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Autel EVO II Pro - User Experience from a DJI User

I keep mine within 5k feet which is pushing the VLOS. Never a problem. I do make it a point to be facing the drone for the best signal.

I have been considering one of the 4Hawks options just to make sure interference isn't an issue but still on the fence.
 
I keep mine within 5k feet which is pushing the VLOS. Never a problem. I do make it a point to be facing the drone for the best signal.

I have been considering one of the 4Hawks options just to make sure interference isn't an issue but still on the fence.

One thing that I always take into consideration with drones is that their average lifespan is only 3yrs. After that, batteries and other parts get harder to find, so I typically sell the drone that I have once a newer model comes out.

With that in mind, I buy nothing beyond the minimum that I need to use the drone and don't make any mods since it is harder to resell with mods and with depreciation, any parts that you buy are pretty much worthless when you try to sell it.
 
Thanks for all the research. I am a long time video editor but new to drones. After a good deal of looking, my first buy decision came to Evo II pro. I have a lot training to do on it and your info is very helpful. Thanks again
 
One thing that I always take into consideration with drones is that their average lifespan is only 3yrs. After that, batteries and other parts get harder to find, so I typically sell the drone that I have once a newer model comes out.

With that in mind, I buy nothing beyond the minimum that I need to use the drone and don't make any mods since it is harder to resell with mods and with depreciation, any parts that you buy are pretty much worthless when you try to sell it.
I've heard you say that before. I would like to keep these two E2P drones I have in service for at least 4 maybe 5 years but we shall see. It's a good platform so it may stay active for longer by Autel. Time will tell or is that "autel"? :)
 
Thanks for all the research. I am a long time video editor but new to drones. After a good deal of looking, my first buy decision came to Evo II pro. I have a lot training to do on it and your info is very helpful. Thanks again

You will love the LOG profile out of the EVO II 6K, very easy to expose, color grade, and camera match. Since it does not have a WFM, I use the histogram like a WFM and have found that works pretty well for exposing the LOG profile. I always shoot at -2 sharpness and -1 contrast to make it even flatter and easier to camera match in post and I expose the histogram slightly ETTR but only by maybe 0.5 stops.

In post, I then use a Rec709 WFM to conform the footage to Rec709 and it only takes a few seconds to color grade. I have been able to color match the footage to VLOG and CLOG3 with no problem.
 
I have a new addition to the list which is field of view (FOV). I have a couple of customers that I shoot progression construction photography for on a regular basis and I decided to use the EVO II 6K for the next round of images that I need to shoot for the clients. I knew on paper that the EVO II 6K has a narrower FOV than the DJI P4 but it was more apparent after shooting the same sites that I had shot with the P4 Pro.

On paper the EVO II 6K has a 82° FOV vs the DJI P4 Pro which has a 94° FOV. In most scenarios this won't be noticeable and there are pros and cons to a narrower FOV:

Narrower FOV Pros

  • Objects Appear Closer - This is a pro because you can fly farther away from the subject material while still having the appearance of being closer than a drone with a wider FOV. This is good for safety reasons especially if you are filming people or objects that could pose a hazard to the drone.
  • Less Barrel Distortion - Typically longer lenses (narrower FOV) have less barrel distortion; so a narrower FOV could result in higher edge to edge image quality. This is also important when stitching panoramas, a narrower FOV combined with less barrel distortion will make stitching the overlapping images easier and will result in a higher quality final result
  • More Apparent Motion - This is an effect of the "Objects Appear Closer" benefit. Since objects appear closer, motion and the appearance of motion is enhanced vs. a wider FOV when shooting video. On a Cinema Camera a 50mm lens with a narrower FOV will increase the feeling of motion vs a 16mm lens on the same camera. The motion itself didn't change of course, but the appearance of it did since the FOV is more zoomed in.
Narrower FOV Cons

  • Narrower FOV - This one should be obvious but its the biggest con that I see. When you are shooting landscapes you want the widest FOV possible that you can achieve without distortion. Drones are frequently used to shoot panoramic landscapes from the air. A narrower FOV will make that harder with the only fix being to get farther away from the subject material.
  • 360 Panoramas - With a narrower FOV you may need to take more images to achieve a full 360 panorama vs a wider FOV. This is undesirable when shooting drone panoramas because every second that it takes you to take all of the required images; the more likelihood there is that the drone will drift and make stitching much harder
  • Objects Appear Closer - This could also be a con. If you are in a location where you simply cannot back the drone any farther away from the subject material (such as indoors or outdoors with buildings or obstructions behind the drone) then you cannot create the same compositions that you could with a wider FOV and may not be able to capture the scene the way you intended.
  • Camera Matching - As I discovered, if you use two different drones to shoot the same project the difference in FOV could make matching them harder in post.
 
Back to range....I tried the various 4 hawks products and was not impressed. What continues to do the trick for me is this thing:


It doesn't really fit over the antennae in a way that allows it to not be held in place, but it works.

As a TEST, I got over 8k of range out of it in a city environment at 400 ft of height. Out over the water btw to minimize risk.
 
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Nice concept and design however both the EVO with it's numerous problems and now the controller that everyone has been waiting for, both fall short for professional operation and design.

Fly Safe - Mike
 
<SNIP>
I'm tired of the geofencing and all the NANNY CONTROLS. I've lost interest in DJI and will only buy AUTEL. AUTEL is my FREEDOM DRONE, DJI is my NANNY DRONE.

I completely agree with this... could never stand her voice... you can even hear that whine in her props... :(
 
Back to range....I tried the various 4 hawks products and was not impressed. What continues to do the trick for me is this thing:


It doesn't really fit over the antennae in a way that allows it to not be held in place, but it works.

