Today, I’m reviewing the XDynamics Evolve 2 Drone. I’ll share thoughts on build, performance, and other details as well as my favorite features. Drones, or “airplane cameras” as my kids call them, are an awesome piece of technology that can take your photos to a whole new level.
The Build of the XDynamics Evolve 2
First, let’s talk through the build of this drone. When it comes to the question of form or function, the XDynamics Evolve 2 takes both into account. The design of the carbon body is sleek and beautiful while also being sturdy.
Don’t be fooled by pictures, just like your rearview mirror or those misleading real estate photos, this drone is bigger and tougher than it looks. It feels like a full-size professional production drone rather than a pocket drone for hobbyists, which we’ll talk about more when we address flight and performance as well as the interchangeable lenses.
If you’re familiar with the drone lineup out there, the XDynamics Evolve 2 is similar in shape and style to the Phantom 4 from DJI but larger and much better built (carbon fiber instead of plastic).
A cool feature of this drone is the full-size clamshell style controller with 2 screens. I fly drones with my phone frequently but prefer using my iPad for the larger screen. With this drone, you don’t need either, which is nice if you’ve ever received a phone call while flying!
More good news is that the drone uses C-fast cards, no more micro sd cards. I appreciate how fast these cards are and how much easier they are to handle. No more risk of dropping and losing a tiny media card!
The drone also has a big sensor. The micro 4/3 sensor is the same size as you see in many of the popular cameras from Panasonic, Black Magic, and Olympus. It delivers excellent performance especially in low light due to the 12-megapixel resolution. Fewer megapixels mean larger pixels that gather more light which translates to less noise at higher iso settings.
Flight and Performance of the Drone
As you can see, I flew this drone during some winter storms battling the cold and wind but the flight was smooth. It’s definitely targeted more towards the advanced user and I won’t be letting my nephews fly this one.
The drone doesn’t have obstacle avoidance, depending on who you are that may be a pro and a con. Sometimes obstacle avoidance is useful so you don’t have to worry about hitting things if you’re getting a little lazy but often it gets in the way of production if you’re intentionally flying close to objects.
Even with obstacle avoidance, I’ve found myself climbing trees to retrieve drones so careful flying and awareness of your surroundings is really what matters in preventing a crash. XDynamics has mentioned potentially adding this in the future but I don’t have any more information on when. Personally, I’d rather see them add other features first but some people do think obstacle avoidance is important.
Hence, that’s an example of this drone being targeted to a more advanced (or less lazy user.) It can be nice to be able to tell your drone what to do and not have it overwrite your decision because of its programming. I prefer most of my equipment to do exactly as I ask with full manual control instead of constantly getting warnings about obstacles when I know I’m flying near a subject on purpose.
As a professional photographer, it really comes down to what cool thing can a piece of gear do to make my photos or video better? This is where this drone really shines because the XDynamics Evolve 2 has the option for interchangeable lenses.
Drone footage pretty much always looks like drone footage, a unique and fun perspective that’s gradually becoming less unique. With interchangeable lenses, we can get more specific on what and how we want to capture something. For me, that’s a fun idea because it would increase my creative capacity while flying. It can offer unique looks that are different from the standard wide-angle drone view.
The sensor is 12-megapixels, optimized for video and low light, but the relatively low-resolution photos can be easily enlarged in Lightroom with the “enhance” feature. With the power of Adobe Lightroom’s AI, you can easily turn a 12 MP still image into 48 MP, giving you plenty of resolution and detail for prints/cropping. More and more I’m looking for gear that I can use for photos and video since most clients are requesting both mediums in their productions. Luckily, the gear is getting better and more versatile and where it’s lacking, the software can sometimes fill in the gaps.
Now let's discuss video-specific features. The Evolve 2 comes standard with Apple Prores 422 codec available (no extra charge). That means awesome color and dynamic range in a high-quality codec that will be easy to edit.
The option for a nice flat profile (x-log) makes color grading your footage flexible and creative. It can be easily adjusted to match other footage with the adjustability of the color profile.
As I mentioned before, the ability to use interchangeable lenses makes getting the perspective and look you want easy. With the telephoto lens options, you can create a strong parallax effect that always looks dramatic in fast-moving video scenes. Combine that with the ability to record 4k in 120fps and you can really show off motion in your videos.
Other Notable Features of the XDynamics Evolve 2
Lastly, I’ll just run through a few other notable features. XDynamics is not a Chinese company. Its headquarters are in Hong Kong but all sales and services are done in Southern California.
For those getting increasingly concerned about tech companies collecting our data, this drone does not. There is also no geo-fencing. Drone pilots need to know where they can and can’t fly, it’s the pilot's responsibility, and one of those things like obstacle avoidance where the drone is trying to make it easier for you but sometimes you want to be able to make the final decisions as a pilot as to whether you’re actually where the drone thinks you are.
This drone is relatively affordable for the feature set. If you’re going to pay a lot of bucks you want a lot of bang and this drone delivers.
Lastly, XDynamics is a user and market-centered company. They will listen to feedback and are motivated to serve their customers. Many companies claim to be this way but when I connected with XDynamics they seemed very interested in making sure that I had everything I needed. This is the kind of service that will propel them to be a major player in the professional drone market.
What I Liked About This Drone
The main selling points for me were the full-size controller with two screens and the interchangeable lenses. It’s nice to not need my phone to fly and the artist side of me really likes the idea of being able to choose my focal length.
The drone is also beautiful if you’re allowed to admit that such things matter to you. I am always excited to pick up and fly something that just looks cool. If you look at the car market in America, I think most people will agree. Form and function go together!
What I Didn’t Like About This Drone
Even as I fly more and more, I still like having the option of obstacle avoidance. This feature may be coming in the future and I would like to see it as an option if I do want to fly with a little extra caution.
Personally, I need a lot of my gear to be travel-worthy and packable. Sometimes I’m hiking, flying, or even climbing to a shoot so size does matter.
This drone is a bit large for my everyday needs and since the props don’t fold you have to pack it and unpack it or have the space to leave it set up. That works for me when I have a shoot that’s primarily if not exclusively focused on flying but isn’t ideal when I’m trying to get to a unique location. I’d love to see the implementation of a folding prop set to make this drone just a little bit faster/smaller to get around with.
In conclusion, the XDynamics Evolve 2 is targeted more toward pros who desire the professional quality that having interchangeable lenses would provide. If flying a drone is your main gig and you’re not trying to conserve space for all your other gear, then some of the limitations would fade away for you.
This drone is positioned between the DJI Inspire and Mavic 3. It has the same sensor size as the Mavic 3 and the Inspire 2 but lands between them on price while still offering interchangeable lenses. It is smaller than the Inspire 2 and offers a higher frame rate in 4k resolution.
With all of my gear decisions, I’m finding that right balance of priorities. What can I get for the right price that gives me the right quality and serves my needs in the right ways? Do I need this piece of equipment to work in every situation or do I need it because it does something that another piece of gear can’t?
I hope my review helped answer some of your questions about the Evolve 2 from XDynamics. Let me know in the comments where you think this drone fits in the market and if you’re planning on buying one.