TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Top Professional Drones for Serious Commercial UAV Pilots

Updated With New Drone Models for 2018

Note: Fly safely and responsibly, folks. Never flown before? Learn to fly for free over here or sign up for an in-person drone flight training over here. Need to get your FAA commercial drone certificate? Start studying over here.

If you're in a hurry, check out our top pick:
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The latest and greatest camera drone from DJI, with a professional-grade camera from Swiss camera manufacturer, Hasselblad

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.

The Best Professional Drones: Our Top Picks

uavtbl-item__image
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Camera | 20 MP, 4K 10-bit Dlog-M
Flight Time | 31 minutes
Camera | 20 MP, 4K 10-bit Dlog-M
Flight Time | 31 minutes
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DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Camera | 12 MP, 4K Ultra HD
Flight Time | 31 minutes
Camera | 12 MP, 4K Ultra HD
Flight Time | 31 minutes
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DJI Phantom 4
Camera | 720P, 4K
Flight Time | 28 Min
Camera | 720P, 4K
Flight Time | 28 Min
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DJI Inspire 1 Pro
Camera | 4K HD
Flight Time | 25 Min
Camera | 4K HD
Flight Time | 25 Min
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DJI Mavic Air
Camera | 4K 30 fps
Flight Time | 21 Min
Camera | 4K 30 fps
Flight Time | 21 Min
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Yuneec Mantis Q
Camera | 4K, HD
Flight Time | 33 minutes
Camera | 4K, HD
Flight Time | 33 minutes
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Yuneec H520
Camera | 4K / 2K / HD
Flight Time | 25 Min
Camera | 4K / 2K / HD
Flight Time | 25 Min
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DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Camera | 4K
Flight Time | 23 Min
Camera | 4K
Flight Time | 23 Min
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DJI Spreading Wings S900
Flight Time | 18 Min
Flight Time | 18 Min
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DJI Matrice 200
Camera | Compatible w/ several ZenMuse cameras (see details below)
Flight Time | 38 Min
Camera | Compatible w/ several ZenMuse cameras (see details below)
Flight Time | 38 Min
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DJI Mavic Pro
Camera | 12 MP, 4K @ 30 FPS
Flight Time | 27 Min
Camera | 12 MP, 4K @ 30 FPS
Flight Time | 27 Min
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Flyability Elios Drone
Camera | HD, Submillimeter Res
Camera | HD, Submillimeter Res
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3D Robotics Solo
Flight Time | 25 Min
Flight Time | 25 Min

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!

Note: Trying to get your Part 107 certificate? Sign up for our ground school course here.

01

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Camera

20 MP, 4K 10-bit Dlog-M

Battery Life

31 Minutes

Good For

Professionals

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the latest and greatest camera drone from DJI, with a professional-grade camera from Swiss camera manufacturer, Hasselblad. The 1-inch CMOS sensor Hasselblad camera offers 20 megapixel photography with enhanced HDR and color sensitivity.

Key Specs

  • Camera Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 4K 10-bit HDR Video
  • Max flight time: 31-minutes
  • Max speed: 45 mph (72 kph) in sport mode
  • Notable attributes: foldable/portable, intelligent flight modes, obstacle sensing

A new feature debut to come along with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is omnidirectional obstacle sensing—it can sense obstacles from five directions (forward, backward, downward, left, right). Plus, it’s equipped with upgraded versions of Active Track, Waypoint, and Point of Interest modes, so professional photographers and videographers never have to place a cap on their creativity.

Three Buying Options

Base Model

Fly More Kit and DJI Care Refresh Bundle

DJI Goggles RE Bundle

DJI Fly More Kit

The fly more combo has been unbundled from the base model and is now the fly more kit. This kit is packed with all you need to get the most flight time out of your Mavic 2 Pro.

The DJI fly more kit comes with:

  • Two Extra Batteries
  • Two Pairs of Propellers
  • Charging Hub
  • Car Charger
  • Battery to Power Bank Adapter
  • Shoulder Bag

DJI Mavic 2 Pro Accessories

Use these links to purchase select Mavic 2 Pro accessories separately.

The Mavic 2 Pro is great for professional photographers, videographers, and content creators. It’s portable design makes it an essential companion for travel bloggers, documentary compilers, and commercial drone pilots in any industry.

02

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Camera

12 MP, 4K Ultra HD

Battery Life

31 minutes

Good For

Professionals

The Mavic 2 Zoom introduces brand new zooming capabilities. The 24mm – 48mm zoom lens offers 2x optical zoom and 2x digital zoom, giving photographers and filmmakers more flexibility when it comes to framing their shots. It also offers an upgraded QuickShot mode with the fun and creative Dronie, Circle, Helix, Rocket, Boomerang, and Asteroid and Dolly Zoom flight modes.