As a TEST, I got over 8k of range out of it in a city environment at 400 ft of height. Out over the water btw to minimize risk.

I have found the range to be adequate for my needs, In the city it's approximately 200-300' longer than the DJI P4, in perfect conditions (over open ocean, 100' AGL, no wind) I have found the battery is the only limitation. In that scenario the EVO II 6K with stock controller and antennas can fly 10 miles roundtrip and land with about 10% battery remaining.

Nice concept and design however both the EVO with it's numerous problems and now the controller that everyone has been waiting for, both fall short for professional operation and design.

Fly Safe - Mike

I agree it is not ideal but I can say first hand that it can be used for professional use. My definition of professional use is any use that produces content that a client is willing to pay for and the EVO II 6K can definitely do that. It has already paid for itself many times over for me.
 
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Just thought of a new feature request as I slowly adapt to social media this one crossed my mind as I setup my regular equipment for an upcoming shoot:

Aspect Ratio Overlay Guides - I shoot a lot of video content and for social media I need an aspect ratio of 4:5 to fit properly on Instagram and Facebook. It would be great if it was possible to add different aspect ratio guides to the video display so that I could compose the scene for both Instagram/ Facebook and YouTube/Vimeo. My regular video camera has this and it is great to be able to see right on screen what would be in the scene on Instagram and other social media platforms.
 
Nice concept and design however both the EVO with it's numerous problems and now the controller that everyone has been waiting for, both fall short for professional operation and design.

Fly Safe - Mike
Well, speaking of problems, My first 2 EVO2s failed. Both, due to the battery connector pins fusing with the drone connection pins. I took a chance and got a 3rd one. It has worked flawlessly for 1 year now. So I bought another, it also has worked flawlessly. The battery life is incredible. I use an amplified aftermarket antenna which gives me better control and less interference. As far as the Smart Controllers go, . The EVO2 V1s will be issued V1 Smart controllers. The EVO2 V2s will be issued V2 smart controllers. The V2 and V1 EVO2s are exactly the same except for the chip. The only reason there is a V2 chip pair, is that the V1 chips wouldn't be available for much longer, so Autel had to make a decision to start buying chips from a new manufacturer. The problem I see though, is Autel says that the SCs may be used for future products. But if the future products only have V2 chips then the V1 SC owners will not be able to pair it with the new products in the future. So If I own a V1 Autel EVO2 which I do, I won't by a V1 smart ontroller as I doubt it will be compatible with future products. I'll wait and see if the SC is even worth it. A recreational flyer really doesn't need an SC. But professionals might. If a V1 smart controller will not be compatible with future products, I definitely wouldn't buy it. I'd wait to see what new products autel produces and then decide on what SC to get, if I get one at all.
 
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I felt like in all fairness I should update one of the items in my comparison now that I have new data - the cigarette lighter car adapter does in fact work with the Yeti Goal Zero 400 as long as the Goal Zero's battery is relatively new or in good shape. My Goal Zero is about 8yrs old and it got to the point to where the battery would not charge. After replacing the battery I decided to try the EVO II car charger again. This time it charged 4 batteries from around 50% discharged with no problem and still had over 80% battery capacity remaining.

I still think Autel should provide a switch on the car charger that lets you switch off the undercurrent circuitry; even when the Goal Zero battery was going bad it still had enough capacity to charge two flight batteries using the wall charger.
 
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Back to range....I tried the various 4 hawks products and was not impressed. What continues to do the trick for me is this thing:


It doesn't really fit over the antennae in a way that allows it to not be held in place, but it works.

As a TEST, I got over 8k of range out of it in a city environment at 400 ft of height. Out over the water btw to minimize risk.

are you still using the parabolic boosters? i'm looking to extend range on my EVO I which has the same controller. are the boosters still working out for you?
 
I love that it's orange and not boring grey or white.....

I will admit, the orange has grown on me, but I would still prefer that it was grey for lower visibility when in the air. The color is the only thing that keeps this from being one of the stealthiest prosumer drones money can buy at the moment. I already have the quieter props which makes it much harder to hear, but IMO it is way too easy to spot against the blue sky.

Just the other day I was shooting a project in a "sensitive" area where it was legal to fly but people on the ground felt otherwise and the only way they even knew the drone was there was due to its bright orange color. If it weren't for people's perception of drones the color would not be a problem to me.
 
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I have a new con to add to the Autel EVO II Pro list.....wildly inaccurate GPS metadata information in the photos. This one hit me today, I shot a job months ago and the customer wants the exact same camera parameters for the next job so I figured I could just look in the EXIF data to determine the Altitude. Below is what the EXIF data shows, needless to say it is not even close.

The image that this metadata is stored in was shot around 150'-180' AGL, I checked multiple images from the same shoot that were shot at the same altitude and they all say something different. Some say 8m ASL which is also not possible, and some say below sea level.

Exif-Data-Inaccurate.JPG
 
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I have a new con to add to the Autel EVO II Pro list.....wildly inaccurate GPS metadata information in the photos. This one hit me today, I shot a job months ago and the customer wants the exact same camera parameters for the next job so I figured I could just look in the EXIF data to determine the Altitude. Below is what the EXIF data shows, needless to say it is not even close.

The image that this metadata is stored in was shot around 150'-180' AGL, I checked multiple images from the same shoot that were shot at the same altitude and they all say something different. Some say 8m ASL which is also not possible, and some say below sea level.

View attachment 12975
Try to record a video and check the "subtitles" *.as* file...It would be interesting to see if this is only on photos Exif...
Will have a look myself when I get at studio...
 
