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XDynamics Evolve 2 Review

I stumbled across Xdynamics on social media. I spend quite a lot of time watching drone videos for inspiration and I was immediately blown away by the image quality the drone was producing.

I reached out to them and was answered by an enthusiastic and helpful team that sent me one of their drones to try out.

I have been able to take it out on a few assignments and have flown it for a couple of hours in a professional setting.

In this article, I will provide some details about what I have experienced flying and filming with the XDynamics Evolve 2.  

In my mind, the Evolve 2 could be thought of as a utilitarian flying camera.

All the gadgets and automatic modes that I personally never use have been trimmed off and left out, the only issue with calling it utilitarian is that the drone is beautiful to look at.

My imagination conjures up a carbon fiber flying shark. This sleek shape tells me the designers were thinking hard about efficiency and aerodynamics.

The camera is incredible – I find I am getting so much more detail in my highlights and shadows, and the clarity is awesome too. It has swappable lenses, and you can even change the gimbal and camera.  

I found the user interface easy to get used to. The whole process of setting up the drone and getting it into the air just makes sense.

And although bigger and more powerful than many other drones I’ve flown, it did not have a steep learning curve.

The menus are easy to read and changing camera functions is convenient while flying. It has very quickly become my favorite drone for work.

Everything about the drone feels well-designed, from changing the propellers, and lenses or inserting batteries.

It is physically solid and nothing feels fiddley. And the colored LED lights and size of it make it easy to keep an eye on while filming.

XDynamics Evolve 2 in flight

Let’s look at some of the specifications:  

Drone   

  • Weight including battery and propellers: 4.4 lbs (2 kg)  
  • Size (Excluding Propellers): 21.4 in (543 mm)  
  • Max Speed: 57 mph (92 km/h) in sports mode  
  • Max Flight Time: 33 minutes  

Camera  

  • CMOS Sensor: Sony IMX299 4/3” WDR CMOS Sensor  
  • ISO Range:
    Video: 100 – 12800  
    Photo: 100 – 25600  
  • Shutter Speed:
    Video: 1/8000s~1/24s  
    Photo: 1/8000s~30s  
  • Max Photo Resolution:
    3:2 3840*2560(L)  
    16:9 3840*2160(L)  
    1:1 2752*2752(L)  
  • Video Resolution:
    4096×2160@120/119.88/100/60/59.94/50/48/47.96/30/29.97/25/24/23.98fps  
    3840×2160@120/119.88/100/60/59.94/50/48/47.96/30/29.97/25/24/23.98fps  
    3696×2772@120/119.88/100/60/59.94/50/48/47.96/30/29.97/25/24/23.98fps  
    1920X1080@240/120/119.88/100/60/59.94/50/48/47.96/30/ 29.97/25/24/23.98fps
  • Video Mode: Normal, Time-lapse, Slow motion, HDR10  
  • Encoding: H.264 / H.265  
    Apple ProRes 422  
  • Photo Resolution:
    12M (4000X3000)  
    8M (3840X2160)  
    5M (2592×1944)  
  • Photo Mode: Single Shot, Burst Shot, Bracketing, Interval Timer Shot, HDR  
  • Max Video Bitrate: 200 Mbit/s  
  • Photo File Formats: JPEG, DNG, JPEG+DNG  
  • Video File Formats: MP4 / MOV  
  • Supported SD Card Types: Micro SD, Class 10 or above  
    CFAST 2.0    
  • Connectivity: Micro USB  

Aircraft 

The drone body is made of mostly Carbon Fiber and the belly is a magnesium alloy. It has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.

The magnesium alloy underbody also acts as a heat sink, so there is no need for a fan.

I fly a lot in Southern Utah where the temperatures get pretty high, and not only does the Evolve 2 cope really well with the heat, but I also have a bit more peace of mind knowing that it is not sucking in a whole lot of dust.

The propulsion system has four 350 KV motors and some nice big propellers that can reach a top speed of 57 MPH and seems to do really well in the wind.

The propellers do not fold up but are sturdy and pretty efficient to attach and detach. They are marked well so it is easy to see where they are supposed to be.

The plain black propellers are locked clockwise and the propellers marked with a white circle are locked anti-clockwise, so it is impossible to put the wrong propeller in place. 

As is to be expected with a drone this size, it is not exactly a stealth machine, but they did make some effort into shaping the propellers to make it as quiet as possible. 

Magnesium Alloy underbody

Camera System 

I mentioned earlier that the camera system is my favorite part of this drone. It carries an Astra micro 4/3 camera system riding on a smooth three-axis gimbal system.

This allows it to shoot video at up to 4K at 120 frames per second, great for any slow-motion shots you might be looking for.

The large sensor performs excellently in all sorts of lighting conditions with a 4000 x 3000 photo and video 4096 x 2160 resolution.

The Astra micro 4/3 system has a high dynamic range of 13 stops, providing a large range of luminosity that is not achievable with many other sensors.  It provides good detail in low light, bright light, and situations with strong highlights and deep shadows.

There are several supported lenses, Olympus and Panasonic being the main manufacturers, so there are options of a wide range of focal lengths that you can just swap out onto your camera.

There are several different video profiles that can be used to suit your workflow and editing needs, including Apple ProRes.

While you have storage options of either a Micro SD card or a CFast card, you will need the CFast if you are planning on shooting in Apple ProRes.  

Camera and lens system

Ground Station 

My second favorite feature of this drone is the ground station. It is a dual-touch screen controller, and it folds up nicely to protect the two screens.

Best of all, I do not get disturbed by notifications on my phone while flying.

The top screen is nice and big at eight inches so you can see your shot nicely even in bright sunlight. 

The lower five-and-a-half-inch screen is just a quick glance away to provide you with any other information you need, like where you are on the map.

