The DJI Air 2S is one of my favorite drones. That’s because it’s reasonably priced, can shoot in 5.4k, has a longer flight time, and its video and photo quality are good enough for professional photography and videography.
While you can get by with the drone as it is, you also have a chance to get even better footage when you add ND filters.
So, which are the best ND filters for the DJI Air 2S?
FreeWell, PolarPro, and DJI’s ND filters are the best filters you can get for your drone. They have all been tested and proven to reduce the light reaching the sensor without altering the image quality.
Please keep reading to learn more about why the DJI Air 2S may need a filter and which ones to get.
Why does the DJI Air 2S need an ND filter?
While some DJI drones, like the Mavic 3, have a variable aperture, the DJI Air 2S has a fixed aperture of f/2.8.
To get good shots with a camera, you must adhere to the exposure triangle, which refers to the ISO, exposure, and aperture. You end up increasing and decreasing these values to get a balance.
Another rule to remember is the 180 rule which indicates that your shutter speed should double your frame rate (You may not always have to follow this rule, but that’s a discussion for another day).
With a fixed aperture, some shots will be difficult, especially when it’s too bright since you can’t reduce the aperture. An ISO of 100 is always ideal, so the shutter speed is the only parameter that’s a bit flexible now.
This is quite limiting, and you may sometimes end up with very bright, sharp, or noisy footage.
This is where ND filters come in. ND means neutral density, which means that these filters block out some of the light that gets to the sensor.
As a result, you don’t have to increase or decrease the ISO or the shutter speed too much.
ND filters also come with varying strengths, measured in f-stops:
- An ND2 will block light by 1 f-stop, or 50% of the light.
- An ND4 will block light in 2 f-stops and so on.
The higher the number, the more f-stops the filter will block, and the less light will get to the sensor.
ND filters also cause a motion blur, which is not always present when using a regular sensor.
When to use ND filters
ND filters are most applicable for videos. They come in handy when you need to smooth out your video, especially when there is too much light.
But for photography, it’s not always necessary. Some photographers can get creative and use the white balance, MM, ISO, and exposure to get good shots without filters.
Still, ND filters make it easier to get better shots, especially when doing long-exposure photography.
Besides blocking light, polarizers also block reflection and glare from the subject. Most manufacturers will combine ND filters and polarizers. That’s why you’ll get a filter labeled ND/PL.
However, it’s not always necessary to have a polarizing filter, so it’s always good to have those without polarizers and a dedicated polarizer so you can test and find out which combination gives the best results.
For instance, an ND filter may cause poor still images, but a polarizer filter that blocks the glare and reflection without blocking too much light may produce some of the best shots.
ND/PL filters also sometimes cause cross-polarization, a darkening along the edges.
Variable ND filters
As the name suggests, these are filters with varying strengths. The most common filters you will find are solid filters, which stop light at a fixed rate.
But variable ND will have stopping power ranging from 2-5 and 6-9, equivalent to ND4 to ND32 and ND64 to ND512.
You could argue about the usefulness of a variable ND filter since you still have to land the drone and adjust it to get the right strength, but they are easier to use.
You don’t have to keep removing and installing different individual filters. Unfortunately, while they are easy to use, variable NDs may sometimes also experience cross-polarization.
Which ND filters to use
When choosing an ND filter, I judge based on the amount of light available. The brighter the sun, the more powerful ND filter I’ll need.
You can just hold the drone out with the ideal shutter speed and ISO and observe for overexposure.
Then, start testing the filters until you find the perfect balance. The value on Manual Metering should also be close to zero.
There’s also confusion on whether to use ND/PLs, Variable NDs, or solid NDs. If you want the highest quality and don’t mind testing several filters, it’s best to stick with solid NDs and solid polarizers.
But if time is of the essence and you need a quick way to exchange the filters, VNDs will come in handy.
Best ND Filters for the DJI Air 2S
Now that we know when, how, and why we need ND filters for the Air 2S, below are some of the best ND filters for the DJI Air 2S.
DJI’s ND Filters for the Air 2S
DJI makes ND filters for the Air 2S, which they include in the FlyMore Combo.
For an extra $299, you get the ND filters, 2 extra batteries, a charging hub, and a bag.
The ND filters are an ND3, ND8, ND16, and ND32 set. In most cases, these are all the filters you will need.
The ND32 will come in handy if you are from areas that are too bright, and ND4 is very useful for sunrise and sunset shots.
