DRONES REVIEWS

DJI Phantom 2: The Easiest Drone for Aerial Filming

DJI Phantom 2 drone on the table
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

First of, if you are looking for a drone that will perform aerial acrobatics, this one is not for you, because the DJI Phantom 2 is meant  for those who want to make some really amazing aerial footage. But don’t let this full you! The quad is really fast and many people, unaware of its speed, have crashed it into buildings, walls, even other people because they didn’t “brake” on time.

It’s simple, the Phantom is a filming drone, and as such, it provides longer air time, really impressive than most of the drones available on the market.  The Phantom’s flying time is 20-25 minutes, depending on the surrounding conditions. The best thing about this drone is that it supports lots of heavy aerial filming equipment like:

  • the DJI Zenmuse H3-3D camera gimbal (which comes in the box from most of the sellers)
  • a GoPro Camera (which is not included in the package and has to be bought separately)
  • the FPV system (which allows you to see what camera sees in real time and on much longer distances than the cameras Wi-Fi streaming option)
  • the iOSD Mini module (which sends you the flight data such as speed, height, distance and so on)

So, regardless of load, the Phantom 2 will fly without problems keeping it stable and allowing you to create footage that can be even used in a film. All in all, this sexy drone is pretty lightweight, portable, and really easy to control. You can even say that it is the quadcopter that was made for everyone. However, it’s mostly used by photographers and filmmakers.

Product specifications:

  • Pre-tuned by the factory and ready in minutes! Just charge the included batteries, attach the propellers and you’re flying.
  • Fun flying by itself or even better with a GoPro to record the action. Tested with Hero2, Hero3/3+ and Hero4 models.
  • Built-in support for the Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal for extreme camera stability and silky smooth video recording.
  • Fly up to 28 minutes on a single charge using the included 5,200-mAh lithium polymer (LiPo) battery.

Buy DJI Phantom 2 on Amazon

Here is how footage taken with a DJI Phantom 2 with DJI Zenmuse H3-3D camera gimbal and a GoPro camera looks like:

Friendly warning: even though operating the Phantom 2 is a piece of cake, and it comes with the return-to-home feature, it does need some pre-flight calibration in order to prevent it from simply flying away from you.  Usually, when the batteries run out of juice, the drone tends to head in an unexpected direction, landing on someone’s head or car.

But don’t worry, setting up the Phantom 2 is a few minutes job. All you have to do is make sure it is calibrated correctly. In order for the drone to know exactly where it is, it uses a built-in compass. Since this drone is sold all around the globe, it probably won’t not arrive with a compass calibrated to Magnetic North in your location. So, when you get your Phantom 2, the first thing you need to do is to calibrate its compass.

You can see the entire compass calibration procedure here:

To be on the safe side: another friendly advice we can offer is to make sure your quad is upgraded to the latest version. The Phantom drones have been known to fly away if an electromagnetic interference occurred.

To avoid that, DJI has upgraded the firmware, and now when your drone is “attacked” by an interfering signal, it examines the signal to determine if the signal is constant, or changing as it would when a human is controlling it. If the signal stays the same, and doesn’t change, the Phantom will assume that it is an interference, and it will simply return home and land itself.

Build specifications

Packaging

The package includes

  • DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter Drone
  • DJI 2.4GHz Remote Controller
  • DJI Zenmuse H3-3D camera gimbal (Suitable for all GoPro Hero 3, Hero 3+ and GoPro Hero 4 Cameras)
  • 2 x Spare rotor blades
  • Manual

Please keep in mind that the GoPro Camera is usually not included!

Design & durability

As far as the design of the DJI Phantom 2 goes, it hasn’t changed that much from the Phantom 1, and that is a good thing. Why change something that was already great, right?

Design lines of DJI PHantom 2 at sunset

It still comes with those sexy aerodynamic lines, and those famous red and green LED orientation lights. When speaking about its durability, if you know anyone that owns a DJI Phantom (any series), you will know that they are made of high-quality plastic, and are pretty durable. The props are elastic, and won’t damage that easily. This we say from personal experience.

Of course, if it falls from 50 meters, it will probably fall apart, but hitting a tree, or a wall will probably just scratch it and won’t affect its performance.

Camera

The DJI Phantom 2 doesn’t come with a camera, but it does offer an amazing gimbal, which will make the footage amazingly stable, as if you were filming on the ground using a tripod! The gimbal is meant to carry all GoPro Hero 3, Hero 3+ and GoPro Hero 4 Cameras (which you have to buy separately).

DJI Phantom 2 with camera

It can also hold GoPro similar cameras, like the Xiaomi Yi Action Camera. This one is the latest hit among aerial filmmakers, because it delivers almost the same quality as the GoPro cameras, but is three times cheaper!

