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New drone Pilot - Do I need ND filters ?

That's the message that new flyers get repeated frequently in the forum.
But motion blur is not as important as many believe.
It only makes a difference if there is a moving subject close to the camera .... something that you rarely have in most drone video.
Instead of just accepting that motion blur is essential, flyers should do a little testing without ND filters to see how it looks to them for their video.
Again, strict adherence to the 1:2 ratio IMO (sometimes) only applies when flying close to subjects or objects. it's not that it's a bad thing if you have the patience to dial in the exposure with ND filters for that "cinematic" ratio when flying far from stuff. I dunno... I don't even have ND filters for my Mini 2 or Mini 3. I've contemmplated ordering them, but never experienced "the need".

I can almost promise, that if folks do a test, not close to objects and use an ND filter for the 1:2 ratio, then do another similar flight without the ND filter they will not see enough difference to make a difference. When clost to objects, such as low to the ground then the 1:2 ratio will make somewhat of a difference. And even then, the video might not feel "cheap and choppy" if the 1:2 ratio is violated. As you say... It's a matter of taste.

I do try to keep a 1:2 ratio going with my Mavic 2 Pro, but it's way easier with a variable f2.8-f11 aperture, especially because with that drone I fly 95% of the time with a gradient filter, which I find much more helpful and does knock down the exposure a little.
 
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That's the message that new flyers get repeated frequently in the forum.
But motion blur is not as important as many believe.
It only makes a difference if there is a moving subject close to the camera .... something that you rarely have in most drone video.
Instead of just accepting that motion blur is essential, flyers should do a little testing without ND filters to see how it looks to them for their video.
For me personally it's about consistency.

Yes I've gotten away with not using nd filters if I either keep my motions slower or increase the distance from a majority of the landscape (less likely to experience jitter).

But because I use the 180 degree shutter rule on my normal cameras (such as my Panasonic gh5), I find it helps if I can match most of my video sources to have similar looks at the same frame rate and same locked shutter speed.
 
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For me personally it's about consistency.

Yes I've gotten away with not using nd filters if I either keep my motions slower or increase the distance from a majority of the landscape (less likely to experience jitter).

But because I use the 180 degree shutter rule on my normal cameras (such as my Panasonic gh5), I find it helps if I can match most of my video sources to have similar looks at the same frame rate and same locked shutter speed.
I understand how one might choose consistency as a prime consideration. When I was photographing events a few eons ago with film I almost always used the same settings so I didn't have to think about the technicals.

What I would ask you Karl, is since the GH5 is ground bound with much more limited movement than a drone, would you see a difference betweeen the two cameras if the GH5 wasn't set to a 1:2 FPS/Shutter ratio as you set your drone?
 
What I would ask you Karl, is since the GH5 is ground bound with much more limited movement than a drone, would you see a difference betweeen the two cameras if the GH5 wasn't set to a 1:2 FPS/Shutter ratio as you set your drone?
Yes , when movement is involved especially in bright conditions for obvious reasons.
 
I understand how one might choose consistency as a prime consideration. When I was photographing events a few eons ago with film I almost always used the same settings so I didn't have to think about the technicals.

What I would ask you Karl, is since the GH5 is ground bound with much more limited movement than a drone, would you see a difference betweeen the two cameras if the GH5 wasn't set to a 1:2 FPS/Shutter ratio as you set your drone?

I would ask the same; do you see a difference.

I follow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. They have a very professional media team that puts out a documentary series called "In The Current" that is similar to NFL Films documentaries. They use ground and aerial shots frequently throughout the series. One of last years series caught my eye.

In the following clip I've set it to start about 20 seconds before the shot in question, see if you can spot the high shutter speed drone clip.

 
I would ask the same; do you see a difference.

I follow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. They have a very professional media team that puts out a documentary series called "In The Current" that is similar to NFL Films documentaries. They use ground and aerial shots frequently throughout the series. One of last years series caught my eye.

In the following clip I've set it to start about 20 seconds before the shot in question, see if you can spot the high shutter speed drone clip.

The video was crisp, but the one thing noticeable about the drone shot was the strobing of the seats in the stadium. Obviously the ground shot following was softer. But for some reason sports videographers seem to be shooting at high shutter speeds. I recall years ago with Olympic coverage how the video images even sort of "stuttered".

I just took a look at some of the videos I recently took on VLC player where I could see the aperture, shutter speed and ISO in the subtitles. I typically shoot at 30fps, but the shutter speeds listed in the subtitles indicated that exposure was automatic. A Mini 2 clip has a shutter speed of "555" (1/500sec) and the one with my Mavic 2 Pro was in the 1/200 range. Neither one looked "unnatural". In both clips I wasn't on top of the subjects. On one clip I was shooting a river boat where my Mini 2 was hovering over the sidewalk, pehaps 50 yards away. On another clip during that same time I was hovring for a few moments on the sidewalk as a man walked by, parhaps 10 or 15 feet away. Again, nothing odd or unnatural looking.

