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 10 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:
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)
Although the Spark was made for those who don’t know much about flying drones, it could certainly be helpful in professional scenarios too. For instance, a cinematographer working alone at a wedding or in some other busy situation might want a semi-autonomous way to capture an extra angle without having to hire an assistant. Enter the Spark.
The Spark is a selfie drone that takes off from the operator’s hand and automatically enters “Gesture Mode”, which lets users send it into the air and shoot a video with pre-defined flight paths, like circling, following, or filming from straight up.
With it’s gesture recognition and obstacle avoidance technology, it’s not an exaggeration to say that DJI’s Spark is probably the most user-friendly drone on the market.
If you want to fly longer distances with the Spark you have the option of using a smartphone app for flights over 100 yards away, or you can use a remote control (the Spark can fly a distance of 1.2 miles). The Intelligent Flight Modes available with more professional DJI drones—such as TapFly and ActiveTrack—can also be found on the Spark.
The Spark comes with DJI’s new QuickShot mode, which automatically creates a 10-second video from the footage captured in your flight.
QuickShot allows you to avoid all the work needed to take raw footage and create a final video. Instead of taking your footage, uploading it, editing it, and then downloading it, QuickShot simply creates a video for you using your best shots. This mode won’t be of interest for most professional cinematographers, but could be an easy way to share a quick overview video with a client after a shoot, with the promise of more to come.
The Q500 4K Typhoon comes with a built-in 3-axis gimbal camera that can shoot 4K video and take 12 megapixel still photos.
The 4K Typhoon also offers Watch Me and Follow Me flight modes to get footage of your actions on the go.
If you’re looking for a great all-around camera drone, check out the Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon.
These extra parts are available for the Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon:
The Walkera GPS QR X800 is a professional quadcopter that’s great for carrying action cameras, DSLRs, and heavier payloads in general.
The frame is foldable for portability, and it’s made out of carbon and glass fiber for durability.
You can connect the QR X800 to Mission Planner, which gives you access to flight modes, GPS waypoints, and other advanced flight options.
The quad also gets a whopping 40+ minutes of flight time.
These extra parts are available for the Walkera GPS QR X800:
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:
The Yuneec Typhoon H is one of the most advanced drones on the market.
This hexacopter offers obstacle avoidance and a 4K UHD camera that gives you a full 360-degree view.
You can also bind one controller to the Typhoon H and one to the camera for dual operator control (using Team Mode).
To fly in FPV, use the 7-inch screen built into the controller or simply connect your goggle’s HDMI cord to the controller’s HDMI port.
These extra parts are available for the Yuneec Typhoon H:
The Blade Chroma offers 30 minutes of flight time (ten to twelve minutes longer than most drones in its price range).
Its built-in camera shoots 4K video at 1080p and takes 12 megapixel stills.
What I love most about this quadcopter is the built-in touchscreen display on the controller. For most drones, you need an extra device to display telemetry data, adjust flight/camera settings, etc.
With the Chroma, it’s built into the transmitter.
With 30 minutes of flight time and a powerful camera, the Blade Chroma is a worthy option for commercial pilots.
These extra parts are available for the Blade Chroma:
This 2.0 version is one of the top all around camera drones for sale. It offers 14 megapixel HD 1080p image and video capture, and the camera gives you a 186-degree field of view.
The camera’s lens is splash and dust proof, and full-digital image stabilization technology lets you take stable and clear aerial footage regardless of the drone’s movements.
You can also control the quadcopter, adjust settings, and take pictures and videos straight from your mobile device using Parrot’s Freeflight 3 mobile app.
These extra parts are available for the Parrot BeBop 2.0:
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: