Better quality video using filters DJI Phantom Drone

Better quality video using filters DJI Phantom Drone

How to shoot Hollywood style video at budget prices

Have you had your drone for a while now and struggle with bright images?

Do you wonder how to those amazing colours, saturation/highlights and no lens flare in your video?

How do the pros get smooth flicker free video?

The answer is quick, cheap and easy. In the camera world they use a range of filters to provide effects and generally assist in making shooting easier. Filters have been around for as long as film cameras and well before digital and drones!

In the still image world, you can test shoot now with a filter and if the image isn't correct you can quickly and simply change it around. With a drone the process is similar and as easy, however you need to contend with bringing the drone down, change the filter then go up and shoot again. So be it…. This will get you bigger contrast and smoother imagery so it's well worth it.

There are a number of different filter brands so I'm not going to bore with with those, the major thing is type of filter you use. This is a selection of the simplest ones and what they do:

  • Circular polariser
    • Have you ever put on a pair of sunglasses and then be able to stop squinting or look through the water/wave…. this is what the filter will do on your drone in the air
  • Neutral Density 4 (ND4)
    • When you first look at the ND4 you see a piece of glass that is slightly darker. What this does is reduces the light getting into your lens and allows you to slow down your shutter speed. In turn getting you closer to your target speeds. (See below about target speeds)
    • ND4 is a 2 stop filter which is idea for mild or overcast days
  • Neutral Density 8 (ND8)
    • Similar to the ND4, the ND8 is slightly darker again and is a 3 stop filter. This is more inclined for your sunnier days.
  • Neutral Density 16 (ND16)
    • As you guessed, the ND16 is a 4 stop filter and is very dark. Perfect for shooting directly at the sun.

What is Target Speed?

According the Pro’s the ideal shutter speed is based on your frames per second. For instance, if you wanted to shoot 1080p @ 50 frames per second you would want a shutter speed of 1/100.

Now, next time you’re in the air on a sunny or overcast day, look at the shutter speed and see what it's automatically set at.

Try to change it and make it slower, what happens?

Now imagine adding an ND4 filter which acts like closing your aperture down by 2 stops. Yes “acts” because your aperture stays the same and now you can reduce your shutter speed to get closer to the target speed. Still too high, land and add the ND8.

It is simply that easy.

Filters aren't specific for use whilst shooting video, you get them same effect with still shots. You do need to be careful here though as with a slower shutter speed on a windy day the gimbal might not be able to keep your camera perfectly still and might get some motion blur.

Brands

I'm currently using PolarPro and they rock. They a light enough so don't affect the gimbal at all, plus you can get a combined ND + Polarizer which servers both purposes. A few extra stops and reducing the glare, your imagery will be Hollywood quality in no time.

 

PolarPro-filter-test-DJI-UV-standard
Stock UV filter ISO 100 1/640 F2.8
PolarPro-filter-test-DJI-Circular-Polariser
PolarPro Polariser ISO 100 1/320 F2.8
PolarPro-filter-test-DJI-ND4
PolarPro ND4 ISO 100 1/160 F2.8
PolarPro-filter-test-DJI-ND8
PolarPro ND4 ISO 100 1/100 F2.8