I decided to share my own personal user experience and initial observations of the Autel EVO II Pro 6K after having flown it for the first time. During the first flight I went through all 3 batteries and mainly focused on the camera features, the app, and how the drone itself flies. I also put it through a range of different tests that I have developed over the years of owning DJI drones. My sole use of drones is for commercial work; everything from promo videos to real estate to music videos, large events and more. So the tests that I put my drones through is in preparation to use them in many different situations where the success of the project depends on the drone being reliable and delivering on the client's image quality expectations.

Background

I have flown or owned every DJI model since 2014 and never even considered another maker until DJI's geofencing kicked in mid flight 2wks ago and force landed my Mavic Pro into the ocean. So some of this review will be comparing the EVO II to the DJI Mavic Pro or the P4 since the P4 also has a 1" sensor. I'll keep this post updated as I find new good and bad things.

The Bad

I have decided to start with the bad since it is a shorter list than the good.

  • Tablet Holder - This problem hit me before ever even taking off. There are no good tablet holder options. One option doesn't fold at all so it doesn't fit in any of the current rugged cases and the other option does not hold an iPad mini which I found out the hard way. I ended up with the GPC tablet holder but had to make some serious modifications to hold my iPad mini. The GPC mount also feels really flimsy where it attaches to the holder.
  • Horizon Tilt - Yes the horizon definitely tilts far more with the EVO II than it ever did with any DJI drone I have flown. It is still easy to fix with keyframes in video and rotation in Lightroom but it is literally always tilted; with DJI drones it would tilt occasionally if the drone took off from an uneven surface or there was a strong cross wind; the EVO II tilts at least 90% of the time. This one was user error, after performing an IMU, compass, and gimbal calibration the horizon is now perfect. It does tilt quite often but no more than any DJI drone I've flown.
  • The App - The app is nowhere near as good as DJI's app; the worst part about it is when you run it on a tablet it will not use the full screen so a lot of screen real estate is wasted as if they never thought people would want to use anything except their phones. Besides the scaling issue, it can be difficult to get the camera information quickly. In the DJI app you can always see things like frame rate, EV, resolution, etc. at a glance; with the Autel App you have to scroll around quite a bit to see all of your settings.
  • Obstacle Avoidance - Obstacle avoidance feels like it is way too sensitive; a few times in the middle of the air with nothing around it it kicked in and slowed the drone. Also, when flying lower to the ground it was a real pain to deal with and seems overly cautious. I know it can be turned off but it would be nice if it had a lower sensitivity setting.
  • Lens Flare - It suffers from really bad lens flare at certain angles to the sun. Of course all lenses have lens flare under certain conditions but the way the 6K camera handles it is not good. The flare was very uncomplimentary and pretty much made that particular angle in relation to the sun unusable for professional work. I never had that kind of lens flare problem with the DJI drones.
  • No One Button Ludicrous Mode - With the DJI drones I use Sport Mode all the time to return quickly after completing a project or if there is a strong headwind or cross wind I use it to improve the handling of the drone for the return flight after filming. The Autel remote does not have a dedicated button for this and you could lose valuable seconds in a strong headwind scenario having to go into the app to enable ludicrous mode.
  • Controller Battery Life - The remote's battery life so far seems worse than the Mavic's probably because of the display screen. This could still be because the batteries haven't fully broken in yet, but I noticed just updating the firmware made it drop by 20% and a single flight cost around 15% of battery life.
  • Custom Color Profiles (New Finding 31 Jan 2021) - I plan on shooting exclusively in LOG and also like to turn sharpness down to -2 and contrast down to -1, but the app does not save the settings. So now I have to remember to set the settings each time and lose battery life while doing so.
  • Remaining Battery % (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - The EVO II started force landing when the time remaining still showed 4min, if I had not been able to cancel the landing process I would have lost it in the ocean. I'm not sure yet if the time remaining is just wrong, the EVO II is overly aggressive with forced battery landings, or if it just can't properly detect the remaining percentage. I never had this problem with DJI drones and could fly them until they showed 0% remaining.
  • Car Charger (New Finding Feb 6 2021) - I bought the car charger thinking I could use that combined with my Goal Zero 400 battery pack to recharge the flight batteries at long events....well its a complete waste of money for me. It has circuitry to prevent draining your car's battery to the point to where it won't start and there is no way to turn it off. So when I tried to use it with my battery pack it would not charge the flight battery even though the battery pack was fully charged and can charge about 5 flight batteries before it dies.
  • Battery Level Indicator (New Finding 6 Feb 2021) - I know this seems minor, but it is very difficult to see the battery level indicator on the back of the batteries in direct sunlight. You have to shade the battery from the sun to see the level. With the DJI drones the light is bright enough to see even in direct sunlight.
  • Stuck Battery Remaining Indicator (New Finding 27 Feb 2021) - On a recent flight the battery level indicator in the app, on the remote, and on the battery all showed 100% even though the battery only had 40% remaining. This is the most serious bug I have seen to date. If your battery remaining time seems stuck or doesn't decrease while flying I recommend you land immediately and restart the drone.
  • Inaccurate EXIF Metadata (New Finding 25 Jan 2022) - I discovered that the EXIF data for the GPS altitude that the EVO adds to the raw images is wildly in accurate. It is bad enough that it lists the altitude based on ASL vs AGL, but it is not even close to being accurate. It showed 250m below sea level when the drone was about 150' AGL. This doesn't sound like a big deal until you need that data to verify a specific job or want to use the exact same altitude for say a recurring project, I never had that problem with DJI drones.
The Good

  • No Geofencing - Without a doubt my favorite 'feature' by far. It was a relief just knowing there was no chance geofencing could kick in during the flight and risk downing the drone.
  • Range Test - While the range was acceptable it was not exceptional. This was a little disappointing; I have taken every drone since 2014 that I have owned to the same park and performed the same tests over the years so I know for a fact that the EVO II started dropping its video signal at the exact same range as the DJI drones; and yes I pointed the controller in the direction of the drone and I had the antennas pointed down.
  • Straight Line Test - One of the tests that I do is position the drone exactly aligned with railroad tracks and see how long the drone can fly in a straight line over the railroad tracks before it drifts off course. I have the center cross hairs turned on for this test. The EVO II performed better on this test than any DJI drone I have ever tested this way. DJI drones tend to turn slowly left without constant slight correction during forward flight.
  • Orbit Test - Orbiting is one of my favorite drone movements so I always see how a drone performs during orbits. With the center cross hairs turned on I orbit clockwise and counter clockwise around an object. Once again the EVO II straight out of the box with no tuning performed flawlessly. Orbits in particular require very precise control input and the drone must adhere to the input without drifting to perform a smooth orbit which is why I like this test.
  • Camera Angle Feedback - I have wished DJI would add this feature since 2014...I even emailed it as a feature request to DJI and of course got no response. It is nice to see the camera angle shown in the app. There are plenty of times when you want to mirror a specific camera angle such as if you were filming something and had to land to change the batteries then took off again and want the footage to look like a single take; or when you are creating progression construction photography and want each visit to the site to look identical to the last visit.
  • Overall Handling - Many YouTube reviewers stated that the EVO II does not handle as well as the DJI drones; I don't feel that way at all, straight out of the box settings feel very smooth to me, the only thing I am going to do is turn down the gimbal tilt speed which is the same thing I did with the DJI drones.
  • ALOG - The EVO II's ALOG is way better than anything I have seen come out of DLOG. DJI in my opinion is overly aggressive with their LOG profile and they tend to throw away data that cannot be recovered. Autel's ALOG was a joy to color grade; it took seconds in Davinci Resolve to grade it to the Rec.709 standard.
  • Highlight Rolloff - So many people get caught up in dynamic range and low light performance; few people discuss highlight rolloff. A camera can have great low light performance and dynamic range but terrible highlight rolloff and the image will be unrecoverable when the highlights are over exposed. The EVO II 6K camera has great highlight rolloff from what I can tell so far.
  • Camera Settings Buttons - This is a nice feature that the DJI drones don't have; I was able to change all of the camera settings without having to touch the tablet screen.
  • Flight Time - Flight time was ok, it did not seem any longer than the DJI drones though; its supposed to be 40min but that must be when it is just sitting on the ground with the blades spinning because just getting it into the air and my remaining time dropped to 33min. The batteries will probably perform better after a few charging cycles but for now its nowhere near 40min. This really isn't a bad thing though, 30 useable min is still plenty to me.
  • Initial Setup - DJI's initial setup where it demands your email address and account information always irked me. I felt like they were demanding far more information than should be needed just to fly the drone. The EVO II's setup was much less invasive although it would be nice to know exactly what information is sent during the "Activation" portion of the setup but I was surprised that it did not even ask for an email address.
  • Battery Temperature Recovery Time (New Finding 31 Jan 2021) - The EVO II's batteries do not seem to make you wait until they cool down to start recharging. This was always a major annoyance with DJI; you had to wait sometimes up to 2hrs just to start recharging their batteries starting with the P4, so mobile charging was impossible.
  • Alerts / Warnings (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - I've noticed the alerts and notices are much less invasive than DJI's. With DJI they would cover the whole screen midflight and force you to clear them by hand. Also, they popped up more and more; high wind warning, above takeoff altitude warning, line of sight reminder, airspace warning....and on and on, so annoying. Autel's Explorer app stays out of your way, auto hides the alerts after a few seconds, and doesn't nag you with useless information.
  • Quieter Props (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - I added the new quieter props to the EVO II and it did make a difference in sound. The EVO II was already quieter than the P4 or Mavic Pro, but now it is even quieter both the dB and pitch decreased while I did not observe any loss in stability or performance.
  • Ludicrous Mode Stability (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - I flew in ludicrous mode most of today because I was filming boats who were averaging 30-40mph. The EVO II is surprisingly stable even in ludicrous mode compared to the DJI drones whose gimbals seemed to lose control in Sport mode. It really feels like the EVO II's gimbal is much stronger than the ones DJI uses.
  • Gimbal 30 Degree Angle (New Finding 12 Feb 2021) - Now this is seriously cool, you can point the camera up by up to 30 degrees without seeing the props in the shot. This opens up a whole new area of creativity for establishing shots, flying under tree cover, bridges, etc. anything where there is something above the drone. I am going to leave the 0 degree limiter on most of the time, but its great to have another creative option when the situation calls for it.
  • Incognito Mode (New Finding 13 Feb 2021) - The EVO II lets you turn off the front AND rear lights, this is seriously useful in many situations and I have been using this feature a lot more than I initially thought I would. DJI never let you turn off the rear lights going back as far as the Phantom 2.
  • Useable Range Without Interference (New Finding 25 Feb 2021) - This was a pleasant surprise; the EVO II seems to have a longer useable range than any DJI drone I have flown with one major caveat; it has to be in an interference free area. The DJI drones seem to be able to better handle interference heavy areas but the EVO seems better at longer ranges when there is no interference.
  • Lens Profile Corrections (New Finding 10 March 2021) - The EVO II 6K's lens has very little vignetting and barrel distortion. Both can be fixed in post but fixing barrel distortion in particular is a destructive process that makes the fixed regions blurry and can make stitching panoramas more difficult.
  • Low Light Performance (New Finding 4 April 2021) - The EVO II 6K continues to impress me with its lowlight performance. It took me awhile and a lot of testing to reach this conclusion after having flown the Inspire 1 and Inspire 2 with the X5 camera.....but I can now say without hesitation that the lowlight performance of the EVO II 6K exceeds the MFT sensor in the Inspire's X5 camera.

