If you’re new to drones and images, you’ve most likely heard about ND filters, but never actually thought a lot about them. Why would you? You just want to get out and fly. All I’ll say for nows, ND filters are important for many drone photographers.
However, as your flying skills develop and also you turn into extra assured, you will shortly realize a few of your pictures or movies are not working in your favor.
Maybe, your pictures are too shiny, or perhaps you can’t get the drone to film at 25 Frames Per Second (FPS), or possibly, you just want your images to be more inventive.
Whatever your reasons, there will be a time, when you consider ND filters and want to know every little thing about them.
In this article, I’m going to cowl everything about ND filters, together with:
* What are ND filters?
* Why you must use them
* How to make use of them
* How to decide on the proper ones
* and everything else in between
So, let’s dive right in.
What Are ND Filters For Drones?
ND (Neutral Density) filters for drones are small darkened pieces of glass or resin that fit onto the digital camera. The filters reduce the quantity of sunshine coming into the lens and onto the sensor allowing for longer exposures.
ND filters are developed in numerous darknesses and this darkness is measured in numbers (also generally identified as stops). These stops determine how a lot gentle they let by way of and are often known as ND numbers. For instance, the commonest drone filters you’ve most likely seen, are;
* One for the intense photographers is the Big Stopper or 10 Stopper.
ND4, ND8, and ND 16 are the most common ND filters to be used in drone images, though I at all times find it helpful to have an ND32, and I’ll clarify why later.
What Do ND Numbers Mean On Filters?
To give you a greater understanding of what these numbers imply, let me clarify how it’s all measured.
As I mentioned earlier, ND filters are measured in stops. In photography, a stop is a discount in mild. Think of it as ‘stopping’ the light. The larger the ND quantity, the much less mild is allowed to enter the digicam.
So, a 1-stop (ND2) is a 50% reduction in gentle, which means 50% mild can nonetheless get by way of. A 2-stop (ND4) is half of the 1-stop, meaning only 25% of the light can now get via. A 3-stop is half of a 2-stop, which means only 12.5% gentle can get through, and so forth.
And to make things somewhat extra sophisticated, there are three ways to describe the properties of the identical filter. As properly as an ND number like ND4, the same filter might be known by an ND0.6 or ND102 quantity.
They all imply the same filter but symbolize it using different ND numbers. However, ND4 is the most generally used name and that’s what I will use from now on.
Here’s a desk explaining ND filters for drones:
StopsND numberND.ND1Allowed Light1ND2ND 0.3ND 10150%2ND4ND 0.6ND 10225%3ND8ND zero.9ND 10312.5%4ND16ND 1.2ND 1046.25%5ND32ND 1.5ND 1053.125%6ND64ND 1.8ND 1061.563%7ND128ND 2.1ND 1070.781%10ND1024ND three.0ND 1100.1%ND Explanation TableWhy Do I Need To Use ND Filters On A Drone?
ND filters allow you to manipulate the available mild that can help you get the right picture. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, pictures is all about light. And you because the person, with assistance from settings, need to discover ways to flip the sunshine into a photograph or video.
You ought to use drone ND filters when you want assistance in controlling the publicity. Sometimes, due to certain lighting situations, the settings alone on a camera can not assist.
Here’s some useful information to know the fundamentals of images.
Light enters the digital camera via the lens and creates an image in your screen. Depending on the sunshine and your chosen settings, your photo may prove in certainly one of three ways;
* Overexposed – The general photograph has a bright and white look to it. The whites can generally be blinding, and the colors could look pale. Here’s an example of an overexposed image; This is a scenario would you can have used an ND filter.
* Underexposed – The overall photo has a uninteresting and dark look to it. It could additionally be troublesome to work out some aspects of the image, and the colours might look lifeless. Again, another alternative for utilizing ND filters, though this may be for a specific sort of shot involving software to pull again some highlights and details.
* Correctly Exposed – You’ll know when you may have taken a accurately exposed image because it won’t seem like any of the first two. The gentle ought to look balanced permitting you to see shadows and highlights, creating contrast throughout the image. You should be able to see every detail, and the colors ought to be as you’ll anticipate.
Sometimes, artistic photographers like to over or underexpose deliberately. It can add a dramatic or emotional side to an image.
Three settings work collectively to create an image, and they are;
When these three settings are used correctly, you should roughly have a appropriately uncovered image.
Here’s a brief explanation of what they are and do;
* ISO is what controls the camera’s sensitivity to mild. It’s a small piece of software inside your digital camera that helps management publicity. The larger the ISO, the more delicate the digital camera. The lower the number, the less delicate the camera.
A high ISO, for instance, 6400, can be used when the sunshine is low. However, raising the ISO will lower the standard of a photo, and it will develop a grainy effect, generally recognized as ‘noise’. Have you ever taken a photo on your smartphone at evening, and can see a grainy effect? That’s a excessive ISO that your phone has automatically set due to low mild. It’s attempting to lighten the picture.
* The shutter is a little system in a camera that covers the sensor when not in use. The ‘shutter’ additionally exposes the sensor to mild for a specified period of time when you press ‘the button’.
