- DJI Inspire 2
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Best Flight Time
- senseFly eBee X
The drone market has a broad price range that caters to anything from the budget to the professional market. For those who have specific high-end requirements, there is often a correspondingly high price tag. While drones are available with 4K60 video capabilities for under $1000, if you want cinema-grade cameras or heavy lifting capabilities you’ll need to pay more. The high-end drone spectrum does come with some interesting specialties. For example, there are drones that offer crop spraying capabilities, thermal imaging, and even hot-swappable batteries.
It’s incredibly important to be aware of the legal requirements in the areas in which you want to fly your drone. For example, in the US you need to register with the FAA if you’re flying drones over 250g, you also need to separately register drones being used for commercial purposes. These requirements vary by country and state, and on the surrounding infrastructure such as airports and national parks. Breaching the legal requirements and restrictions often comes with hefty fines and potentially prison sentences, so be sure to inform yourself before taking to the skies.
To help you find the best high-end drone we’ve pulled together our list of the best high-end drones in 2021.
- 4K30 HDR video
- 1 inch camera sensor
- Omni-direction obstacle sensing
- Flight time: 31 minutes
- Maximum range: 18km
- Weight: 907g
High-end drones are always going to be pricy, and costing over $1400 the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is certainly pricy – though certainly not the most expensive option on this list. For many users, the much newer Air 2S will be a better option, mostly because of the significantly lower price, something it achieves while including most of the same tech.
The omnidirectional obstacle detection and avoidance system is a useful feature to have. The lack of blind spots will help to keep it safe and operational. The camera is capable of 4K30 HDR video and has a 1-inch sensor. The larger light collection area means better operation in low light levels and more colour detail in images.
- Dual independent camera system
- Up to 5.2K video
- Swappable payloads
- Flight time: 25 minutes
- Maximum range: 7km
- Weight: 3440g
The DJI inspire 2 is a large drone, capable of carrying multiple heavy cameras. This is intended for professional tier work, such as cinematography or inspection work. Control features are designed to aid related flight procedures. For example, you can record waypoints for a flight and replay them to automate future inspections of the same hardware.
The dual self-heating battery system adds battery redundancy and allows the drone to operate in lower than normal temperatures. Unfortunately, even with that, you’re limited to just 25 minutes of flight time, and that’s if you’re only carrying one of the lighter cameras. A dual-camera system allows a pilot to use the front-mounted camera for control purposes while a separate photographer controls the main camera. The default price of $3300 doesn’t include any payload cameras, which can be another $2000 each.
- Specialised for operation in tight environments
- Protective cage
- Doesn’t require Line Of Sight
- Flight time: 10 minutes
- Maximum range: 500m
- Weight: 1450g
The Flyability Elios 2 is a drone specialised for indoor surveying, especially in environments that are tricky or dangerous for humans to approach. The unique look is due to a cage system that surrounds the drone, allowing it to continue flying after colliding with objects. The main camera system is a 4K30 video camera, combined with a FLIR thermal camera.
A 10k Lumen oblique lighting system is designed to be capable of casting shadows to aid in the detection of small features. A version is available that is specifically designed to be tolerant for and to measure radiation levels. Limited flight times may be an issue for time-sensitive applications, but changing the battery doesn’t take too long. As you might expect for a specialised system, the price is very high, at almost $42k.
- Foldable design
- Visible and IR illuminators
- 40K60 HDR and FLIR IR cameras
- Flight time: 35 minutes
- Maximum range: 10km
- Weight: 1325g
The Skydio X2 includes a number of features intended for nighttime operations. It includes visible and infrared illuminators that can be turned on or off. It also includes a dual 4K60 HDR camera and a FLIR thermal imaging camera. The maximum range is 10km and it can fly for a very respectable 35 minutes.
A full collision avoidance system reduces the chance of crashing the drone. It can also be deployed in less than 75 seconds when time is a factor. The current camera system has a lens suited for long-range photography, ideal for security operations where the presence of a nearby drone may be noticed. A version with a wide-angle camera more suited for close-range observations and inspections is not yet available.
- Fixed wing design
- Seven interchangeable cameras
- Wingspan of 116cm
- Flight time: 90 minutes
- Maximum range: 8km
- Weight: 1400g
The senseFly eBee X is a different type of drone using a fixed-wing concept. This gives it excellent flight time and speed at the cost of being unable to hover in place. It’s hand-launched and can then be flown manually or can follow a pre-programmed route.
A range of seven interchangeable cameras is available, although none are included with the drone by default. Each offers varying abilities but all are geared towards some form of mapping. To achieve the advertised flight times, an expanded battery pack will be needed. Some software features are locked behind an extra paywall. No pricing is available online, you need to contact sales to get a quote, unfortunately, this suggests that pricing will be quite high.
Those are our selection of the best high-end drones in 2021. They won’t necessarily suit every use case, but they offer strong feature sets for a range of purposes. Have you had experience with any of these drones, what were your impressions? Let us know down below.