There are several drones that allow you to attach your camera, enabling you to collect the finest aerial shots possible. Many professionals and amateurs are already using them. Drones isn’t just for action cameras like GoPros. You can easily utilize your Red, Canon, or any other high-end camera to capture the highest quality photos and videos.

Such powerful drones, on the other hand, are equipped to handle other heavy items as well. Today, we introduce you to 7 drones on the market that can carry up to 20kg. Some of these drones are far more powerful than you might think. Let’s look more closely at some of these impressive birds and talk more about their amazing features and specifications.


So, without further ado, let’s jump to our list of the most commercially feasible heavy-lifting drones out there:


The Intel Falcon 8+ is the very first heavy lifter we’ll look at today. Yes, it is manufactured by Intel…   At the moment, it costs slightly more than $16,000, which is significantly more than the average consumer-grade drone purchase. However, in Intel Falcon 8+’s defense, it has a slew of aces up its sleeve that deliver a rapid ROI that knocks innovative entrepreneurs off their feet.

In industrial scenarios, such a capable and expensive drone is bound to demonstrate impressive versatility. Intel Falcon 8+ does it in style, having  revolutionized inspection tasks in the oil and gas industry. What used to take tethering cables and many man-hours is now a one-man job… with a really competent drone, of course, and we’ll all agree Intel Falcon 8+ is precisely that.

Intel Falcon 8+ provides unprecedented performance regardless of weather conditions due to the excellent power-to-weight ratio, superior imaging, and pin-point precision.   More specifically, the Intel Falcon 8+ can carry up to 1.76lbs of cargo, bringing the total takeoff weight to 6.17lbs (2.8kg).

We’re referring about a sUAV designed primarily for survey and inspection purposes. As previously stated, Intel Falcon 8+ is being used in a variety of industries, and its impressive, cutting-edge hardware-software combination has been a major factor in its success.

The AscTec Trinity controller, which supports both GPS and GLONASS data, is the operation’s brain. The max operating range is around one kilometer, and the maximum flight time is up to 26 minutes… However, due to factors such as payload capacity and weather conditions, you should expect a shorter flight time. Last but not least, this bugger has a max wind resistance of 35.8mph (16m/s), making it ideal for extremely windy conditions.

The package contains a plethora of items. The drone itself, obviously, as well as an aircraft remote controller, an intricate backpack, three battery packs, and three chargers. What it lacks is a payload capable of transforming it into a commercially viable sUAV. 

With its 36MP DSLM camera and Sony Sonnar T FE 35mm lens, the Sony Alpha 7R Survey Package provides superior inspection, surveying, and aerial mapping capabilities. The ZS50 Inspection Package, alternatively includes a hybrid RGB and 14-bit raw sensor mounted in parallel with a conventional high-resolution digital sensor. This camera system provides comprehensive visual and thermal data in real time and can be used in a number of fully automated flight modes.

180-degree camera rotation from top to bottom
Maximum payload is 1.76lbs.
Two modules are supported.
Three batteries and three chargers are included.
Provides assistance Mission Control Software from Intel
Maximum speed is 40 miles per hour.


If you’re looking for a less expensive inspection/photography/cinematography platform, I recommend the DJI Inspire 2. More specifically, the popular DJI Inspire 2 Zenmuse X5S plus hardcase bundle, arguably the best value/money heavy lift drone on the market.


First and foremost, let’s talk about the pairing! The Inspire 2 Combo Bundle from B&H includes the drone as well as all of its accessories, a top-tier Zenmuse X5S gimbal/camera system, a hardcase, and codec licenses. CinemaDNG as well as Apple Pro Res licenses, to be specific. These enable the Inspire to capture 4K as well as 5.2K footage in limited formats for later post-production. The recording functionality is handled by DJI’s CineCore 2.0 image-processing engine… and that is only a small part of its outstanding overall performance.


In terms of overall performance, the DJI Inspire 2 could also fly for up to 27 mins and reach a distance of 7 kilometers. In terms of top speed, you’re looking at a drone that can hit 58 mph.

It is safe to say that the supplied Zenmuse X5S camera system does not disappoint! With a 4/3-inch sensor and the previously discussed CineCore 2.0 system, the DJI Inspire 2 is capable of handling even the most challenging cinematic tasks. The DJI Inspire 2 has become the go-to sUAV for aerial photography in recent years, thanks to a remarkable price/performance margin and 1.79lbs of maximum payload capacity, which was one of its best features at the time of its release.

There are now drone models that can carry far more than the DJI Inspire 2. However, the price/performance values remain, and it appears to be the primary reason why the DJI Inspire 2 remains as popular as ever. To summarize, if you’re looking for a starter commercially viable drone for aerial imagery, the DJI Inspire 2 is unrivaled!

Advanced obstacle sensing systems are installed.
Can handle up to 5.2K post-production-ready footage 
Licenses for CinemaDNG and Apple Pro Res 
It has a top speed of 58 mph. 


Following that, we have another high-tech DJI model. This time, we’re not discussing a consumer-oriented drone that’s inexpensive and capable of meeting the needs of consumer and prosumer tasks alike. Instead, we’re talking about a full-fledged industrial-quality drone that can be used for a variety of tasks. DJI Matrice 210 v2 is capable of heavy lifting drones for cinematic, agriculture, surveillance, or inspection work. It’s massive, strong, and capable of carrying a large payload!


If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that DJI never cease to produce a good drone. Whether we’re having a discussion about beginner drones like the Mavic Mini, user hybrids such as the Mavic 2 Pro, or industry-grade models like this one, the level of quality is unrivaled.

Having said that, the DJI Matrice 210 exudes quality in every way. The Matrice 210 v2 is an imposing figure, with IP43 dust and water protection, a generally strong and durable body, and a total weight of over 10lbs (with the battery). It can carry up to 2.95 lbs of payload, paving the way for a variety of Zenmuse systems ranging from high-resolution photography to comprehensive thermal imagery. Furthermore, the bundle we recommend you purchase from B&H includes 2 batteries, as well as the Enterprise Shield Basic Kit. It’s well worth the price, but it’s known to sell out quickly, so get it while it’s still accessible.

A fantastic industrial-grade base platform with a plethora of aerial video solutions 
It has advanced obstacle avoidance capabilities.
 DJI AirSense surveillance system.


The Alta 8 Pro is the first Alta drone we’ll be looking at here. Similarly to DJI’s Matrice series, FreeFly Alta platforms provide top-tier sturdiness and flight behavior that goes far beyond what you’d expect from a mainstream, user-oriented model. The price tag accurately reflects its industrial grade body as well as it’s viability across a variety of tasks. It has a far greater payload capacity than all the previously mentioned quadcopter, which explains why its versatility is so impressive. So, let’s take a closer look to see if the FreeFly Alta 8 Pro is the ideal heavy lifting quadcopter for your company!


When it comes to sheer lifting power, FreeFly’s Alta 8 Pro is quite the specimen. Alta 8 Pro provides up to 20 pounds of lifting power thanks to 8 powerful brushless motors and an effective, lift-friendly design. Alta 8 Pro claims to support MoVi gimbals below or above the aircraft due to its massive lifting capacity. As a result, it has become one of the most affordable drones capable of lifting RED cameras with MoVi gimbal technologies. The Alta 8 Pro is unique in that it can lift more weight than it weighs. Once more, this can lift up to 20 pounds but weighs 13 pounds.


With features such as quick release, altitude hold, prop control, and pinpoint positioning based on barometric data, IMU, and GPS, the FreeFly Alta 8 Pro can fly missions in all weather conditions. On top of that, it has QGroundControl, a long-range wireless communication modem that can send flight data up to 1000 feet away. We’re discussing a relatively small heavy lift drone here.   As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, the FreeFly Alta 8 Pro is a remarkable commercial aerial device, and I’m sure you can see why!

  •         8 brushless motors
  •         Supports MoVi gimbal 
  •          20 lbs Payload capacity
  •          Advanced waypoint technology


Here’s the 2nd FreeFly model we’ll look at in our guide to the best heavy lifting drones. The device’s name is Alta X, and its price is roughly the same as that of the previously discussed Alta 8 Pro. These two drones, however, could not be more dissimilar. The most noticeable difference is undoubtedly the number of motors. While X indicates 10 motors, there are legitimately only four. Yes, we’re having a discussion about an extraordinary $15,000 quadcopter – a statement you don’t hear very often these days… In Alta X’s defense, it does have a number of advantages to justify the price and distract us from the obvious lack of motors.

