Thanks for reading this article on which drone is better: the Autel Evo Lite Plus or the DJI Mavic 3 Pro.
While DJI has been releasing prosumer and advanced-level drones at a blazing speed this past year to year and a half, Autel has taken a slower approach to drone releases, with a fair bit of time between major releases.
I primarily fly drones for business purposes. So my main focus oftentimes is “what drones work best for my client’s needs.” With this view in mind, I have used the Autel Evo Lite+ for a little over a year and the Mavic 3 Pro for a few months.
In this article, I’ll examine the key differences between the Autel Evo Lite Plus and the Mavic 3 Pro, the upgrades in the all-new Mavic 3 Pro, my overall experience with each, and why I consider the Mavic 3 Pro to be the better commercial drone.
If you are looking to expand your professional fleet, this article will help you decide which drone is best for you and your clients.
Autel Evo Lite Plus
As the senior in this comparison article, the Autel Evo Lite Plus was released in January 2022 and is viewed as the direct competitor to the 2021 DJI Air 2S.
Aside from competing against the Air 2S, the Evo Lite Plus is a smaller (i.e. lite) and equally powerful version of the Autel Evo II professional drone, dubbed the Evo II Pro. Even close to two years later, the Evo Lite Plus offers a few industry standards.
While the Evo Lite Plus is smaller and substantially less expensive than the Mavic 3 Pro, it has quite a bit to offer:
- 40-minute flight times, perfect for long shoots, initially unheard of in a drone of this size in early 2022
- Three-way obstacle avoidance sensing which can aid in safer flight maneuvers
- 1-inch camera sensor for 20 MP high-resolution professional quality photos
- Absence of Geofencing to ensure you can fly where and when needed, with proper authorization
Mavic 3 Pro
Released in May of 2023, the newer Mavic 3 Pro is an upgrade to the original Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Classic, adding a tri-camera system that allows for three different focal lengths.
When looking for the best camera system in a prosumer drone, the Mavic 3 Pro, or especially the more expensive Mavic 3 Pro Cine, is the drone to purchase if you have the budget for it, as this quality comes at a price.
- Tri-camera system for bringing cinematic vision to life from varying perspectives
- Multiple 10-bit Color Profiles for added color grading flexibility
- Waypoint Missions included in the DJI Fly app to easily plan repeatable and complex routes
- Apple ProRes Video Encoding, included in the Cine version, for professional television and movie productions
As mentioned, in an effort to expand my fleet for commercial work, I have used both the Autel Evo Lite Plus and the Mavic 3 Pro on client projects, in various capacities.
Strictly from a feature-set point of view, the Mavic 3 Pro is the clear choice for the work I do for clients.
My company takes care of a wide variety of creative needs for our clients, and the camera on the Mavic 3 Pro is perfect for delivering theirs and even my vision.
The Evo Lite Plus does have an excellent camera. However, the Mavic 3 Pros tri-camera system takes this up a notch, offering more versatility in the images captured, making it perfect for a wider range of industries.
Having two additional focal lengths on the Mavic 3 Pro allows for getting tighter shots on subjects, whether this be for real estate, roofing, or even high-altitude cellular and electrical-related equipment.
Not only does the Mavic 3 Pro have various log-like color profiles for the three cameras, but these are also in 10-bit, which can be essential for client video work.
The Autel Evo Lite Plus, though, does an impressive job over a range of commercial projects, especially with its one-inch camera sensor and multiple shooting modes.
The Mavic 3 Pro, on the other hand, is a complete, well-rounded commercial workhorse, handling all content demands with flexibility and the highest quality.
What are the Main Differences?
Considering the year-plus release gap between the Autel Evo Lite Plus and the Mavic 3 Pro, there are quite a few technical upgrades the Mavic 3 Pro benefits from over the Autel Evo Lite Plus.
I enjoy using both the Evo Lite Plus and the Mavic 3 Pro. However, with the upgraded specs and overall flexibility, the Mavic 3 Pro is my choice for my commercial business needs.
When taking various types of photos and videos for my clients, the Mavic 3 Pro consistently does an excellent job.
The variety of media taken with the Mavic 3 Pro covered various industries, such as Real Estate, City commissioned projects, Construction, and Lake Management.
The Mavic 3 Pro excels over the Evo Lite Plus in quite a few areas, primarily camera-related, as well as an additional area or two:
- Tri-Camera System: The Mavic 3 Pro not only has a 24 mm equivalent lens (over the Evo Lite Plus’ 29 mm) but adds a 70 mm medium-tele lens and 166 mm tele lens for more dimensions of creativity when filming video and capturing still images.
