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Fixed ND filters v Variable

momentmike

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Hey everyone!

Mike here, I'm a filmmaker at Moment & been flying drones forever, way back to the original phantom days where you had to strap a GoPro on with a 3rd party eBay gimbal haha.

Nice to see a conversation going about filters & drones here. It's fun & insightful to read through and see what people are using their drones for and the things they do and don't like about filters.

I think the question of Variable ND vs Fixed goes back soooo long now. Even shooting on DSLRs 10 years ago, until today. I think there will always be proponents on either side. If you want the absolute perfect best picture quality fixed ND is the way to go if you want to get as close as possible to that, but make life a little easier than Variable ND is the way to go. Variable ND's have always been a bit of a pain point from introducing color casts & vignetting but I will say, man, in recent years they've gotten a lot better. I think hard stops on Variable NDs & having two different ranges have helped a TON with some of these issues. That being said, with fixed you'll probably still get a better image, just at the detriment of time and having to carry the extra filters to swap to.

When DJI launched the Mavic Air 2, the Fly More Combo they released had fixed ND filters included, so we opted to take the angle of a more unique offering and just create Variable ND & CPL filters for it. I played with them myself and was amazed at how easy they were to use for shooting video at the appropriate shutter speeds and took some great panoramas & 48-megapixel stills with the CPL attached.

In regards to other brands, I'm not going to come out and say we're better than anyone else, I'll leave that up to each person to decide. But what I will say is that we're listening to you guys, learning from what people want, and trying as hard as we can to put out products that we're proud of.

Stoked to continue the conversation here, or on a Zoom call with you guys, or even if you just want to drop me an email at [email protected]
 

JustAGuy

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Hey everyone!

Mike here, I'm a filmmaker at Moment & been flying drones forever, way back to the original phantom days where you had to strap a GoPro on with a 3rd party eBay gimbal haha.

Nice to see a conversation going about filters & drones here. It's fun & insightful to read through and see what people are using their drones for and the things they do and don't like about filters.

I think the question of Variable ND vs Fixed goes back soooo long now. Even shooting on DSLRs 10 years ago, until today. I think there will always be proponents on either side. If you want the absolute perfect best picture quality fixed ND is the way to go if you want to get as close as possible to that, but make life a little easier than Variable ND is the way to go. Variable ND's have always been a bit of a pain point from introducing color casts & vignetting but I will say, man, in recent years they've gotten a lot better. I think hard stops on Variable NDs & having two different ranges have helped a TON with some of these issues. That being said, with fixed you'll probably still get a better image, just at the detriment of time and having to carry the extra filters to swap to.

When DJI launched the Mavic Air 2, the Fly More Combo they released had fixed ND filters included, so we opted to take the angle of a more unique offering and just create Variable ND & CPL filters for it. I played with them myself and was amazed at how easy they were to use for shooting video at the appropriate shutter speeds and took some great panoramas & 48-megapixel stills with the CPL attached.

In regards to other brands, I'm not going to come out and say we're better than anyone else, I'll leave that up to each person to decide. But what I will say is that we're listening to you guys, learning from what people want, and trying as hard as we can to put out products that we're proud of.

Stoked to continue the conversation here, or on a Zoom call with you guys, or even if you just want to drop me an email at [email protected]
I really enjoyed your MA2 review, that location was amazing!
 

coneslayer

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In principle, a VND filter could be constructed with a quarter-wave plate at the front, the same thing that’s used at the back of a CPL to convert linearly polarized light to circularly polarized. That way, naturally linearly polarized light would be converted to circularly polarized before hitting the VND polarizers, and pass through them identically to unpolarized light.

in practice, I don’t know if this is done on all VND filters, or none of them, or only ”premium” ones.
 

CentralOtago

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I've just ordered the Polar Pro VNDs. I'll post some results once they've arrived. I purchased the Flymore combo so thought I'd take a gamble and stick to the DJI ones if I feel I really need just a standard ND option.

Just as an aside - it's a leap of faith going back to Polar Pro - I remember the ND16 they produced for the Phantom 4 Std had a funny blue tint to it. Let's hope Jeff and the team have improved the products.
 

Gastone360

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I'm using the filters coming with fly more combo but I notice a little shift in colors. The image is more "yellow" and more saturated.....how is possible, ND filter should be "neutral" in colors
thank you
 

rg2020

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If you buy the FreeWell for quality don't stop there a variable ND filter have less quality than a fixed one. (Just my opinion)

A variable on a drone will just be slightly easier as you will have to land it to change either way.
Was about to ask about variable ND filters here, but found some existing threads. Your comment about it being only slightly easier to switch the filter with a variable one makes sense. It's pretty easy to pop off a filter and put on a different one. You've got to land to do either one.
 

Tentoes

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Was about to ask about variable ND filters here, but found some existing threads. Your comment about it being only slightly easier to switch the filter with a variable one makes sense. It's pretty easy to pop off a filter and put on a different one. You've got to land to do either one.

I went with fixed because with a polarized filter, you have to set it to the direction you're facing and can get some strange results in other directions, and I did not know if that applied to the variable filter. I figured if I started seeing postings about how great the variable ones were, I'd look into getting one.