Drones

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

DJI announces stabilized HERO ...
The Phantom Vision comes with its own 1080p app-controlled video camera
The Phantom Vision comes with its own 1080p app-controlled video camera
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DJI's camera-control app runs on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
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DJI's camera-control app runs on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
A closer look at DJI's camera-control app
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A closer look at DJI's camera-control app
DJI also unveiled its Phantom propeller guards
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DJI also unveiled its Phantom propeller guards
The Phantom Vision comes with its own 1080p app-controlled video camera
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The Phantom Vision comes with its own 1080p app-controlled video camera
The Zenmuse HERO gimbal mount
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The Zenmuse HERO gimbal mount

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 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
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

18 comments
yinfu99
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.
Quad copterHQ
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/
Angus MacKenzie
Im afraid I need to have this.
David Anderton
Get an Android app version and I'm keen
Devin Clarke
This looks amazing!! I really hope it doesn't "fly away". just saying... it could happen to anybody.
professore
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 !
Tom Swift
Angus MacKenzie, it's worse, I have no need for one but I want one.
DonGateley
Uh, how long does it stay up?
biscuitcutter
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?
Brian Lang
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.