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ND filter question

joonrhee

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Hi, I was interested in ND filters for taking long exposure still photos during bright day. I was looking into Freewell filters and wanted to ask a question before the purchase.

When I normally use ND filters (10 stop) for my Canon or Sony cameras, I would have to pre-focus then put on the dark filter to take the shot. It's because the filter was just took dark to acquire any auto-focus so had to pre-focus. How would this work with drones? I have the M2P and was wondering how well does it acquire auto-focus while having on such dark ND filter? Can anyone share their experience with using ND filters (especially 10 stop or darker)?

Thanks in advance.
 
Enter "long exposure" in the search box to get 10 pages of hits. One of those may have your answer.
 
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Hi, I was interested in ND filters for taking long exposure still photos during bright day. I was looking into Freewell filters and wanted to ask a question before the purchase.

When I normally use ND filters (10 stop) for my Canon or Sony cameras, I would have to pre-focus then put on the dark filter to take the shot. It's because the filter was just took dark to acquire any auto-focus so had to pre-focus. How would this work with drones? I have the M2P and was wondering how well does it acquire auto-focus while having on such dark ND filter? Can anyone share their experience with using ND filters (especially 10 stop or darker)?

Thanks in advance.

First of all, a long exposure on a drone is not going to be anything like what you can achieve with a tripod and a traditional camera. Drones aren't nearly steady enough in the air, but that depends on how picky you are of the final product I suppose. People shooting with 10 stop ND's are normally after 30+ second exposures.

Most DSLRs can focus through about a ND4-ND6, once you get to a 10 stop ND, you will need to prefocus. The camera needs light to focus, so if you block all of it, the AF cannot function.

On the M2P you would just lock infinity focus before the flight, because unless you were flying very close to something, that is where your focus would be anyway - especially for a aerial landscape shot like I imagine you would be after with a long exposure. Avoid AF-C, especially on the MP2 as it does not have PDAF. I very much doubt you will get it to AF through a 10 stop ND. Personally I would not bother with that heavy of a ND on a drone - there is just no way it can hold steady enough for the kind of exposures you would normally be doing with a 10 stop ND. You could line up/stack multiple shorter exposures in PP though and probably get a decent result, but that is a lot of work. I'd be surprised if you could get a decent shot with much longer than a 0.5 - 1.0 second exposure in the air and you many not need a 10 stop ND for that depending on the scene.
 
First of all, a long exposure on a drone is not going to be anything like what you can achieve with a tripod and a traditional camera. Drones aren't nearly steady enough in the air, but that depends on how picky you are of the final product I suppose. People shooting with 10 stop ND's are normally after 30+ second exposures.

Most DSLRs can focus through about a ND4-ND6, once you get to a 10 stop ND, you will need to prefocus. The camera needs light to focus, so if you block all of it, the AF cannot function.

On the M2P you would just lock infinity focus before the flight, because unless you were flying very close to something, that is where your focus would be anyway - especially for a aerial landscape shot like I imagine you would be after with a long exposure. Avoid AF-C, especially on the MP2 as it does not have PDAF. I very much doubt you will get it to AF through a 10 stop ND. Personally I would not bother with that heavy of a ND on a drone - there is just no way it can hold steady enough for the kind of exposures you would normally be doing with a 10 stop ND. You could line up/stack multiple shorter exposures in PP though and probably get a decent result, but that is a lot of work. I'd be surprised if you could get a decent shot with much longer than a 0.5 - 1.0 second exposure in the air and you many not need a 10 stop ND for that depending on the scene.

Thank you so much for your kind explanation. This is the exact answer I was looking for. Thanks again.
 
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First of all, a long exposure on a drone is not going to be anything like what you can achieve with a tripod and a traditional camera. Drones aren't nearly steady enough in the air, but that depends on how picky you are of the final product I suppose. People shooting with 10 stop ND's are normally after 30+ second exposures.

Most DSLRs can focus through about a ND4-ND6, once you get to a 10 stop ND, you will need to prefocus. The camera needs light to focus, so if you block all of it, the AF cannot function.

On the M2P you would just lock infinity focus before the flight, because unless you were flying very close to something, that is where your focus would be anyway - especially for a aerial landscape shot like I imagine you would be after with a long exposure. Avoid AF-C, especially on the MP2 as it does not have PDAF. I very much doubt you will get it to AF through a 10 stop ND. Personally I would not bother with that heavy of a ND on a drone - there is just no way it can hold steady enough for the kind of exposures you would normally be doing with a 10 stop ND. You could line up/stack multiple shorter exposures in PP though and probably get a decent result, but that is a lot of work. I'd be surprised if you could get a decent shot with much longer than a 0.5 - 1.0 second exposure in the air and you many not need a 10 stop ND for that depending on the scene.

I would have guessed the same but several folks have proven us wrong by posting 3-8 second long exposures that are sharp. I’ve gotten sharp 1 second exposures. I am going to try some longer exposures next time out.
 
I would have guessed the same but several folks have proven us wrong by posting 3-8 second long exposures that are sharp. I’ve gotten sharp 1 second exposures. I am going to try some longer exposures next time out.

This is my biggest disappointment with my M2P. It's my first drone and with the 3 way gimbal I expected to be able to get 3-5 sec exposures without too much of a problem. I NEVER expected anything like 30 seconds. The fact is, i've had little success at less than 1/4 sec. I see great night images here and can't help but wonder how many times out and how many exposures it took to get them? Maybe just luck?
 
This is my biggest disappointment with my M2P. It's my first drone and with the 3 way gimbal I expected to be able to get 3-5 sec exposures without too much of a problem. I NEVER expected anything like 30 seconds. The fact is, i've had little success at less than 1/4 sec. I see great night images here and can't help but wonder how many times out and how many exposures it took to get them? Maybe just luck?

I don't think 30 seconds is even possible... Last I remember, I believe 8 seconds was the longest possible. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong. Well, I don't really have any issue shooting at between 3-5 seconds but longer than that would be really tough. I put the bird on tripod mode, frame, and shoot. Not too difficult.. I've already shared few long exposure shots.

The reason for asking about ND filters is to shoot same 3-5 seconds long exposure shots during bright daytime to capture waves, waterfalls, and clouds. I'm leaning towards just getting the ND1000 filter.
 
I don't think 30 seconds is even possible... Last I remember, I believe 8 seconds was the longest possible. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong. Well, I don't really have any issue shooting at between 3-5 seconds but longer than that would be really tough. I put the bird on tripod mode, frame, and shoot. Not too difficult.. I've already shared few long exposure shots.

The reason for asking about ND filters is to shoot same 3-5 seconds long exposure shots during bright daytime to capture waves, waterfalls, and clouds. I'm leaning towards just getting the ND1000 filter.

Yes 8 seconds is the longest exposure but I reckon all the gods would have to line up to get a sharp 8 second exposure.
I've just received my Freewell filters and have only used them once. My longest exposure filter is the NDPL64 which gives me 6 stops (plus a bit for the PL I expect). Fo me 6 stops is all I would ever need I imagine.
 
Yes 8 seconds is the longest exposure but I reckon all the gods would have to line up to get a sharp 8 second exposure.
I've just received my Freewell filters and have only used them once. My longest exposure filter is the NDPL64 which gives me 6 stops (plus a bit for the PL I expect). Fo me 6 stops is all I would ever need I imagine.

you’ll need more than 6 stops if you want to blur moving water while staying at the sharpest apertures like F4.0
 
you’ll need more than 6 stops if you want to blur moving water while staying at the sharpest apertures like F4.0

Maybe in the middle of the day but not when I take that type of photograph. At 100 ISO at F8 or so in the late arvo or early morning i can easily get 1/4 to 1 second, To get a nice blur 1/4 second is fine. (unless you're going for no detail at all in the water)
 
Maybe in the middle of the day but not when I take that type of photograph. At 100 ISO at F8 or so in the late arvo or early morning i can easily get 1/4 to 1 second, To get a nice blur 1/4 second is fine. (unless you're going for no detail at all in the water)

Show us an example when you shoot one. F8 is not sharp like F4 though.
 
I have to strongly agree here. I found it to be the sharpest at around f3.2 - f4.

Aperture sharpness was the first thing I tested on this camera. If you do any testing, you would never use F8 if you could avoid it. The only worst setting is F11....
 
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I have to strongly agree here. I found it to be the sharpest at around f3.2 - f4.

That's because after F4 the diffraction starts to ruin the image - this is simply a property of the Sony 1" 20MP sensor and has nothing to do with the drone. It is something you can calculate.
 
Show us an example when you shoot one. F8 is not sharp like F4 though.

To be honest I haven't done the sharpness test. Most of my shooting has been done between 2.8 and 5.6, and I'll almost certainly stick to that. But from what I've seen I would have no issue with going to F8 if I needed DOF or longer shutter speed. With the type of image below,
DOF is important. (it's not my image, it was shot by a friend but I post it here as an example... and a very nice one at that.) It was shot at 0.4 sec at F5.6 on a full frame sensor.
What I'm implying here is you don't need excessively long exposures to get a very nice motion in your water images.

r.Image 1.jpg
 
Okay here's a test (ghastly subject I know) in our driveway. It was shot at 1/4 second @ F4.5, 100 ISO. I had an NDPL64 Freewell filter on and it took 15 images to get this one sharp image.
Altitude was about 10-12 foot and it was pretty windy at the time. Might sound stupid but in your experience how much effect does wind have on stability?
I recalibrated the IMU, Gimbal and Compass prior to testing.

DJI_0559.jpg
 
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