The shortage of motor redundancy is the most serious issue with this little birdie, in my opinion. Even if some businesses do not place as much emphasis on motor redundancy as they should, it is one of the primary reasons why I consider octocopters, by far, superior to their quadcopter counterparts. Yes, motors don’t usually burn out in mid-flight, but if they do, you’ll be glad you chose something with a little more than four.

On the plus side, the FreeFly Alta X is a newer model than that of the Alta 8 Pro and has a modular design that allows it to handle a variety of tasks. Alta X can carry a large amount of equipment both on the upper and lower part of the main body thanks to several connectors. We’re looking at 30 lbs of lifting force in aspects of payload capacity. Despite carrying such a heavy load, the Alta X can fly for about 10 minutes thanks to its 2 16Ah 12S batteries. Guess what?  Without some kind of payload, it can travel for up to 50 mins, which is incredible for a drone this expensive.



Alta X drone payload chart

The propellers on this FreeFly Alta X heavy lifter drone are the key innovation. We’re talking about the ActiveBlade design, which compensates for lift asymmetry and cyclic loading while actively lowering peak vibration levels. They are lowered to 20% of their normal levels, allowing for smoother flight with an additional element of reliability.

Unfortunately, neither the batteries nor transmitter are included in the package; you must purchase them separately. The package includes a highly durable quadcopter with the Auterion Enterprise PX4 system, which enables automated data logging and also specially made software solutions for any industry-specific task.

Smooth flight is ensured by ActiveBlade propellers.
two 12S 16Ah batteries
Quick-release mechanism for quick payload swaps
Folding mechanism that is simple
Payloads on both the bottom and top can be supported.



Let’s finish off our list of the best heavy lifting drones with two xFold’s models! First things first, they do cost quite a bit. On the bright side, their overall performance, capabilities, and lifting power, are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The first model we’re looking at here is the Cinema X12 U7 which goes for $24,000. There’s an even more expensive model, Dragon X12 U11, which will be dissected later on. For now, let’s focus on the xFold Camera X12 U7 and see what sort of tasks it is capable of going up against!


Starting off with the main body, xFold Cinema X12 U7 looks like a typical hexacopter, but it’s far from it. If you take a closer look, you’ll see there are two motors and propellers strapped to each of its carbon fiber arms. Yep, as the name suggests, we’re talking about a 12-rotor machine, which automatically means it’s one darn good heavy lift drone. More precisely, we’re talking about roughly 45lbs of maximum payload.

As for the machine itself, it runs on the popular DJI A2 flight controller that ensures a smooth flying experience with no hiccups, as well as a number of additional features that will come in handy no matter what sort of commercial missions you’re planning to take this thing on. On top of that, it also comes with a sophisticated 3-axis gimbal that supports DSLR cameras, as well as a 6mW video transmitter for lag-free downlink up to 2 kilometers away from the provided 7-inch FPV monitor.



If all of the above seems like an overkill for your particular needs, but you still want stuff like solid payload capacity, Taray 3K weave carbon fiber frame, and DJI A2 flight controller, you’ll like the fact there’s another smaller (and cheaper) model. It’s called XFold Cinema X8 U7, and it’s basically an octocopter version of the real deal. It comes with the same base with the only notable difference being the lack of four additional motors/propellers.

One last thing, keep in mind that this is an RTF package. This means it packs everything you need to get it up and running, except the camera. In other words, you’re getting the machine, a proper 3-axis gimbal compatible with hefty DSLR cameras (Sony, RED, ARRI, Canon, etc), two xFold/Futaba transmitters, and two 10Ah batteries as well as a hard-shell travel-friendly case, among other equipment and accessories. All in all, if you’re in need of a drone that can lift heavy equipment, they don’t come much better than xFold’s models. Cinema X12 U7 and X8 U7 are there for “lightweight” tasks while our next entry is capable of dealing with, and I mean this quite literally, anything you put it up against!