I guess it all has to do with subtleties. And while I try to keep the 1:2 ratio, with fix aperture drones it just seems too effortful. So much easier with variable aperture, which is why I love my Mavic 2 Pro and the next drone will be one of the Mavic 3 variants. I just looked at a clip of my Mini 3 with a 1/30sec shutter speed at 30fps and I would have thought that I'd see even more motion blur as I passed objects that were probably 2' on either side of the drone as I passed by. And then I saw some Mini 3 clips from a distance, with higher shutter speeeds that looked a little too "crisp". Crisper than similar vids with my Mini 2.

I suppose I should take my Mavic 2 out and shoot the same scene twice, once with auto exposure and one manual with 1/60th shutter speed, adjusting the aperture for correct exposure. Maybe I'll get a chance to do it today, but there is a high wind advisory later in the day.
 
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I guess it all has to do with subtleties.

As many on this thread have pointed out, there is an abundance of times when using an ND filter on a drone makes little or no sense. But as in that clip I showed, I bet when the editor and director of those films were putting that story line together and they needed that one clip, I bet they wished they had a better shot.

For me, using ND's and getting the exposure I want, is a little like getting in a car and putting on the seat belt. I may not have a crash but if I did, I would be glad I wore it. Same with an ND and and 180 degree shutter - has it ever ruined or degraded one of my shots? I don't think so, but I have seen many times when little subtleties, like flickering are reduced and eliminated and just look better

As mentioned by @karlblessing I also shoot a lot of ground footage with multiple camera's at times along with my MP2 and for me, it's just muscle memory to set every camera up the same and not too much of a hassle, so why not?
 
As many on this thread have pointed out, there is an abundance of times when using an ND filter on a drone makes little or no sense. But as in that clip I showed, I bet when the editor and director of those films were putting that story line together and they needed that one clip, I bet they wished they had a better shot.

For me, using ND's and getting the exposure I want, is a little like getting in a car and putting on the seat belt. I may not have a crash but if I did, I would be glad I wore it. Same with an ND and and 180 degree shutter - has it ever ruined or degraded one of my shots? I don't think so, but I have seen many times when little subtleties, like flickering are reduced and eliminated and just look better

As mentioned by @karlblessing I also shoot a lot of ground footage with multiple camera's at times along with my MP2 and for me, it's just muscle memory to set every camera up the same and not too much of a hassle, so why not?
I tried to do a test which I hope I can post shortly. First clip was 30FPS 1/60sec. Winds were gusting quite high today. The first attempt at moving my Mavic 2 Pro, full throttle forward it was standing still. That's how strong the winds were. I finally got it to move forward. I brought it back to take a second run with auto settings, 1/400sec, but the wind had died down enough to allow it to move forward easier than the first attempt. Hopefully we can see some things with the A/B comparison. From what I've seen in the preview, very subtle. I'll post the link after it's all processed. I didn't take any time other than position title and I jist threw on a generic D-Log to Rec 709 LUT. Usually I do my own color correcting/grading, but I was lazy today. Hopefully it will be good enough to see how the perceived movement is different from setting to setting. Stay tuned.
 
Mostly, what others have said is true. ND filters are overrated unless you specifically want to shoot waterfalls in sunlight. Same thing with Polas - very limited use case.

For your Mini 3, spend the ND budget on a fast charger and batteries. Especially the larger, longer duration ones. The dramatic lowering of range anxiety is priceless, especially for new pilots.
 
One observation that I would like to point out is that the Mavic 2 Pro has a variable aperture, it makes it easier (especially if the drone utilizes it in auto mode) to reduce the shutter speed without the need of ND filter in some cases. Meaning it's less likely to encounter situations such as 1/1,000 and 1/500 shutter speeds when you can simply close down the aperture to f/4 or f/5.6 for that stop or two difference in light.

Most of the other offerings have a fixed aperture (the mini 3 being even brighter at f/1.7), so they are more likely to run at higher shutter speeds to compensate.
 
One observation that I would like to point out is that the Mavic 2 Pro has a variable aperture, it makes it easier (especially if the drone utilizes it in auto mode) to reduce the shutter speed without the need of ND filter in some cases. Meaning it's less likely to encounter situations such as 1/1,000 and 1/500 shutter speeds when you can simply close down the aperture to f/4 or f/5.6 for that stop or two difference in light.