Wish List
  • WFM - Its always annoying to me when camera makers add a LOG profile but leave out the waveform monitor which is the number one tool you need to expose for LOG footage. It would be nice if they would add a WFM option. In lieu of a WFM I used the histogram to set exposure and its ok but nowhere near as useful as a WFM for LOG footage
  • Monitor LUT - Another tool I wish they would add when shooting in LOG. A Rec.709 monitoring LUT would be great to improve visibility. The good news is that the ALOG footage is nowhere near as flat as DJI's DLOG so it is not as hard to monitor even without a monitoring LUT.
  • Better Remote - the current remote just feels really odd in the hands; the ergonomics aren't great and the handles feel like they are going to close at any moment. Also the remote has no way to attach a lanyard, the P4's remote is still my favorite to date (built in tablet holder and lanyard loop). I know this is meant to be smaller but I still think there's room for improvement here. Lets not forget those terrible buttons on the underside, they are so easy to push that its best to just not assign anything to them. I wish I could disable them completely because the remote still beeps when one is pressed.
  • Different Color - The orange is pretty hard to get used to.
  • Altitude Limit - The altitude limit is set to a generous 2600' or so but it would be nice if there were none at all. Prior to the pandemic I travelled outside of the USA quite a bit and frequently took a drone with me; when you are going up a mountainside with a drone it records how high you are from your takeoff point not based on AGL, so I ran into a few situations with DJI drones where it refused to go any higher because it thought it was 1500' AGL when it fact it was only a few hundred feet above the mountainside. Even stateside the FAA lets you go above 400' when you are close enough to something higher than that in certain airspace.
  • Controller Charging Interface - Getting brand new consumer products that still use the old USB standard are just annoying at this point. As consumers we will never be able to get rid of our old chargers and standardize on USB-C if we keep getting brand new products that don't have USB-C ports. So it would be nice if the charging interface were USB-C.
  • Shutter Angle - It would be nice to have a shutter angle option to keep from having to adjust the shutter speed during ISO / Aperture changes.
  • AGL In Metadata - I noticed in the RAW images metadata that the EVO II only stores the altitude Above Sea Level (ASL). It would be nice if it also stored the altitude Above Ground Level (AGL). AGL is much more useful when doing precision work like commercial elevation views and virtual staging.
  • Aspect Ratio Overlay Guides (New 17 Jul 2021) - I shoot a lot of video content and for social media I need an aspect ratio of 4:5 to fit properly on Instagram and Facebook. It would be great if it was possible to add different aspect ratio guides to the video display so that I could compose the scene for both Instagram/ Facebook and YouTube/Vimeo. My regular video camera has this and it is great to be able to see right on screen what would be in the scene on Instagram and other social media platforms.
Other

This is just general information that I'm finding out on my own as I use the EVO II. These are things that either are impossible to find in the documentation or that aren't documented at all.

  • Crop Factor - It appears the EVO II 6K has a crop when shooting 4K60FPS, I'd estimate the crop factor to be around 1.2x or 1.3x so not much of a crop but it definitely looks like a crop when you go from 4K30FPS to 4K60FPS.
  • 10bit vs 8bit - The 4K60FPS and 6K30FPS HEVC H.265 footage is only 8bit 4:2:0 footage where as the 4K30FPS HEVC H.265 footage is indeed 10bit 4:2:0 footage, I'm not sure what 1080P is or if changing to the MP4 container or H.264 will matter.
  • JPG vs RAW - The EVO II 6K has the ability to take images while filming video; however the images will be saved as JPG even if you have it set to RAW only. To get RAW images you must stop filming video first. To take a picture while filming video you have to use the shutter button on the remote. These images are far lower quality than the regular JPG images let alone RAW because they are just screen grabs from the video; this means they don't use the full sensor width, and they inherit the video color profile so I definitely do not recommend using this feature if you want quality images.
  • Framerate (New 14 April 2021) - The EVO II 6K shoots at 30FPS and 60FPS which I still find odd every time I drop the footage onto a project timeline. Every other camera I own shoots at 29.97FPS and 59.94FPS. So far it hasn't seemed to matter, but I still find it odd.
  • Field of View (FOV) (New April 25 2021) - The FOV of the EVO II 6K at 82° is narrower than the DJI P4 Pro by 12°. This comes with both pros and cons which I discuss in greater detail in this post.


The Verdict

As long as the EVO II continues to perform exactly as it did during its test flight today then I am happy with my purchase; once again because the completely oppressive geofencing system is gone. I am sure Autel will continue improving the app and the drone and as long as the drone does not do something that is completely beyond my control then it could easily become my main drone in the future.

New (24 March 2021)

I created a camera campaign style video with the EVO II entitled "Explore Your World". Despite all of its shortcomings, it is definitely possible to create amazing footage with the EVO II 6K.


New (4 April 2021)

The image below was shot at F2.8 | ISO100 | Shutter 1/5s | WB Auto | Format RAW. To the human eye it was nearly pitch black outside. Yet the EVO II 6K camera was able to retain an incredible amount of color information.

View attachment 10135
Wow, just wow. I am blown away by the picture quality and the cinematography.
 
