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black cat

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Hey guys, newbie here. Just bought a MA for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean. Plan on getting some shots of the beach and shots of the dive boat while out in the ocean. I figure I need some filters for the best video quality, but beyond that I'm not sure exactly what I need to get. It seems like Polar Pro is the premium brand for these but I've seen some other cheaper, budget filters out there. Suggestions/recommendations for not only which brand to go with, but which specific models- i.e. ND4, ND8, polarizers etc. All of this stuff is still foreign to me. Thanks guys.
 

MrRobville

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The ND number specifies how strong its darkening factor is. A good comparison that's going around is to compare this with sunglasses for your camera.
ND4 only slightly darkens the amount of light, suitable for during an overcast day or a sunset/rise, whereas ND16 is useful for sunny days.
Important is to understand that the sole purpose for ND filters is to limit the amount of light coming into the lens, thus enabling you to set a slower shutter speed, which in turn allows a more natural motion blur. I'd recommend looking up a few videos which explain them in depth.
ND filters do not contribute to anything else or make the footage automatically look more cinematic. It is simply a tool that helps to achieve that by giving you more control on shutter speeds.

I'm planning on getting some ND filters as well. I think a set of ND4, ND8 and ND16 will cover most situations. ND32 or ND64 seem to be for extremely bright scenarios like snowy landscapes or deserts.

Polarizers on the other hand do have a visual effect as they can remove glare/reflections when set correctly. Examples of this are a more deeper blue sky or water without massive highlights.

I cannot comment on the quality between filter brands, but as far as I could read and watch on Youtube, there's not a lot of difference in them quality wise, though the Polarpro's are claimed to be most consistent with color impact. Again, I'd recommend watching some reviews.

Final tip, especially when using ND filters: Always fly with manual camera settings. Auto exposure can ruin a shot when the lighting conditions change.
 

wildlifr

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As a new drone owner, I purchased the Polar Pro ND/CP 4, 8, and 16, and I can tell you that the 16 still isn't dark enough to reach 1/60s shutter speed on a bright sunny day. I don't even think it's dark enough to reach 1/120s, but I can't be sure about that. So I just purchased the FSLabs ND32 and 64. I would recommend to anyone buying a filter kit to make sure it contains an ND or CP32.
 

msinger

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Plan on getting some shots of the beach and shots of the dive boat while out in the ocean.
Polarized filters would be helpful since they'll cut down the reflection on the water. Check out this video for some examples showing how they can be useful:



It seems like Polar Pro is the premium brand for these but I've seen some other cheaper, budget filters out there. Suggestions/recommendations for not only which brand to go with, but which specific models
Here's a general filter usage guide:

Filter-Use-Chart.png


As for brands, any of the brands listed here would be a good choice. Make sure you read the reviews if you choose to stray from that list.
 

CanadaDrone

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I am a professional photographer so I will do my best to explain. Personally I recommend the Polar Pro Cinema Series - at least then you know the filters won't be degrading your image quality by any noticeable amount, and they have better build quality and better anti-reflective coatings than the standard versions. They also do not introduce any color casts to the footage, which can be a pain to correct - cheaper filters sometimes have that problem but I have not tried them all. Also note you can buy custom made "packs" from Polar Pro's website, because they have cleverly positioned their sets such that people have to buy two to cover the most common ND's, I have found this to be the way to go. Filters are cheap enough, there is no reason not to buy the best IMHO.

The ND4 is probably the easiest one to get by without, but even then it is often used for sunrise/sunset if shutter speed is not flexible, so it depends what you plan to shoot.

You typically want you shutter speed to be double that of the frame rate to maintain a 'cinematic' look with natural motion blur - that isn't a firm rule, but it's common practice. Faster shutter speeds make each frame sharper, but you will start to get a very choppy look to footage with motion in it if it gets too high, hence the need for ND filters. You also want to stay at ISO 100 at all times if possible to maintain maximum image quality - those tiny 1/2.3" sensors in the MA and MP get very noisy very fast. The MA has a fixed aperture, focus, and focal length so no need to worry about those. You want to shoot in Manual mode, and with a preset WB in scenarios where you are confident the light temperature won't be changing. Note that when switching over to the camera, I believe it keeps you in Manual mode there too unless you change it, so if you change it to Auto for photos, remember to change back to Manual if you switch back over to Video. Try to keep your exposure within +/- 1.0 EV of 0.0EV and remember that highlights are much harder to recover than shadows, so if anything I would lean towards a slight underexposure if you are dealing with white/bright subjects.

Roughly speaking for 30fps / 1/60 shutter:

ND4 - Sunrise / sunset

ND8 - Cloudy/overcast with sun above; sunny with dark landscapes

ND16 - Sunny / Full sun over a mixed landscape - this is one of the most commonly used ND's

ND32 - Full sun in tropical or especially bright climates, high noon, bright sun over water, sun over light coloured landscapes. Travelling in Hawaii I never needed more than ND32 even at noon, but I did need it 1 or 2 times.