Unfortunately, these are not hybrids, you don’t get a polarizer, and you’d have to rely on third-party manufacturers for more powerful ND filters.
But the filter set is still good enough to start with, not forgetting you get other extra accessories for your drone.
And according to a poll conducted on the DJI forum, most people are contented with the filters that come with the combo.
Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal Camera, 5.4K Video, 1-Inch CMOS Sensor, 4 Directions of Obstacle Sensing, 31-Min Flight Time, Max 7.5-Mile Video Transmission, MasterShots, Gray
FreeWell Filters for DJI Air 2S
While you could get by with the filters that come with the drone, you don’t have to limit yourself. DJI is good at making drones and cameras, but they are not always the best at making filters.
Some users have reported getting some color cast on their footage. To avoid this, why not get your filters from a company specializing in making filters?
Whenever a new drone is released, FreeWell is usually among the first third-party companies to release filters for the drone, and they always get it right.
For the DJI Air 2S, FreeWell has the following filters:
All Day 8-Pack
As the name suggests, this is a pack that you can use all day, from the morning when there’s low light, afternoon when it’s brightest, and evening when the sun sets. It includes:
- CPL (Circular Polarizer)
Unlike the ND filters from DJI, FreeWell’s filters also work as polarizers, blocking light and glare from the subjects.
You also get a dedicated CPL.
As I mentioned earlier, ND filters are not always the best or necessary for still photography, but in cases where there is too much reflection, haze, and noise, your best bet will be a polarizer like the CPL.
DJI’s filters stopped at ND32, but FreeWell adds an ND64 for even more light stopping and ND1000 and NJD200, which are handy for creating a milky effect and more clarity in waterfall and waterbody shots.
To get the most out of the CPL, ensure the white mark on the polarizer aligns with the white mark on the filter’s base.
By doing so, even when you don’t manage to align the drone camera at 90 degrees (which is what FreeWell recommends), you will not have significant discrepancies in your footage.
Bright Day 4-Pack
The Bright Day pack can be helpful if you are on a budget and want more than DJI’s filters can provide.
It contains the ND8/PL, ND16/PL, ND32/PL, and ND64/PL.
This pack is also a great addition since you get to test without an ND filter, with an ND filter, and with an ND/PL to see what gives the best results.
FreeWell also sells a stand-alone CPL (Circular Polarizer), which you can add to your arsenal.
Freewell Variable ND Filters + [Gold Streak and Mist Edition]
Freewell also has a VND option. All you have to do is turn the top section between the minimum and maximum strength. The VND filters included in this pack include;
- VND 2-5 – This filter stops light between 2 f-stops and 5 f-stops, equivalent to ND4 to ND32.
- VND 6-9 – This filter stops light between 6 f-stops and 9 f-stops, equivalent to ND64 to ND512.
If you’d like to add more flare to your footage, you can get the Gold Streak or the Blue Streak VND filters, allowing you to add an anamorphic effect.
Or get the Mist Edition, which adds a glow to light sources, and reduces the overall contrast in the footage.
Freewell Variable ND - VND & VND (Mist Edition) Filters Camera Lens Filters Compatible with Air 2S Drone.
PolarPro ND Filters for the DJI Air 2S
PolarPro is another popular brand known for making filters for cameras. Their products are a bit expensive compared to FreeWell, but the design quality and refining make them worth the price.
However, you don’t get quite as broad a range of filters as you would with FreeWell. Below are the filters PolarPro has in store for the DJI Air 2S.
Variable ND Filters
These work similarly to FreeWell’s VND filters, where you get a VND 2-5 and a VND 6-9, which offer the same effects as ND4 through ND512.
In this package, you get three ND filters (ND8, ND16, and ND32), which also act as polarizers.
This is a budget-friendly package from PolarPro that contains the VND filters mentioned above and an N8/PL, ND16/PL, and ND32/PL.
Skyreat ND Filters
If you have the budget for it and want an extra filter set to test or didn’t manage to get the combo and want a cheaper option, Skyreat has got you covered.
They have a 5-pack that contains ND8, ND16, ND32, ND64, and a CPL filter.
They also have a 4-pack package of ND/PL filters, which includes ND4/PL, ND8/PL, ND16/PL, and ND32/PL.
Don’t miss out on the chance to develop better footage. Get yourself one of these filters and expand your possibilities.
I prefer the FreeWell ND filters since they offer better value for money.
You get a more comprehensive range of filters, a high-quality build, and extra light so they won’t alter the gimbal calibration.