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I decided to share my own personal user experience and initial observations of the Autel EVO II Pro 6K after having flown it for the first time. During the first flight I went through all 3 batteries and mainly focused on the camera features, the app, and how the drone itself flies. I also put it through a range of different tests that I have developed over the years of owning DJI drones. My sole use of drones is for commercial work; everything from promo videos to real estate to music videos, large events and more. So the tests that I put my drones through is in preparation to use them in many different situations where the success of the project depends on the drone being reliable and delivering on the client's image quality expectations.

Background

I have flown or owned every DJI model since 2014 and never even considered another maker until DJI's geofencing kicked in mid flight 2wks ago and force landed my Mavic Pro into the ocean. So some of this review will be comparing the EVO II to the DJI Mavic Pro or the P4 since the P4 also has a 1" sensor. I'll keep this post updated as I find new good and bad things.

The Bad

I have decided to start with the bad since it is a shorter list than the good.

  • Tablet Holder - This problem hit me before ever even taking off. There are no good tablet holder options. One option doesn't fold at all so it doesn't fit in any of the current rugged cases and the other option does not hold an iPad mini which I found out the hard way. I ended up with the GPC tablet holder but had to make some serious modifications to hold my iPad mini. The GPC mount also feels really flimsy where it attaches to the holder.
  • Horizon Tilt - Yes the horizon definitely tilts far more with the EVO II than it ever did with any DJI drone I have flown. It is still easy to fix with keyframes in video and rotation in Lightroom but it is literally always tilted; with DJI drones it would tilt occasionally if the drone took off from an uneven surface or there was a strong cross wind; the EVO II tilts at least 90% of the time. This one was user error, after performing an IMU, compass, and gimbal calibration the horizon is now perfect. It does tilt quite often but no more than any DJI drone I've flown.
  • The App - The app is nowhere near as good as DJI's app; the worst part about it is when you run it on a tablet it will not use the full screen so a lot of screen real estate is wasted as if they never thought people would want to use anything except their phones. Besides the scaling issue, it can be difficult to get the camera information quickly. In the DJI app you can always see things like frame rate, EV, resolution, etc. at a glance; with the Autel App you have to scroll around quite a bit to see all of your settings.
  • Obstacle Avoidance - Obstacle avoidance feels like it is way too sensitive; a few times in the middle of the air with nothing around it it kicked in and slowed the drone. Also, when flying lower to the ground it was a real pain to deal with and seems overly cautious. I know it can be turned off but it would be nice if it had a lower sensitivity setting.
  • Lens Flare - It suffers from really bad lens flare at certain angles to the sun. Of course all lenses have lens flare under certain conditions but the way the 6K camera handles it is not good. The flare was very uncomplimentary and pretty much made that particular angle in relation to the sun unusable for professional work. I never had that kind of lens flare problem with the DJI drones.
  • No One Button Ludicrous Mode - With the DJI drones I use Sport Mode all the time to return quickly after completing a project or if there is a strong headwind or cross wind I use it to improve the handling of the drone for the return flight after filming. The Autel remote does not have a dedicated button for this and you could lose valuable seconds in a strong headwind scenario having to go into the app to enable ludicrous mode.
  • Controller Battery Life - The remote's battery life so far seems worse than the Mavic's probably because of the display screen. This could still be because the batteries haven't fully broken in yet, but I noticed just updating the firmware made it drop by 20% and a single flight cost around 15% of battery life.
  • Custom Color Profiles (New Finding 31 Jan 2021) - I plan on shooting exclusively in LOG and also like to turn sharpness down to -2 and contrast down to -1, but the app does not save the settings. So now I have to remember to set the settings each time and lose battery life while doing so.
  • Remaining Battery % (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - The EVO II started force landing when the time remaining still showed 4min, if I had not been able to cancel the landing process I would have lost it in the ocean. I'm not sure yet if the time remaining is just wrong, the EVO II is overly aggressive with forced battery landings, or if it just can't properly detect the remaining percentage. I never had this problem with DJI drones and could fly them until they showed 0% remaining.
  • Car Charger (New Finding Feb 6 2021) - I bought the car charger thinking I could use that combined with my Goal Zero 400 battery pack to recharge the flight batteries at long events....well its a complete waste of money for me. It has circuitry to prevent draining your car's battery to the point to where it won't start and there is no way to turn it off. So when I tried to use it with my battery pack it would not charge the flight battery even though the battery pack was fully charged and can charge about 5 flight batteries before it dies.
  • Battery Level Indicator (New Finding 6 Feb 2021) - I know this seems minor, but it is very difficult to see the battery level indicator on the back of the batteries in direct sunlight. You have to shade the battery from the sun to see the level. With the DJI drones the light is bright enough to see even in direct sunlight.
  • Stuck Battery Remaining Indicator (New Finding 27 Feb 2021) - On a recent flight the battery level indicator in the app, on the remote, and on the battery all showed 100% even though the battery only had 40% remaining. This is the most serious bug I have seen to date. If your battery remaining time seems stuck or doesn't decrease while flying I recommend you land immediately and restart the drone.
  • Inaccurate EXIF Metadata (New Finding 25 Jan 2022) - I discovered that the EXIF data for the GPS altitude that the EVO adds to the raw images is wildly in accurate. It is bad enough that it lists the altitude based on ASL vs AGL, but it is not even close to being accurate. It showed 250m below sea level when the drone was about 150' AGL. This doesn't sound like a big deal until you need that data to verify a specific job or want to use the exact same altitude for say a recurring project, I never had that problem with DJI drones.
The Good

