Skydio 2 Review | Capture impossible videos

You’re looking to buy a drone, but you’re not sure which one to get. There are tons of options out there, with different specifications and abilities, and it can be difficult to choose one that fits all your needs. One option that’s been getting quite a bit of buzz lately is the Skydio 2 drone, so we decided to put it through its paces to figure out just how good it really was. Check out this review to see how we fared in our search for the best drone yet!

The first Skydio 2 Review was the best drone available, and now the company has released its second-generation model, aptly named Skydio 2. Let’s dive right into this review to see if it’s worth the money and delivers on the sky-high expectations I have for it!

It’s hard to imagine that the drone industry has come so far in such a short period of time. Just 6 years ago, most drones were just toys—inexpensive, and simplistic in design, with limited features and battery life. Today, however, drones have become highly advanced pieces of machinery that can help you with everything from work to play to simply passing the time.

Also Reading: DJI Mavic Pro 2 review

Pros
  • Portable form factor
  • Amazing obstacle avoidance
  • Automatic video recording
  • Works with Android and iOS
  • USB-C charging port
Cons
  • Disappointing camera
  • Short battery life
  • Only works in daylight
  • Remote and GPS Beacon add to cost

SKYDIO 2 SPECS

Dimensions:1.7 by 10.8 by 8.8 inches
Weight:1.7 lb
Rotors;4

Camera drones have become an important tool for filmmakers and photographers. The majority of well-known models now come with obstacle-detection systems to keep you out of trouble, but not all are created equal. For example, the Skydio 2 has a nearly crash-proof design that earns it our TechX award – a nice change from camera operators having to worry about crashing too often. Its imaging chops aren’t on par with other options either, but it’s still worth considering if you’re looking for something different than what most others offer.

Sized Down, Not Foldable

When we first got ahold of the original Skydio R1, we were disappointed by its clunky size. It took up more space than most bags could handle, nevermind people who travel often or want their drones to stay hidden. But for version 2, everything was shrunken down to size; now it measures 1.7×10.8×8.8 inches (WHD) without battery attachment and will stand about 2.9 inches high if you attach the magnetic power rack to the bottom – which incidentally makes this drone much easier to carry around than before!

Sized Down, Not Foldable

This drone is hefty and needs to be registered with the FAA, weighing about 1.7 pounds when you are all set to take flight. Registration costs can vary depending on how many drones you own, but there will also be an education requirement for new drone owners. Shipping this drone from Skydio comes in two different cases; a thin carrying case for recreational use, and another thicker Pelican case that has all of their advanced options included.

The cases are practical because you need to bring along certain things when using a drone. For example, if you go backpacking for the weekends, you will usually end up carrying two pieces of baggage- one for your clothes and another for your photography equipment. It’s much easier if you have folding drones such as the DJI Mavic Air or Parrot Bebop 2 packed away inside a camera bag.

Sized Down, Not Foldable

There are a few different configurations available for purchase. The Basic Starter Kit starts at $1,349 and comes with all of the essentials – a drone, one battery (with an additional battery sold separately), a standard charging cable that plugs into any USB port, and its slim carrying case.

Next up we have the Sports Kit which costs $1,799 and includes an extra accessory that increases tenacious subject tracking abilities; three high-capacity batteries; a compact dual battery charger; and a 128GB memory card.

We were given the Cinema Kit in order to review. It retails for $2,199 and includes most of what you need from the Sports kit but with a handheld remote control; a set of neutral density filters; and an included waterproof case.

There’s also the Pro Kit, which costs a whopping $2,999. It comes with everything from the Cinema Kit plus the tablet adapter and an extended warranty (Skydio Premiere Support).

Skydio 2

The beefier warranty covers the drone for two years (versus one) and offers advanced shipping of a replacement unit for warranty coverage—if you are looking to incorporate this product into your business, then this could potentially be worth the investment. It does not cover accidental damage or flyaways, however; if this is something that concerns you then DJI has an option with their Care Refresh Extended Warranty.