Some people need a ND64 in certain situations like extremely bright sun over snow, bright sun over white/salt landscapes, etc. but IMO those would be rare for the average user.

The PL filters ("Vivid" collection for Polar Pro) are going to of course take the reflections off water, foliage, shiny surfaces, etc. Polarizers also have a side effect of slightly warming/enhancing colours. They aren't always suitable but it's a nice option to have. Also keep in mind the way polarizers work, their effect is strongest 90 degrees to the sun, so you need to set the polarizer properly and plan your flight carefully to avoid too much variation in the footage (i.e. the sky will go from light blue to dark blue as polarization angle changes, and reflections will go from strong to non-existent as polarization angle changes). On a normal camera, the photographer has the luxury of being able to constantly adjust the polarizer as their orientation to the sun changes, but it is not so easy on a drone.

I would get ND8, ND16, ND32 at a minimum and I would add a ND16PL or ND32PL since you are far more likely to want a PL when it is bright out in the beautiful Caribbean. On that holiday you will probably use a ND16 the most if the weather is nice, with ND32 on the brightest of days. Just my opinion.
 
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black cat

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I am a professional photographer so I will do my best to explain. Personally I recommend the Polar Pro Cinema Series - at least then you know the filters won't be degrading your image quality by any noticeable amount, and they have better build quality and better anti-reflective coatings than the standard versions. They also do not introduce any color casts to the footage, which can be a pain to correct - cheaper filters sometimes have that problem but I have not tried them all. Also note you can buy custom made "packs" from Polar Pro's website, because they have cleverly positioned their sets such that people have to buy two to cover the most common ND's, I have found this to be the way to go. Filters are cheap enough, there is no reason not to buy the best IMHO.

The ND4 is probably the easiest one to get by without, but even then it is often used for sunrise/sunset if shutter speed is not flexible, so it depends what you plan to shoot.

You typically want you shutter speed to be double that of the frame rate to maintain a 'cinematic' look with natural motion blur - that isn't a firm rule, but it's common practice. Faster shutter speeds make each frame sharper, but you will start to get a very choppy look to footage with motion in it if it gets too high, hence the need for ND filters. You also want to stay at ISO 100 at all times if possible to maintain maximum image quality - those tiny 1/2.3" sensors in the MA and MP get very noisy very fast. The MA has a fixed aperture, focus, and focal length so no need to worry about those. You want to shoot in Manual mode, and with a preset WB in scenarios where you are confident the light temperature won't be changing. Note that when switching over to the camera, I believe it keeps you in Manual mode there too unless you change it, so if you change it to Auto for photos, remember to change back to Manual if you switch back over to Video. Try to keep your exposure within +/- 1.0 EV of 0.0EV and remember that highlights are much harder to recover than shadows, so if anything I would lean towards a slight underexposure if you are dealing with white/bright subjects.

Roughly speaking for 30fps / 1/60 shutter:

ND4 - Sunrise / sunset

ND8 - Cloudy/overcast with sun above; sunny with dark landscapes

ND16 - Sunny / Full sun over a mixed landscape - this is one of the most commonly used ND's

ND32 - Full sun in tropical or especially bright climates, high noon, bright sun over water, sun over light coloured landscapes. Travelling in Hawaii I never needed more than ND32 even at noon, but I did need it 1 or 2 times.

Some people need a ND64 in certain situations like extremely bright sun over snow, bright sun over white/salt landscapes, etc. but IMO those would be rare for the average user.

The PL filters ("Vivid" collection for Polar Pro) are going to of course take the reflections off water, foliage, shiny surfaces, etc. Polarizers also have a side effect of slightly warming/enhancing colours. They aren't always suitable but it's a nice option to have. Also keep in mind the way polarizers work, their effect is strongest 90 degrees to the sun, so you need to set the polarizer properly and plan your flight carefully to avoid too much variation in the footage (i.e. the sky will go from light blue to dark blue as polarization angle changes, and reflections will go from strong to non-existent as polarization angle changes). On a normal camera, the photographer has the luxury of being able to constantly adjust the polarizer as their orientation to the sun changes, but it is not so easy on a drone.

I would get ND8, ND16, ND32 at a minimum and I would add a ND16PL or ND32PL since you are far more likely to want a PL when it is bright out in the beautiful Caribbean. On that holiday you will probably use a ND16 the most if the weather is nice, with ND32 on the brightest of days. Just my opinion.

Probably going to go with a custom 6 pack. So in addition to these 5 picks, which would you recommend for the sixth? An ND4 or a PL for the ND8?
 

CanadaDrone

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Probably going to go with a custom 6 pack. So in addition to these 5 picks, which would you recommend for the sixth?

I would go ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32, ND16PL, ND32PL. It's less likely that you will want polarization when it's not as bright, and it's unlikely you will need a ND64. If I had to pick 6, it would be those.
 

black cat

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I would go ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32, ND16PL, ND32PL. It's less likely that you will want polarization when it's not as bright, and it's unlikely you will need a ND64. If I had to pick 6, it would be those.

Awesome that's what I was thinking. Thank you!
 
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