The founder of DJI has said he admires Apple computers and Steve Jobs. Before I even read about his public admiration of the Apple founder, it became pretty obvious when I purchased my first Phantom 2. The packaging reminded me of all the beautiful and well built boxes I always got when purchasing Apple stuff. When I opened it up and set it all up, I was truly impressed with this new version. This was not just the same thing in a different package as I had initially suspected - this thing was truly an evolution of the initial DJI Phantom (You can read all about my first impressions here). Fast forward a year and we see even more improvements but more choices and these choices are leading to confusion in first time drone buyers and experienced users alike. The goal of this post is to help you make a decision about which drone to buy based on what you want to accomplish.
I have gotten so many emails from people wondering which version of the Phantom they should get. There really are 4 options and I will do my best to walk you through the pros and cons of each setup as they all have different uses and capabilities. If you have found this guide useful, please consider making your purchase through DroneFly.com, Amazon.com, or the DJI Store.
DJI Phantom 2
The stock Phantom 2 is the cheapest way to get a quality consumer drone in the air with a camera. It does not come with a camera so you must supply your own. This is the perfect rig for someone who has developed decent RC quadcopter skills and wants to get a camera in the air to start taking pictures.
DJI Phantom 2 Vision
I have never owned a Phantom Vision but it offers a lot of out of the box functionality for taking aerial pictures. This is the best option if you want a simple, out of the box platform for aerial pictures and a ground station.
DJI Phantom Vision 2+
The Phantom V2+ is the most advanced, out of the box consumer drone you can currently buy. If you want the easiest setup for aerial pictures and videos and you do not want to use a GoPro this is your choice.
DJI Phantom 2 with 3 axis Zenmuse
This is my preferred rig because I love flying GoPro cameras. The zenmuse gimbal version of the Phantom 2 is probably the least ready to fly consumer drone on this list. You have to install the included gimbal, install an FPV transmitter, and install the iOSD if you want telemetry. However, the work necessary is well worth it in my opinion - I love my Phantom 2 and all of my favorite videos have been shot with this aerial platform.