The configuration that is the most appropriate for you really depends on what type of activities you will be using your drone for. If you are looking to use an automated Follow mode without caring much about flying manually, then a kit with the Beacon (available separately) would work well. If you are looking to fly the drone manually and take control of it, then a kit with a remote or buying one on its own ($179) would work well for those purposes.

You can easily rely on your smartphone to control the drone because of how it is capable. I used my iPhone 8 Plus and this worked without any problems for me, however, if you’re using an older model then chances are there could be some trouble with compatibility issues. Android users running version 7.0 or higher will be able to access the app from Google Play(Opens in a new window), while those who own an iPhone need to worry about a potential problem when accessing the website via Safari browser (Opens in a new window).

Always-On Obstacle Avoidance

Most drones with obstacle avoidance are selective in their systems of operation and only a few models include sensors that cover every direction. The Skydio 2 takes a different approach, however. It employs an on-body camera system for full-time all-around obstacle avoidance. This provides its users with an incredible amount of freedom without limitation – even trees, wires, or small pieces of paper could cause the drone to stop working if flown under them – but this also means there will be some restrictions as to what type of terrain the user can go on.

Skydio 2

The drone cannot take off in most indoor spaces- a necessary safety precaution- and it only stays afloat when there is enough light, so you cannot use it at all for shoots after dusk or before dawn. Luckily, I was able to fly the drone during the summer months with no issues. Even though we were surrounded by shady trees underneath even shadier leaves -the sun still managed to find its way through and allow me plenty of time to capture some great photos. However if the sunlight begins to disappear while flying -or worse yet just isn’t strong enough- then the drone will hover until further notice and finally land.

It’s hard for me to measure the capabilities of this machine because it performs at such high levels. Not only is speed an issue but handling is as well. The DJI Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S are great drones that are able to fly over objects when moving forward – however, they do so at a slower pace. My drone will zoom right past them at high speeds if you turn its sensitivity all the way up, but slows down before hitting anything. It’s also easy to control with my remote or even my phone- which gives me an immersive flying experience while still maintaining ease of use.

Always-On Obstacle Avoidance

Drone lovers would know this device right away. Skydio is using a remoter controller made by Parrot, which includes most features of the DJI Mavic Pro – including 2 control sticks, an option to attach your phone (it can only accommodate iOS devices), and shoot footage from different angles with its control rocks. The only downside? You’ll have to take off your phone case for it to fit securely in the cradle.

With the remote, the Skydio 2’s operating range is adequate for line-of-sight operation – but only just. In our rural test spot, one without a ton of Wi-Fi networks or other wireless devices being used nearby, I noticed a choppy video feed at around 750 feet.

One of the pros to purchasing this particular drone is how autonomous it is when you want it to follow you around. Some other drones are able to do so too, but they lack features such as obstacle detection and avoidance which make them far less safe than this model. You can leave your worries behind when using this product because it will follow you without crashing or getting hurt because of obstacles that are in its way!

You can use the app alone to track subjects, but the drone cannot track anything other than certain targets. In testing the Skydio system was able to identify a car, pickup truck, crossover – and even a John Deere farm tractor. Compared to ActiveTrack in DJI drones which allows tracking on nearly any subject imaginable, this feature is slightly less versatile than its competitor.

On my walk through the forest, I set up my drone’s height ceiling very low because the branches were higher than I anticipated and there was no other option. My autopilot thought it would be wise to fly a little closer to me when maneuvering around downed trees or any obstacles in its path since I can’t see where they are. Nonetheless, this leaves me susceptible to injury if my attention is not directed fully on what the drone does next – so always stay alert when using autonomous flight controls!

Skydio 2

If you want to really take advantage of Follow mode, the Beacon will make for a worthwhile investment. It’s a tiny remote with an easy-to-read monochrome screen and a handful of buttons used solely for controlling it. It also has its own GPS system, so even if your drone loses sight of you or can’t see anything at all – it’ll still find its way back home!

There are many different ways to track a subject using the camera on this drone. All of them are available either through the beacon or through the smartphone application. Tracking can be done from a wide range of angles, such as behind you and in front of you – not just straight ahead.

To capture footage at different angles and distances, there is a variety of one-shot flight modes available. These modes include back-and-away Dronie Shot, Straight up Rocket Reveal Shot and Vertical Vortex Shots. The drone also has a Cable Cam mode which allows the user to move the camera from point A to point B.

All of the different shot modes are easily accessible through the app and you can switch between camera positions, engage orbits, set a follow distance and even fly it manually if you choose to.

Skydio 2

Flight times were surprisingly short. We had grown used to small drones that could stay aloft for nearly half an hour, so it was disappointing when our flight lasted only 18 minutes before going dark. This would mean we’d need 2 or 3 batteries if we wanted to use the drone all day long and then charge them back up at home in time for the next day’s flights. Thankfully, the kit comes with a dual battery charger – though you do still have to watch out for running out of power mid-flight since there isn’t any backup supply on board yet!

A Disappointing 4K Camera

While the Skydio 2 impresses with its unrivaled capability to outmaneuver crashes, it’s video quality falls short. On paper, this drone captures 4K footage at a high bit rate while also giving you your choice of either H.264 or HEVC compression – all while recording in HDR if necessary! But one downside to note is that this machine cannot capture images greater than 16 megapixels due to specifications requiring every shot be completely full-frame.

However, for all the promises made about these video specs, nothing was fulfilled. The footage was too sharp; it gave everything a slightly glowing shine without true clarity. I couldn’t change any settings to adjust this – something that’s possible with other drones whose default quality is less than desirable – like the Autel Evo Pro II.

In addition, the drone doesn’t allow you to customize colors. Every picture taken is done so at default settings with no other options available. You cannot adjust to a different color scheme for specialized shots such as vibrant landscapes or black-and-white photography.

A Disappointing 4K Camera

We also noted that, if set to automatic, the white balance shifted noticeably depending on what was happening in each scene – even when there was a steady and constant stream of light present. Remembering to take some time out of your day-to-day life to really focus on this setting will ensure you don’t have issues with inconsistency in color across all video clips.

It’s not all bad news. The camera itself is decent, with a 12MP smartphone-sized image sensor, f/2.8 aperture, and distortion-free optics. The three-axis gimbal does its job well – Footage will stay stable even if the drone is racing across at high speeds, which means we can always record steady videos without worrying about blurriness or shakiness of focus. Another thing we loved was the automatic recording feature – It automatically starts recording whenever you go into video mode, so we never need to worry about missing anything!

Skydio 2

In addition to taking videos, Skydio also has a photo mode that shoots 12MP pictures in either JPEG or Adobe DNG formats. For those of you who are looking for an edited picture to post on social media, JPEG files offer perfect colors – but keep it at a low quality so as not to affect speed- whereas Raw takes much longer and requires specialized software but offers more control over editing options such as color tuning and shadow adjustment; we recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic.

This just isn’t the drone to get if you care about camera quality above all. The Autel EVO Pro II and DJI Air 2S both include cameras with one-inch sensors which are larger in size with increased capacity for higher resolution of photo & video content that is cleaner, crisper, and has better contrast & dynamic range. Casual users will enjoy improved performance due to models like the DJI Mavic Air 2 and Autel EVO II; equipped with 48MP Quad Bayer cameras which are the same as those found in high-end smartphones

Fantastic Follow, With Limitations

Skydio has staked its reputation on never crashing or getting stuck, and in that regard, this company delivers. Its drone easily maneuvers around obstacles – just point it towards where you want to go and watch it go. We’re blown away by how reliable this technology is, which makes it deserving of TechX Award.

Fantastic Follow, With Limitations

The best part of the design is that, even though it flies independently, the drone responds to your commands. Whether you’re looking for one to follow you through unknown territory or simply record every inch of your favorite running route, this is a perfect choice. The basic kit may be limited in what it can do – following people and vehicles only – but adding the Beacon accessory will give you quality tracking along with good accuracy.

If you’re looking for a Follow drone that won’t let you down, the Skydio 2 definitely holds its own. The autonomous navigator can maneuver through complicated spaces with ease and has some automated shots perfect for revealing or orbiting large subjects. However, it’s disappointing when the camera falls short of expectations–one would think it was only built to capture videos of your dog rolling around on its back or chasing leaves in the wind.

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