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Photography thoughts

vtcats

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Getting my Mavic 3 pro tomorrow, but this question (I’ll get to it eventually) applies to almost any of the models. I currently own the Mavic 3. While I do take videos for certain events, but on average I take more raw pictures, just like I do with my mirrorless Sony A1. With the Sony, I will occasionally put on a CPL filter when taking pictures (water, color sunlight reasons etc) or an ND if I want to take long exposures.
Which brings me to the constant barrage I see from people on YouTube recommending ND’s even for the Mavic 3..for just normal pictures.
My question is, do most people do this (use ND’s)with their drone for photography?
I find I get much better images adjusting exposure (specifically faster shutter speeds) when NOT using an ND. Which brings me to what has always been a larger challenge, and that’s sending the drone up for video AND pictures. With the Sony, I use the ND for video so I can properly get double the shutter speed of what I’m shooting, and then quickly remove for pictures. Sending the drone up and down depending upon what my primary goal is, is not the most efficient process, so ultimately I decide which is most important and set up for that. In addition I’ve found video has come out VERY well even when not doubling my shutter speed (many times I shoot much more than double my shutter speed).
Just curios to know other photographers thoughts. It’s been on my mind for awhile and I wonder if I’m missing something.
 
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I have never used ND filters for my drone photography. I often use ND grad filters with my DSLR shooting in sunrise/sunset conditions but I adjust those for the specific lighting conditions I am trying to capture. I have read good descriptions of using ND filters to allow specific frame rates with video work using drones but I am mostly a still photographer and my primary concern is using a fast enough shutter speed to minimize motion while shooting with a flying tripod. Using a ND filter for slow shutter speeds in the air is a recipe for less detail in the final image.

I use burst mode to grab 5 or more shots if I am shooting waterfalls (I do that a lot) and then use median blending in Photoshop to smooth out the water flows where a slow shutter speed would be normal using a tripod.
 
I never use ND filter (or any filter, for that matter) unless it has a purpose. Filters add two more layers of glass in front of your lens, and you risk flare and reflections. And most filters for drones are not of the highest optical quality.
So unless you really need an ND filter, don't put it on. For photography the only reason to use an ND filter is to get really slow shutter speeds, for example for the well known blur of moving water effect.
 
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Great to hear from both of you as I was beginning to wonder. Thank you
 
I never use ND's, but then again I am usually shooting sunrise or sunset.
 
I can’t think of a situation where I would need one for drone still photography other than wanting a specific look for water, but I’m not especially fond of that myself. I do use it for video to be able to stick more closely to the 180 degree rule.

My main use for them on my Sony MILC is to stick to sync speed with my strobes in bright environments or where I want to shoot with large apertures for shallow DOF in bright environments. Neither are applicable with the drone (at least not in any scenarios I’ve launched in).
 
I never use ND filters for photography, I do have a CPL that I leave on. Been photographing this way forever and seems to work just fine and produces beautiful images.
 
For video, flying forward or backward doesn't make that much difference varying from the 180 degree rule. Where it comes into play is panning shots and traveling close to objects in the frame (think parallax). ND filters are usually not used in photography unless there is too much light to get a slow enough shutter speed for movement (water, cars, walking people etc.)
 
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Photographs often use ND filters to blur motion with the camera on a tripod, eg moving vehicle or a waterfall where you get that dreamy look. Not sure how well that would work on a drone because it is always moving a little, the stationary part of the image would be blurry (check out the threads on Timelapse). Better to skip the filter and if you need to capture video then ignore the 180 shutter rule of thumb (If u normally shot video at 30 fps then go with 1/120 or even 1/240 sec)
 
I have ND1000 filters for my Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro specifically to slow down the shutter so I can get motion blur on water otherwise I never use any other filters.

Chris
 
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You never need to use any ND filters for still photography with a drone. Do not listen to those on youtube telling you that you must use them. In fact, you don't really need them on a drone for video, which is the only time you might really need them. Yes of course there are other scenarios where they may come in useful, but we don't need to complicate things with all those scenarios.

