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Here Are My Best Camera Settings For the EVO II 6K Camera

herein2021

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I see a lot of the same posts asking what are the best camera settings for [insert your drone model here]. I have been shooting with the EVO II 6K Pro for about 3yrs now and have shot in almost every condition possible; cloudy, sunlight, sunset, civil twilight, full night, even fog. For pretty much every one of those scenarios I only use a few very basic camera setting combinations. I have shared my settings in various posts over the years and thought it would be helpful to put them all in a single dedicated post.

BACKGROUND

I shoot commercially for a wide variety of project types, everything from promo videos, weddings, fashion, big events, music videos, etc. I also shoot both photography and video about evenly and have used the EVO II 6K over the past 3 years to provide video and photography footage for those projects. For my types of projects the drone is typically only in the air for a few min to get the big picture view which I then use to increase the production value of whatever the project is.

I don't kid myself, I am not shooting the next Hollywood blockbuster, or fine art for a gallery. My focus (and my camera settings reflect this) is to achieve the best quality possible in the least amount of time; so in other words I really stick to the keep it simple concept. Some of my settings below are controversial, but at the end of the day they have always achieved the goal which is to produce something commercially viable that my clients have been willing to pay for. Many of these settings would work equally well with pretty much any variable aperture drone and could just as easily be applied to DJI drones as well.

DAYLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Below are my daylight photography settings. The EVO's camera is probably sharpest around F5.6, so F5.6 and ISO100 are my starting points. From there I adjust the shutter speed until the histogram shows that the image is properly exposed. Another thing that you will notice is that I use a Picture Profile of None, this makes the screen easier to see in daylight but also more importantly it sets the histogram to a Adobe RGB display and sets the preview JPG in the RAW file to Adobe RGB. I discovered a weird bug in the Autel FW where the histogram does not show the exposure for the Adobe RGB color space which makes setting the proper exposure using the histogram more difficult unless you use the "None" color profile.

  • Aperture: F5.6
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: 1/200s | 1/400s | 1/600s (depending on how bright or cloudy the day is. If you pick Aperture priority mode this will be handled automatically for you)
  • WB: Daylight
  • Picture Profile: None
  • File Format: RAW
SUNSET PHOTOGRAPHY

Shooting a sunset or sunrise is one of the most challenging compositions you will probably encounter since sunsets by their nature will always exceed the dynamic range (DR) of the camera. So with a sunset or sunrise you must protect the highlights (sky) and underexpose the ground while using the histogram to ensure you are not crushing the blacks. The following settings could work for a sunset. You could also create a 3 or 5 bracket HDR sequence to attempt to increase the dynamic range but picture quality would suffer. Another option is to take two shots, the first exposing for the sky, the second exposing for the ground then perform a sky replacement for the ground shot to get perfect exposure in the final composited image. This would yield the highest quality but would require the most work.

Like I previously mentioned, I am not shooting for a fine art gallery, so I simply use the following settings and skip the HDR and sky replacement.

  • Aperture: F5.6
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000s (could be less or more depending on the exposure for the sunset)
  • WB: Daylight
  • Picture Profile: None
  • File Format: RAW
NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

For the following two lowlight / night settings they are the only two I use and it has to be a windless night. Also, you will need plenty of city lights to take a nighttime picture; many beginners do not realize cameras need light; no exceptions. You can't simply crank the ISO to get quality footage in complete darkness.

Over the years more and more pure white LED lights are being used as city lights. If you are shooting a scene with a lot of LED city lights or if you are shooting fireworks then I recommend 3600K for the WB. If the city lights are more of the "pure white" variety then Daylight WB is a better starting point. With RAW photography the WB isn't that important, it is more important with video.

Nighttime (Least Noise but will only work on a perfectly calm night with a little color still in the sky)
  • Aperture: F2.8
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: 1/5s
  • WB: 3600K (or Daylight)
  • Picture Profile: None
  • File Format: RAW
Nighttime (After civil twilight - complete darkness)
  • Aperture: F2.8
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter Speed: 1/20s
  • WB: 3600K (or Daylight)
  • Picture Profile: None
  • File Format: RAW
DAYLIGHT VIDEO

Below are the settings that I use for daylight video. Many times I get asked why I use F11 and there are many misconceptions around what ND filters do and don't do. Click here to read in more detail on why I never use ND filters. It is also important here to point out that I only use 4K resolution, 30FPS, and MOV for the file format. The EVO II 6K drops down to 8bit 4:2:0 if you use MP4, 60FPS, or a resolution higher than 4K. It will only shoot 10bit when using MOV and 4K resolution or at least that is true for the firmware version that I am running. Newer FW versions might have changed this.
  • Aperture: F11
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed 1/200 (or 1/320 or 1/400 or 1/500 depending on what is needed for the proper exposure)
  • WB: Daylight
  • Picture Profile: LOG
  • File Format: MOV
  • Image Resolution: 4K
  • Frames Per Second: 30FPS
NIGHT VIDEO
For night video, below are the only settings that I use. Yes 1/30s is not 2x the framerate, but I care more about getting as much light as possible into the sensor than I do about a little additional motion blur.
  • Aperture: F2.8
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter Speed 1/30
  • WB: 3600K (Or Daylight)
  • Picture Profile: LOG
  • File Format: MOV
  • Image Resolution: 4K
  • Frames Per Second: 30FPS

SAMPLES
Below are some sample images and a sample video shot using these exact settings.
Sunset-EVOII-6K.jpg

Tampa-Skyline-Night.jpg



CONCLUSION

Hopefully these settings will prove useful to those of you wishing to get quality footage out of your EVO II 6K or other drone camera.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Why I Never Shoot Video At 24FPS

Why I Never Use CPL Filters With Drone Cameras

Autel EVO II Pro - User Experience from a DJI User

EXPLORE YOUR WORLD: An Autel EVO II Pro 6K Cinematic Story

Only the Histogram Tells the Truth - EVO II 6K Exposure Oddity
 
Last edited:
Thank you @herein2021. I've been fumbling with the exposures and settings during mapping and just flying.

I usually just set to auto exposures, sometimes it works well, sometimes not.

This will help me a lot !
 
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Thank you @herein2021. I've been fumbling with the exposures and settings during mapping and just flying.

I usually just set to auto exposures, sometimes it works well, sometimes not.

This will help me a lot !

The ISO, WB, and Aperture are all pretty much fixed for daylight shooting. Just set those to ISO100, WB Daylight, Aperture F5.6 then use the histogram to find the right shutter speed. I typically set the ISO, WB, and Aperture on the ground, then when I am in the air I aim the camera at the subject matter and adjust the shutter speed until the histogram shows I am not clipping the highlights. 1/200s is usually a good starting point.
 
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Very nice post, I'm surprised you didn't get any pushback by not adhering to the 180 rule, especially during your daylight video portion. I try to be mindful of it when I can, but I'm not an ardent disciple of it either. I do however get good results using ND filters, but different strokes.

In terms of file format, you only recommended mov for obtaining 10 bit video, but you can also use mp4 and get the same results. In fact, some might argue that mp4 is the better way to go since it is more universally compatible than mov, but not by a wide margin anymore, so tough to go wrong with either.

Here are the data sheets from two short clips I shot in my Autel Evo II Pro 6K; one is the mp4 file, the other is the mov file. Everything is pretty much the same including the all-important bitrate and chroma subsampling...

MP4 file:

General
Complete name : E:\DCIM\103MEDIA\MAX_0056.MP4
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : Base Media
Codec ID : isom (isom/iso2/mp41)
File size : 99.0 MiB
Duration : 8 s 34 ms
Overall bit rate : 103 Mb/s
Frame rate : 30.000 FPS
Writing application : Lavf58.20.100

Video
ID : 1
Format : HEVC
Format/Info : High Efficiency Video Coding
Format profile : Main [email protected]@Main
HDR format : SMPTE ST 2086, HDR10 compatible
Codec ID : hvc1
Codec ID/Info : High Efficiency Video Coding
Duration : 8 s 34 ms
Bit rate : 103 Mb/s
Width : 3 840 pixels
Height : 2 160 pixels
Display aspect ratio : 16:9
Frame rate mode : Constant
Frame rate : 30.000 FPS
Color space : YUV
Chroma subsampling : 4:2:0
Bit depth : 10 bits
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.416
Stream size : 99.0 MiB (100%)
Title : Autel.Video
Color range : Full
Color primaries : BT.709
Transfer characteristics : BT.709
Matrix coefficients : BT.709
Mastering display color primaries : BT.709
Mastering display luminance : min: 0.0000 cd/m2, max: 0 cd/m2
Codec configuration box : hvcC

MOV File:

General
Complete name : E:\DCIM\103MEDIA\MAX_0057.MOV
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : QuickTime
Codec ID : qt 0000.02 (qt )
File size : 69.2 MiB
Duration : 5 s 534 ms
Overall bit rate : 105 Mb/s
Frame rate : 30.000 FPS
Writing application : Lavf58.20.100

Video
ID : 1
Format : HEVC
Format/Info : High Efficiency Video Coding
Format profile : Main [email protected]@Main
HDR format : SMPTE ST 2086, HDR10 compatible
Codec ID : hvc1
Codec ID/Info : High Efficiency Video Coding
Duration : 5 s 534 ms
Bit rate : 105 Mb/s
Width : 3 840 pixels
Height : 2 160 pixels
Display aspect ratio : 16:9
Frame rate mode : Constant
Frame rate : 30.000 FPS
Color space : YUV
Chroma subsampling : 4:2:0
Bit depth : 10 bits
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.422
Stream size : 69.2 MiB (100%)
Title : Autel.Video
Language : English
Color range : Full
Color primaries : BT.709
Transfer characteristics : BT.709
Matrix coefficients : BT.709
Mastering display color primaries : BT.709
Mastering display luminance : min: 0.0000 cd/m2, max: 0 cd/m2
Codec configuration box
 
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Very nice post, I'm surprised you didn't get any pushback by not adhering to the 180 rule, especially during your daylight video portion. I try to be mindful of it when I can, but I'm not an ardent disciple of it either. I do however get good results using ND filters, but different strokes.

I think after reading my ND filter thread there's really no one left to dispute the logic. I literally use ND filters nearly daily, my cinema cameras even have them built in, and I have vNDs on my hybrid and photography cameras, just never with drone footage. For traditional photography they are critical when you need to match your flash sync speed with fast lenses in daylight, and I use then in nearly every video scenario as well to keep the shutter angle at 180.

In terms of file format, you only recommended mov for obtaining 10 bit video, but you can also use mp4 and get the same results. In fact, some might argue that mp4 is the better way to go since it is more universally compatible than mov, but not by a wide margin anymore, so tough to go wrong with either.

I did caveat my settings with the fact that I am running the original firmware that shipped with the EVO II 6K in 2021; I have never updated it since the day I got it. For my FW version, 10bit is only available when you use an MOV container.

I have read a few threads that say the EVO V2 and V3 does not output 10bit regardless of the container even though it is advertised as supporting 10bit. I don't have any firsthand experience with that since I have the V1.

As far as compatibility, the capture codec/container/framerate is pretty much irrelevant; it is the delivery codec/container/framerate that matters to your client. Most of my cameras capture in a format that is completely unusable by the general public. My delivery codec is typically MP4 HEVC or MP4 AV1 depending on the destination platform. For direct FB/YT deliveries (I shoot for some client's YT channels and upload directly to their channels), I use AV1 since it is the codec of the future.

For personal projects I also use AV1 for my own channel. Eventually YT will start defaulting to AV1 and when it does, content quality will greatly improve over H.265. FB already supports AV1 natively as does Instagram; for some strange reason Vimeo has a problem with AV1 that they have acknowledged and refuse to fix so for Vimeo I stick with H.265 and MP4 or MOV. For direct download clients who will use the projects for personal viewing (such as weddings), I use an MP4 container and H.265 for the codec. For music video clients I use the MOV container because Davinci Resolve offers better audio codecs if you use the MOV container.

So, as I mentioned, the delivery codec is what is more important and it all depends on the planned use for the final footage.
 
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