  • No Geofencing - Without a doubt my favorite 'feature' by far. It was a relief just knowing there was no chance geofencing could kick in during the flight and risk downing the drone.
  • Range Test - While the range was acceptable it was not exceptional. This was a little disappointing; I have taken every drone since 2014 that I have owned to the same park and performed the same tests over the years so I know for a fact that the EVO II started dropping its video signal at the exact same range as the DJI drones; and yes I pointed the controller in the direction of the drone and I had the antennas pointed down.
  • Straight Line Test - One of the tests that I do is position the drone exactly aligned with railroad tracks and see how long the drone can fly in a straight line over the railroad tracks before it drifts off course. I have the center cross hairs turned on for this test. The EVO II performed better on this test than any DJI drone I have ever tested this way. DJI drones tend to turn slowly left without constant slight correction during forward flight.
  • Orbit Test - Orbiting is one of my favorite drone movements so I always see how a drone performs during orbits. With the center cross hairs turned on I orbit clockwise and counter clockwise around an object. Once again the EVO II straight out of the box with no tuning performed flawlessly. Orbits in particular require very precise control input and the drone must adhere to the input without drifting to perform a smooth orbit which is why I like this test.
  • Camera Angle Feedback - I have wished DJI would add this feature since 2014...I even emailed it as a feature request to DJI and of course got no response. It is nice to see the camera angle shown in the app. There are plenty of times when you want to mirror a specific camera angle such as if you were filming something and had to land to change the batteries then took off again and want the footage to look like a single take; or when you are creating progression construction photography and want each visit to the site to look identical to the last visit.
  • Overall Handling - Many YouTube reviewers stated that the EVO II does not handle as well as the DJI drones; I don't feel that way at all, straight out of the box settings feel very smooth to me, the only thing I am going to do is turn down the gimbal tilt speed which is the same thing I did with the DJI drones.
  • ALOG - The EVO II's ALOG is way better than anything I have seen come out of DLOG. DJI in my opinion is overly aggressive with their LOG profile and they tend to throw away data that cannot be recovered. Autel's ALOG was a joy to color grade; it took seconds in Davinci Resolve to grade it to the Rec.709 standard.
  • Highlight Rolloff - So many people get caught up in dynamic range and low light performance; few people discuss highlight rolloff. A camera can have great low light performance and dynamic range but terrible highlight rolloff and the image will be unrecoverable when the highlights are over exposed. The EVO II 6K camera has great highlight rolloff from what I can tell so far.
  • Camera Settings Buttons - This is a nice feature that the DJI drones don't have; I was able to change all of the camera settings without having to touch the tablet screen.
  • Flight Time - Flight time was ok, it did not seem any longer than the DJI drones though; its supposed to be 40min but that must be when it is just sitting on the ground with the blades spinning because just getting it into the air and my remaining time dropped to 33min. The batteries will probably perform better after a few charging cycles but for now its nowhere near 40min. This really isn't a bad thing though, 30 useable min is still plenty to me.
  • Initial Setup - DJI's initial setup where it demands your email address and account information always irked me. I felt like they were demanding far more information than should be needed just to fly the drone. The EVO II's setup was much less invasive although it would be nice to know exactly what information is sent during the "Activation" portion of the setup but I was surprised that it did not even ask for an email address.
  • Battery Temperature Recovery Time (New Finding 31 Jan 2021) - The EVO II's batteries do not seem to make you wait until they cool down to start recharging. This was always a major annoyance with DJI; you had to wait sometimes up to 2hrs just to start recharging their batteries starting with the P4, so mobile charging was impossible.
  • Alerts / Warnings (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - I've noticed the alerts and notices are much less invasive than DJI's. With DJI they would cover the whole screen midflight and force you to clear them by hand. Also, they popped up more and more; high wind warning, above takeoff altitude warning, line of sight reminder, airspace warning....and on and on, so annoying. Autel's Explorer app stays out of your way, auto hides the alerts after a few seconds, and doesn't nag you with useless information.
  • Quieter Props (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - I added the new quieter props to the EVO II and it did make a difference in sound. The EVO II was already quieter than the P4 or Mavic Pro, but now it is even quieter both the dB and pitch decreased while I did not observe any loss in stability or performance.
  • Ludicrous Mode Stability (New Finding 5 Feb 2021) - I flew in ludicrous mode most of today because I was filming boats who were averaging 30-40mph. The EVO II is surprisingly stable even in ludicrous mode compared to the DJI drones whose gimbals seemed to lose control in Sport mode. It really feels like the EVO II's gimbal is much stronger than the ones DJI uses.
  • Gimbal 30 Degree Angle (New Finding 12 Feb 2021) - Now this is seriously cool, you can point the camera up by up to 30 degrees without seeing the props in the shot. This opens up a whole new area of creativity for establishing shots, flying under tree cover, bridges, etc. anything where there is something above the drone. I am going to leave the 0 degree limiter on most of the time, but its great to have another creative option when the situation calls for it.
  • Incognito Mode (New Finding 13 Feb 2021) - The EVO II lets you turn off the front AND rear lights, this is seriously useful in many situations and I have been using this feature a lot more than I initially thought I would. DJI never let you turn off the rear lights going back as far as the Phantom 2.
  • Useable Range Without Interference (New Finding 25 Feb 2021) - This was a pleasant surprise; the EVO II seems to have a longer useable range than any DJI drone I have flown with one major caveat; it has to be in an interference free area. The DJI drones seem to be able to better handle interference heavy areas but the EVO seems better at longer ranges when there is no interference.
  • Lens Profile Corrections (New Finding 10 March 2021) - The EVO II 6K's lens has very little vignetting and barrel distortion. Both can be fixed in post but fixing barrel distortion in particular is a destructive process that makes the fixed regions blurry and can make stitching panoramas more difficult.
  • Low Light Performance (New Finding 4 April 2021) - The EVO II 6K continues to impress me with its lowlight performance. It took me awhile and a lot of testing to reach this conclusion after having flown the Inspire 1 and Inspire 2 with the X5 camera.....but I can now say without hesitation that the lowlight performance of the EVO II 6K exceeds the MFT sensor in the Inspire's X5 camera.

