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DJI announces stabilized HERO mount, and camera-equipped Phantom quadcopter

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April 11, 2013

The Phantom Vision comes with its own 1080p app-controlled video camera

The Phantom Vision comes with its own 1080p app-controlled video camera

Image Gallery (5 images)

Well, that didn’t take long. Just this January, DJI Innovations released its GPS-enabled Phantom quadcopter. Now, at this week’s National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, the company has unveiled a self-stabilizing camera mount that can be added to existing Phantoms, plus an upgraded Phantom that includes its own HD video camera. Additionally, DJI’s new iOS app allows users to view onboard video output in real time on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch via Wi-Fi.

One of the big selling features of the Phantom has been its included mount for the GoPro HERO actioncam. Unfortunately, as I discovered when doing my review of the Phantom, the existing mount allows vibrations to travel from the aircraft into the camera, creating jiggly video distortion known as the Jell-O effect. Both new products are said to eliminate that problem.

A Phantom with its own camera

The new version of the quadcopter, the Phantom Vision, is actually the same Phantom we already know, but with the addition of a 1080p video camera which can also capture 14-megapixel stills. It’s mounted on the underside of the aircraft, right where the user-supplied GoPro would ordinarily go.

Its mounting system consists of one plate that’s attached to the quadcopter and another that’s attached to the camera – the only thing connecting those two plates are four rubber dampers (one at each corner), which reportedly allow few if any vibrations to get through. Similar third-party mounts for GoPros are already available on eBay.

Using an iDevice running the DJI app, users can view the output from that camera, control the camera functions, and tilt it up and down via an integrated motor. There’s currently no word on recording formats or media, although one would assume that an SD card is involved.

A self-stabilizing GoPro mount

Users who wish to use their own camera, but don’t want the shot tipping sideways as the Phantom banks into turns, might be interested in DJI’s Zenmuse HERO mount.

The Zenmuse HERO gimbal mount

The Zenmuse utilizes the same damping system as the Vision, but it also incorporates a two-axis motorized gimbal. Using algorithms running on a bult-in control module, that gimbal automatically moves the camera in order to compensate for the pitch and yaw of the quadcopter. As a result, the shot maintains a consistent, straight horizon at all times.

Using the control module and the iOS app, users can view the output from their HERO, tilt it, and start and stop recording. Given the Phantom’s 300-meter (984-foot) radio frequency range, presumably it’s possible to fly the quadcopter out of range of the Wi-Fi-based app – the camera would still keep recording, although users would no longer be able to see its picture in real time.

A closer look at DJI's camera-control app

Availability

Both the Phantom Vision and the Zenmuse HERO should be available by the end of the second quarter of this year. Pricing has yet to be announced, although a DJI rep informs us that the Vision should come in at under US$1,000. Given that the current Phantom costs $679, and GoPro-like cameras run around $200 to $300, that sounds reasonable.

Footage shot using the Zenmuse HERO at the NAB show can be seen in the video below.

Source: DJI Innovations

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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18 Comments

Well there goes the need for walk around camera men. Now reporters can have a drone follow them around while they interview, investigate, etc...and the camera man is in the van watching the live feeds. This has great snoop potential too. Imagine a department of the Police where there are drone operators/surveillance teams that can go into areas of potential danger or illegal activities to monitor them. They might need a second feed though, one to watch, and one to steer by.

yinfu99
11th April, 2013 @ 09:30 am PDT

Looks promising, can't wait to try it out! Though some more info about the optics would be nice, I wonder how it compares to the GoPro HERO 3 Black. Looking forward to adding it to my list of top quadcopters soon: http://quadcopterhq.com/top-quadcopters/

Quad copterHQ
11th April, 2013 @ 12:33 pm PDT

Im afraid I need to have this.

Angus MacKenzie
11th April, 2013 @ 03:27 pm PDT

Get an Android app version and I'm keen

David Anderton
11th April, 2013 @ 06:57 pm PDT

This looks amazing!! I really hope it doesn't "fly away".

just saying... it could happen to anybody.