However, you must then know why you need them in video and if you don't know it, then you don't need them, basically. They are used in video to achieve a specific shutter speed for a particular look or effect, to your video. If you are happy with the way your video looks right now, without an ND filter, then you don't need them.

The only other time that a type of ND filter could be useful is when the lighting contrast between sky and ground is great, such as evening, when the ground looks dark but the sky looks perfect. Even then, it is only needed if you want the ground to look brighter and see some detail. That would then be a graduated ND filter. It would darken the sky allowing the exposure to open up the land part a bit, to achieve a more balanced density of lights and darks.

However, this a more complicated than I have time to explain about it here, so just ignore ND filters and enjoy flying.
 
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You never need to use any ND filters for still photography with a drone.
Yes, sometimes you do. It can be very useful.
An ND-filter lets you choose a much slower shutter speed, and for still photography that can give you exactly the effect you are looking for. For example a river or waterfall, where a slow shutter speed gives a blurry or dreamy effect, that really can improve a photo.
The same when taking photos of a beach, or waves on the ocean. Instead of "freezing" the motion of the sea, a slow shutter speed can give that "floating" impression, that really looks nice.

So there is no fixed answer. Use an ND filter (or any filter) when that filter gives you the effect you are looking for. Otherwise do not use a filter.
 
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My simple/simplistic take on the answer.

Unless you want something blurred in your photo, you don't need ND filters for still photography.

Lots of gadget-oriented drone owners buy ND filters without really knowing what they do and don't understand that an ND16 filter blocks 15/16 of the available light from reaching the camera lens.

Many of those gadget fanciers would probably jump at the opportunity to buy a magic device that increases the amount of available light by a factor of 16 and allows you to increase your shutter speed by 4 stops. Removing an ND16 filter does just that.
 
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Yes, sometimes you do. It can be very useful.
An ND-filter lets you choose a much slower shutter speed, and for still photography that can give you exactly the effect you are looking for. For example a river or waterfall, where a slow shutter speed gives a blurry or dreamy effect, that really can improve a photo.
The same when taking photos of a beach, or waves on the ocean. Instead of "freezing" the motion of the sea, a slow shutter speed can give that "floating" impression, that really looks nice.

So there is no fixed answer. Use an ND filter (or any filter) when that filter gives you the effect you are looking for. Otherwise do not use a filter.
Read my response again, I said unless you need to get an effect, as in "other scenarios" but we don't need to complicate this thread. Sure we could go over dozen of odd cases but why bother? I stated that if you are happy with what you are shooting, you don't need any ND filters.

You will also notice, if you read everything, that the OP stated they were not interested in flowing waterfalls etc. You will also notice that I stated there are times when you could use an ND filter with a drone, however you would need to know why because you are after an effect. If you don't know why, then you most likely will not need that effect.

As for waterfalls, there is often a lot of wind associated with a waterfall and the drone will not be as stable as if in dead still air somewhere. Therefore, you are likely to get some movement of the land-based objects if you try shooting a long exposure with a drone in the air. So, as I stated, there is never a reason for an ND filter on a drone for still photography, unless you know why you want to use one.
 
Read my response again, I said unless you need to get an effect, as in "other scenarios" but we don't need to complicate this thread. Sure we could go over dozen of odd cases but why bother? I stated that if you are happy with what you are shooting, you don't need any ND filters.

You will also notice, if you read everything, that the OP stated they were not interested in flowing waterfalls etc. You will also notice that I stated there are times when you could use an ND filter with a drone, however you would need to know why because you are after an effect. If you don't know why, then you most likely will not need that effect.

As for waterfalls, there is often a lot of wind associated with a waterfall and the drone will not be as stable as if in dead still air somewhere. Therefore, you are likely to get some movement of the land-based objects if you try shooting a long exposure with a drone in the air. So, as I stated, there is never a reason for an ND filter on a drone for still photography, unless you know why you want to use one.
With a Mavic 2 Pro I have been able to get sharp photos at up to 3 second exposure using an ND filter to blur waves or create auto/truck headlight streaks.Best to take multiple separate shots as one will usually be sharper than the others.Occasionally a 5 second shot works and some motion blur can be corrected in Photoshop.Best of course with little wind.Have used ND 5stop+9 stop.
 
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