A Simple Guide to ND Filters: What You Need to Know to Shoot Better Drone Video

Who else wants to learn how to take long-exposure shots with your DJI drone during the daytime? Maybe you've noticed that the quality of your recording is not that good with too much light. Don't worry. There's a solution for that—the ND filters.

Guest post by Thomas Glare

So you got yourself a brand new DJI drone? That’s awesome. The camera comes nicely stabilized, and the set-up is so simple that it’s quite easy to start recording amazing footage right away. But while it’s simple to take long-exposure shots at nighttime, it becomes more difficult during the daytime. You can set the ISO to its lowest setting and use the smallest aperture, but find that your shots are still overexposed. 

Even a faster shutter speed is not making it better. Does that mean the camera came with a default? Or maybe you’re just pushing the wrong buttons? No, the problem is too much light hitting the lens. And the solution is to block some of the light with the ND filter. Check out our ND filter guide to learn more about this handy tool.

The ND Filter: What Is It? 

Simply put, the neutral-density filter limits the light that enters the lens. It filters all light that enters the lens equally, no matter what’s the light’s wavelength. In other words, an ND filter is like sunglasses for the camera. This enables you to select shutter speed and aperture more freely without having to worry about overexposure. 

ND filters are described with a number that indicates how much light they allow to pass. The bigger the number, the less light can go through the filter. So ND2 for example restricts more light than the ND4 filter. 

To make things easier, you can also get a variable filter that allows you to amount of blocked light without swapping filters. Some of the best variable ND filters are the Marumi DHG and Kenko Professional filters. Because the construction of a variable filter is more complex, it’s also more expensive. You can start with a set filter or try making some extra cash online with this device. Aerial hospitality video for hotels, casinos, resorts, and tourist destinations is a profitable business.

But now let’s look at some specific situations where you’d want to use the filter. 

When Do You Need an ND Filter? 

The ND filter is perfect for shots that feature lots of water or snow, as these surfaces can reflect a lot of light. Especially at midday, when the sun is at its most intense. Just before the sunset, you can switch from ND8 to ND4. As the light gets lower, you don’t need to block it that much.  

A good Mavic Pro ND filter does not only get rid of overexposure but also helps to capture videos that look more artistic and cinematic. In addition, the overall image and the colors will have a more natural feel to them. That’s because when using the filter, you can reduce shutter speed and keep ISO low. The result is a well-balanced exposure and movement that looks smooth even when projected to a big screen. 

The reduced shutter speed will also add motion blur to moving cars and people on your images. This will help to achieve more liveliness in photos taken from above. 

Conclusion

The ND filter is a must-have in any videographer’s arsenal. This little tool can give your footage a more professional and artistic look. You can use it to get rid of overexposure even at midday, shooting the clear sky. So go ahead and get yourself an ND filter today. Trust us. You’ll be glad you did.  

What did you think of our guide to ND filters? Did we answer your most burning questions, or was there something left uncovered? Leave the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Author’s Bio: Thomas Glare is a video producer and a hobby photographer. He works at an advertising agency Lightning and coordinates most of the steps of producing TV commercials. He’s been flying DJI drones for three years now and loves learning about new ways to get the best images. Thomas also enjoys writing blog articles about the best videography practices.

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