Evaluating the DJI Mavic 3 and Autel EVO Lite+ Drones Head-to-Head

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In our preliminary evaluate of DJI’s Mavic 3, not all the promised options had been accessible. Because of current firmware updates, it now has all the things DJI promised at launch. We’ll showcase a number of of these new options on this evaluate. On the similar time, lots of people had been disconcerted by the much-higher price ticket ($2,195 base) than earlier Mavic fashions. So, we determined to see if there was a less-expensive various that had lots of the similar capabilities. For that, we’ve been reviewing Autel’s EVO Lite+ drone ($1,295 base). Flying them side-by-side has helped us examine their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Mavic 3 GPS Challenge Replace (March 25, 2022):

Since we revealed this text, DJI has launched up to date firmware (v01.00.0600) that was supposed to repair the problem. Nevertheless, it seems that, whereas it has fastened or not less than improved, the scenario for a lot of customers, for others there may be solely modest enchancment or no change in acquisition time. (An outline of the unique difficulty seems farther down on this article). We’re hoping DJIis persevering with to work on the issue, as many individuals purchased the dear Mavic 3 primarily based on its preliminary efficiency, and are definitely not being shy in DJI-related boards about their disappointment with the following difficulty.

Autel EVO Lite+ By the Numbers

Since we already supplied specs for the Mavic 3 in our unique evaluate, we’ll soar proper to the Lite+. First, just like the Mavic 3, it has a wonderful sensor for a drone its dimension. A 1-inch format 20MP mannequin that may seize video as much as 5.7K. It even has 6GB of built-in storage for these annoying instances if you take off with no card loaded.

The 20MP digicam on the Lite+ did a very good job of rendering even excessive distinction scenes like this sundown over the coast. (Picture: David Cardinal)

It is extremely just like the Mavic 3 in dimension and weight at 820 grams, though its barely bigger bulk permits it to hold a bigger battery that provides it a theoretical 40-minute most flight time. Just like the Mavic 3, it has a large claimed vary, however I’ve but to discover a location the place I can preserve radio contact wherever close to so far as the said vary of drones I’ve been in a position to fly in locations the place there isn’t a distance regulation (and naturally for probably the most half non-UAV-pilot-licensed US fliers are required to maintain their drones rather a lot nearer to house).

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Impediment avoidance on the Lite+ is sweet, however solely in three instructions (entrance, again, and down). Whereas I’ve flown my unique Mavics for years with very-limited impediment detection, I’ve been actually spoiled when reviewing the Mavic 2 and particularly the Mavic 3 — which has clever avoidance in each route.

In the event you’re flying by hand, then avoidance principally prevents you from making silly errors. However the minute you ask the drone to carry out pre-programmed strikes or monitor a topic, impediment avoidance turns into critically vital.

Autel Lite+ Night time and Tremendous-Night time Modes Ship

Autel is extraordinarily enthusiastic concerning the low-light capabilities of the Lite+ drone’s Night time and Tremendous-Night time modes. I discovered the Night time mode fascinating for pictures, however as on this pattern picture it made the scene at nightfall look a little bit unreal. Against this, I used to be in a position to shoot video in Tremendous-Night time mode in near-pitch-black with spectacular outcomes.

Zoomed in Night time mode {photograph} of a distant wildfire, re-sized for the net.

This panning video of the Bay Space at evening has impressively low noise:

Autel is Lacking Some Polish

The Lite+ is nice to make use of and fly as soon as all techniques are go, however a number of the time I discovered that both the drone wouldn’t take off due to some pre-flight verify difficulty, or it did take off and the gimbal was canted at round 30 levels. Neither of those is a show-stopper, as you’ll be able to reboot and relaunch, however they don’t appear worthy of a $1K+ drone in 2022. Total, it contributes to my perception that Autel simply doesn’t have as mature an ecosystem as DJI. In equity, most of my flying with the drone was performed earlier than the newest firmware replace, and Autel guarantees extra app and firmware updates are coming in March.