Battery & flight time

The Phantom 2 battery can be simply described as intelligent and long lasting! The 5200mAh high performance, high capacity, Lithium-Polymer battery allows the Phantom 2 to stay in the air for up to 25 minutes! You can’t get better than that!

The battery is extremely reliable and safe while the integrated battery compartment allows you to change the battery in just a few seconds.

Controller

The Phantom 2 remote control offers many new features, when compared to the Phantom 1’s controller. The new features that impress so many users are as follows:

  • It is equipped with a 2000mAh, built-in rechargeable LiPo battery
  • It has battery level LED indicators
  • It has a throttle locking feature – when you want to descend, this feature allows you to pull down the throttle stick, and locks the stick down while the drone descends  steadily
  • The control has a gimbal control dial – it allows you to operate the tilt function of the Zenmuse gimbal
  • A trainer port which allows you to connect the remote control to your computer and practice your flying skills by running a simulation application
  • It is compatible with the Phantom 2 Vision.

Flight performance

Thanks to the amazing DJI’s technology, the drone practically flies itself.  Its GPS system and “Return to Home” feature, allow you to enjoy filming amazing footage, without having to worry too much about controlling the drone.

The flight is as stable as it gets, and if you let your fingers of the control sticks, the drone simply stops and hovers in place. Now that is a really amazing feature! Thanks to the DJI technology, even when the conditions are windy, the drone will fly stable, and allow you to make great shots.

DJI Phantom 2 flight

Now, let’s talk about the flight modes this drone offers. The Phantom 2 allows you to choose from two GPS-assisted flight modes:

  • The first one is the GPS Mode, and it is mostly This mode allows you to let go of the controls, and the drone stays hovering in place. This is the favorite mode for most of the photographers and filmmakers, because you can really fly it easy in this mode and stay focused on what you are filming, and when you let go of the control sticks, the Phantom doesn’t drift even in the wind.
  • The Attitude Mode; This mode comes with more manual operating, and it doesn’t have that “Hands off the wheel” feature. This means that your fingers have to be on the control stick all the time, and the wind will affect the flight. It does still offer the Return to Home feature, and it still uses GPS for navigating, but in this mode, you will have more fun when you are more interested in flying rather than being focused only on filming.

According to users, the DJI Phantom 2 can achieve the following flight performance:

  • Maximum Altitude – 500m
  • Maximum Speed – Maximum flight speed: 15 meters per second (not recommended)
  • Maximum tilt angle: 35°
  • Maximum ascent and descent speed: 6 meters per second

These are the maximum values but, you don’t need to go that high, because it takes much longer to go down than to go up, and just when you think that you have reached the max height, the batteries will run out of juice… and you don’t want that.

Above is a nice walk-through video that shows you pretty much everything you want to know about the Phantom 2.

Value for money & guarantee

In our opinion, and every single owner of the DJI Phantom 2 will agree, this amazing drone is worth every penny. Okay, it is a “relatively” expensive big boy toy (around $400, with the gimbal), but if you are a photographer, or a filmmaker, this drone will open up completely new horizons for you.

As far as the guarantee is concerned, DJI offers a 1-year warranty for all their Phantom drones. This is actually much longer than any other drone company offers, but, there is a catch…  The warranty they offer is a bit confusing. This is because they offer different  guarantees for each part of the drone. For example,  for the motors and the battery, the guarantee lasts only three months while for other parts, they offer that mentioned 1-year guarantee.

DJI Phantom 2 V2.0 Quad

You also need to know that if you crash the drone by your own mistake (meaning that your piloting skills were the cause, not parts failure), the damage won’t be covered under warranty.

In the case that some malfunctions occur, or you simply want to know something regarding your drone, you can call them on the phone, online chat, or by email (all of which you can find on their website). The software updates, the app, as well as the manual, can all be downloaded online, for free.

Unique features

One of the features that not many drones offer is the DJI’s No Fly Zone (NFZ) feature. This allows you to avoid flying in the locations where you shouldn’t fly your drone, for example an airport zone.

Even though this feature might sound like: “Great, now you are telling me that I can’t fly my drone where I want!”, it is actually a pretty useful feature. Why? Well, you don’t have to worry about getting busted for intentionally entering a restricted airspace…

DJI Phantom 2 V2.0 Quadcopter

A good enough reason for you? If you do fly your Phantom towards a restricted airspace, this feature will  warn you about it and give you plenty of time to change your course. Even if you are stubborn and keep on flying in that direction, the NFZ will prevent the drone from entering that zone, and keep it hovering outside the restricted area, until you decide to redirect it. In case you are already in such area, the feature will prevent the drone from taking off.

Another unique feature that is available with the Phantom 2 is the CAN-BUS port on the landing skids. This port allows you to more connect cool gadgets to your drone. For example, gadgets like the Waypoint System or the iOSD Mini module.

Similar models or main competitors

DJI Phantom 2 Vision

Like the Phantom 2, the Vision also comes with a built-in GPS unit, which offers the same midair position holding, and it also comes with the Return-to-Home feature if the drone goes out of range or the battery goes empty.

The flight time is the same, 25 minutes, so is the flight speed and maximum height. However, the new feature is the built-in Wi-Fi HD video camera, which is actually on par with some of the latest GoPro models. The camera comes with a 140-degree field of view, and has a maximum resolution of 1080p (30fps or 60i).

DJI Phantom 2 Vision

With the free DJI Vision smartphone app, for both Android and iOS, you are able to view live feed from the camera, and you can also start and stop recording, as well as tilt the camera up and down. Furthermore, this app allows you to see the drone’s parameters, like location, battery life, and altitude.

Below is what the Phantom 2 Vision offers.

The price for this bad boy is around $500. If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can purchase it on Amazon.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

Just like the Phantom 2 and the Vision, the Vision+ comes with GPS-enabled position holding, Return-to-Home feature, 25 minutes of flight time, and basically most of the flight characteristics are the same.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

However, the new feature on this drone is the electronic gimbal system, which allows the camera to tilt and pan and stay leveled no matter what happens to the drone. This means that every little jiggle won’t show up in the video.

Still, the perfect footage comes at a high price, which is around $600. Here is what the Phantom 2 Vision+ offers:

Like this product? Then you can check its price on Amazon.

DJI Phantom 3 with 2.7K HD Video Camera

Now this one, comes from the more modern and more expensive 3rd generation of DJI’s Phantoms!

The Standard model comes with a 3-axis gimbal-mounted video camera, which delivers 2.7K/30fps resolution videos, and 12MP JPEG or RAW for pictures. It also offers 720p real-time video streaming to your smartphone (via the controller), position-holding thanks to the GPS system, and it also comes with a Return-to-Home button.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone

The flight time is like with all other Phantoms,  around 25 minutes, and the max control distance is around 1km.  The great thing about this drone is that it can autonomously follow pre-programmed flight paths, has a Follow Me mode, and it can continuously face the designated point of interest while flying around it.

This (we can freely say) movie maker, comes with a price of around $800, but if you are into making some jaw-dropping videos or documentaries, the price is not actually that high at all.

If you interested you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.

Overview

All you need to do is to charge the battery and fly and enjoy shooting great aerial footage.

Pros:

  • Ready to Fly, Multifunctional Quad-rotor System
  • Self-tightening Propeller
  • 25 minutes Flight Time & Smart Battery
  • Easy Battery Replacement
  • Customized H3-2D and H3-3D Gimbal Support
  • Advanced Power Management
  • Precision Flight and Stable Hovering
  • Auto Return-to-Home & Landing
  • Video Downlink Support
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)
  • CAN-Bus Expansion Module

Cons:

  • No camera included

The great thing about this drone is that it offers practically the same performance as its more expensive relatives (except the new follow me mode, pre-programmed flight paths, and the circling around an object mode), but has a much lower price, and is probably more durable.

Buy on Amazon

The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a camera, but if you already own a GoPro action camera, this model will offer you pretty much the same filming experience as the more expensive models.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Emily B.

    Because of its stable hovering and battery time, DJI Phantom 2 is famous exactly as an aerial filming assistant. You can find many videos on YouTube made by this model. Excellent purchase.

  • Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.

  • George Patterson

    DJI Phantom 2 is a solid areal photography drone. It has a solid 25 minutes flight with a nice 1080p camera with a clear vision. This is a great drone that offers you quality videos even on windy conditions.

  • Mike Davidson

    Very good and maybe the easiest aerial photography drone on the market. It is truly a superb drone for its easiness and effectiveness. Although, if you want the GPS navigator, you have to buy it separately.

    • Definitely. But it is a fair drone without GPS navigator too.

  • The battery is simply amazing too.

  • Marvin St. James

    If your primary purpose is to take aerial footage, Phantom 2 hits the spot. It’s very easy to fly in flight control mode. It has a built in GPS. The gimbal is one of the best I’ve seen, very stable. It’s very sturdy and will likely survive minor crashes.

  • Jack Brown

    I agree with you Marvin, the P2 is one of the best aerial filming drones out there and many would agree on this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

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