A commercial UAV pilot is only as good as the equipment they use.
No amount of skill can overcome poor camera quality or an unstable drone.
So today, I’m going to show you the top professional drones that serious commercial pilots should consider.
There are many options out there, so it can be easy to get bogged down. The multirotors I’ve chosen were manufactured by some of the best, most reliable drone brands, they have excellent online support (forums, blogs), and they provide the quality you need to do your best work.
Here’s the full list in case you don’t feel like scrolling down and want to open some tabs to compare:
Let’s get started!
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The DJI Phantom 4 is one of the top drones on the market right now.
It’s the fastest Phantom so far, capable of reaching top speeds of 45 miles per hour. It also gets an excellent flight time of 28 minutes—great for pro pilots to get the shots they need and minimize downtime.
The Phantom 4 also has a built-in camera that can record video at 4K, 2.7K, 1080p and 720p. But one of it’s most notable features is the obstacle avoidance system. The drone can intelligently position and maneuver itself around obstacles mid-flight.
Couple all of this with a Tap to Fly system, DJI’s reliability, and robust software, and you’ve got a tough drone to beat.
These extra parts are available for the DJI Phantom 4:
DJI recently released the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian, which comes with a magnesium shell and anti-fingerprint coating, not to mention the super cool-looking matte-grey obsidian coloring.
Check it out:
You can buy the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian now on the DJI website.
The DJI Inspire 1 PRO is a top-of-the-line drone for aerial videography, photography, and cinematography.
Its carbon fiber arms move up and out of the camera’s view when flying, giving you a 360-degree view of the world surrounding your drone.
Its Zenmuse X5 camera shoots 4K video, captures 16 megapixel stills, and lets the videographer change lenses. It also shoots raw video footage—perfect for professional filmmaking
You can get a real-time feed of the Inspire 1 PRO’s camera sent to your mobile device. And the app gives you manual camera control, flight telemetry data, and auto takeoff and landing.
The Inspire 1 PRO is also capable of dual-operator control, allowing you to control the quadcopter with two transmitters and two people. You can have one person focused on flight control and the other controlling the camera.
The DJI Inspire 1 PRO is a powerful drone for doing professional aerial work.
These extra parts are available for the DJI Inspire 1 PRO:
→ Extra DJI Inspire 1 Remote Controller (for dual-operator control)
The Mavic Air is super small, like the Spark, and it can fold up to become even smaller, like the Mavic. It can be flown with gesture control, like the Spark, but it also comes with high quality 4K video, like the Mavic.
In short, it’s a drone that’s really easy to fly but also provides high quality stills and video.
ActiveTrack can sense up to 16 subjects simultaneously, letting you choose the right tracking subject. It comes with higher tracking precision, so you can follow targets even when they’re running, jumping, or cycling, or moving somewhat erratically (for instance, riding a bicycle down a mountain).
QuickShots has six different options: Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, Asteroid, and Boomerang, and can be shared to social media via the DJI GO 4 app.
SmartCapture lets you control the Mavic Air by hand, making it convenient for drone newbies or professionals working with multiple systems. Similar to the Spark, you can launch, fly, and take videos or photos on the Mavic Air using only hand gestures.
TapFly lets you fly wherever you tap on your mobile device screen, and works in Forward, Backward, Free, and Coordinate modes, letting you adjust flight speed to suit your aerial needs.
If you haven’t heard of Yuneec, you’re missing out on some high-quality aerial camera platforms that may very well be the perfect fit for your recreational (or business) needs.
The H520 is equipped with six rotors, a 360-degree gimbal camera and retractable landing gear with Yuneec’s standard of being ready out of the box, easy and safe to fly, with stunning Ultra HD 4K video and stills.
Yuneec’s H520 was built for both industrial use and ambitious professionals. It comes with a long focal-length lenses that allows the drone to fly at a greater distance from an object and data storage that may be shared instantly from the ST16S Ground Station or delivered directly in 4K/2K/HD video or 20Mp still images.