  •         Can lift up to 45 lbs
  •         Runs on xFold’s custom 390kV brushless motors
  •         Supports up to four batteries simultaneously
  •         DJI A2 flight controller is the brain of the machine
  •         Octocopter version available too


Looking at the specs sheet, this might as well be the most powerful drone out there. It can lift unearthly 100 lbs. Yep, you’ve read that right – up to 100lbs, which is more than double the maximum payload of its smaller brother, the Cinema X12 U7. The U11 delivers state-of-the-art performance no matter what you put it up against, but does cost a pretty penny too. We’re talking roughly $31,600, which is no small money, even for a drone of this caliber.


Primarily, xFold Dragon X12 U11 is used for AAA cinematography thanks to the included 3-axis gimbal and the ability to carry a ton of equipment. It’s not limited to smaller DSLR cameras but the real big boys as well as their lenses, microphones, and additional gear. These things might not weigh a lot on their own, but once combined, attached, and strapped together, they become quite heavy, and a real burden to carry. Luckily, they can’t put the xFold Dragon X12 U11 to strain, that’s for sure!

In addition to cinematography and film production, these drones are also used across numerous other industries, including government and military. The version we’re inspecting here can handle ridiculous 100lbs of payload, while its bigger brothers can do three times that. Yep, xFold has models that can carry 300lbs of payload… talk about raw power, huh…



For $31,600, you’d expect a top of the line performance. Luckily, xFold Dragon X12 U11 does wonders! It’s based on the exact same DJI A2 flight controller (featuring 12 output channels and dual CAN-Bus system) as its smaller brother, and features the same kind of software/hardware combo. That means you’re getting two batteries, but the drone supports up to four simultaneously, as well as a gStabi H16 gimbal, and two xFold/Futaba controllers with 14 channels. The video downlink system is the same (600mW VTX Connex) as well as the 7-inch IPS FPV monitor.

This really is the ultimate aerial platform, if not for its raw power and versatility than for its compactness. Yep, this thing is compact; it’s easy to fold it right up and finish with your daily recording session. One thing you can bet on with this thing is that it will always get the job done. It will always produce professional-grade footage and overcome tasks other drones simply could not do. It’s powerful, robust, travel-friendly, and comes with everything except the camera. Luckily, its maximum payload capacity still has enough room with the gimbal on to support even the beefiest of cinematography equipment. That said, if you’re looking for the crème de la crème of what the heavy lifting drone market has to offer, you’re looking for xFold Dragon X12 U11… as simple as that!

  •         Supports up to four batteries simultaneously
  •         Has video downlink up to 2 kilometers
  •         Comes with a 7-inch FPV IPS monitor with 1280×800 resolution
  •         Can carry up to 100lbs meaning it’s suitable for all types of work
  •         Comes equipped with a gStabi H16 3-axis gimbal


As I already explained above, the biggest (and virtually the only real advantage over conventional drone models) perk of such drones is their ability to lift heavy objects. It’s as simple as that! Like it was ever going to be something else… What I am primarily aiming at here is definitely the imaging capability this brings into play.

You see, while most “premium” mainstream models on the market can barely lift an action camera along with its respective gimbal, these high-powered drones are able to lift half of one’s professional photography gear. This includes a state-of-the-art stabilization system as well as a fully-fledged DSLR camera that takes aerial images and videos to a whole another level.

But, besides being excellent at carrying huge chunks of photography equipment, these drones are also great for a plethora of other things. We’re talking about environmental mapping, military, agriculture, and good old fun… although we really doubt someone is going to buy one of these heavy-lifting drones solely for the fun factor.

With all that in mind, let’s check out the best uses of drones that can carry weight and see what they’re all about!


Needless to say, the cinematography is still among the most typical use scenarios for heavy lift drones. With the rapid advancements in drone technology, we’re seeing a proper boom of heavy-lifting drones used in Hollywood’s AAA production. YouTubers are doing their sketches with the help of drones that can carry heavy weights too… although big-name production make up for a much larger portion of users.

The reason why AAA production drones need to be able to lift a ton of weight is pretty simple – professional photography/cinematography gear is heavy. For instance, the RED DSMC2 Brain weighs around 3.35lbs (with the integrated media bay), and FreeFly Movi Pro weighs in at around 5.8lbs. And that’s just the camera plus gimbal combo…


While environmental mapping is an industry of its own, some of its key processes are used across a variety of additional industries. Whether we’re talking about 2D georeferenced orthomosaic maps, 3D point clouds, texture maps, index maps, chlorophyll maps, or just standard orthophotos – all of them are used across numerous industries.

Another thing ties all of them together, and that would be the typical weight of the equipment needed to produce high-quality, high-resolution maps with all the necessary stats and figures. And that’s exactly where heavy lifting drones come in. They offer fully autonomous aerial missions and are capable of lifting the equipment needed for all sorts of 3D mapping outputs.


Military drones are on a whole different level. After all, the military was the industry that kickstarted the whole commercial drones craze that transitioned to the casual portion of the market too. Needless to say, the US military has the most advanced heavy lifting drone you can think of. We’re talking about state-of-the-art transatlantic UAV beasts, possessing technology so advanced that us regular humans haven’t yet heard about it.

There are several types of military drones, but the two main types are scouts/surveillance and combat drones. The latter need much higher payload capacity because of the sheer number of hardpoints they possess. All in all, militaries still possess the most advanced drone tech, the one us regular folks will have a couple of years from now.


DDS, stands for drone delivery services, is a rapidly growing industry whose biggest obstacle are international sUAV regulations. More precisely, the limitations regarding automated or semi-automated drone fleets that operate autonomously, with or without a human operator/pilot.

Several countries are pushing for more lenient laws so they can create advanced DDS test scenarios to prepare the technology for the imminent legalization that ought to happen sometime in the future. Even though we’re still pretty far away from drone delivery fleets swarming the urban skyline, it might not be as far as most people tend to think.


It’s a well-known fact that drones can be used for all sorts of agricultural tasks. When it comes to heavy lift drones, they’re typically used for aerial spraying of various pesticides. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways of applying pesticides. But, it does have an immensely high initial cost whose ROI takes quite a bit, which is why only the most innovation-friendly businesses get involved.


Last but not least – these drones can be a lot of fun! Of course, they are way too expensive for regular Joe’s, but some of the more affordable options might be worth the money if you’re interested in showing off and geeking out in front of your neighbors.

Grab one of the cheaper models, equip it with a quick-release mechanism, and attach something that’s within the maximum payload weight limit. It can be a can of beer, a bottle of wine, or a three-course meal – the choice is all yours. All you have to do is fly it over to your friend Nathan who lives three houses down the block. Wait a few days and you’ll become the talking point of the whole neighborhood!


All three types of drones that can carry things have their own set of unique characteristics. Here’s a closer look so you better understand which type perfectly fits your needs:


Quadcopters are the most popular options in the consumer end of the spectrum. As their name suggests, they come equipped with four motors/propellers, which give them a great balance between stability, weight, and price tag. They’re relatively lightweight, can’t really handle a lot of payload, but work great for entry to medium-level aerial photography tasks. If you’re looking for AAA production quality, you’ll have to look for more propulsion force that equals better stability and extra safety layers.


Hexacopters have six propellers and they’re arranged in a circle surrounding the main body. Thanks to two extra propellers, hexacopters are able to carry more weight than quadcopters. Additionally, they can fly higher, make faster maneuvers, and cost quite a bit more…

They also have a massive advantage over their quad-equipped counterparts in the form of motor redundancy. Even if one of the six propellers/motors fails, the remaining five can keep the drone flying. If another burns out mid-flight, there’s a high chance the drone will still be able to land safely, but it depends on the location of both propellers.


Finally, we’ve reached heavy lifting drones with eight propellers. These are among the priciest models thanks to the sheer lifting power they bring to the table. Typically, octocopters are used for handling highly sophisticated missions. No matter the weather conditions or the type of task ahead, octocopters are made to succeed at all costs!

In recent times, we’re seeing plenty of x12 (dodecopters?) which offer even greater motor redundancy and more lifting power, but are also much more power-hungry and cost an arm and a leg. That said, hexacopters and octocopters still remain the most popular options for heavy lifting drones.



Operating Empty weight (AKA OEW) is the standard basic weight for any particular configuration of an unmanned aerial vehicle. In layman’s terms, OEW is the weight of the aircraft without fuel, cargo, and passengers. In the drone world, OEW is typically used in transportation because it states the weight of the unit without stuff like batteries, sensors and the mount.


Payload weight is divided into two separate factors – maximum recommended payload (MRP) and maximum effective payload (MEP). The former implies the maximum payload weight that ensures optimal flying conditions. MEP, on the other hand, indicates the maximum payload weight the drone can actually lift off the ground.