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DJI’s Energetic Monitor vs. Autel’s Dynamic Monitor

Whereas anybody who has ever flown a Skydio 2 isn’t going to get very excited concerning the monitoring on the Mavic 3, it’s fairly dependable, pretty sensible about avoiding obstacles, and in some instances re-acquiring topics — and it’s lastly accessible. In distinction, the Dynamic Monitoring function of the Lite+ isn’t scheduled till March, so we’ll want to attend and see. The shortage of up and aspect impediment detection can even make the Lite+ extra restricted. In a single take a look at, the Mavic 3 was fairly spectacular monitoring a shifting automobile even when it went behind a sand dune. You possibly can see on this video that it was additionally very able to monitoring via bushes, however wasn’t in a position to take care of a topic strolling again in the direction of it:

Mavic 3 POI Monitoring Analysis

I had combined outcomes monitoring a POI. Right here I requested the Mavic 3 to do an orbit round an individual on a seashore. It bought a lot of the manner round, however then misplaced monitor. Considerably surprisingly, it then did lock again on. That’s technically spectacular, however would imply that the ensuing footage couldn’t be utilized in its entirety.

Mavic 3 Will get Sensible Return to Residence

After the Mavic 3 misplaced monitor of the particular person it was following within the earlier video, I instructed it to return house. The ensuing flight path was fairly cool. It didn’t retrace its unique route, and it additionally didn’t merely fly excessive and over all the things. As a substitute it took about the identical route again via the bushes {that a} human operator may need chosen. For anybody who has misplaced a drone when RTH didn’t ship, it is a massive development.

Mavic 3 GPS: Non permanent Bug or Deal Killer?

The Mavic 3 usually takes a ridiculously very long time to lock on to GPS. I’ve had it take a number of minutes, even after particularly in search of wide-open areas like parking heaps and a seashore. At first I assumed it was simply after the drone had been moved an extended distance, however I even had it occur on my second flight from the identical place. Sadly, it’s not simply me. The web is stuffed with the identical grievance. I actually hope that is fixable, as it’s in contrast to some other drone I’ve flown and jogs my memory of a 1990’s GPS.

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You possibly can, in fact, launch the drone and let it type itself out within the air. However I’ve been warned by individuals who ought to know that that may be a great way to lose a drone in a fly-away.

Evaluating Video Choices

One space the place the Mavic 3 has an actual benefit is professional video. It will probably document in 10-bits, which offers a little bit extra granularity for submit processing (opposite to what you would possibly learn, extra bits of precision doesn’t robotically imply extra dynamic vary). As well as, the Mavic 3 provides recording in a “Log-style” profile. Principally, log profiles present one thing nearer to a “uncooked” rendering. In flip that permits for extra flexibility in colour grading and colour correction in comparison with sometimes more-heavily-processed colour choices.

Autel views the Lite+ as a “client” drone, so it isn’t planning to unleash a mix of 10-bit and a log profile for it. They want to steer budding videographers to their higher-end choices — that are priced extra intently to the Mavic 3. Personally, coming from a tech trade background the place we labored arduous to supply our prospects with as many capabilities as we may on the lowest attainable value, it irks me that many distributors (together with each Autel and DJI) discover it expedient to artificially withhold options to get prospects to improve to a costlier drone.

Selecting Between the Mavic 3 and the EVO Lite+

There is no such thing as a query that the Mavic 3 is a extra versatile providing than the Lite+, that includes superior impediment avoidance and a extra intensive ecosystem round it. You additionally get extra “professional” video settings and the choice of utilizing it with DJI’s costly however highly effective Professional RC (distant management). Nevertheless, that comes at a bump in value of round $1,000. In the event you don’t want professional video, and both don’t want monitoring or are prepared to attend and see what Autel delivers, the Lite+ is an effective worth.

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