Maybe you’ve never heard of ND filters if you’re new to the exciting world of drones. After all, the majority of individuals get into this as a hobby. Some are in it for the flying experience, while others just want to capture a few shots of their vacation.
If you are serious about getting the greatest photo and video results from your drone, you should invest in neutral density (ND) filters. This important accessory limits the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor while leaving the color unchanged. You can buy ND filters individually, but because the number of ‘stops’ (exposure levels) differs, they are most commonly purchased in packs.
The most popular ND filter pack for the DJI Mini 2 on Amazon is the Skyreat 6 Pack, while a good budget option is the Sunny Life Lens 3 Pack. Another good option for the Mini 2 is the Freewell Standard Day Filter 4 Pack.
Without further ado, let us have a look at how these filters work, what are the most used, their characteristics, and which ones are the most purchased by Mini 2 pilots.
What does an ND filter do?
The best way to understand how an ND filter works is to imagine it as sunglasses for your drone camera. The grayed surface of this accessory, which is positioned immediately in front of the lens, reduces the amount of light that reaches the sensor. They are referred to as “neutral” because they do not alter the color of the light captured.
In strong light, the ND filter allows you to utilize bigger apertures without overexposing your photographs. This means you will obtain sharper shots and be able to get shallow depth of field and selective focus effects when shooting in lighting situations that surpass your drone camera’s shutter speed limitations.
You’ll need to slow the shutter for a particular aperture setting since the filter restricts the amount of light that enters the sensor. Anything moving in your shot will blur if you choose a slower shutter speed.
In general, we do not want any blur in our shots, but in specific situations, this effect may be utilized as an additional tool to enhance our photos. An example would be creating a blur for cars when shooting vehicular traffic.
Types of ND filters
Because your needs will be variable, you should acquire a pack of ND filters, as they provide different results based on what they are meant to be used for. Let us take a look at what varieties we can find on the market.
The camera lens is protected from smudges and scratches thanks to the multicoated UV filter. It also helps to eliminate lens flares and light glares.
Glare from reflected surfaces is reduced by using a circular polarizer/linear filter. The circular type is the most popular of the several options available on the market. This filter also darkens the sky and brightens the colors.
3. Numbered filters
The number of ND filters relates to the quantity of light that is reduced. As a result, an ND2 filter halves the light, whereas an ND8 filter reduces it to one eighth.
Uses of ND filters
Now that you know the different types of ND filters, you might be wondering what they are used for. You can make use of your ND filter pack in a variety of ways. Let me demonstrate some of them.
When shooting urban landscapes, it is relatively easy to achieve the famous long-exposure effect at night. Use a low shutter speed and you will get something as shown in the picture.
During the day, however, using the shortest aperture and lowest ISO possible will overexpose your photograph. Therefore, an ND filter is required to get the same effect.
You can prolong the shutter speed and generate motion blur using one of these accessories for your drone’s lens, giving you a sense of liveliness.
Smooth out water
By lengthening the shutter speed of your drone’s camera, you can achieve this classic water effect shown below (check image info).
You may combine several ND Filters to acquire additional stops for different photography purposes if you have more than one. For instance, combining a 2-stop with a 4-stop filter will give you a total of 6 stops. The problem this may bring is chromatic aberration or softness, so experiment with it if you are looking for something different.
Capture the sun
According to most manufacturers, a 16-stop should be suitable for solar photography. This is the method to photograph a beautiful scene while also capturing the sun, or simply to take pictures of our beloved star.
Bright light? That’s ok
I think we all have experienced the overexposure resulting from sunny bright days. To avoid it, try an ND8 or ND16 filter. Thanks to the darkness brought by the filter to the image, you will be able to shoot without any issues.
ND filters technical info
As stated above, ND filters modify exposure, allowing you to change shutter speed settings to obtain specific effects or increase the quality of your photos. We can see how the stops prolong the shutter speed times to obtain the desired outcomes in the graph below.
|ND Filter Stops
|Original shutter speed
|New shutter speed
I know, using ND filters is complicated and requires some experimentation to fully understand the possibilities that they offer. This is why I have created the chart below. You can use it as a guide for your experiments.
|When should I use it?
|Use it in any scenario to reduce glare
|Dawn or dusk
|Partly cloudy or mostly sunny
|Extremely sunny, such as deserts
Best ND filters for DJI Mini 2
It’s difficult to say which Mini 2 ND filter (or bundle) is the best because it depends on how many options you would like to have, and how much money you want to spend. However, I will show you a few of the most popular options, as well as the greatest all-around and cost-effective sets.
Skyreat ND filters set – 6 Pack
Most popular (by reviews)
The most reviewed ND filter pack on Amazon is the Skyreat set, which includes 6 ND filters for a great price. Considering that each of these costs $16.99, the bundle offers amazing value. In the description, they assure you that they do not affect gimbal calibration, so if you are worried about that, this could be a safe bet.
Made in aluminum, it includes CPL, UV, ND8, ND16, ND32, and ND64 filters.
Freewell Standard Day Filter – 4 Pack
Most popular (word of mouth)
For a few months, I have been asking what is the best ND filter for my Mini 2. My friends have told me different brands and price ranges, but most agree that the best package is the one offered by Freewell.
These filters have a good reputation among drone pilots, even if they do not own them, and the reason, apart from their evident quality, is probably that many YouTubers have used them and loved them, which resulted in a bunch of reviews.
With a price tag of $59.99 for 4 filters, it is the most expensive on our list, but its 16-layer multicoated optical glass lens filter and the ultralight design should justify that.
It comes with ND4, ND8, ND16, and CPL filters.
How to install Freewell Mini 2/Mavic Mini filter correctly
What is white line in ND/PL filters?
Sunny Life Lens ND Filter Set – 3 Pack
The cheapest option is a pack that comes with fewer filters, a total of 3, but also falls a bit short in the materials used in the construction, as it is made of glass.
If you don’t want to spend much money on filters, or are just looking to try some, and later get a more expensive set, this is probably the perfect pack for you.
It comes with CPL, ND8, and ND16 filters.
Using ND filters (a few recommendations)
- Power on the drone before installing and removing the filters.
- Check if adding the filter to your Mini 2 will make it heavier than 250 g, which could modify the regulatory restrictions and / or flight limits.
- Although the weight of the filter should not affect the gimbal’s center of gravity, it is a good idea to recalibrate it when using one of these accessories.
- Experiment with your ND filters to fully understand what each of them can do.
- Make sure you are using manual settings and experimenting with different shutter speeds.
- If you want to fly during sunrise or sunset, make sure you have clearance first.
Have you made up your mind? I hope we were able to help you understand what ND filters are for and decide which set is the best for you.
And if you are still hungry for more drone info, keep browsing Droneblog.