Key Specs

The Mavic 2 Zoom shares many of the same or similar specs with the Mavic 2 Pro:

  • Camera Resolution: 12 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 4x Lossless Zoom FHD Video
  • Max flight time: 31-minutes
  • Max speed: 45 mph (72 kph) in sport mode
  • Notable attributes: foldable/portable, intelligent flight modes, obstacle sensing, 2x optical zoom 2x digital zoom

Both the Mavic 2 Pro and the Zoom have advanced tracking capabilities, but the Zoom takes it up a level. With Hybrid Autofocus, the Zoom improves auto focus speed by up to 40% with better accuracy.

If camera is your priority, then you might opt for the Mavic 2 Pro over the Zoom. The 2 Pro is equipped with a 1” CMOS, 20 megapixel camera co-engineered in partnership with Hasselblad, the world’s leading manufacturer of medium format cameras and lenses. The Zoom’s camera system is still professional grade however, with a 1/2.3” CMOS, 12 megapixel sensor.

Three Buying Options

Base Model

Fly More Kit Bundle

DJI Goggles RE Bundle

DJI Fly More Kit

The fly more combo has been unbundled from the base model and is now the fly more kit. This kit is packed with all you need to get the most flight time out of your Mavic 2 Pro.

The DJI Fly More Kit comes with:

  • Two Extra Batteries
  • Two Pairs of Propellers
  • Charging Hub
  • Car Charger
  • Battery to Power Bank Adapter
  • Shoulder Bag

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Accessories

DJI Goggles RE

Shoulder Bag

Backpack

DJI Mavic 2 Battery to Power Bank Adapter

PolarPro Shutter Collection – Cinema Series

The Mavic 2 Zoom will make a worthy addition to your cinematography, videography, or photography tool kit. The impressive 2x zoom lens will add a new angle to your videography, and the QuickShot modes are fun to get creative with.

Mavic_2_Zoom

03

DJI Phantom 4

camera

720P, 4K

battery life

28 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

Extras

These extra parts are available for the DJI Phantom 4:

DJI Phantom 4 Carrying Case

PolarPro DJI Phantom 4 Camera Filters

DJI Phantom 4 Accessory Bundle

→ Extra DJI Phantom 4 Battery

DJI Phantom 4 Propeller Package

Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian

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:

dji-phantom-4-pro-obsidian

DJI-Obsidian-Phantom-drone

You can buy the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian now on the DJI website.

Features

  • 3-Axis Gimbal
  • GPS positioning
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • 4k video
  • Live FPV streaming to your controller

Specs

  • Frequency: 2.4Ghz
  • Size: 15 x 8.7 x 12.8 inches
  • Weight: 8.8 pounds
  • Flight time: about 28 minutes

04

DJI Inspire 1 Pro

camera

4K HD

battery life

25 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

Finally, the DJI Inspire 1 PRO offers 5 intelligent flight modes—Follow Me, Point of Interest, Waypoints, Course Lock, and Home Lock.

The DJI Inspire 1 PRO is a powerful drone for doing professional aerial work.

Extras

These extra parts are available for the DJI Inspire 1 PRO:

→ Extra Inspire 1 Battery

→ Extra DJI Inspire 1 Remote Controller (for dual-operator control)

→ DJI Inspire Carrying Case

→ DJI Transmitter Sunshade

Features

  • Intelligent flight modes: Follow Me, Point of Interest, Waypoints, Course Lock, Home Lock
  • One-button landing and takeoff
  • Built in 4K HD Zenume X5 video capability
  • 16-megapixel camera
  • FPV camera capability using your mobile device
  • 94-degree wide angle lense
  • Flight time of up to 25 minutes
  • Arms move up and out of the camera’s view in flight
  • Gimbal rotates 360 degrees to view the world around your drone

Specs

  • Frequency: 2.4GHz
  • Gimbal: 3-axis 360-degree rotating gimbal
  • Size: 20 x 15 x 15 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Flight time: 18 minutes
  • Control distance: 2000m

05

DJI Mavic Air

camera

4K 30 fps

battery life

21 Min

good for

Professionals, Hobbysits

DJI’s Mavic Air is the hottest new drone on the market, and combines the best features of the Mavic Pro and the Spark.

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.

Stand Out Features for the Mavic Air

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.

Key Specs & Details

  • 32 MP sphere panoramas
  • Foldable and portable
  • 3-axis gimbal
  • 3-directional environment sensing
  • Smart capture / gesture control
  • 21 minute max flight time
  • Weighs less than 1 lb.
  • 8 GB of internal storage

06

Yuneec Mantis Q

Camera

HD, 4K

Battery Life

33 minutes

Good For

Professionals, Hobbyist

Mantis Q is an adventure-ready drone that features voice control technology and is small enough to tuck away inside a bag. The Mantis Q also features foldable arms for optimal portability and convenience, up to 33 minutes of battery life and autonomous flight modes with top speeds over 44 miles per hour. Due to its portability, ease-of-use, and superior flight time, the Mantis Q is ideal for professionals, adventurers, families, and drone enthusiasts.

Key Specs

The voice control feature will most set this drone apart, but that’s not all Yuneec wanted the Mantis Q to be capable of. In order to compete in an increasingly competitive market, Yuneec equipped Mantis Q with all the bells and whistles.

