Autel Robotics EVO II Pro Review

AUTEL ROBOTICS EVO II PRO SPECS

Dimensions4.5 by 4. Three by 9. zero inches
Weight2.6 lb
Rotors4
Impediment DetectionSure
Built-in DigicamBuilt-in with Gimbal
Video Decision6K
Megapixels20 MP
Media FormatInside, microSDXC
DistantDevoted with LCD
Dwell Video FeedSure

The majority of consumer drones are controlled using a smartphone app, which means you must connect your handset in order to see through the camera and take images. With the EVO II Pro ($1,795), Autel Robotics takes a different approach, embedding a color display inside the controller itself, allowing you to fly, frame images, and shoot video without the need for an additional device to do so. Overall, it is a powerful performer, but you will pay more for the pleasure of controlling the quadcopter without using your phone, and you will discover that many of the camera features still require the use of an application. With a price of $999.99, the DJI Air 2S, a smaller drone with a similar camera, is a better option for most people.

Excessive Visibility

The EVO II Pro is a little on the hefty side for a little drone, measuring 4.5 by 4.3 by 9.0 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.6 pounds when it takes off. It’s also quite visible, thanks to its brilliant orange finish. As far as I can recall, Autel has been using this color palette from the beginning of time. Due to the bright orange color, it stands out against blue skies and green fields, making it a little easier to identify than drones with duller coatings.

Pilots flying in the United States will be required to register with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to utilize the EVO II Pro. There are plenty of details on the FAA Drone Zone website, but a $5 cost covers most people for three years. If you plan to fly for a living, you’ll need to complete a certification course. If you’re unfamiliar with drones, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the fundamental rules and regulations.

Obstacle sensors are installed throughout the airframe, and at standard speed, they will prevent the aircraft from colliding with anything, allowing you to concentrate on your camera work. The EVO II’s flight battery is also quite large, and it contributes to the aircraft’s best-in-class 40-minute flight time rating. Real-world battery life, on the other hand, varies. The DJI Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S performed slightly better in my testing, but not significantly so. I was able to get closer to 32 minutes in total.

The way you fly the EVO has an impact on the outcome. Hovering in position consumes more energy than flying forward; the battery is only capable of hovering for around 35 minutes. The battery also depletes more quickly when you switch to the high-speed flight option, known as Ludicrous speed. Whether this is a nod to the Spaceballs film or to the Fast and Furious franchise is unclear, but it is a noteworthy aspect of the film anyway.

In conventional flying mode, the EVO II has a top speed of 22mph and has all-around obstacle detection to keep you safe. Work at lower elevations, where trees or other barriers may present a problem, is made much easier using this tool. The Ludicrous option is useful when you’re flying higher than the trees and want to give your movie a greater sensation of movement.

Autel includes 8GB of storage in the drone itself, which can be accessed via a micro USB connector for connecting to a computer and offloading data. Because 6K film takes up a limited amount of space, a memory card is almost a must-have accessory. Because microSD cards are so inexpensive, it’s not a big concern; you can get a fast 64GB card for for $20, which isn’t bad at all.

The EVO’s stability is accomplished by the usage of GPS. Because of its precise satellite placement and a plethora of sensors, it maintains a stable position without experiencing any noticeable drift. In conjunction with a phone app, you’ll be able to see where the drone is in relation to a globe map; however, this is not something you get when using the provided remote control on its own. Though the EVO II does not recall its takeoff location, it does offer an automated return to the starting place.

Despite the fact that the drone allows you to set restrictions on how far away it may fly, there is no enforced geofence around airports and other prohibited flight zones. As a result, it is your responsibility to determine whether or not you are permitted to depart from your current place. If you have any questions, you can use the B4UFLY app from the Federal Aviation Administration.

There is some additional appeal for professional pilots who are aware of where they are permitted to fly and where they are not permitted to fly. No-fly and restricted flying zones are automatically enforced by DJI drones, requiring trained pilots to go through an unlocking process before taking to the skies. As long as you already have permission, there is no need to go through the extra step with the EVO II.

Distant Management

Autel Robotics EVO II Pro Review
Amazon

The EVO II comes equipped with a remote control that is similar in design to the first-generation device. It distinguishes itself from other models by integrating a full-color display, which allows you to see the view from the camera without needing to connect your smartphone to the device first.

It’s equipped with all of the standard drone controls. Left stick controls altitude and yaw, while right stick controls movement in space, including right, left, forward, and backward. Flying a drone is quite similar to playing a flight-based video game if you’ve never done it before; check out our beginner’s guide for more information on how to get started.

There are buttons on the front of the drone that allow you to take off and land, pause while in the air, return the drone to its takeoff location, and turn on and off the remote control. Dual antennae are located at the top of the device, together with control wheels for camera tilt and EV adjustment, as well as buttons for taking images and switching on video recording. In case you wish to use your phone, a phone clip is supplied; however, if you don’t want to connect to the smartphone app, the clip can be removed using a flathead screwdriver.

There are several limits to operating without the use of an app. For starters, the remote’s screen does not enable touch control, so you’ll have to navigate through menus and modify exposure settings by using a control dial and button combo. The remote control allows you to alter the video resolution and frame rate, but it does not allow you to change the profile settings or switch between standard and log recording.

Also absent from the experience is the ability to view where the drone is located on a world map, as well as any of the automated flight modes that are available through the EVO II’s phone app. By utilizing the app, it is capable of performing orbits as well as identifying and monitoring subjects using a variety of tracking paths.

Even if you don’t take advantage of these additional capabilities, there’s no denying that a phone’s touch interface makes navigating through the app much more convenient and intuitive. The camera settings can be changed by just tapping on them, and the menus can also be accessed through the touch screen. Additionally, you get access to all of the camera’s features, not just the basic ones, through the app.

The Autel Explorer app is available as a free download for both Android and iOS mobile platforms. When you plug your phone into the remote, it has a USB-A port, and the remote comes with cables for phones with micro USB and USB-C ports. If you have an iPhone, you’ll need to provide your own Lightning cable, which is not included in the package. It’s also worth noting that the controller does not charge your smartphone. My iPhone 8 Plus’s battery life reduced by 30% on a lengthier flight, but it’s still not up to par with what it was before the flight began.

Even though the remote’s battery is sufficient for longer flights, it is recommended that it be recharged before each trip. While the micro USB port on the bottom is less than ideal (we would have preferred a more current USB-C interface), the device comes with a charging cable in case you don’t already have one. We’d also like the remote to be a little quieter, as the cooling fan on it is quite audible at times. Despite this, it does not operate all of the time; rather, it is activated whenever the remote is powered on.

There are a couple of peculiarities in the interface to be aware of. Switching between different resolutions has the tendency to reset the frame rate to its default setting, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the proper option locked in for your video before you start shooting. Aside from that, I encountered difficulties when trying to upgrade the drone firmware via the remote and phone app, as the process remained stuck at 99 percent throughout the procedure. By loading the new firmware onto a microSD card instead than a USB flash drive, the firmware update ran more smoothly.

1-Inch Sensor Digicam

It is the camera on the EVO II Pro that distinguishes it from the first-generation EVO and the normal EVO II models. A 1-inch-class chip, similar to the one used in Sony’s premium RX100 series cameras, is used here instead of a conventional smartphone-sized sensor, which is what you’d find in the vast majority of consumer drones. It has the same flying gear as the normal EVO II ($1,495), but it has a 48MP Quad Bayer camera with 8K capability, which is achieved by using a smaller image sensor to achieve this.

In terms of surface area, the sensor design is almost four times larger than that of normal drone cameras. It results in increased detail, a wider dynamic range, and improved image quality while shooting at higher ISO settings. Although the camera on the EVO II Pro has fewer pixels than the 48MP/8K camera on the basic EVO II, the camera on the EVO II Pro is the Pro portion.

When it comes to photography, the 20MP resolution and F2.8 lens yield pictures that are rich in detail. If you choose, you can work in JPG mode, which reduces the appearance of barrel distortion and chromatic aberration while limiting your capacity to modify your images. Digital zoom is available for JPG capture as well, but it’s no different from cropping a photo later on—always it’s preferable to move closer to a subject if it’s safe to do so in order to acquire a better shot.

The DNG option saves photographs in a Raw format, which allows you to make adjustments to colors, shadows, and other aspects of the image. I worked with images in Adobe Lightroom Classic and had a lot of freedom when it came to adjusting them to my liking. There is some barrel distortion and color fringing visible in this image, but these can be corrected with any quality Raw processing software.

The lens has a mechanical aperture, which is the same as what you get with the high-end DJI Mavic 2 Pro camera. It enables photographers to narrow the f-stop range in order to capture shots with clear multi-point sunstars, a look that can be achieved at apertures ranging from f/8 to f/11. However, there is a noticeable loss of clarity when stopping down so far, so it’s best to have the lens set at f/5.6 or wider for the majority of circumstances.

Autel Robotics EVO II Pro Review
Amazon

It is also possible to use the variable aperture for video recording. For 24fps and 30fps footage, you’ll want to make the aperture a little narrower in order to acquire the necessary shutter rates, which are normally 1/48-second and 1/60-second, respectively. The use of neutral-density filters is still useful on sunny days; but, for the best-looking video, it’s recommended to keep the aperture at f/5.6 or wider, exactly as with photographs.

In terms of resolution, the camera can capture footage at up to 30 frames per second in 6K, 4K at up to 60 frames per second in 4K, and 2.7K or 1080p at up to 120 frames per second in 1080p. Off-speed choices are available in the modes that enable them, and cinematic (24fps), PAL (25fps), and NTSC (30fps) frame rates are all supported. The frame rate of 48 frames per second (fps) is critical for cinematic productions that wish to apply a half-speed slow-motion effect, for example.

Video profiles can be customized, which is a positive development. The default video profile has an unsightly, oversharpened appearance. It’s most noticeable in aerials with grass and trees, when the sharpness gives the impression that everything is simply plain noisy. Making a -2 or -3 adjustment to the sharpening improves the overall appearance.

The default color profile is attractive to the eye and ready to be shared with others. You can also choose to shoot in black and white or with a retro filter to create a nostalgic vibe. The Log profile, which has a low-contrast, flat appearance that’s appropriate for color grading, will be preferred by more experienced users. Log files are produced at the full 6K resolution, however 10 bit files are produced at 4K30 and lower resolutions, allowing for more pliable editing.

By design, the Log footage has a low level of contrast. When it comes to editing, Autel supplies an official LUT, which we used to grade our sample footage. There is no ability to monitor while a LUT is being applied in the app, which is a function that is available on some professional video cameras. We’re not surprised that the feature has been removed, but it’s a shame because the low-contrast video can be difficult to see on bright days, which is a shame.

In order to capture slow-motion video at any frame rate, you’ll need to use 8-bit video and a cropped angle of view. However, for a drone camera, this is generally advantageous because it creates a little more distance between the quadcopter and the subject.

In-camera HDR is also accessible at resolutions lower than 4K30. You can utilize it if you’re working in scenarios with dramatic lighting, such as sunsets and sunrises, or if you’re editing video. The HDR effect reveals more shadow detail and is ready to be shared without the need for color correction. Because the footage is saved in the conventional color space, it isn’t as difficult to edit as the HDR HLG footage captured by the Air 2S, which is admittedly of superior quality.

A Different to DJI

It’s no secret that DJI drones have dominated the consumer market for quite some time. Others have attempted to compete in the field, but have either backed out (GoPro) or chosen to focus on goods for the industrial market instead (Sony) (Yuneec).

The EVO II Pro is a serious competitor to DJI’s folding Mavic drones, which are also available. This drone’s camera is on par with that found in the Mavic 2 Pro and Air 2S, and we appreciate the 360-degree object recognition system as well as the other basic safety measures included. These are options for professionals who are upset with DJI’s unlocking process for flights in otherwise-restricted locations, but they shouldn’t be construed as a technique to circumvent the rules of the game.

Although the idea of a phone-free flight may be appealing to some, you will not have access to all of the camera features until you download the Explorer app, and autonomous flight is not an option. We do, however, wish that the software had been a little more polished.

When it comes to alternatives, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the most comparable model on the market in terms of pricing and features, according to the manufacturer. Our evaluation of the game when it first came out three years ago was overwhelmingly positive. Despite the fact that it is no longer a market leader, there can be no doubt about the quality of its Hasselblad camera, even though its video is only available in 4K.

The DJI Air 2S is available for purchase for approximately $1,000. Because it lacks aperture control, you won’t be able to capture sunstars, and you’ll have to resort to neutral-density filters to reduce incoming light. However, there is no disputing the pricing, as it provides 10-bit video at full quality, as well as a plethora of additional types of automatic shots. It’s still a DJI drone, though, and it comes with all of the usual bells and whistles. The EVO II Pro is a wonderful choice for pilots who desire a little more independence in their flying.

PROS
  • 6K video and 20MP raw images are available
  • Camera with a 1-inch sensor
  • There are a variety of color profiles available, including Log 10-bit HDR at up to 4K resolution
  • Image compatibility for both raw and JPG formats
  • Flights of more than 30 minutes require a large battery
  • Obstacle sensors and automated flight paths are being developed
CONS
  • There is an excessive sharpening in the default video profile
  • Many tasks are still dependent on a smartphone application
  • At 6K resolution, 10-bit Log video is not accessible
  • There is no iPhone cable provided

THE VERDICT IN THE END

To fly the Autel EVO II Pro, you don’t need to use a smartphone; it has a reliable 6K camera and a remote with a built-in display, so you don’t have to worry about losing your phone when you fold it up.


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