Then there are options on the bottom of the screen like detailed battery information, how hard each motor is working, weather conditions, and signal strength.

The screens have a brightness rating of 1000 NIT and are an absolute pleasure if you are used to flying off your phone. 

The ground station battery is removable, so if you are planning to do a lot of flying you could invest in a spare and swap it over when needed.

So far, I have not really had any issues with low battery on the controller – it seems to last well. 

The ground station has an internal antenna that can transmit for 2.5 miles, but if you need more than that the external antenna can reach up to 6.8 miles. 

It is quite nice having the controller as a one-piece specialized device, with no need for cables or the stress of improper connections.

The entire process of getting the drone in the air involves connecting the propellers, turning on the ground station, turning on the drone and everything is good to go in about a minute. 

The ground station records your flight data, and you can check the drone’s flight path and altitude. You can also review footage.

Any flight data can be backed up on a computer to your user account for storage if you want. 

Flight Experience 

The XDynamics Evolve 2 feels big and powerful to me. I have flown it on some pretty windy days when I was intimidated to put a smaller drone up, and it performed very well.

The control sensitivity is customizable, so I like to put the sensitivity low, so all my movements are smooth.

It does have LIDAR sensors on the bottom which make it precise when it comes to landing, taking off, and operating close to the ground.

It has three flight modes, Altitude, Position, and Sports mode:

  • In Altitude mode the GPS is disabled, and the drone will maintain altitude but not position. This can be useful if you are aiming at getting some rally smooth shots, but should be used with caution because you have to actively stop any momentum you create and completely control the drone. 
  • In Position mode, the GPS is enabled, and the drone will hold its position if the control sticks are released. I use this mode the most because it is predictable, and I can spend more time planning my shots rather than stressing about where the drone is going. 
  • In Sports mode, the GPS is enabled so the drone does hold position, but everything is optimized – pitch, yaw, and top speed. It is great for action and high-speed subjects but should be used with some caution as when pushing the motors, especially at low altitude, a gust of wind can set the percentage of battery life that you want warnings and return home functions to kick in and really throw the drone off and might cause a crash.  

The drone has an accurate and reliable home point and return home function; you can set return home height too, which is useful. 

The flight time is rated at 33 minutes. I find I’ve been getting about 20 minutes with enough left to get it back comfortably.

The XDynamics team does seem to be working on some smart modes. At the moment there are waypoint and tripod modes that work.

User Interface 

I found the user interface intuitive. If you have flown drones before, this one makes sense and is easy to pick up and go. It is easy to find all the settings and the two-screen system puts all the control you need close to hand.

There is no geofencing, so you should really pay attention to airspace and where you are planning on flying. The ground station might warn you about restrictions, but it will not interfere with your control of the drone. 

On the lower screen of the ground station, there is a round image that displays the radar. This gives you some useful information like yaw angle, ground station heading, drone heading and position, camera orientation, home point, and compass direction.

I find it is a useful tool to see exactly what and where your drone is getting up to. 

Another cool function is the creative assistant. Many drones have the ability to display a grid pattern, but here you have a few other options such as:

  • Golden ratio
  • Pyramid
  • Circle
  • Diagonal
  • Quadrant
  • Simple division
  • Thirds, and
  • Vanishing point

Portability 

At 21.4 Inches the XDynamics Evolve 2 is relatively big and does not fold up, but it is pretty light, weighing 4.4 lbs.

It does come with a handy backpack.

The backpack is nicely padded and partitioned with spaces for spare batteries, charges, extra lenses, and anything you would want to take along for your flight.

Most of my work is based out of vehicles so it is perfect for me, but if you are planning longer hikes and needing extra luggage it is worth keeping in mind that it does take up a fair amount of space. 

Xdynamics Evolve 2 in backpack

Customer service  

The XDynamics headquarters are in Hong Kong but they have a sales team and service department in Southern California. They are easy to get a hold of and communicative about any information and questions.  

In an age where we are sometimes concerned about our personal data, Xdynamics takes the approach of not collecting the pilot’s data. 

Accessories  

The Drone comes with pretty much everything you need, but it is worth getting another few batteries if you are planning to fly a lot.

They do charge quickly but I am not sure if there is a car charger available just yet.

As I mentioned, the camera is swappable and there is a dual thermal camera available and apparently a higher megapixel camera with optical zoom in the works.

I think that is a nice option to be able to upgrade the camera without buying a new drone.  

Another advantage to using established lens manufacturers is you have an existing selection of filters. Just make sure that they fit the lens and you will be good to go.

In Conclusion

As you can see from the above information, this drone has been designed to give the pilot a wide variety of options.

It really excels in manual mode where you can set up and get exactly what you want. There are few autonomous features but it’s a platform that carries an exceptional camera and it is up to the pilot to use it to their abilities.

Although there are obstacle avoidance sensors built into the drone, they are not operational yet.

There are also no Geo-fences, so it really is up to the pilot to do their research and make sure that they are flying legally.

Personally, I enjoy the direct control and predictability of the less automated approach. In all my flights I have not had connectivity issues or any unpredictable changes.  

I have really enjoyed flying the XDynamics Evolve 2. It is a little bigger than the average drone. In my opinion with the incredible camera capabilities, it is worth the extra space it takes up.

The carbon fiber and magnesium body feel strong and well built, it feels so much more of a quality machine to handle, and while built to be lightweight I do suspect it is tough and would be able to withstand a bit of a beating, although it is so pretty I want to avoid scratching or dinging it up.

I think the fact that you can quickly and easily change lenses and cameras will make this drone well suited to many functions.

I don’t do inspections or have any use for the thermal camera, but I imagine for those who do, it will be of great advantage to have a platform that is so adaptable.

You can also check out a video review I did on it on YouTube: