Today I’m reviewing the X-Dynamics Evolve 2 drone. I’ll share my thoughts on the build, performance, and other details, along with my favorite features. Drones, or “airplane cameras” as my kids call them, are awesome technology that can take your photos to a whole new level.
The construction of the XDynamics Evolve 2
First, let’s talk about the construction of this drone. When it comes to the question of form or function, the XDynamics Evolve 2 takes both into account. The carbon body design is sleek and beautiful while being sturdy.
Don’t be fooled by the pictures, just like your rear view mirror or those misleading real estate photos, this drone is bigger and tougher than it looks. It looks like a full-size professional production drone rather than a hobbyist pocket drone, which we’ll talk about in more detail when we discuss flight and performance as well as interchangeable lenses.
If you’re familiar with the drone line, the XDynamics Evolve 2 is similar in shape and style to DJI’s Phantom 4 but larger and much better constructed (carbon fiber instead of plastic).
A nice feature of this drone is the full size clamshell style controller with 2 screens. I frequently fly drones with my phone, but prefer to use my iPad for the bigger screen. With this drone, you don’t need either, which is great if you’ve ever received a phone call while in flight!
Another 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 small multimedia card!
The drone also has a large sensor. The micro 4/3 sensor is the same size you see in many popular cameras from Panasonic, Black Magic and Olympus. It offers excellent performance especially in low light thanks to the 12 megapixel resolution. Fewer megapixels means larger pixels that gather more light, which translates to less noise at higher iso settings.
Drone flight and performance
As you can see, I flew this drone through winter storms battling cold and wind, but the flight was smooth. It’s definitely more for the advanced user and I won’t let my nephews ride this one.
The drone has no obstacle avoidance, depending on who you are this can be a pro and a con. Sometimes obstacle avoidance is useful so you don’t have to worry about bumping into things if you get a little lazy, but it often gets in the way of production if you intentionally fly close to objects.
Even with obstacle avoidance, I found myself climbing trees to retrieve drones, so careful flight and awareness of your surroundings is really what matters in preventing an accident. XDynamics mentioned potentially adding this in the future, but I don’t have more information at this time. Personally, I’d rather see them add other features first, but some people think obstacle avoidance is important.
Therefore, this is an example of this drone targeted at 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 override your decision due to its programming. I’d rather have most of my gear do exactly what I’m asking with full manual control instead of constantly getting obstacle warnings when I know I’m flying close to a subject on purpose.
As a professional photographer, it really comes down to what a piece of equipment can do to improve my photos or videos? This is where this drone really shines as the XDynamics Evolve 2 has the option of interchangeable lenses.
Drone footage almost always looks like drone footage, a unique and fun perspective that gradually becomes less unique. With interchangeable lenses, we can be more specific about what and how we want to capture something. For me, it’s a fun idea because it would increase my creative ability in flight. 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 relatively low resolution photos can be easily enlarged in Lightroom with the “enhance” function. With the AI power of Adobe Lightroom, you can easily turn a 12MP still image into 48MP, giving you enough resolution and detail for prints/crops. More and more, I am looking for equipment that I can use for both photo and video since most clients ask for both mediums in their productions. Fortunately, hardware is improving and becoming more versatile and where it is lacking, software can sometimes fill in the gaps.
Now let’s talk about video-specific features. The Evolve 2 comes standard with the Apple Prores 422 codec available (at no additional cost). That means impressive colors and dynamic range in a high-quality codec that’s easy to edit.
The option of a nice flat (x-log) profile makes color grading your footage flexible and creative. It can be easily adjusted to match other footage with the color profile adjustment.
As I mentioned before, the ability to use interchangeable lenses makes it easy to get the perspective and look you want. With telephoto options, you can create a strong parallax effect that always looks spectacular in fast-paced video scenes. Combine that with the ability to record 4k at 120fps and you can really show off the movement in your videos.
Other Notable Features of the XDynamics Evolve 2
Finally, I’ll go over a few other notable features. XDynamics is not a Chinese company. Its headquarters are in Hong Kong but all sales and services are performed in Southern California.
For those who are increasingly concerned about tech companies collecting our data, this drone does not. There is also no geo-fence. Drone pilots need to know where they can and can’t fly, that’s the pilot’s responsibility, and one of those things like obstacle avoidance where the drone is trying to make it easy for you but sometimes you want being able to make the final decisions as a pilot about whether you are really where the drone thinks you are.
This drone is relatively affordable for the feature set. If you’re going to pay big bucks, you want big hits and this drone delivers.
Finally, XDynamics is a user- and market-centric company. They will listen to feedback and be motivated to serve their customers. Many companies claim to be that way, but when I contacted XDynamics they seemed very interested in making sure I had everything I needed. This is the kind of service that will propel them to become 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 that I don’t need my phone to fly and my artistic side really likes the idea of being able to choose my focal length.
The drone also looks good if you are allowed to admit that such things matter to you. I’m always excited to pick up and ride something that looks cool. If you look at the auto market in America, I think most people would agree. Form and function go hand in hand!
What I didn’t like about this drone
Even though I’m flying more and more, I still like having the ability to avoid obstacles. This feature may come in the future and I’d like to see it as an option if I want to fly a little more cautiously.
Personally, I need a lot of my gear to be travel-worthy and packable. Sometimes I hike, fly, or even climb for a shoot, so size matters.
This drone is a little big for my everyday needs and since the props don’t fold you have to pack and unpack it or have the space to leave it set up. This works for me when I have a shoot that is mostly, if not exclusively, flight-focused, but isn’t ideal when I’m trying to get to a single location. I would like to see the implementation of a set of foldable accessories to make this drone a little faster/smaller to move around.
In conclusion, the XDynamics Evolve 2 is aimed more at professionals who want the professional quality that interchangeable lenses would offer. If flying a drone is your main job and you’re not trying to save space for all your other gear, some of the limitations would disappear for you.
This drone sits between the DJI Inspire and the Mavic 3. It has the same sensor size as the Mavic 3 and Inspire 2 but lands between them on price while still offering interchangeable lenses. It’s smaller than the Inspire 2 and offers a higher frame rate at 4k resolution.
With all of my gear decisions, I find the right balance of priorities. What can I get at the right price that gives me the right quality and meets my needs in the right way? Do I need this gear to work in all situations or do I need it because it does something other gear can’t?
I hope my review helped answer some of your questions about the XDynamics Evolve 2. Let me know in the comments where you think this drone fits in the market and if you are considering buying one.