Shutter pace is a pre-determined period of time, set by the consumer, in which the shutter is open — permitting mild to hit the sensor. Shutter velocity is measured in fractions, for instance, should you selected half of second as your shutter velocity, that’s the period of time it will be open. So, the higher the fraction, the less time the sensor is exposed.
* The aperture is a set of blades inside a lens that controls the quantity of light flowing in. The blades create an octagonal gap in the middle, which can be large or small. The bigger the aperture, the extra light is allowed into the digicam: often recognized as taking pictures ‘wide open.’ Naturally, the smaller the outlet, there’s less gentle allowed to enter.
Altering the aperture is measured in f-stops. The lower the f-stop number, the extra wide-open the blades are – for instance, f2.eight which is commonplace on costlier lenses, and now changing into common on drone cameras, is wide-open and permits loads of mild via. Whereas, when you set the aperture at f16, the blades might be virtually closed, permitting very little mild via.
Hopefully, that made sense. As a beginner to ND filters, you may not understand exposure, or the settings just yet and that’s ok. It takes time, experience, and plenty of follow.
However, to offer you a head start, there’s one factor you are capable of do that would allow you to to know exposures faster, and that’s studying the histogram.
What Is A Histogram?
A histogram is a graph that represents the tonal quality of a picture, ranging from darkish (on the left) to brilliant (on the right) tones. In other words, it provides useful information about your picture concerning highlights, shadows, and contrasts.
Here’s a quick demo I’ve created for you;
How To Read A HistogramHistograms can be present in most photography software program, in addition to inside the drone app you’re using.
To find out extra about histograms and the fundamentals of photography, read this post.
When Should I Use An ND Filter On A Drone?
Understanding ND filters is the straightforward part, understanding when you use them takes expertise, apply, and trial and error. Most of the time, you probably won’t use them. However, when you do feel such as you can’t get the shot you need, then maybe it’s time to attempt them.
Here are some taking pictures eventualities the place you could wish to strive ND filters;
* The Smooth Water or Cloud Effect
* Creating A Sense Of Motion
* To Remove People From An Image
* Creating Light Trails
* Star Trails
* Shots of a Milky Way
* Cinematic Video Footage
The purpose of the ND filters with most of these shots is to slow the shutter speed down to the required pace.
Here is an ND filter information so that you can use every time you’re out and about.
ND FilterHow Many StopsWhen To Use An ND FilterND42During Sunrise or SunsetND83Cloudy DaysND164A Little Cloud with Plenty Of SunshineND325Full Sunshine and through Midday SunND646Full Sunshine and During Midday SunND100010When You Want Silky Smooth WaterND Filter Chart
The table above is a guide, there might be occasions when totally different filters could also be used beneath completely different circumstances. Let me clarify in more element why you would use what the table suggests.
When utilizing ND filters, for best results, attempt to maintain your ISO set at one hundred.
During Sunrise or Sunset – As the solar begins to rise or set, there’s an hour known as the golden hour (or blue hour). During this time of day, the sun is low producing an attractive delicate red-orange low gentle. Even though the light is low, you might not be succesful of get the low shutter speed you want, so utilizing an ND4 filter on your drone might assist.
Safety Note – Check in case you are allowed to fly a drone throughout Sunrise and Sunset. According to the FAA, you can fly half-hour after sunrise, and half-hour before sunset. This should still offer you sufficient time.
Cloudy Days – Even on cloudy days, the light may be brilliant enough to ruin your drone pictures. If you can’t get the shutter velocity low sufficient – you’ll be able to either attempt later within the day when the sunshine begins to fade or just use an ND8 and see if that works.
Sunny Days – Sunny days are what we all hope for, however the solar can be a photographer’s enemy. When the solar is bright, shadows are solid, and there’s always the prospect of overexposed photographs. Why? Because there’s plenty of brilliant gentle, your shutter velocity will naturally be excessive. Not a foul factor except you need a slower shutter pace.
Let’s say you are flying your drone over a small waterfall and also you wish to create the smooth water effect, too much gentle will stop this from taking place. You might alter your ISO or Aperture, or you can merely use a excessive ND filter, an ND16 or ND32. These filters would reduce the amount of light entering the digital camera.
A rule of thumb – if your photographs or videos require a gradual shutter speed, avoid capturing throughout midday when the solar is at its brightest and highest.
Choosing The Right ND Filters in your Drone
Choosing which ND filters to purchase may be as daunting as making an attempt to know what they’re. There are a quantity of types and a great deal of manufacturers. So which ones do you’ve got to choose?
As with lots of my posts, in terms of shopping for one thing, I all the time advocate you set a price range, and the same applies to filters. You will pay wherever from $12 to over $120 (£10 to £100) per set.
One thing I even have learned with filters is, you get what you pay for. As a photographer for many years, I have tried and tested all types of ND filters, and the most effective ones have always been the more expensive sort.
ND filters are costly because of the materials they are made from – resin or glass. Glass filters are costlier than resin and the better the glass, the dearer they’re.
And when it comes to filters, you need them to be a high-quality product. What’s the purpose of paying hundreds or thousands in your drone and then trying to go low-cost on filters?
