There’s all the other heavy lift drones, then there’s the FreeFly, the Seattle based outlier in the industry. Currently they offer the Freefly Alta 6, 8 and the Alta X. Freefly was a pioneer in the heavy lift arena with the Cinestar (that’s our Cinestar from 2013 as the 1st gallery image), and anyone reading this is probably familiar with the Movi electronic stabilizers. Freefly has a soft spot in my heart because they’re the only real American company that makes drones anyone cares about. We also own a MoVI XL and are a boutique Freefly dealer. When I first wrote this blog post back in 2018, there were many heavy lift manufactures, now it’s pretty much Freefly Alta and a couple of custom builds. The market has really changed!
The Alta 6 was good for DSLR’s, up to a stripped down RED with a small lens. But putting anything larger on this drone is a bad decision. Frankly with its small payload it’s pretty much a non-starter, because for the money an Inspire is on par, or better than any DSLR.
The Alta 8 which has a 2olb carrying capacity, and when released pretty much made the Alta 6 obsolete. But when you consider that 20lbs is the gimbal plus batteries, that headroom goes away pretty quickly. You’re still going to be limited with an Alta 8 by either add ons, or flight time. I’ve been on jobs where we had to land after 4.5 minutes of flight. That is EXTREMELY hectic.
The latest/greatest Freefly drone the Alta X gives the flight crew the ability of carrying up to 35 lbs, but just like all the others, the more weight you pile on it, the less time it will fly. Freefly has a chart on their site that gives you “Flight time VS payload” for the x, which are anything but conservative, but Freefly builds a robust bird that is reliable and has some pretty useful built in features. One of the most unsung features of the X is the sound. It’s much lower and annoying than the smaller birds, which is less likely to be picked up by audio. On set, that’s huge!
Then there’s a couple smaller boutique companies that have heavy lift drones like Gryphon Dynamics,, the rest are custom builds by for lifting a Phantom 4K, a 360 ball, or 3D dual-camera rig. But chances are if you’re looking in this category, you probably don’t need to read this article. If you do need this sort of power, we’d be happy to help!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you with all your aerial and dynamic camera shots.