The largest, strongest, fastest and most capable drones on the market are targeted toward the professional community. We’re talking about the drones that the movie studios put to work, that commercial agencies use to inspect bridges and cell towers and some impressive drones that survey farmers’ fields. Like it or not, our favorite drones are the smaller consumer products that make up just s tiny portion of the overall drone market. Today is about the drones where the money is at in the industry.
You don’t have to fly a drone for work to enjoy these machines, but they do come with a hefty price. Join us for a list of some of the best commercial and professional drones.
We’ll proceed today with little rhyme or reason, I plan to lump together camera drones with transportation drones. Inspection drones will mix with drones that perform no specific task, all while we explore the best drones for commercial and otherwise professional use.
We originally thought we might approach this from a price perspective, making this a list of drones over $2000. Truth is, just like friends, great drones come in all sizes, and your professional needs may differ from other pilots around, so we have no price limits here today.
DJI Inspire 2
DJI blew us away with the Inspire 2, a high speed flier with the best camera capabilities on a drone today. 5.2K video resolution exceeds that of most high-end DSLR cameras, never mind competing drones. The dual pilot system adds versatility in a professional capacity that any movie maker or news team can put to use.
The Inspire 2 is a drone that any enthusiast can enjoy as well, with similar flight modes as most other DJI products today. We believe the Inspire 2 can be put to use for aerial photographers, whether amateur or pro, or any other application that might benefit from high-speed maneuverability with a powerful camera.
Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus
From our Best camera drones list
Yuneec produces relatively large drones, with the Tornado H920 Plus being one of the largest. This isn’t just for posterity, they’ve made it as large as they felt it needed to be to take your expensive camera into the sky for smooth, secure and stable video capture.
The H920 Plus is a recent update to the H920, a solid offering in itself, but the new rig offers a new camera option and better flight controls. It is so new, unfortunately, that it is not yet up for sale. For now, check out the Yuneec Tornado H920 for $3200 on Amazon today.
DJI Matrice line
From our Best camera drones list
There are several drone frames in the Matrice line from DJI. Starting with the M100 series, designed for developers to make what they need and test ideas and parts. Followed by the new M200 series, that includes the most versatile camera mounting we’ve seen to date. Operate up to 3 simultaneous cameras at a time, with 4 possible mounting options.
Finally, the M600 series are the big ones. These are the payload kings in the Matrice line, able to carry heavy cameras for professional video shoots.
While we wait for the M200 series to hit the market, check out the big DJI M600 for $4,000 on Amazon today.
DJI Mavic Pro
From our Best drones for sale list
Update: DJI has announced the new Mavic Pro Platinum. The upgraded version of the Mavic rocks greater flight time and it’s quieter in the air. Stay tuned for more coverage on this new drone, it may have to replace the original Mavic Pro in some of these lists.
You didn’t think the big drones would hog the spotlight, did you? Here’s the thing about the Mavic Pro that we cannot say enough, it is the most versatile drone we know of. Folding down to a very easy to transport package, this is the drone anyone can take along almost anywhere they go. The camera capabilities are good, perhaps not great, but more than enough to produce professional aerial footage.
As one of the easiest drone to fly, the Mavic Pro also makes for a superb learning tool. We maintain that you should start out on a toy-class trainer, but after that, a Mavic Pro could be the drone to learn the best flight techniques for smooth video.
Mostly, it is the growing YouTuber space that can best benefit from the Mavic Pro. Vlogging is becoming a profession these days, having a simple to use tool for some epic video on a daily basis is key. The Mavic Pro can deliver.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
From our Best drones under $1000 list
Autel Robotics has a fairly simple drone offering, but don’t be fooled, it is a good one. As far as the X-Star Premium goes, it is a familiar looking drone that offers flight capabilities on par with most higher-end drones today. What makes the X-Star stand out for us is the available camera modules, commercial drone pilots can quickly swap between zoom lenses, Flir infrared scanning and 360 cameras.
Check out the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium for as low as $799 on Amazon today.
Safety first, learn before you fly:
We’ve been wanting to get this drone on this list for a while now. We had a look at this machine in January, now it’s on store shelves and ready to rock. Based on the Typhoon frame, this hexacopter is designed for the commercial pilot. Interchangeable cameras are the name of the game, swap through a number of high-end shooters for various aerial needs.
Professional machines come at a cost, and the Yuneec H520 is one of the lower starting point machines in the segment. You’ll need $1999 to get started, then around $1000 each for the cameras.
GDU Byrd Premium 2
From our Best Drone size – small drone vs big drone list
Update: Stay tuned, we can’t say anything just yet, but GDU has something to announce very soon.
Recently introduced, the new Byrd Premium 2 promises vastly improved flight capabilities over the Byrd Premium 1 we reviewed last year. Repairing the only things we had concerns over, the second version of this premium powerful drone also now has a selection of cameras to choose from. Zoom lenses, infrared cameras and more are easily clipped on to this modular design.
As one of the more powerful drones we’ve experienced, the Byrd Premium 2 is one of the smallest, folding drones that can take your DSLR into the sky.