Types of Filters
There are three several varieties of filters generally available for you to purchase, and here they’re;
* ND Filter
* Polarising Filter
Nowadays, the commonest ND filters for drones have been mixed with polarizing filters, and are often known as ND-PL filters. This was candy music to my ears. I at all times have a polarizing filter on my DSLR digital camera. It’s a incredible addition to any camera and here’s why;
What Are Polarising Filters And What Do They Do?
A Polarizing (or polarising (PL)) filter is a darkened piece of glass put onto a camera lens to scale back solar glare, darken skies and cut back reflections on the water.
Using a PL filter helps minimize by way of reflections on water, permitting the drone pilot to see what’s beneath. Also, they help create a deeper blue within the sky and produce out the colors of foliage. They’re an ideal filter for panorama and water pictures.
A polarising filter works by rejecting gentle waves of a specific wave form and permitting different mild waves to enter. Some PL filters have an outer ring that you can turn. These are known as Circular Polarizing Filters (C-PL). Because you presumably can turn the outer ring, different gentle waves are allowed in as you flip it.
If you’ve a C-PL, have a look at your viewing display screen as you flip the outer ring. You’ll notice a slight change within the colours. One minute the sky might be a deep blue, the next it’s going to look as it ought to. Try it on water reflections too.
Which ND Filters Should I Buy?
Choosing which ND filters to buy is dependent upon your budget. If you simply want one of the best, then I would extremely advocate PolarPro ND-PL filters for your drone. If you’re looking at spending less, you could purchase DJI filters. Both these filters are good, but I would recommend the PolarPro ones any day.
They come in units of three or six. The set of three covers the most well-liked sizes, ND4-PL, ND8-PL, and ND16-PL. The set of six come with the identical three as nicely as simply ND filters because not everyone needs to use a PL filter.
There can also be a ten-piece set that contains all of the above and ND32-PL, ND64-PL, ND32, and ND64. However, these are expensive and are higher suited to videographers, who need to squeeze each final bit of light out to get an ideal FPS.
Head over to my really helpful equipment web page to see which ND filters I advocate and use.
How To Use ND Filters On A Drone
Now we’ve established everything else about ND filters, it’s time to learn how to use them.
Installing ND filters on a drone is often a difficult job because of how small every thing is. On the drone digicam, you first must take away the unique lens cap. Take a glance, there is one, I promise. You can try to take away it along with your fingertips, however they are often tight stubborn so and so’s.
The first set of filters I purchased, I ruined earlier than I even used them because of being heavy-handed with a pair of pliers. I additionally ruined the digicam lens cap.
> Pro Tip – If the lens cap and filters are the screw type, use an elastic band. No, that’s not a typo. I came across it on the internet years in the past and have used it ever since. You have to wrap the elastic band across the screw cap until it’s comfortable, then merely, twist the cap holding the elastic band. It acts as some sort of tremendous grip and is small enough to carry and use.
Now you’re good to go.
One of the first things you’ll discover when you’ve an ND filter put in is, the viewing display screen could seem darker. It must be, that is okay. It’s like putting sun shades on, it darkens your view slightly too.
Something else to consider is settings. When using ND filters, it’s good apply to make use of the manual settings, not Auto. Auto settings will attempt to re-adjust as a outcome of you have filters on. In guide mode, you’ve full control over everything.
If you checked your settings (in Auto) earlier than the ND filter was on, they might have been ISO one hundred, Aperture f2.eight, and Shutter 1/500. After you put in a filter (let’s say an ND4), you will notice the shutter speed change, it’d lower to 1/250, or lower. In guide mode, you’ll have the ability to readjust the shutter speed if required.
What’s occurred here is – because of the pure light, your camera’s shutter speed was mechanically set accordingly, to 1/500. However, once you set the filter on, there might be an immediate reduction of sunshine. Remember the table earlier. The ND filter has lowered the sunshine by 3-stops, permitting solely 12.5% gentle in. That is why your shutter pace dropped.
By reducing the sunshine 3-stops, your shutter speed has dropped 3 times. It’s gone from 1/500, right down to 1/250 (1-stop), right down to 1/125 (2-stop), and finally, all the way down to 1/60 (3-stop). Here, you can clearly see the impact of the ND filter.
Tip – Stops work by doubling up or down, listed here are two tables to level out you what I mean;
Shutter Speed Doubling DownStops (down)1/2000 (Starting Off Shutter Speed)01/100011/50021/25031/1254Shutter Speed Doubling UpStops (up)1/125 (Starting Off Shutter Speed)01/25011/50021/100031/20004My Final Thoughts
I really have put every little thing I know about ND filters for drones on this article, and I truly have tried my finest to deliver it within the simplest of forms. I know the way tough it can be when on the lookout for drone equipment and trying to find correct, comprehensible information.
If you treat yourself to some new ND filters, take your time and get to grasp them. Practice in many alternative situations and see what works and what doesn’t.
One final tip for you – If you nail a wonderful image, make a note of the settings, both via your editing software program or by way of the drone app. You might strive utilizing them once more in the future.