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Autel EVO II 6K User Experience


herein2020

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I recently picked up the Autel EVO II Pro 6K after having flown nothing but DJI drones since 2014. DJI's geofencing system kept becoming increasingly intrusive until 2wks ago when it suddenly thought my Mavic Pro was in a no fly zone and force landed it into the ocean.  I had never even heard of Autel before this incident but after the incident I never want to own another DJI drone so after a lot of research I ended up buying the Autel EVO II 6K.


THE BAD

  Most of the things on this list really aren't that bad, in fact if it weren't for DJI the Autel would far exceed my expectations. But after using DJI drones for so long its pretty apparent that Autel is about 2yrs behind DJI when it comes to their drone's maturity.
 

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.

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 - The 6K version of the camera 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 the controller's battery life.

Custom Color Profiles Don't Save - 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.

Company Size - Autel is tiny compared to DJI; I read somewhere that DJI literally has hundreds of scientists in their R&D department. Autel feels like they have maybe 10 on a good day. So due to their size I feel like new developments are going to happen much slower, and customer service will be difficult at best, and that's assuming they even manage to stay in business.

 

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 - 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.


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

Monitoring 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.

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 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.


THE VERDICT

As long as the EVO II continues to perform exactly as it did during its test flights so far 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. I haven't tried 6K yet and don't expect much since the sensor is so small, but the 4K30FPS and 4K60FPS that I have seen so far more than meets my needs. Is anyone else using the EVO II 6k and if so what is your experience so far?

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Thanks for the input. My only drone experience was short and ended with a crash into the Pittsburgh river. That said insurance is actually pretty cheap I have found so I may be in the market for another one. One of these guys is on eBay for a really good price right now..... 🤔🤔🤔

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On 2/1/2021 at 1:07 AM, TomTheDP said:

Thanks for the input. My only drone experience was short and ended with a crash into the Pittsburgh river. That said insurance is actually pretty cheap I have found so I may be in the market for another one. One of these guys is on eBay for a really good price right now..... 🤔🤔🤔

I use them nearly daily; they are a great relatively inexpensive way to increase the production value of a project. That being said, many people overdo it or end up with long boring drone videos that only other drone pilots would want to watch. To me a few seconds here and there to tell more of the story or to set up for a transition is all that's really needed. Also, living in FL, they are invaluable for boat and ocean footage when it is needed.

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