- Camera quality: This is where the Mavic 3 Pro really sets itself apart from the Evo Lite Plus (and most drone cameras). The main 24 mm camera is a 4/3 20 MP Hasselblad camera with excellent color science. For professionals, having a larger main camera than the Evo Lite Plus allows for more dynamic range and flexibility. Additionally, unlike the Evo Lite Plus, the three cameras can record 10-bit footage, which is important regarding flexibility when color grading. Also, if opting for the more expensive Cine version of the Mavic 3 Pro, Apple ProRes video encoding is available for all three cameras.
- Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance: While this is practically commonplace with DJI’s newest lines of drones, it is missing from the Evo Lite Plus and offers added 360-degree protection when performing difficult maneuvers in obstacle-ridden environments. The new obstacle avoidance system is also instrumental for advanced subject-tracking functions.
- Weight: This might not be as important for some as it is for others. However, the Mavic 3 Pro, being heavier than the Evo Lite Plus by close to 120 g, means it is slightly more stable in the air. This makes it even more ideal when filming in windier conditions.
Autel Evo Lite Plus
The Evo Lite Plus is part of a series of smaller but capable Autel drones modeled after the larger Evo II and Evo II Plus.
While having Lite in the name might indicate to some that the Evo Lite Plus is a lesser drone, this is far from the truth. The Evo Lite Plus has many of the benefits of the Evo II Plus, only in a smaller package.
Autel pioneered longer battery life in consumer and prosumer drones with the release of the Evo II and II Pro, which boasted 40-minute flight times back in 2020.
That longer battery life made its way to the smaller Evo Lite Plus, and I must say I was initially impressed with the battery life when directly comparing it to my then workhorse, the Air 2S.
Also making its way into the smaller Evo Lite Plus is a 20 MP one-inch camera sensor. This was actually an improvement over the larger Evo II (non-Pro version), as that camera was half the size, using a 1/2-inch sensor.
With this larger camera sensor came the ability to shoot excellent low-light footage. Case in point: one of their modes is dubbed “Night shot.”
Additionally, following the tradition of the Autel drones before it, the Autel Evo Lite Plus is not Geofenced. Although Autel has oftentimes spoken of perhaps adding geofencing to the larger Evo II line, they did specify that the Lite and Lite Plus would not be receiving any type of geofencing limitations.
Key features of the Evo Lite Plus:
- 20 MP 1-inch camera sensor
- Adjustable aperture from f/2.8 – f/11
- 6k 30 fps; 4k 60fps Log and normal color profiles
- 3-way obstacle avoidance system
- 40-minute battery life
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10/25/2023 06:56 pm GMT
Mavic 3 Pro
The Mavic 3 Pro is the next iteration in the Mavic 3 line.
Originally released in 2021, it is the successor to the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Classic and is specifically intended for photography and videography professionals looking to deliver the highest quality content to their clients.
The Mavic 3 Pro adds a medium-tele camera at 70 mm and improves the tele camera of the Mavic 3, increasing the focal length from 162 mm to 166 mm, while simultaneously bumping up the image quality.
While the physical performance of the Mavic 3 Pro is pretty much identical to the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Classic (regarding speed and stability), the main improvements are found in the technically improved and expanded camera system.
The Mavic 3 Pro continues the tradition of having 360-degree obstacle avoidance protection due to the omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors throughout.
For many professionals, this is essential, especially when filming complicated sequences in difficult locales.
Key features of the Mavic 3 Pro:
- Triple-camera system
- Pro-level Remote Controller option
- Hasselblad 24 mm Main camera with adjustable aperture (f/2.8 – f/11)
- 5.1k 50 fps; 4k 120fps 10-bit D-Log, D-Log M color profiles
- Apple ProRes (Cine Version)
- DJI Goggles and DJI Motion 2 compatibility
- Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance
Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Pro
Regarding drone photography and videography, having more focal length options is always best. This can certainly be agreed upon by professional photographers using DSLR and Mirrorless cameras.
When filming, and even when taking photographs, having three focal length options gives you the flexibility to get really creative and tell stories in a much more dynamic way.
For instance, using the 166 mm camera brings the subject of choice into focus.
Switching over to the 70 mm camera in the same scene will then bring focus to said subject while also establishing the environment around the subject.
Lastly, jumping to the 24 mm wide angle adds cohesiveness to the story, putting into perspective the subject in relation to the entire scene.
This is just one way to creatively tell a story using the Mavic 3 Pro’s tri-camera system.
To better present visual content, and to the delight of videographers worldwide, the Mavic 3 Pro can shoot video in various 10-bit color profiles in 10-bit:
When shooting 10-bit, there is greater flexibility for color adjustment and grading when editing video in software such as DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premier (to name a few).
This is due to their being a little over a billion colors and variations to work with, as opposed to the 16 million colors present in 8-bit.
While the Mavic 3 Pro does not shoot 6k video like the Evo Lite Plus, it can shoot at a maximum of 5.1k 50 fps, all in 10-bit color.
