7 Most Expensive Drones

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Welcome to my review page on the most elite drones available for public use. Civilian drones and drone technologies have come a long way in recent years and it’s all good. It’s also very exciting.

Up until recent times there were only two kinds of drones. We had beginner drones, which were little more than cheap toys. And we had the expensive weapon drones, available only to governments.

The void no longer exists between the two extremes above. Today we have drones for kids, hobbyists, serious enthusiasts, prosumers, and professionals from wide-ranging industries.

This guide focuses on the ultimate civilian drones available right now on Amazon.

The major differences between low cost and high-end drones factor is that they’re getting much smarter and a lot more powerful. The better drones excel in the following areas:

  • Technology used
  • Camera quality (stills and motion)/recording capabilities
  • Range of useful, intelligent features
  • Size and materials (drones can withstand harsher climates and crash landings)
  • Flight time (battery life)
  • Speed capability
  • Operating range
  • Controller types
  • Ease of use

Anyone new to drones can dabble with inexpensive models for less than a hundred bucks. Few people keep cheap drones once they get the bug—as most drone operators do.

Budget
best-budget-expensive-drone
Yuneec Tornado H920
4.8/5.0
Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 1.6″
Weight: 8.2 oz
Interchangeable lenses and well-integrated SW & HW.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-expensive-drone
DJI Inspire 2
4.3/5.0
Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.3 x 4.1″
Weight: 17.6 oz
Has 360-degree camera rotation and a 5.2K video.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-expensive-drone
Freefly Alta 8
4.3/5.0
Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 0.7″
Weight: 12.8 oz
Large payload capacity and exceptional quality.
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Today drones come in all shapes and sizes across a wide range of prices. Some even cost more than a family car. Like most things in life the more you pay the more you can expect.

Why Some Drones Cost So Much

No new technology, whether it’s a cell phone, a digital camera, or a drone, appears out of nowhere. A huge amount of time, money, and investment goes into innovation, trials, failures, and scrapped ideas.

Even when the first ideas go into production they’re still expensive. It’s only when there’s high consumer demand that mass production kicks in. Then—and only then—do prices begin to fall.

It’s never too long before other companies jump in on any successful technological bandwagon. They compete with their own similar products. This is usually good for consumers and continued innovation.

High-end drones will remain pricy because they offer more of everything to a much smaller market. They may become less expensive over time, but they’ll never be cheap per se.

Who Is this Guide For?

This guide is for prosumers and professionals who need an unmanned flying machine for peaceful purposes. It’s also a good read for enthusiasts who want to learn more about premier drones.

Pilots of expensive drones may include, but are not limited to:

  • Makers of quality movies and documentaries
  • Cartographers
  • Commercial surveyors
  • The study of animal migration
  • Planners of commercial developments
  • Anyone with the money who wants to explore their world from above

I have compiled my top seven high-end drone picks with great care. These are some of the most capable and fascinating civilian drones readily available on Amazon at the time of writing this guide.

The table below highlights my best picks at a glance. From left to right: drone make and model, camera recording resolution (CRR), operating range (OR) and flying time (FT).

Items by price:

Most Expensive Civilian Drones on Amazon Comparison Table

Make and ModelCRRORFTPrice Check
DJI Inspire 24K7 km25 minCheck Price
DJI Matrice 1004K5 km40 minCheck Price
DJI Matrice 600Full HD5 km36 minCheck Price
Yuneec Tornado H9204K5 km24 minCheck Price
Faucon Drones Lifter Series V1.04KCheck Price
The Freefly Alta 64KN/A15 minCheck Price
The Freefly Alta 84KN/A20 minCheck Price

Different drones have different features, capabilities, and uses for individuals and industries. Only you can know what you want from a high-quality drone, but be sure to choose with care.

 

Each drone has an introduction which highlights its main selling points. I also include a table where you can glance over the major technical specifications along with the pros and cons for each model.

HIGH-QUALITY DRONES UNDER $5000

Drones in this price range are for the serious hobbyist, prosumer, and professional. The question you need to ask yourself is simple: what does a particular drone offer that your cheaper drone doesn’t.

Yes it’s going to be an upgrade in major areas, but do you need those enhancements? The answer is probably yes, which is why you’re here. This guide will help you make a better informed decision.

