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Jan 13, 2020, 02:02 PM
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Autel Evo 2 48MP 8K HDR Video - But Is It Really True ?

Last week at CES Autel announced the Evo 2 drone, this new model is going to be available in 3 versions, a Standard model, Pro and Duel.
The Standard Model according to Autel has a 1/2" 48MP 8K resolution HDR camera. The Pro is fitted with a 1" 20MP Variable Aperture and the Duel model has a FLIR Boson coupled to the same sensor as the Standard model.

What is interesting about this release is the Standard model camera appears to be a massive step ahead of pretty much every other drone by a long way yet its cheaper than the Pro model thats got less mega pixel. So while the Autel spec says this is a massive step forward is this the whole truth ? In the video I explore whats really going on and its apparent Autel are using some tricks some of the phone manufactures tried last year.

I made a video explaining this in more detail

Autel EVO 2 Series Drone 48MP 8K - But Is It Really 8K ? (16 min 19 sec)

Not all things are equal

On the Evo 2 Standard Autel appear to be using the Sony IMX586 Sensor, this is fitted a Quad Bayer Filter and is the reason for this 48MP number for the sensor resolution, however this is not as clear cut as it seems.

The basic principle of a Quad Bayer Sensor is that they are reading each colour site with 4 smaller pixels rather than using one large pixel, this ďtechnicallyĒ allows them to call it a 48MP (4x12MP) sensor as it does actually have that many pixels however itís not got that many colour filters and shares them between 4 of these pixels. The sensor has the same Bayer Filter size overall roughly as the 12MP sensor everyone else is using they have just put 4x as many pixels below it.

Simplest method to think of this is as buckets that collect light, we usually have 4 of them in a square each with its own filter on the top to only allow in the colour we want. a full RGB colour pixel cluster has 1 Red, 1 Blue and 2 Green buckets with filters on the top . The 2 green is for luminance due to the way the human eye sees light. But basically 4 buckets with 4 filters, each only collects the light colour as per its filter. The Quad bayer setup keeps the same 4 filters at the same size but instead they put 4x smaller buckets under each one. While technically there is 4x more buckets their capacity remains the same as they are getting the same light though the same filter.

You basically splitting the same light and detail across 4 buckets rather than 1.

Normally when a sensor increases resolution there are lots more buckets and filters to allow you to capture more but the Quad Bayer simply makes the buckets smaller while keeping the filters the same.

This is a complex subject but the realty is while technically in bright condition and certain a circumstance with processing the Quad Bayer Filter setup can produce better results than say the 12MP sensor is based off itís not true 48MP or 8K, itís processed and created. While is very bright conditions this can create improved image quality over its 12MP counterparts its far from perfect and in low light or changing conditions this system can add more noise and is often seen in lack of detail in the image.

This is the reason this model and spec does not make sense, more MP but cheaper than the pro, more than 2x more resolution than any other drone apart from the X7 Cine Camera from DJI. The realty is this is NOT a 48MP sensors in the sense the Pro model has a 20MP sensor and the Sony A7R3 has a 42MP sensor for instance, itís a ďcheatĒ really Sony made to try and derive more resolution and improved HDR performance on tiny sensors but its not a perfect system.
The sensor will have two modes of operation generally , one is in this Quad mode and the other will be in the same as a 12MP sensor, hopefully they will give people the option to choose but there is going to be a ton of processing going on here and binning or line skipping in lower resolution modes is extremely likely.

The realty is small sensors just canít provide the kinds of native resolution that is being touted by these, Sony created this to try and get more from them but like the saying goes there is no replacement for displacement and the same goes for sensor size.

A number of phone manufactures pulled the same stunt last year and got pulled apart on it once the phones were tested well and itís likely we will start to see some of the issues with this become apparent once people start to pixel peep. In fact some has already been noticed by some of the reviews spotting lack of detail and noise in the shadows.

Autel are the first to pull this trick in the drone side but are not actually lying, itís marketing play sadly and what is a massive shame is they choose to market it this way as this will change the way manufactures now have to play the game. Up to now every single drone manufacture has played by the same rules on pixel count, actual effective pixels that produce resolution, now this has changed and itís no longer apples for apples and others will likely end up having to follow suite.

For more info on the Quad Bayer see

Evo 2 Pro

With regards to the Evo 2 Pro this looks to be the model to get period, they appear to be using the IMX383 Sensor, this is a true 20MP 1Ē sensor and is the same one used in the RX100Vii, this should produce some great results and comparing to the Standard model it will look substantially better in 4K and 6K imo. This sensor is couples to a new F2.8 Variable aperture lens however this appears to still be a rolling software shutter.

Evo 2 Craft

With regards to the other parts of the craft for its image processing the Ambarella H2 is gone and they are now using HI3559C from HISilicone. Also the flight controller has has an update and they are using the STM32H743 at 400Mhz. This is the same as the Cube Orange and the other latest STM controller.

Overall the craft internals look decent and no horrible design mistakes spotted, when the Karma released with in 5 minutes all the people who look at this stuff like I do could see some major issues so itís possible to be able to do that from images but this looks as good as it gets with all the right bits in the right places. Power segregated and ESCs kept clear. The overall design is very similar to the Mavic actually.

Last edited by Mad_angler1; Jan 13, 2020 at 02:11 PM.
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Apr 26, 2020, 03:50 PM
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DJI air2 uses same sensor apparently. 48 mp (but sensor uses a 12mp color filter).

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