Devin Clarke
12th April, 2013 @ 01:15 pm PDT

Further to David Anderton's comment about an Android app......it is nothing short of crazy that this company would have chosen to launch first with an app for iOS and nothing for Android! The world knows that Android devices out-number iOS by some 5-to-1 and the gap is widening all the time !

professore
12th April, 2013 @ 02:30 pm PDT

Angus MacKenzie, it's worse, I have no need for one but I want one.

Tom Swift
12th April, 2013 @ 04:53 pm PDT

Uh, how long does it stay up?

DonGateley
12th April, 2013 @ 05:46 pm PDT

This is really neat stuff......................

BUT

I'm sure it will come as a shock to most of you, but there are some people out there who have neither an iDevice or an android device. How about an app for the camera that will run on my Windows 7 laptop?

Also, what is the price of the Phantom with the fancy 2 axis mount and including the GoPro camera?

biscuitcutter
12th April, 2013 @ 06:00 pm PDT

It's pretty common to release on iOS first, and follow up with Android. Yes, there are more Android devices, it's generally easier to develop for iOS because of fragmentation on Android. I other words, it's relatively easy to write an app that UBS on iPhones, IPods and iPads, buts its alittle more difficult to write one that runs on the thousands of different Android devices our there. This is a bit of an over simplification. As far as other devices, who knows? It will depend on if the company decides its worth it to invest in software to run on other platforms. If you buy outside the mainstream, you can't expect the same level of support.

Brian Lang
27th May, 2013 @ 11:49 am PDT

@ Devin Clarke - I heard on a TV review that when the copter loses it's link with the controller it returns to the place it started flying from thanks to it's built-in GPS system... amazing!! (Also mentioned in Ben's review of the 'copter; link in 2nd paragraph of this article.)

agulesin
9th July, 2013 @ 01:44 am PDT

It would be nice if they also supported Android devices...

dandrews1138
16th July, 2013 @ 12:08 pm PDT

If the Phantom loses connectivity to the transmitter for whatever reason (out of range, transmitter failure), the Phantom climbs to 60 feet and returns directly over the launch coordinates and lands itself. Sweet.

The Phantom can also be connected to your PC computer via USB, and the firmware tweaked and updated.

The thing is a blast to fly, and takeoff from your driveway. Totally stable in the wind... the GPS will keep it stable, even in a 30mph+ wind...wild to see it tilted into the wind to compensate.

Doc Rings -- Phantom owner

Matt Rings
5th August, 2013 @ 10:48 am PDT

Some people who bought the newest model noticed that if it flies out of range, it won't come back even with the 'go home' function.

And can you give us more information about the Zenmuse mount?

Facebook User
18th August, 2013 @ 08:52 pm PDT

DJI announced that they will be releasing the DJI Phantom II along with the Vision this November. No specs yet and its cheaper to buy the DJI Phantom now

http://bestquadcopter.com/dji-phantom-ii/

rhcp_me
4th October, 2013 @ 09:12 am PDT

@dandrews1138

DJI actually does support android devices for the first person view. You can check out more information on the vision and download the free FPV app for your android device below:

http://bestquadcopterkits.com/dji-phantom-2-vision/

Tony Lee
18th March, 2014 @ 02:45 pm PDT

I've come across many Quadcopter models in my life, but most of those were unable to Mount GoPro Camera. Fortunately, Dji Phantom family products comes with GoPro Mount Facility. It's really good because Now I can mount even the latest (Hero 4+ Black Edition GoPro Camera).

I opted to go with buying a Dji Phantom Drone because it is less expensive compared to it's Big Brother "Dji Phantom Vision 2+" Quadcopter. This review looks very promising and informative. I will be adding some personal reviews of Quadcopters I've bought in the past.

http://www.bestquadcoptersreviews.com/best-quadcopter-for-gopro-camera/

John Mason
4th September, 2014 @ 08:31 am PDT

This is a pretty old article, but I just wanted to add that the DJI has released an update to their Zenmuse gimbal. It's now a 3-axis brushless motor vs the 2-axis one in this article. I'd definitely recommend it above the Vision , because you can use a new Hero 4 camera, which is a much better quality. In addition the Vision is still just 2-axis.

David Wang
19th October, 2014 @ 12:05 pm PDT
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