantom 2 with a new/different FPV setup or I’m looking at whatever the next sized quad up is and flying either a sony of fuji EVIL camera (since I own both already). That will come down to budget mostly, but also how the FPV works with the three options.

  9. Hey-these things won’t carry much more than what the GoPro weighs in at with a gimbal. I am interested to see if it’s possible to use a Ricoh GR though. I have seen people use a small Sony, the issue is always being able to see what you are taking a picture of – this is the only setup (without spending big money and learning the inner workings of FPV) that you can take still shots and video easily. Does anyone even make a gimbal for the GR?

    I just bought the Vision+ and was looking for example shots people have taken – I’m glad I found your site, I was beginning to wonder if it wasn’t possible to get good shots, but yours are awesome.

    If portability isn’t that big of a deal the new S900 from DJI is good and can carry a number of different cameras with decent flight times. My friend has one and it’s amazing, but it will cost you quite a bit of money.


    • Thanks for the kind words. I haven’t seen a gimbal for the gr without going to the s900. Ideally for me I’d go with the Ricoh on a fixed bracket as it would only be for stills. I would need a new fpv setup from what I understand. There are a few guys doing this but I haven’t found out how yet in terms of specific systems. The s900 is an option but only if the gr won’t work easily on the phantom. I’d prefer the smaller size and price.

  10. Thanks for this Ben – I wanted to see what still images the Phantom Vision+ was capable of with a similar workflow to mine RAW-LR-PS.

    Looking forward to learning how to fly mine now – I have a month planned through Spain in January shooting landscape and I think I might take the Vision+ with me 🙂

  11. Hey ben,

    i have a question, i also have a Phantom 2 vision plus but when i take a picture my size is way smaller then yours ( picture from the island ) even when i go to settings and use the largest settings for picture.

    is there something you have done in PhotoShop ?

    thanks in advance

    • Nick,
      Sorry, didn’t delete it, comments just need to be approved before they show up so you won’t see them until that happens (you’ll see both now). Been busy with work and on vaca the last week so just getting caught up on emails and the blog today, sorry!.

      As for phantom image sizes I’m using the largest size available. I shoot both RAW and JPEG. The images are 4384×3288 pixels. Processing wise I use adobe LR5 and photoshop to edit my images but I don’t touch their resolution. I will at times shoot a 3 image panorama but the resulting file isn’t much different than the files out of the camera in terms of resolution, it’s just got less distortion at the edges once you remove the distortion using the profile in LR.

      Hope that helps!

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