Check out the GDU Byrd Premium 2 for $1049 on Amazon today.
Intuitive Aerial Aerigon MK II
From our Best camera drones list
If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. A full blown rig from Intuitive Aerial can set you back $25000 or more, including Hollywood style monster video cameras. The idea of the Aerigon MK II is simple, put your camera in the sky. We’re not talking about mounting your phone, GoPro, point-and-shoot or even your DSLR, we’re talking about 15 lb professional camera rigs.
With an example rig costing a full quarter of a million dollars, the media team at BrainFarm shoot 4K commercials and more, and you can too, if you can afford it.
From our Best waterproof drones list
Not all drone activity takes place in the sky, or at least not over dry land; if you need to get wet, there is an option for you. There is much to like about the QuadH2O waterproof drone. In terms of capabilities, the fact that it looks like a flying submarine is for good reason. No, sorry, it’s not a submarine itself, but it could be if you could figure out the propulsion and ballast systems.
Built-in FPV camera, action camera mount, fully floating design, 1000 m range and upwards of 10 minutes of flight on a charge are fairly mediocre specifications. The passionate team behind the product and fully waterproof build add up to $2895 ready-to-fly price tag for the Quad H2O.
FreeFly Alta 8
Introduced on this list, also on our Best camera drones list
The FreeFly Alta 8 is a massive drone with a huge payload. Measuring almost 4 feet across, the Alta 8 can pack up to 26 lbs of gear, including the batteries and such – so only about 20 lbs of camera. While FreeFly promotes themselves as film enthusiasts, the Alta packs an optional top mount for your camera. We introduced this idea with the DJI M200 series recently, but FreeFly has had it for a time already. Commercial drone pilots will be able to inspect the underbelly of bridges with either of these options.
There is a lighter Alta 6 as well, if this is too much, but drones of this caliber come at a price, look to spend about $17,500.00 on the FreeFly Alta 8 on Amazon today.
DJI AGRAS MG-1S
Introduced on this list
Not a friendly name for a drone, but this friend to farmers wasn’t really made to be flashy. The DJI AGRAS MG-1S hauls around a 10L tank, the attached precision spray system puts the drone to work flying a pattern over crops to deliver the necessary fluids to grow our food. Aside from minimizing trauma to the plants from foot traffic or tractors running over top, the farmer can get a new perspective of the health of their field while the drone does all the hard work.
The benefit to the DJI AGRAS MG-1S for any user is the advanced RTK GPS. Most of us are comfortable with GPS tracking our mobile phones or camera drones to within a foot or two, the AGRAS MG-1S is accurate to within a few centimeters. DJI also provides ground station software to best create routes and programs for your flight. If autonomous flight is your goal, this is a difficult drone to beat for ease and precision.
The AGRAS MG-1S will not fit in your backpack, however, as it measures nearly 5 feet across when fully deployed. The DJI AGRAS MG-1S is a custom order type of machine, you’ll need to contact them for specific pricing.
100 MP camera for the sky!
DJI recently unleashed a beast for your aerial capture needs. Utilizing the M6oo or S1000+, DJI’s stake in Hasselblad has resulted in a 100MP camera for the sky. The H6D-100C hangs now using the Ronin-MX, but you’ll be able to utilize the new Ronin 2 when it hits the market later this year. Read more about the new 100MP camera from DJI and Hasselblad here.
Serious equipment comes with a serious price, budget about $40,000 to fly this camera, or grab just the shooter for around $32,500.
Bonus drones for heavy lifting and flame throwing
Griff Aviation 125, 300 and 800
Filed under: can’t fly that in the U.S. yet
Have heavy lifting to do? Griff Aviation drones are not exactly shipping to the U.S., but I can’t ignore them for their immense capabilities. Keep in mind that the FAA says your drone with payload must be less than 55 lbs take-off weight – the Griff 300, as their middle option, can carry almost 500 lbs and stay aloft for over half an hour.
Their model numbers represent their weight in KG. That Griff Aviation 300 weighs 75KG and can haul 225KG, so the 800 model has a total takeoff weight of 800KG, that’s over 1700 lbs. This, folks, is the big leagues.
Stay tuned for more on Griff Aviation through 2017, they’re making some moves.
Filed under: you read that correctly, a flame thrower!
Let’s be fair, I am just throwing this in for fun. It appears a utility company in China has attached a little flame thrower to a drone, this is a tool to clear debris from power lines. We are pretty sure this would not fly in the U.S., but we had fun with the idea, and we hope you did too.
Professional drones Wrap-up
That’s all we have for today, I hope you can see the value in the various drone options presented. If nothing else, I hope we’ve giving you a sense of the types of industries and workloads that drones are supporting today. We did not discuss passenger drones, nor did we get into law enforcement and military equipment – we tried to stick to drones that you can actually go to a store and purchase, even the ones that the average pilot can’t afford.
Is there a commercial or professional drone that you think should have been on this list? Which of these pro drones would you like to play with for a non-pro flight?
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