  • Camera: 4:3 (4160×3120); 16:9 (4800×2700)
  • Controls: voice control, remote control, mobile device
  • Max flight time: 33-minutes
  • Max speed: 44 mph (70 kph)
  • Notable attributes: foldable/portable, facial detection and gesture control

With the all new voice control feature, users can command Mantis Q just by using their voice. Voice control allows users to take a photo or begin recording video all without having to manually take their hands off of the controls, making it that much easier to capture the perfect shot.

The affordability of this drone is also an attractive feature, retailing at less than $500, which is about half the price of similar drones from other leading drone manufacturers. With those savings, you may want to add on the Mantis Q Propeller Pack as well to keep your drone flying efficiently for longer.

07

Yuneec H520

camera

4K / 2K / HD

battery life

25 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

Key Specs

  • Remote Control: ST16S
  • Max Altitude: 500m
  • Max Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Weight: 3.6 lbs (with battery, without gimbal)
  • Notable Attributes: Hexacopter = better redundancy, Obstacle Avoidance, 360-degree camera

08

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

camera

4K

battery life

23 Min

good for

Professionals

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:

  1. Follow Me
  2. Course Lock
  3. Waypoints
  4. Home Lock
  5. Point of Interest

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.

Extras

These extra parts are available for the DJI Phantom 3 Professional:

→ Extra Battery

→ Extra Propellers (2 Pairs)

→ DJI Phantom 3 Propeller Guard

→ DJI Phantom 3 Camera Lens Protector + Cover

→ Remote Controller Strap

→ DJI Phantom 3 Carrying Backpack

Features

  • 3-Axis Gimbal
  • GPS positioning
  • Vision Positioning technology for GPS-free areas
  • 4k video
  • Live FPV streaming to your controller

Specs

  • Frequency: 2.4Ghz
  • Size: 18 x 13 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 9.2 pounds
  • Charging time: Approx. 1-1.5 hrs
  • Flight time: about 23 minutes
  • Control distance: 5 km

09

DJI Spreading Wings S900

battery life

18 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

Extras

These extra parts are available for the DJI Spreading Wings S900:

Radio Telemetry Kit

→ Spreading Wings S900 Propellers

Features

  • Heavy payload capacity
  • Lightweight
  • Foldable arms

Specs

  • Size: 18.1 x 14.2 x 17.7 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Flight time: about 18 minutes

10

DJI Matrice 200

camera

Compatible w/ several ZenMuse cameras (see details below)

battery life

38 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

Cameras

The M200 Series is compatible with the following cameras:

  • ZenMuse XT
  • ZenMuse Z30
  • ZenMuse X4S
  • ZenMuse X5S

Purchasing

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.

Specs & Features

  • Size: 716mm220mm236mm
  • Weight: 3.80kg
  • Ingress Protection Level: IP43
  • Operation Range: 7km
  • Max Payload Capacity: 2kg
  • Max Flight Time: 38 Min
  • Point of Interest feature allows you to easily circle your object of interest, to assist with surveys and asset inspections
  • Obstacle Avoidance with robust FlightAutonomy system
  • ActiveTrack allows you to easily keep moving subjects in the frame while flying

11

DJI Mavic Pro

camera

12 MP, 4K @ 30 FPS

battery life

27 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

People weren’t sure how the DJI Mavic would stack up to the DJI Phantom 4 or the Inspire 1, but if you’re looking for your first professional model, the Mavic is super portable and powerful.

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.

Mavic_Pro_Platinum_4

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.

Key Specs

  • Camera Resolution: 12MP
  • Video Resolution: 4K at 30 FPS
  • Max Flight Time: 27 minutes
  • Max Speed: 40 mph (65 kph) in Sport mode without wind
  • Notable Attributes: Portability, Battery Life

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.

3 Different Buying Options

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.

DJI Mavic Accessories

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.

12

Flyability Elios Drone

camera

HD, Submillimeter Res

good for

Professionals

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.

Features

  • Collision tolerant—the Elios can withstand collisions and continue flying (this is what it’s known for!)
  • Cutting edge wireless communication with live video feedback
  • Includes Elios Ground Station, which comes with a remote control,
  • Immediate data provided on an SD card, with no post-processing or editing required
  • Highly usable/flexible—can operate in 32° to 122° fahrenheit

13

3D Robotics Solo

battery life

25 Min

good for

Professionals

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.

Extras

These extra parts are available for the 3DR Solo:

→ Extra Propellers

→ 3DR Solo Gimbal

→ Extra 3DR Solo Smart Battery

→ 3DR Solo Carrying Backpack

→ GoPro Hero4

Features

  • Stream live HD video from GoPro® direct to iOS/Android devices
  • Pushbutton flight
  • Smart Shot technology
  • Unique safety features like pause and “safety net”
  • Full-featured app for iOS and Android

Specs

  • Frequency: 2.4Ghz
  • Gyro: 6-Axis
  • Size: 16.4 x 16.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Weight: 11.7 pounds
  • Control distance

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