The largest, strongest, fastest and most capable drones on the market are targeted toward the professional community. These are the types of machines that the movie industry puts to work, that commercial agencies use to inspect infrastructure, and search & rescue teams rely on to save lives. We’re super excited that many of our favorite smaller consumer drones can handle some of the simpler professional drone needs, but we’ll explore more of that below.

If you are looking for a commercial drone, a machine for tasks like mapping, surveying and deliveries, we recommend checking out our Best commercial drones list instead.

You don’t have to fly a drone for work to enjoy these machines, but most do come with a hefty price. Join us for a list of some of the best professional drones.

Professional drones

Jonathan Feist, Drone PilotJonathan Feist

Why trust Drone Rush?

I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.

 

We’ll proceed today with little rhyme or reason, I plan to lump together camera drones with search and rescue drones and more. 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.

You can fly these drones at home for fun, but please remember that if you are being paid to fly, you need to have your Part 107 license in the United States. Hit up our preferred training provider Drone Pilot Ground School. 

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DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise

DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise 3T flying over water
Drone Rush Recommends

The DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise launched in late 2022 with two models, the Mavic 3E and Mavic 3T. Both models have an optional RTK module, the great Micro Four Thirds camera from the original Mavic 3, and maintain up to 45 minutes of flight time.

The Mavic 3E is made for mapping and surveying tasks. The Mavic 3T offers a thermal camera for your delicate inspection tasks.

The Mavic 3E launched with a starting price of $3,299, while the thermal camera on the Mavic 3T started at $4,999.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise

Simply put, the Mavic 3 Enterprise offers the very best of DJI’s tech in 2022. The Micro Four Thirds camera is not as versatile as the Micro Four Thirds shooter on the Inspire 2, but the Mavic 3 sensor is far newer, and incorporates plenty of zoom and clarity features into the camera housing, instead of having to swap lenses.

Mainly, the compact size, the option of RTK for stability, and the vastly improved flight range and flight time, make the Mavic 3 Enterprise one of the best mapping and inspection drones on the market.

What we like


  • Micro Four Thirds camera
  • 45 minutes flight time
  • 15KM flight range
  • Optional RTK GPS
  • Upgraded data encryption
  • Improved obstacle avoidance

What we don’t like


  • Optional software and accessories get expensive
  • Tough up-sell if the base Mavic 3 is good enough for you

DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise
DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise
  • 56X zoom
  • RTK GPS precision flight
  • Huge flight time
Your everyday commercial drone

The DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise is available in two options: The Mavic 3E is made for mapping and surveying, while the Mavic 3T adds a thermal camera. Both drones offer the new Micro Four Thirds camera, huge range, and huge flight time.


DJI Inspire 2: Powerful and balanced camera drone

DJI Inspire 2 announcement on pedestal

The DJI Inspire 2 is easily the best professional drone for most users. The interchangeable cameras range up to 6K video capture, the drone has hat-swappable batteries for continuous use, and the drone can keep up with highway traffic. Make no mistake, there are technically more capable drones out there, but the Inspire 2 is surprisingly affordable compared to most drones you’ll see on a Hollywood shoot.

Operating the Inspire 2 is easy, and there is the option to connect a second controller, allowing one pilot and one camera operator.

Why we fly the DJI Inspire 2

The DJI Inspire 2 is designed as a camera drone. We enjoy flying it every chance we get, particularly when there is aerial footage we need to acquire. Enabling a dedicated camera operator allows us to keep safe, and focus on getting the right shot. If you have multiple operators, or will be flying in a safe place where you can manage flight and optics, and you’re not looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a high-end rig, we can think of no better professional drone on the market today.

What we like


  • Easy to fly
  • Fast
  • Great camera options
  • Multi-operator
  • Hot-swappable parts

What we’re not fans of


  • Limited obstacle avoidance sensors
  • Best with two operators
DJI Inspire 2
DJI Inspire 2
  • Powerful professional drone
  • Interchangeable cameras
Powerful camera drone

Generally recognized as one of the best camera drones on the market, the DJI Inspire 2 offers great cameras, superb flight and robust controls for your filming needs.


DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise: Powerful attachments

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise at CES 2020

The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise is not the camera drone you are looking for, but is a versatile machine for search & rescue type tasks. The optional infrared camera enables some intricate uses, and the accessory port allows you to connect things like speakers, lights, and more. It’s important to note that the Mavic 2 Enterprise is an advanced version of the Mavic 2 series of hobby drones, meaning this drone is easy to fly, and folds down nicely for transport.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise

If you are on the look out for a camera drone, keep looking. The Mavic 2 Enterprise is best suited to search and rescue tasks, making it ideal for generic inspection jobs as well. We like the fact that this drone is based on the Mavic 2 airframe, making it easy and safe to fly, and relatively affordable.

What we like


  • Simple platform
  • Interchangeable accessories
  • Great for search & rescue

What we’re not fans of


  • Good 4K camera, but not cinema quality
  • Only one accessory at a time
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
  • Versatile rescue drone
  • Capable folding drone
Search and Rescue drone

Building off of the Mavic 2 platform, the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise offers new cameras and new accessories such as lights, speakers and beacons.


DJI Mavic 3 Cine: Best consumer-class camera drone

DJI Mavic 3 Cine in hand nose down

The DJI Mavic 3 Cine is the best available consumer drone around. Stealing the crown from the Mavic 2 Pro. 5.1K video and 20MP stills are captured from the Micro Four Thirds camera, with a secondary camera at 12MP that has up to 28X zoom.

46 minutes of flight time gives you time to capture your shots from the sky, and the drone is super easy to fly. As a larger hobby drone, it folds down for portability, but is still a fairly heavy drone.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic 3 Cine

The Mavic 3 Cine is still a fixed-camera system, meaning there are still better airframes to consider for your film studio purposes, but as a consumer-class machine, this is the best flying camera we’ve ever seen.

Price is a deciding factor here. With a starting price of over two thousand dollars, and a fully decked out model running almost five thousand, the Mavic 3 series is not an impulse purchase.

What we like


  • Fantastic main camera
  • Powerful zoom
  • Easy to fly
  • 46 minutes of flight time
  • Optional 1TB internal storage
  • Optional RC Pro remote with display

What we’re not fans of


  • Price
DJI Mavic 3 Cine
DJI Mavic 3 Cine
  • Fantastic camera
  • Huge flight time
  • Safe and capable drone
Imaging Above Everything

A Micro Four Thirds camera, 1TB of storage, 5.1K video capture, the RC Pro remote, and 46 minutes of flight time make the DJI Mavic 3 Cine perhaps the best camera drone you can purchase today.


Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus: Large hexacopter

Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus flying

The Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus is a huge drone, at least as far as hobby pilots are concerned. This hexacopter can easily haul your DSLR or similarly sized camera into the sky. Yuneec made their own camera for this drone, which very closely resembles the Panasonic GH4 micro fourth thirds camera system.

Why we fly the Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus

We are always intimidated by the H920 Plus, it is a large drone, but we trust it to carry our cameras into the sky. Just b aware that direct connectivity to a camera is limited to a few shooters.

What we like


  • Big and safe
  • Easy to fly
  • Big payload capabilities

What we’re not fans of


  • Large and heavy
  • Tricky to transport
  • Limited camera connections
Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus
Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus
  • Powerful airframe
  • Carry your DSLR+
Carry your DSLR

The Yuneec H920 Plus is a large, powerful hexacopter, made to haul larger cameras. A reliable machine that masters the basics for your commercial drone needs.


Autel Robotics Evo HDMI receiver

Autel Robotics Evo 2 Dual front camera CES 2020

Autel Robotics has been building out their Evo line of drones, the latest being the Evo Lite+ launched in 2021. The Evo line offers huge flight time, and big cameras, among the top of class in the consumer market. The real reason the Evo line is on this list is for the optional HDMI receiver. Connect to a TV or external recorder to directly feed your live flight footage into a live stream.

Why we fly the Autel Robotics Evo series

The early Evo drones are hard to recommend at this point, particularly as Autel Robotics vastly improved some flight features in the Evo Lite models. The Evo Lite+ is a fantastic option, however. We think the Evo Lite nicely fills a gap in between the DJI Air 2S and DJI Mavic 3 series.

The HDMI receiver for the Evo drones is the real value. Direct access to live flight footage is invaluable for news crews and similar operations.

What we like


  • Multiple drones and payloads
  • Good zoom
  • Great flight time
  • Easy and safe to operate
  • HDMI receiver
  • Great low-light capture

What we’re not fans of


  • Moderate value for hobby pilots
  • Close, but not as refined as the competition

Autel Robotics Evo Lite
Autel Robotics Evo Lite
  • Great flight time
  • Great camera
  • Up to 6K video
The Evo Lite+ is a solid flying night camera.

The Autel Robotics Evo Lite and Evo Lite+ are a welcome addition to the compact, folding camera drone market. Superb flight time, great cameras, great flight range, and a fun set of flight features should keep most pilots happy. Enjoy up to 6K video from the sky.


Drone Laws: Like it or not, there are rules to know before you fly


High-end custom builds

Intuitive Aerial Aerigon MK II

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 $25,000 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 GoPro, point-and-shoot, or even your DSLR, we’re talking about monster 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.


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.

If you are looking for a little less payload and a smaller drone, the FreeFly Alta 6 is a hexacopter take on the same air frame. 

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 $17,495.00 on the FreeFly Alta 8 on Amazon today. The FreeFly Alta 6 is $11,995 on Amazon or B&H Photo. Less than half that if you buy used.


Intel Falcon 8+

Intel Falcon 8 plus AUVSI Xponential landed

Intel’s Falcon 8 and Falcon 8+ have been flying the skies for some fun inspection projects around the globe. These are not the sort of drones you pick up cheap and fly in your backyard, but if you are serious about inspection services, or other high flying, high-end camera needs, the Falcon 8+ could be the drone for you. More than just a drone, Intel Insight is a powerful software package that takes your images from the sky and performs magic on them. Well, maybe not magic, but creating a full 3D map out of stills is fairly slick. 

3D mapping is only the start, Intel Insight is designed to assist in the inspection process. The software is able to identify and highlight any changes of an object after you collect subsequent scans. At InterDrone 2017 we watched as the drone scanned the facade of a building, changes were then made, removing screws and lights, etc. The second scan was able to identify these changes. The idea is to automate much of the menial work, place that info in front of a human who can then decide to repair or ignore the real world object. 

We do not have a price tag for the Intel Falcon 8+ drone, but we’ve heard the number $42,000.00 floating around. A small price to pay if you need these sorts of tools. We found the Intel Falcon 8+ for $16,359 at B&H Photo.


Military drones

Global Hawk military drone

We’re not saying that being in the military makes you a professional, but, it sort of does, doesn’t it? If you are looking for something more than your standard camera rig or quadcopter, maybe one of our list of military drones can help. 


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 given 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?


Frequently Asked Questions

Why don’t these professional drones have built-in cameras?

Many pilots are eager to have a fun camera installed on their drones, but the movie industry views things differently: they have their cameras, they just need a way to put them into the sky and control them. We are huge fans of the DJI Inspire 2, but it offers a very limited set of camera options for a professional camera crew.

Do I need a license to fly professional drones?

Drone licensing for most countries is determined by your type of operation, not your type of drone. If you will be paid, or otherwise compensated for your flight, or any media captured during that flight, it is a commercial operation, for which you will need your Part 107 certification. Do you need your Part 107? You can fly these drones at home for fun without license, but you are not allowed to make any money from those photos or videos.

What’s the difference between a professional drone and a commercial drone?

There is no official industry standard, that we know of, so we have chosen to follow the trends set by the manufacturers. We consider a drone that is built for the purpose of shooting professional video from the sky, to be a profession al drone. We consider a drone designed for tasks like inspection services, perhaps hauling a thermal camera, to be commercial drones.

Truth is, we used to have all of these drones together on one list, we’ve only really split them up because there was enough of them to talk about.

Please note: The FAA often refers to “commercial operations,” which is identified by your flight, not by your drone. As long as you meet the hobby pilot requirements, you can fly a professional or commercial drone at home, just like you can use even a toy drone for a commercial operation. Commercial operations require the Part 107 certification.

How does Remote ID change my drone business?

While the need for Remote ID has been mandated by the FAA, the technology to make it happen is still in development. It may turn out that your aerial machine is already equipped with hardware that can broadcast the required info, so a software update can keep you going. More likely, expect to either attach a third-party Remote ID broadcast module to your drones, or prepare to update your fleet with new drones altogether. We write thins in January 20201, things are still evolving, please do not act yet.

Can I fly at night?

Until April 21, 2021, the only way you can fly at night is with a waiver from the FAA. After April 21, Part 107 certified pilots will be able to obtain their night-flight operations validation by taking some online training. Night flight operations have additional limitations and regulations, please do your research.

Can I fly over top of people?

No. At least not without a wavier from the FAA. As with night flight, the FAA is easing the restrictions on April 21 for Part 107 certified pilots.


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