Long story short – MTOW equals MEP+OEW. In other words, maximum takeoff weight equals maximum effective payload combined with the unit’s empty weight. It gives the idea of the overall maximum weight of the drone as well as its payload/cargo.



I’m sure most of you are well-aware of the fact that mainstream drones cannot really lift a lot. Perhaps they can hold the weight of an action camera and gimbal, but that’s about it. Come to think of it, I remember when I bought my first drone and wanted to put in a larger (more powerful, obviously) battery inside, only to realize my drone couldn’t liftoff due to the extra couple of grams onboard.

However, drones for commercial purposes can often lift impressive weights… but they also do cost a couple of times more than their mainstream counterparts. So, don’t be too surprised when you see drones listed below with more than 10 or even 15 kilograms of lifting power. All those drones are outstanding machines built specifically for precise flight and heavy lifting.



If you are wondering what exactly can you accomplish with one of these drones, well the answer is quite simple actually. You see, these heavy-lifting drones (as their name suggests) excel at one thing and one thing only – lifting heavy objects and carrying them from point A to point B. So, their uses range from professional aerial photography, agriculture, surveillance, fishing to a wide array of additional ones that we won’t go into today.



When talking about flight range, it’s pretty obvious which brand is the winner here. DJI, with its Inspire and Matrice models, takes the flattering title without even breaking a sweat. Inspire can reach seven kilometers while Matrice goes up to eight. Of course, we’re talking about the maximum range in ideal conditions. In other words, you can expect slightly lower readings; aka your mileage may vary… literally!



This is quite a difficult question to answer because some of these models don’t come with flight batteries, meaning you can use your own. However, generally speaking, I’d say the best flight time without payload goes to the FreeFly Alta X.

There’s a number of reasons why it’s the longest-flying drone with no payload strapped to it. For starters, it’s a quadcopter meaning there’s a lot less power draw than your typical hexa or octocopter. Additionally, it has unique ActiveBlade propellers which, even though indirectly, make up for an extra layer of power efficiency when combined with the rest of the software/hardware package. If you’re looking for the exact number, FreeFly Alta X can achieve up to 50 minutes of no-payload flying, which is quite the accomplishment if I may say so.



Now this isn’t a particularly fair question because, let’s face it, the maximum capacity of a DJI Inspire 2 and that of xFold Dragon are nowhere near each other. It’s like comparing a mouse and an elephant. Objectively, Inspire 2 has the best flight time carrying maximum allowed payload… but it can carry less than 2lbs which is something xFold’s wouldn’t even notice. So yeah, Inspire 2 does have the best flight time while carrying maximum allowed payload weight, but take that with a massive grain of salt because it’s not a heavy lifter. If you want a real heavy lifting drone that can fly for a long time, you’ll have to go for one of xFold’s models or the much cheaper FreeFly Alta X.



Yessir, you will need to register drones that can carry things because they all weigh above .55lbs (250g), which is the FAA registration limit. So, if you’re ready to push your business to the next level by introducing a brand-new heavy-lift drone, here are several things you should know:

  •         The registration is valid for three years
  •         The registration costs $5
  •         You can initiate the registration process here
  •         Mark your drone with a printed registration “plate”



When talking about flying commercial sUAV missions, not only do you need to register your drone with the FAA, but you also need to be an FAA-certified drone operator. And the latter is not such an easy feat. To get the certificate, you need to pass the so-called FAA Knowledge Test. If you want more information on this topic, please feel free to refer to our Part 107 prep test which ought to be of service!



That’s about it as far as heavy-lifting drones are concerned. Once again, we are talking about highly-sophisticated machinery here; machinery that is in no way suitable for casual users. These sorts of heavy lift drones are meant for industrial usage scenarios, scenarios in which tier heavy-lifting traits can do what they do best.

Massive heavy lifting performance comes at a high cost. Well, there’s more to cost than the ability to lift heavy payloads, but that’s a story for some other time. For now, let’s finish the list off and call it a day!

That said, let us know in the comment section below if you own or are considering buying one of these powerful aerial machines for your business. As always, we are always happy to read your opinion! Happy flying and, as always, stay safe!

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply