Autel EVO Nano

Autel EVO Nano and EVO Lite drones are here

A lineup of new camera drones have hit the market from DJI competitor Autel — and they’re all under $1,300. Two of them cost less than $800 even. Autel, which has headquarters in both Bothell, Washington and China, this week officially announced two new drone series, the Autel EVO Nano and Autel EVO Lite drones.

Both drones have ‘+’ versions that offer slightly better cameras, adding four new drones to the Autel drone lineup. And the four new drones are likely to be a welcome addition to the photography drone world, bringing much-needed competition to technology largely dominated by Chinese drone maker DJI.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Autel EVO Nano and EVO Lite drones:

Autel EVO Nano
The Autel EVO Nano series.

About the Autel EVO Nano and Nano+ drones

The EVO Nano series is an entry-level aerial camera designed for absolute beginners.

The drone weighs 249 grams. That cleverly crafted figure is a hair under 250 grams, as that’s the threshold where — if your drone weighs more than that — then people flying as hobbyists (which is, likely, most people who buy this drone anyway) would otherwise need to register their drones.

With Autel creating a drone under that threshold, it’s consumers aren’t bound by the same regulations that all drone pilots of larger drones are bound by.

The Autel EVO Nano is in a lot of ways a direct response to DJI’s Mavic Mini line. DJI’s Mavic Mini drones start at $300, and also weigh less than 249 grams.

Besides the benefits to some of being able to skirt those regulations, tiny drones have other benefits too: they may be safer, they’re easier to transport, and more likely to be used if you don’t need to pack a second case.

The drone also has a three-way binocular vision sensor, allowing the aircraft to spot obstacles in front of it, behind it, and below it. It can fly for 28 minutes, withstand a level 5 wind resistance, and can transmit video from up to 10km away. Here are some other relevant specs from the EVO Nano:

EVO Nano Specs

  • 1/2-inch CMOS sensor
  • 12MP camera
  • 4K/30fps video
  • Price: $649

For a slightly better camera, you might consider upgrading to the EVO Nano’s big sibling, called the EVO Nano+. Here’s what you can expect with that one:

EVO Nano+ Specs

  • 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor
  • Fixed aperture of f/1.9
  • Millisecond autofocus, PDAF + CDAF
  • Price: $799
The Autel EVO Lite drones.

About the Autel EVO Lite and Lite+ drones

Photographers looking for longer battery life, stronger wind resistance and better transmission should upgrade to the EVO line. This series guarantees a 40-minute battery life, 7-level wind resistance, 12km video transmission range, all improvements over the Nano specs. Additionally, it offers not just the ability to spot obstacles, but three-way obstacle avoidance.

In not just specs but literal form (all the way down to the fold up design), the drone takes after DJI’s Mavic and Mavic Air line of drones. The DJI Mavic Air 2 starts at $800.

The EVO Lite also has a fairly unique feature: a 4-axis gimbal, which enables users to shoot vertical videos.

It could also be appealing to photographers working in low-light conditions such as shooting sunsets or indoors. that’s because the Lite+ has improved light perception capabilities thanks to what Autel is calling it’s ‘moonlight algorithm,’ enabling users to capture vibrant, low-noise scenery at night. Here are specs specific to the EVO Lite drone:

EVO Lite

  • 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor
  • 50MP camera
  • RYYB color filter array
  • HDR video
  • Millisecond autofocus, PDAF + CDAF
  • Price: $1,149

EVO Lite+

  • 1-inch CMOS sensor
  • 6K/30fps video
  • Adjustable aperture, f/2.8-f/11
  • Defog mode
  • Price: $1,249

The defog mode is a pretty interesting feature where the camera’s algorithms are able to automatically adjusts the camera’s vibrance settings to make your footage look crisp and clear, which you might find especially useful for shots such as when flying through fog or up close to a waterfall that’s otherwise misty.

The Autel Evo lite is so solid, in fact, that it makes our list of the top-recommended drones.

How to buy the new Autel drones

If you’re looking to get your hands on one of these drones ASAP, you’ll have to be patient. Autel said the drones won’t actually be available for purchase until later this fall, with October looking to be a likely launch month ahead of the holiday season.

The new Autel EVO Nano and EVO Lite drones represent a lower price point for pilots looking to enter the drone market than what’s been available as of late. Previously, the only really consumer-focused drone made by Autel was the Autel X-Star Premium drone, an easy-to-fly quadcopter, designed for photographers. The Autel X-Star very closely resembled DJI’s first drone, the Phantom, though it has since been discontinued. There’s also currently the Autel Evo II and Evo II Pro drones, though those start at $1,500 (and potentially far more, depending on the add-ons) and would be better suited for more serious photographers.

For now, more casual hobby photographers would be best suited to hold out for the fall 2022 sale date if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly Autel drone. But even still, these drones have higher price points than comparable DJI drones. Yet given how interest in DJI has been falling — perhaps due to strong anti-China sentiment in some parts of the tech community — the new Autel drones could swoop in. After all, the DJI 2021 market share is already falling on the commercial side. Will it fall on the consumer side as well?

Order the new Autel drones directly from Autel, here.

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