Most of the other offerings have a fixed aperture (the mini 3 being even brighter at f/1.7), so they are more likely to run at higher shutter speeds to compensate.
Yes. So it was relatively easy to do a shutter speed comparison with my Mavic 2 this afternoon. I'm not sure I got a pure apples to apples comparison because the wind was super gusty on my 1:2 attempt, so much so that I had to cut out the first 20 seconds or so of the clip because it wasn't moving forward at all with right stick full throttle. When I did the second clip the wind had died down momentarily so the drone moved faster. Not sure how this affects the comparison

 
Must have been one heck of a gust to stay stationary with full stick forward. Did you get a high wind warning ?
Yeah... The area got a high wind advisory today. The real wind was supposed to come at 6pm. It looked calm enough from the ground. It was the first time I pushed all the way forward on the M2p's right stick and it went absolutely nowhere. It didn't get blown backward but probably had to fight really hard to maintain position. I think you can see in the first video that the speed wasn't consistent. It must have let up moments later as I didn't pull the M2P out of the sky for the second run. I just came back to near home and changed the exposure settings and it flew faster and smoother for those few seconds.

What I see in these two examples is that the 1:2 1/60 shutter speed make things look a little softer, but 1/400sec doesn't look that much different. A little crisper, but I don't see "unnatural". In some ways I prefer the sharpness of the second video.

One more thing that I should point out as just an observation... I did have a PolarPro Gradient ND8_ND0 on the camera. I don't think it's at all noticeable, at least without attention too it being mentioned. I'd forgotten myself until I thought about it. The gradient is great to help from blowing out the sky while trying to get a decent exposure of stuff below. I've got a 6 pack of straight ND an polarizing filters and don't think I've used one once.
 
Your movements are also slower and smoother. Faster turns and closer to the ground flying will show it more.
Perhaps I'll try it again when the weather improves. I'm sure I have some footage somewhere with shutter speeds higher than 1/60 but I don't have a companion piece to do a side-by-side. I fly over this golf course for practice often because it is just across the street from where I live. I'll see what I can find.
 
Perhaps I'll try it again when the weather improves. I'm sure I have some footage somewhere with shutter speeds higher than 1/60 but I don't have a companion piece to do a side-by-side. I fly over this golf course for practice often because it is just across the street from where I live. I'll see what I can find
The nitty gritty of it is situational as you can imagine.

Your observation of it being softer while moving is correct because of the motion blur of each frame.

The issue comes up when each frame is tack sharp and there's motion.

When each frame is right next to each other it's not usually issue but when one frame has movement to the extent that it's not just a one or two pixel shift from one frame to the next it appears to jump. It's more obvious with faster turns or flying closer to the ground (more dramatic), so a rock can appear to jump quickly when theres no blur between frames.

I can do some comparisons later but you'll see plenty of examples searching for "180 degree shutter rule".
 
One thing I've noticed with the M2P's camera is that the best (sharpest) image seems to be around f/4.0 and begins to soften after f/5.6 or so. I noticed in your video that the 1/60th clip was at f/9.0 but you didn't list the F stop for the 1/400th run. Based on the shutter difference you would have been right around f/5.6 if I'm not mistaken.
 
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One thing I've noticed with the M2P's camera is that the best (sharpest) image seems to be around f/4.0 and begins to soften after f/5.6 or so. I noticed in your video that the 1/60th clip was at f/9.0 but you didn't list the F stop for the 1/400th run. Based on the shutter difference you would have been right around f/5.6 if I'm not mistaken.
Yes diffraction is also a factor especially on smaller sensors. Once you hit around f/8 - f/11 on something smaller than micro 4/3 the image quality starts to break down. Even quicker when it's a 1/2.3" sensor. But I don't know if that would be enough of a difference in this case, it would be easier to see in stills.
 
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Being a novice pilot myself, starting with videography I'm glad I decided to leave ND filters aside for now. It would have made things much more complicated.

After watching this video, and a couple of tutorial of how to do it in Davinci Resolve I'm glad I was able to fix the cases I needed it in post.

 
Hi all :)

I recently just purchased a DJI mini 3 pro and it came yesterday. To begin with I plan on using it mainly for photography and then eventually getting into videography as my piloting skills improve. I keep getting conflicting messages on whether to purchase ND filters. So I thought I would come to a dedicated community to ask for advice. I know it's not necessary a need but I want to get the best quality images and later on videos out of my drone,

For photography purposes will ND filters be any use to me apart from long exposure shots? Also a big factor is the fact I currently have a 50% off a £120 spend, so I'm thinking of getting a nice waterproof solid case and some ND Filters even if I don't need to use them now as I'll be getting them half price.

I'm from Ireland so I'll be taking quite a lot of coastal shots, so would a polarized filter help me to/better to get polarized ND filters ?

If so which set would you all recommend? I had been looking at the freewell all day pack

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,
If you know how to post edit and the basics of photography then no, not really.

Sure , they can help, but I ly if you know how to use them.

In my opinion learn the basics and laws first. Get some flight time, ay with the settings. Take a free photography class or watch you tube so you learn some basic photography skills about lighting. Apperture, ISO, shutter speed that sort of thing.

THEN, filters can help you!

Enjoy, it's a lot of fun and with some basic studies and practice ND filters can help you get much better cinematic shots!
 

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