The last few months have been very exciting in the quadcopter market as industry heavyweights including DJI and Parrot have each introduced new product lines offering professional-grade features for a fraction of the cost associated with these same features a mere six months ago.
Enhanced GPS functionality, improved firmware, and better cameras are just a few of the improvements pilots can expect from the latest generation of
That said, the Phantom 2 Vision+ (P2V+) costs twice as much as Parrot’s newest addition and although there are some significant differences between the two models, which drone offers the best value per dollar?
This article compares features of both drones to establish whether or not the price difference is justified – whether you’re a seasoned drone pilot looking for a new toy or this purchase represents your first experience in this fun an exciting hobby.
Parrot Bebop Overview
The Parrot Bebop is affordable, yet feature-packed despite being in the same price range as many of the “toy” drones sold at retailers around the country.
Parrot improved the Bebop over its predecessor, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 (full review here!), by installing a better camera and adding a GNSS chipset to bring a whole new set of features to this entry-level quadcopter.
The new camera sports an f2.2 fish-eye lens, 180-degree field of view, and a 14 MP sensor capable of recording 1080p video at 30 fps. Still shots can be saved in RAW or JPEG format and all footage is saved to the 8GB internal storage.
Unfortunately, no SD card slot is available on the Bebop to increase storage capacity. Image stabilization is handled by a digital algorithm rather than a gimbal. While this does affect video quality to an extent, it allows the Bebop to weigh and cost much less than the P2V+.
The GNSS chipset provides built-in GPS, Glonass, and Galileo technology. This allows the Bebop to hover in place without pilot input and also allows the aircraft to return to its takeoff location automatically.
When flying the Bebop indoors (or in other areas where a GPS lock isn’t possible), a vertical camera, combined with ultrasonic and pressure sensors, prevent the Bebop from drifting while hovering.
Weighing in at a mere 14.5 ounces, the Bebop is very lightweight. This means it is very nimble in the air. The downside to its lightweight design, however, is that the battery isn’t very big.
As a result, flight times are limited to 11 minutes (high winds and full throttle flying will significantly shorten the flight time).
Despite its small size, the Bebop can fly in winds up to about 30 MPH and boasts a top speed of close to 45 MPH – great for taking shots of fast-moving vehicles from above.
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Overview
The Vision+ is equipped with a powerful camera capable of shooting 1080p video at 30fps (or 720p at 60fps) using an f2.8 lens coupled to a 14 MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. Image can be stored in DNG RAW or JPEG formats.
It’s worth noting that while the camera looks different than the one installed on the original Phantom 2 Vision, the specs are about the same.
The primary difference is that the Vision+ boasts the same 3-axis gimbal found on the professional-grade DJI Inspire 1. Even with sudden movements, the gimbal actively stabilized the camera so video always looks smooth.
Much like its predecessor, the Phantom 2 Vision, the Vision+ offers many high-end features designed to make getting into the air as easy possible regardless of skill and experience level.
Some of these features include color-coded propellers that are self-tightening and a slot-loading battery pack (no connectors to mess with), and the quadcopter boasts flight times of nearly 25 minutes (one of the longest flight times of any modern flying camera).
With everything setup properly, the Phantom is ready for liftoff. Although this model doesn’t offer automatic takeoff and landing functionality like other models in this price range, the Naza flight control system will regulate the throttle for the first few seconds after takeoff.
Although the heavier gimbal and camera setup sometimes make the Phantom want to drop a few feet from time to time, Naza-M will recover on its own within a few seconds of hovering and the remainder of the flight should be trouble-free.
The P2V+ weighs in at nearly three pounds, making it one of the heavier quadcopters on the market. This added weight makes the craft extremely stable in adverse flying conditions.
The downside is that emergency landings can really take a toll on the aircraft’s chassis and components – something that doesn’t happen as often with the much lighter and foam-padded Bebop.
Head-to-Head – Phantom 2 Vision+ vs Parrot Bebop
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+
- All-in-one design makes it easy to setup and use right out of the box (no prior experience necessary)
- RAW photo support (14 MP)
- Live smartphone/tablet video feed
- Complete control of camera in-flight using DJI Vision+ app (iOS and Android version available)
- Incredibly long flight times (up to 25 minutes)
- Camera cannot be upgraded
- No microphone for in-flight audio support
- Wireless range extender needs to be charged separately from the control unit
- Transmitter range rather limited in this price range (800 meters)
- Inexpensive compared to comparable products
- RTF out-of-the-box (no setup required other than charging the batteries)
- Fast and nimble in the air
- Durable and crash-resistant
- Color options
- Limited range when using the FreeFlight app (SkyController fixes this but significantly increases the cost of the quadcopter)
- Short flight times
- Noticeable lag outside of 70 meters when using smartphone or tablet for control
- Lack of independent camera controls during flight
- Light weight makes it difficult to fly in windy conditions
The Final Whirl
At over twice the price, there is no question that the P2V+ offers more features in the way of a more capable camera, longer flight times, and a three-axis gimbal system guaranteed to keep shaky video footage at bay throughout recording.
Adding the optional SkyController to the Parrot Bebop increases the range of the drone and provides more ergonomic camera control, but the addition of this accessory adds so much to the final price of the setup that for only a few hundred dollars more, a pilot can upgrade to a professional-grade setup such as the DJI Phantom 2 Vison+.
Which model is ultimately purchased comes down to how much money an enthusiast wants to invest in flying camera technology as well as what options and features are important to a particular pilot.
If flight time isn’t much of a concern and you can deal with a slightly inferior camera, go for the Parrot Bebop as it is a fully-capable machine with a lot of high-quality features at a price point that cannot be matched by anything comparable in DJI’s lineup.
On the other hand, if longer range and flight times, as well as a fully-functioning gimbal, are priorities, most pilots will find that the Bebop simply doesn’t meet their needs.
Spend the extra money to step into the DJI Phantom series as the additional features will have even professional aerial photographer drooling.
As a side note, DJI also offers the Phantom 2 without a camera for a price comparable to that of the Bebop. This is perfect for a pilot who already has a GoPro or other suitable camera that can be attached to the Zenmuse 3-axis gimbal system.
Whichever option you choose, rest assured that you are investing in a quality product that will provide years of reliable service with only minor maintenance. That is, of course, until the next iteration of quadcopters is released and you simply can’t resist upgrading to the latest flying camera technology.
Further read, DJI Phantom 3 review here!