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. Need to get your FAA commercial drone certificate? Start studying over here.

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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DJI Phantom 4


720P, 4K

battery life

28 Min

good for


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 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:



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


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


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

DJI Inspire 1 Pro



battery life

25 Min

good for


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.


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


  • 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


  • 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

DJI Mavic Air


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

Yuneec H520


4K / 2K / HD

battery life

25 Min

good for


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

DJI Phantom 3 Professional



battery life

23 Min

good for


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.


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


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


  • 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

DJI Spreading Wings S900

battery life

18 Min

good for


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:

Radio Telemetry Kit

→ Spreading Wings S900 Propellers


  • Heavy payload capacity
  • Lightweight
  • Foldable arms


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

DJI Matrice 200


Compatible w/ several ZenMuse cameras (see details below)

battery life

38 Min

good for


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:

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


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

DJI Mavic Pro


12 MP, 4K @ 30 FPS

battery life

27 Min

good for


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.


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.

Flyability Elios Drone


HD, Submillimeter Res

good for


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.


  • 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

3D Robotics Solo

battery life

25 Min

good for


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:

→ Extra Propellers

→ 3DR Solo Gimbal

→ Extra 3DR Solo Smart Battery

→ 3DR Solo Carrying Backpack

→ GoPro Hero4


  • 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


  • 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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