1. Best Value: DJI Inspire 2

DJI Inspire 2View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

You only have to look at this drone to know it’s special. It’s for anyone or any company that’s into quality video production. This is perhaps the most advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in its class.

The predecessor—DJI Inspire 1—had plenty to boast about, but the Inspire 2 has taken things to a whole new level. Despite its complex technology, this UAV is pretty much ready to fly out of the box.

Most users can unpack and prepare the Inspire 2 for flight in less than a couple of minutes. That’s amazing considering its size and capability. Best of all is that you can control it by a simple app.

At 0-50 mph in five seconds, and a top speed of 58 mph, this drone doesn’t hang about. The original plan was to make it even faster. They finally decided the extra speed would compromise video quality.

The option to use different cameras is useful for filmmakers. If the drone had come equipped with a gimbal and camera I would have given it a five star rating. Alas, you have to buy them separately.

The 360°camera rotation, 5.2K video @ 30 fps, ProRes and CinemaDNG recording add further to the Inspire 2’s overall appeal. There are plenty of useful intelligent flight modes to explore too.

A lightweight magnesium alloy body, retractable landing gear, and dual-operator controls are other popular features. If high-end video production is your thing, add the DJI Inspire 2 to your shortlist.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 3440g (7.58 lbs. without gimbal & camera)
Battery: 6000 mAh 2S LiPo
Charging Time: 90 min (1.5 hrs.)
Control range: 7 Km (4.3 miles)
Max flight time: 27 minutes
Max speed: 94 km/h (58 mph) in Sport Mode
The Pros
Magnesium alloy body
Retractable landing gear
360-degree camera rotation
5.2K video
CinemaDNG and ProRes rec.
Intelligent flight modes
Interchangeable cameras
Obstacle avoidance
High-speed sport mode
Dual-operator control w/ FPV pilot camera
The Cons
Requires high-performance computer for editing video
Gimbal & camera not included

2. DJI Matrice 100

DJI Matrice 100View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The DJI Matrice 100 is an incredibly flexible civilian drone. It’s for anyone from the serious enthusiast, businesses, or research companies. It happens to be a fun machine to fly too, which is always a bonus.

What’s so special about this quadcopter is its adaptability. Any person or company now has the option to customize and program their own flight platform to match their exact flying needs.

Aside from the advanced technology, the Matrice 100 is super easy to program, fly, and control in the air. This is all thanks to the emphasis engineers have placed on the drone’s pilot-friendly features.

The impressive guidance system and high-quality landing gear ensures you get to where you want to go and land safely—on any surface. This durability and smart design are two of its key selling points.

A lot of reviewers praise the DJI Matrice 100’s stereoscopic camera for its exceptional picture quality. They’re right too. It’d be hard to settle for anything less after experiencing this 30X Zoom.

You’ll love the Lightbridge Video Transmission Technology if you like to view live images while your drone is in the air. Best of all is that you can view this footage on most modern mobile devices.

A few other key features include the responsive flight controller, enhanced propulsion system, and the high-end infra-red (IR) cameras.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 2355g (5.2 lb.)
Battery: LiPo 6S 5700 mAh
Charging Time: 90 minutes (1.5 hrs.)
Control range: 5 km (3.1 miles)
Max flight time: 40 minutes
Max speed: 22 m/s (49 mph)
The Pros
Exceptional flight time
Dual compartment batteries
Compatible & customizable
Fully programmable
Lightweight, rugged body
Soft landing pads
Pilot-friendly
Value for money
The Cons
Gimbal and camera extra cost

3. DJI Matrice 600

DJI Matrice 600View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

This is the last of my top picks in the under $5000 category. It’s also another six rotor (hexacopter). The DJI Matrice 600 is great for anyone who wants to shoot high-quality, cinema-grade aerial footage.

If you’re a budding or professional filmmaker who wants superior quality on a tighter budget—keep reading. You’re going to at least want the Matrice 600 heavy lifter on your shortlist of options.

This is a fairly big drone as most hexacopters are. It has to be. Yet despite the size it’s a breeze to set up and fly out of the box. It literally takes no more than a few minutes. It’s also easy to maintain.

Engineers have taken great care with the build and ability of the Matrice 600. It has a lightweight aluminum body with foldable (carbon fiber) arms and retractable landing gear—perfect for filming.

You don’t have to worry about filming obstructions thanks to the retractable legs. And your equipment is safe in the air as this drone can recover itself and land safely if any of its motors happen to fail.

The A3 flight controller is a reassuring piece of kit. Its built-in failsafe features give the user piece of mind. This allows you to concentrate on filming without worrying about the airborne craft.

The DJI Matrice 600 failsafe measures include:

  1. Loss of signal
  2. Low power
  3. Propulsion failure (up to three motors)

If you want to customize your drone you have plenty of options for that too. This is thanks to the multiple expansion ports and the SDK support that lets you create your own mobile apps.

The M600 will lift up to 13.2 lbs., which is quite a payload. As a videographer this gives you a lot more flexibility and options when it comes to camera choices, gimbals, and accessories.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 9500g (21 lbs.)
Battery: 6000 mAh LiPo 2S
Control range: 5 Km (3.1 miles)
Max flight time: 35 minutes
Max speed: 18m/s (40 mph)
The Pros
Large carrying capacity
Easy to set up
Smart flight safety
Stable during flight
Good flight time
Good transmission range
Open app development
The Cons
Camera not included
Other costly add-ons

4. Best Budget: Yuneec Tornado H920

Yuneec Tornado H920View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.9/5

This is a large 6-rotor drone (hexacopter) that’s surprisingly light. The Yuneec Tornado H920 appeals particularly to amateur and professional cinematographers and videographers.

I can also see the Tornado having wider uses once its popularity and true potential becomes better known. It would be ideal for search & rescue and in law enforcement as two examples.

Don’t let the size of this flying beast intimidate you. The Tornado H920 is almost as easy to fly as any of the popular smaller drones. The only downside is that stopping it takes a little practice.

At just 5 kg and with fully retractable landing gear, this is not a heavy or awkward drone to carry around. It might not look too portable on the launch pad but it is. Looks—in this case—are deceptive.

As for recording quality 4K video… how does the click of a button sound? That’s about all you need to do to capture stunning aerial footage of any place, person, or thing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pPmBLVpRXk

Some key features of the Yuneec Tornado H920 have to be its lightweight, robust carbon fiber frame, and fail-safe folding arms. Others are the hexacopter’s landing gear and return to home capability.

There’s plenty to marvel at with the Tornado with lots of great features to explore. The cost is around $3200, which makes it a worthy contender in its class.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 5000g (11 lbs.)
Battery: Lipo 4000mAh 6S 22.2V
Charging Time: 90 minutes (1.5 hrs.)
Control range: 2000 m (1.2 miles)
Max flight time: 24 minutes
Max speed: 21m/s (47 mph)
The Pros
Lightweight quality carbon fiber platform
Dual operator control
Great for high-end cinematography
Nice rotating Gimbal
Interchangeable lenses
Well-integrated SW & HW
Works with Panasonic GH4 4K camera
Remote control with large integrated tablet
The Cons
Intimidating for new pilots
Rotors may intrude in footage
Tricky for some to configure

HIGH-END CIVILIAN DRONES UNDER $10,000

If you’re looking at drones within this price range you already know exactly what your requirements are. Your only remaining challenge now is to find a model that matches your specific needs.

There are a few options available but I’ve only included one in the $5K-$10K price range. My choice is a little under $7000. I didn’t think the others I reviewed justified the price tag, but feel to disagree.

5. Faucon Lifter Series V1.0

Faucon Lifter Series V1.0View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.8/5

The Faucon Drones Lifter Series V1.0 is a flying machine with a difference. Only RC flyers with heavy-lift drone experience should operate it. This is definitely not a beginner’s toy for activity flying.

The Faucon Drones Lifter is not “cute” like other civilian models out there, but that doesn’t matter to its pilots. This is a drone used mainly for commercial flying and lifting rather than aerial photography.

Drones used for photography, film making, and other applications have come a long way. But now we’re starting to see a new demand for drones that are capable of considerable heavy lifting.

This UAV delivers on both quality and durability fronts. It has fully-retractable carbon fiber landing gear, a highly-shock resistant frame, and an advanced stability system.

It’s not the most talked about drone, and it’s perhaps one of the ugliest UAVs on the market. Despite these things, the Faucon Drones Lifter Series V1.0 definitely has a place as a serious lifter.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 6.35 kg (14 pounds)
Dimensions: 1.1 x 1.1 x 0.61 m (43 x 43 x 24″)
Battery: Lithium ion
Heavy Lift: 22.7kg (50lbs)
The Pros
Quality build / rugged
Heavy lifting capability
Highly shock resistant
The Cons
Cost
Usage limitations

HIGH-END CIVILIAN DRONES OVER $10,000

This is a very special category of civilian drones aimed at solo professionals and organizations. These are flying machines that have the capabilities essential for high-end, creative aerial shooting.

Drones over $10k are real workhorses, capable of carrying considerable weights. If you need to shoot using heavy professional cameras like an Arri or digital RED, you need a drone that’s up to the task.

The professional footage and angles drones of this kind can produce are second to none. No helicopter, crane, or other platform can even get close. My two heavy lift drones here are highly regarded choices.

6. Freefly Alta 6

Freefly Alta 6View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

ALTA 6 is by Freefly System. It’s a quality UAV for aerial imaging with flexible configuration options. It’s a well-sought after drone for any serious aerial filmmaker.

Despite the advanced technology it doesn’t take long to get to grips with this remarkable multi-rotor flying machine out of the box. You should be able to take to the skies in less than five minutes.

The ALTA 6 is a great compromise if you’re budget doesn’t stretch to the ALTA 8 (see next). The max 15 lb (6.8 kg) payload capability means you can shoot with most DSLRs, and other camera types.

You can use the ALTA 6 with a range of transmitters like Spektrum, Futaba, and radios, which is pretty neat. The entire range of cool features makes this an aerial cinematographer’s dream craft.

Other impressive points worth noting are the lightweight frame, vibration isolation system, and weather-resistant electronics. The drone’s silent-drive technology is another of its welcome features.

The makers of the ALTA 6 sum up their products pretty well: built to fly and made with care. I’d agree to that. The innovation is top class, and the drone’s both intelligent and dependable.

If you need a truly flexible drone that’s tough, reliable, and adaptable enough to meet your aerial cinematography needs, add the ALTA 6 to your list. It’s going to check a lot of the right boxes.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 4500g (10 lbs)
Max flight time: 15 minutes
Battery: ALTA Flight Pack – 10Ah
Charging Time: 60-80 minutes
Max speed: 26m/s (58 mph)
The Pros
Well-built, quality materials
Versatile
Easy to use/fly
Tough and reliable
Excellent support
The Cons
Expensive add-ons needed
High price

7. Top Pick: Freefly ALTA 8

Freefly ALTA 8View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

Freefly ALTA 8 costs a few thousand dollars more than the ALTA 6 for good reasons. It’s worth every penny, but only if you can afford it or can justify the extra features for your filming purposes.

This is a UAV that Freefly have designed with a whole new generation of filmmakers in mind. There are a lot of new details gone into the ALTA 8 and each and every one of those has a specific purpose.

Any creative filmmaker who loves to fly drones will be amazed at the flawless control they get when taking to the air with the ALTA 8. This really is man and machine working in perfect harmony.

The Alta 8 has two more motors than the Alta 6. And at 20 lbs., it has a 5lb. heavier payload. The extra fight stability and increased lifting capacity will matter a lot to some.

Despite its professional application, the ALTA 8 is quick and easy to pack down and transport. Once you’re used to it, it shouldn’t take much more than five minutes to fold up and be on your way.

There are two fully-enclosed mounting bays with the ALTA 8. These help to keep those sensitive components dry and protected from the elements.

The Alta 8 App gives you access to all that critical flight data in a simple to read format. This includes things like pilot checklists, flight Mode, altitude, vibration levels, and much more.

The major downside to this beauty is its cost. It’s the kind of drone every budding UAV filmmaker dreams about but not so many can afford, at least not at the amateur level.

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Tech Specs
Weight: 6200g (13.6 lbs)
Max flight time: 15 minutes
Battery: ALTA Flight Pack – 10Ah
Charging Time: 60-80 minutes
Max speed: 16m/s (35 mph)
The Pros
Easy to control/manage
Inverted landing gear
Large payload capacity
Exceptional quality
Great tech support
The Cons
High price tag
0/50 ratings