Wish List
  • WFM - Its always annoying to me when camera makers add a LOG profile but leave out the waveform monitor which is the number one tool you need to expose for LOG footage. It would be nice if they would add a WFM option. In lieu of a WFM I used the histogram to set exposure and its ok but nowhere near as useful as a WFM for LOG footage
  • Monitor LUT - Another tool I wish they would add when shooting in LOG. A Rec.709 monitoring LUT would be great to improve visibility. The good news is that the ALOG footage is nowhere near as flat as DJI's DLOG so it is not as hard to monitor even without a monitoring LUT.
  • Better Remote - the current remote just feels really odd in the hands; the ergonomics aren't great and the handles feel like they are going to close at any moment. Also the remote has no way to attach a lanyard, the P4's remote is still my favorite to date (built in tablet holder and lanyard loop). I know this is meant to be smaller but I still think there's room for improvement here. Lets not forget those terrible buttons on the underside, they are so easy to push that its best to just not assign anything to them. I wish I could disable them completely because the remote still beeps when one is pressed.
  • Different Color - The orange is pretty hard to get used to.
  • Altitude Limit - The altitude limit is set to a generous 2600' or so but it would be nice if there were none at all. Prior to the pandemic I travelled outside of the USA quite a bit and frequently took a drone with me; when you are going up a mountainside with a drone it records how high you are from your takeoff point not based on AGL, so I ran into a few situations with DJI drones where it refused to go any higher because it thought it was 1500' AGL when it fact it was only a few hundred feet above the mountainside. Even stateside the FAA lets you go above 400' when you are close enough to something higher than that in certain airspace.
  • Controller Charging Interface - Getting brand new consumer products that still use the old USB standard are just annoying at this point. As consumers we will never be able to get rid of our old chargers and standardize on USB-C if we keep getting brand new products that don't have USB-C ports. So it would be nice if the charging interface were USB-C.
  • Shutter Angle - It would be nice to have a shutter angle option to keep from having to adjust the shutter speed during ISO / Aperture changes.
  • AGL In Metadata - I noticed in the RAW images metadata that the EVO II only stores the altitude Above Sea Level (ASL). It would be nice if it also stored the altitude Above Ground Level (AGL). AGL is much more useful when doing precision work like commercial elevation views and virtual staging.
  • Aspect Ratio Overlay Guides (New 17 Jul 2021) - I shoot a lot of video content and for social media I need an aspect ratio of 4:5 to fit properly on Instagram and Facebook. It would be great if it was possible to add different aspect ratio guides to the video display so that I could compose the scene for both Instagram/ Facebook and YouTube/Vimeo. My regular video camera has this and it is great to be able to see right on screen what would be in the scene on Instagram and other social media platforms.
Other

This is just general information that I'm finding out on my own as I use the EVO II. These are things that either are impossible to find in the documentation or that aren't documented at all.

  • Crop Factor - It appears the EVO II 6K has a crop when shooting 4K60FPS, I'd estimate the crop factor to be around 1.2x or 1.3x so not much of a crop but it definitely looks like a crop when you go from 4K30FPS to 4K60FPS.
  • 10bit vs 8bit - The 4K60FPS and 6K30FPS HEVC H.265 footage is only 8bit 4:2:0 footage where as the 4K30FPS HEVC H.265 footage is indeed 10bit 4:2:0 footage, I'm not sure what 1080P is or if changing to the MP4 container or H.264 will matter.
  • JPG vs RAW - The EVO II 6K has the ability to take images while filming video; however the images will be saved as JPG even if you have it set to RAW only. To get RAW images you must stop filming video first. To take a picture while filming video you have to use the shutter button on the remote. These images are far lower quality than the regular JPG images let alone RAW because they are just screen grabs from the video; this means they don't use the full sensor width, and they inherit the video color profile so I definitely do not recommend using this feature if you want quality images.
  • Framerate (New 14 April 2021) - The EVO II 6K shoots at 30FPS and 60FPS which I still find odd every time I drop the footage onto a project timeline. Every other camera I own shoots at 29.97FPS and 59.94FPS. So far it hasn't seemed to matter, but I still find it odd.
  • Field of View (FOV) (New April 25 2021) - The FOV of the EVO II 6K at 82° is narrower than the DJI P4 Pro by 12°. This comes with both pros and cons which I discuss in greater detail in this post.


The Verdict

As long as the EVO II continues to perform exactly as it did during its test flight today then I am happy with my purchase; once again because the completely oppressive geofencing system is gone. I am sure Autel will continue improving the app and the drone and as long as the drone does not do something that is completely beyond my control then it could easily become my main drone in the future.

New (24 March 2021)

I created a camera campaign style video with the EVO II entitled "Explore Your World". Despite all of its shortcomings, it is definitely possible to create amazing footage with the EVO II 6K.


New (4 April 2021)

The image below was shot at F2.8 | ISO100 | Shutter 1/5s | WB Auto | Format RAW. To the human eye it was nearly pitch black outside. Yet the EVO II 6K camera was able to retain an incredible amount of color information.

View attachment 10135
So much for instruction books, I'll just follow your posts on here - thankx!
 

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