DJI‘s Phantom 3 line is a popular choice for professional pilots. There are now four models in this line: Standard, Advanced, 4K, and Professional.
The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is the second most-advanced model in the range, and it is designed specifically for professional pilots.
The quadcopter features 4K video, 23 minutes of flight time, and a 5km control distance.
The Phantom 3 Professional also comes with five advanced flight modes:
If you’re looking for a drone that will get you quality shots but isn’t too expensive (compared to other commercial drones), check out the Phantom 3 Professional.
These extra parts are available for the DJI Phantom 3 Professional:
→ Extra Propellers (2 Pairs)
The DJI Spreading Wings S900 is one of two hexacopters on this list.
This multirotor is capable of carrying a much heavier payload than most drones, so if you’re working with some serious equipment (like dual RED‘s) this is one of the best options for handling it.
The frame is lightweight and the arms are foldable, making it easy to transport. But it also packs enough power to get your equipment in the air safely and effortlessly.
These extra parts are available for the DJI Spreading Wings S900:
Compatible w/ several ZenMuse cameras (see details below)
Created for enterprise users, the Matrice 200 Series is engineered to unlock the potential of commercial drones. With an innovative design, the M200 Series is both rugged and versatile, making it the perfect tool for inspectors, first responders and more.
The M200 Series drones fold down in a snap and unfold just as quickly. Gimbal mounting plates and aircraft arms stay mounted during transportation so that you’re ready to fly within minutes.
The M200 Series is compatible with the following cameras:
The M200 can only be purchased through official DJI dealers.
The Matrice 600 Pro is also a good drone to consider for high end professional work. The M600 Pro can be purchased directly from the DJI website.
The DJI Mavic Pro is a game-changer for aerial photographers and filmmakers.
Originally marketed as a professional (and portable) aerial media system, it’s small size actually hides a pretty high degree of complexity and sophistication, and it’s priced in a range that makes it available for the novice aerial cinematographer.
The DJI Mavic Pro boasts obstacle avoidance, sensor redundancy, and runs vision positioning paired with GPS and GLONASS to ensure precise positioning during both indoor AND outdoor flights.
The latest update to the Mavic Pro is the Mavic Pro Platinum, which flies much more quietly than the Pro, and for much longer.
The Mavic Pro Platinum is 60% quieter than the Mavic Pro, and has 11% more battery life, bumping its average flight time up from 27 minutes to 30 minutes.
Based on discussions with our community members and initial market reactions in Facebook groups, forums, and YouTube videos, I think this will be one of DJI’s (and the greater drone industry’s) most popular models within the next 3-6 months.
The DJI Mavic also boasts obstacle avoidance, sensor redundancy, and runs vision positioning paired with GPS and GLONASS to ensure precise positioning during both indoor AND outdoor flights.
The DJI Mavic is great for traveling, for a serious hobbyists, or for someone just getting into the commercial side of the industry. With DJI, you’re getting access to a huge ecosystem of commercial activity, apps, accessories, and more.
The Elios drone from Flyability is the first drone created not to avoid crashes, but to withstand them.
During certain inspections, such as those that take place in tight spaces like boiler rooms or nuclear reactors, collisions are unavoidable. These are also spaces where in-person inspections can be highly dangerous.
The Elios was created to make these types of inspections safer for people, by removing the need for a person to physically review a tight, dangerous space.
The Elios was modeled on the ability of insects to withstand collisions and continue flying, and you can see this fact in its design. The idea for the Elios first came about during the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, where the robots available at the time were not up to the job of inspecting the interior of the power plant to assess the damage done by the recent tsunami.
Solo is an excellent quadcopter for action sport photographers and videographers. It is the only drone that can stream wireless HD video from your GoPro direct to iOS and Android devices.
The Solo is equipped with Smart Shot technology, making it easy to capture fantastic footage without expert pilot skills.
It’s also the first drone that allows in-flight access to your GoPro, allowing you to start recording, stop recording, and adjust camera settings from the ground.
The 3DR Solo is a robust drone for capturing many types of aerial imagery.
These extra parts are available for the 3DR Solo: