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ND filters - why and which?


New Member
Mar 26, 2017
Many people will agree that using a Neutral Density (ND) filter on a drone will often improve the video footage and also still photos but there are many brands around so which to choose?

But it may be worth recapping why we should use an ND filter. It lowers the exposure in very bright conditions and prevents over-exposure. The oft quoted analogy is that it is like using a pair of sunglasses on your drone! Although the aperture is fixed in most cases, surely, I hear you say, I can just increase my shutter speed to prevent that overexposure. Well yes you can but then your footage won’t look as professional as it could, especially when filming closer to the ground. Counter-intuitively when filming video you want to introduce some motion blurring of the background so that you get a more cinematic look. Most professional movies are shot with the rule that says your shutter speed should be double that of your frame rate So for example if you are shooting at 60fps then your shutter speed wants to be around 1/120 second. And this may not be possible unless you use an ND filter. The effect is particularly noticeable when filming fast and close to a subject.

When I was looking for a set of filters for my new Mini 4 Pro I turned to the brand I trust with most of my drone accessories - Skyreat. They make quality products which are competitively priced. The set I bought was a 6 pack – ND8, ND16, ND32, ND64 and ND128. For my shooting this covers the situations I am likely to need ND filters and there is a bonus of an included Circular Polarizer (CPL) filter which helps to remove reflections and eliminate glare from water, glass and other shiny surfaces.

The Skyreat filter set comes in a nice plastic case (I would have liked there to have been an extra space for the lens hood which comes with the drone) and a cleaning cloth is also included. The filters themselves are multi-coated, scratch resistant and have a neutral colour shift. The frames are plastic but that saves on weight so is a benefit for me instead of aluminium frames which weigh more. They feel nice and secure once fitted and I can highly recommend them.

Many people will agree that using a Neutral Density (ND) filter on a drone will often improve the video footage and also still photos
But using ND filters won't do anything to improve your still photos.
All it will do is reduce the light getting to the sensor, forcing a slower shutter speed.
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Reactions: js47
not exactly improve but if you’re looking to have smooth water shots then the ND filter is the answer. But “improve“ was the wrong word.
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