Additionally, the Mavic 3 Pro can shoot 4k 120 fps over the Evo Lite Plus 4k 60 fps. With the addition of FHD 200 fps, the Mavic 3 Pro can achieve smooth, ultra-slow-motion shots.
As mentioned briefly earlier, there is support for Apple ProRes 422 video encoding, which is essential for those shooting for television and movie productions. To date, there is no other prosumer or consumer drone that shoots in Apple ProRes. You’d have to move up to the fully professional level of DJI drones for this.
The Mavic 3 Pro wouldn’t be a pro-level drone if it didn’t have an adjustable aperture. The main 24 mm Hasselblad camera has an aperture that can be adjusted between f/2.8 to f/11.
While adjusting the aperture might not make a noticeable difference when shooting pictures, it can make a very big difference when shooting video and trying to stay within the 180-degree rule without the use of ND filters.
Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Pro
Simply put, the Mavic 3 Pro flies faster than the Evo Lite Plus.
On the below chart, the ascent and descent speeds with the Evo Lite Plus were all in Sport mode, while the ascent and descent speeds for the Mavic 3 Pro are the same across all flight modes (Cine, Normal, and Sport). The horizontal speeds for both drones are while in Sport mode.
|Autel Evo Lite Plus||DJI Mavic 3 Pro|
|Ascent||11.18 mph||17.89 mph|
|Descent||8.94 mph||13.42 mph|
|Horizontal||40 mph||46.97 mph|
Not only does the Mavic 3 Pro fly faster than the Evo Lite Plus, but in my opinion, it handles better.
The Evo Lite Plus has a slight lumbering feel to it compared to the Mavic 3 Pro. It does get to where it needs to go, but it gets there with a heavy and sluggish control feel, although it is a lighter drone than the Mavic 3 Pro.
Changing the EXP settings in the Autel Sky app did little to correct this feeling.
On the other hand, the Mavic 3 Pro handles quickly and precisely. Could this be due to the faster motors? Possibly. However, even when flying slowly, the Mavic 3 Pros control just felt more “tuned in.”
When combined with adjusting the EXP settings within the DJI Fly app, the flight control got even better, with the Mavic 3 Pro handling and performing like my other business-use DJI drones.
Remote Controller Compatability
Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Pro
The Mavic 3 Pro is also a clear winner when it comes to the remote controller options available for it. The Evo Lite Plus only uses the single, top-heavy X-Box-like controller, while the Mavic 3 Pro can be operated using the following three DJI remote controllers:
From a professional point of view, the DJI RC Pro is the most robust solution for controlling the Mavic 3 Pro, as it has a 5.5-inch screen with 1000 nits of brightness, perfect for bright days.
Additionally, 3rd party apps can be installed on it, thus enabling it to be a true all-in-one controller solution, separate from a cell phone.
Following closely behind the DJI RC Pro is the DJI RC, which is a more affordable option. At 700 nits of brightness, the DJI RC can still be seen in very bright conditions.
Lastly, my go-to choice when doing jobs without the DJI RC Pro is the RC-N1 controller. While this takes a little longer to get set up and deploy due to the added device and cables, any smart device can be used with it.
I use a Tripletek tablet attached to the RC-N1 when shooting for our lakefront clients, as it is waterproof, shockproof, and has 1500 nits. Perfect for constant sun glare off the water and if I happen to accidentally drop it in the environment.
Winner: Autel Evo Lite Plus
One of the big things Autel drones are known for is their lack of geofencing. The Evo Lite Plus is no exception.
Although the newer DJI drones running DJI Fly are fairly easy to unlock in authorization zones, there are absolutely no unlocks needed with the Evo Lite Plus. Simply acquire LAANC authorization, turn on the Evo Lite Plus, and fly.
No geofencing is essential where it is either hard to unlock areas through the DJI Fly app or for areas where unlocking the location has to be done from a desktop computer beforehand. This has unfortunately proven to be problematic for some in the past using DJI drones.
Having used the Evo Lite Plus for almost a year and using the Mavic 3 Pro for months commercially for repeat clients, I have to say that the Mavic 3 Pro suits my business purposes perfectly.
The Autel Evo Lite Plus is an excellent drone for many commercial applications and industries, with its one-inch camera sensor and 40 minutes of flight time.
If you are looking for a geofence-free drone with a professional-grade camera, capable of 40-minute flight times, all for half the price of a Mavic 3 Pro, then the Autel Evo Lite Plus may be the drone for you.
The Mavic 3 Pro, on the other hand, provides the most flexibility and photo and video quality needed to give the most professional end results to clients, including those in the film industry.
If you are like me and need to deliver the highest quality content and media to clients, the Mavic 3 Pro is the better choice, hands down.