ND filters for drones – An Introduction

ND filters for drones – An Introduction



Content updated on February 15, 2019

ND (Neutral Density) or Neutral Density filters are extremely useful for any photographer and videographer who wants to take long exposure shots or simply to avoid overexposure in a very bright environment. This filter has the particularity of to absorb in a homogeneous way the light which arrives in the sensor of the camera to get to take a picture in slow speed under conditions of luminous illumination. If you come to acquire a drone with camera and that you wish take photos in long exposure in broad daylight, this introductory guide, for beginners and semi professionals, will answer some of your questions about the use of ND filters.What are ND filters used for? Most cameras on the market have a very high shutter speed. When the light is dim, or at night, you can take long exposure shots by reducing the exposure speed of a few seconds, or even a few tens of seconds to get a kinetic blur or perform a light painting.

Difference with and without ND filter

These artistic / aesthetic effects are impossible to achieve during the day because it is not possible to exceed the limit of openness of the lens, located at f / 22, even less to decrease the sensitivity beyond 100 or 50 ISO .

To avoid overexposure, the use of ND filters in a bright environment can increase the exposure time, reducing the amount of light that reaches the lens of your lens, and thus to create long-term photographs.

In video, and especially for Action Cam drones, the ND filter will transform your videos by reducing the shutter speed, which will give your sequences a rendering of fluid movements.Here is a video showing the use of a ND filter on a drone equipped with GoPro:

Do these filters alter colors? ND filters, as their name suggests, have the particularity of having a neutral density. They do not alter the colors and do not result from other UV effect. They thus preserve the fidelity of the colors of the landscapes photographed. Noting that I speak here only ND filters and not GND, UV filters, or polarizing filters. or creative.How to choose your ND filter for drone? Each ND filter has a specific density allowing it to attenuate the light. Thus, there are on the market a large number of filters designated by their number: for example ND110, ND400 or ND1000.These numbers are the result of the multiplication coefficient of the exposure time to be taken into consideration in order to adjust the exposure.
In other words, an ND1000 filter will need 1000 times more exposure time than it would require without a filter. Thus, if you have a shutter speed of 1/1000 without filter, you will spend one second using it. If you want to calculate the percentage of light transmission to your sensor in relation to the filters, here is an easy rule to Apply: Light transmission in% = 100 / attenuation factor (ND X).

Many filters exist on the market

For example, for a filter with an ND8 factor: 100/8 = 12.5% ​​light transmission for an ND8 filter. If you do not want to do the calculations, you can help yourself from this filter density conversion chart ND:

If you still have some doubts about the choices, prefer the high density filters. The use of these filters becomes interesting from the ND8 filter. This filter is usually great if you want to make videos or captures in the early morning or late evening. With this filter, you will not have to change the settings of your device. Other photographers / videographers prefer to start with the neutral gray filter ND106 (or ND6) which remains a quite versatile filter in the set. This filter is however to avoid if you want to make long poses at noon. In the middle of the day, use the ND110 (or ND1000) filter, which allows you to take pictures without too much exposure time.Small tip: if the material allows it, you can screw two filters, one on the other, to multiply their effects.Here are some tutorials that explain in detail how to choose a NDC filter How to install ND filters on a drone? Today, more and more specialized companies are proposing ND filters specially designed for drones.The company PolarPro proposes by example its filters for drones like DJI Phantom 3 and 4.

The PolarPro DJI Phantom filter is easy to attach to the camera lens. Offered in a pack of three filters (CP, ND4 and ND8), it allows you to optimize your aerial shots optimally. Other companies like Sioti offer filters with other densities for DJI Phantom 4. If your drone is equipped with a GoPro, you are very lucky because the camera has the widest choice of filters for Action Cam on the market. There are all types and for all budgets.

For example, PolarPro offers an excellent kit containing three filters for the GoPro HERO5 Black camera. These filters adapt to all ambient conditions for maximum rendering when capturing images. Over here for an interesting pack for Gopro Hero 3 and 4! What about other action cam? Unfortunately, custom ND filters do not offer a wide variety of densities and are not fixable on most drone cameras. To get around this, the easiest method is to use the filter holders. The principle is simple: you fix them on your camera and you then obtain square or rectangular filters that slip into the filter holder. You will have a multiple choice of densities and quality. Summary Table Use at any time! Perfect for limiting glare effects and when you have full control of shutter speed Use when shooting at dawn or sunset, when the camera is set to 1/250 For use in overcast / cloudy weather, when the camera is set to 1 / 500A use in partly cloudy and sunny weather when the camera is set to 1/1000 For use in very sunny weather and bright light when the camera is set to 1 / 1250A use in extremely bright conditions and by strong reverberation (water, snow, desert …) To use in cloudy / cloudy weather, when the polarization is necessary To use in partly covered and sunny weather, when the polarization is necessary To use in very sunny weather and in bright light when the polarization is necessary Hoping to have offered you a good introduction to the user ND filters for your photos / videos in multirotor!

                    5 questions you have about ND filters for drones4.3 (86.15%) 26 votes


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