ND filters, when to use one?

ND filters come in different shapes and sizes for the different cameras that are available under your drone.
It is important to get a set that fits your camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are still looking for ND filters, have a look here, there are many to choose from
But once you have found a set and bought it as well you might ask yourself when to use them.

There is one rule of thumb… ND filters are normally used in video, not photo.. but more on that later.

To get the best from your camera we advise you to not use AUTO settings at all, not in photo, not in video
With AUTO settings the camera constantly changes to compensate light,  and that is not something you want in your video.

Best is to switch to manual settings, here is a picture how to do that.
You want to have your shutter twice the fps…
So, if you have set the camera to PAL 25 fps you want your shutter to be 50.


If you are making pictures only you don’t need an ND filter, the only thing you need to do to get the best picture is play with the shutter. best is to set the camera to shoot RAW only so you can process the image afterwards.

But if you want to shoot video you want to have a few things set.
First the shutter, as said before twice the framerate.
also set the white balance to somewhere around 5800, and don’t use Sunny, or cloudy etc.. set it to a set value instead.
Best is to have the ISO as low as possible, in this case it is 100. a lower ISO is a sharper picture with little noise.

Once that is set it is time to grab your ND filters.
set the camera to video, but don’t record just yet.

Have a look at the video feed of the camera.. is it over exposed? if the answer is yes it is time to grab a ND filter.
(I can explain you all about stops and such, but lets keep it simple for now.)

If you have too much light (overexposed) use a ND filter to compensate the light. on a cloudy day a 4 might be enough, but on a bright day a 16 might be needed.. in snow a 32 is good. but that is up to you to decide, every day, every location is different.

Once you are satisfied with the image you should be okay using the ND filter of your choice, if you are not sure if it is the correct one make sure your image is not overexposed! An overexposed video or picture holds way less data (if any) than an underexposed one.. when it is underexposed there is still data of how it should look, you are able to restore that just fine. An overexposed picture holds no data in the overexposed part, and you have no way restoring that in post production.

Make sure you don’t change any settings now when you start filming! you will notice that you have a nice and clear picture during filming and it is great wherever you point the camera to.
Once you are done filming you can process the footage at home to make it look even better.
Important is to not have overexposed footage to get the best end result.

ND filters and photos.

There is no use for ND filters on a drone at all when it comes to photos. (in normal photography on a tripod it is a different story)
But when you are flying and want to take a picture there is no real need to come back and take off the ND filter.
You can shoot a picture just fine! it might be a bit under exposed or have too much motion blur.

Best is to go back into your camera settings and change the shutter speed to compensate for the ND filter.
If you have set the drone to RAW you are able to  process the pictures in lightroom, that way you can get is even better.

There is only one (maybe 2) reasons why you want to have an ND filter with photography…
Say you are at the beach and you want to make a picture of the coast line..
A normal picture would make the waves look unnatural.. but if you set your shutter lower to get more “movement” of the waves in your picture you might have too much light and that will destroy your picture.

This is when a ND filter helps out.. the ND filter helps you to get some motion blur from the waves when on the beach.. but the light will still be good. This is because the shutter will stay open longer but doesn’t get over exposed because you have an ND filter installed.

Here is a picture showing the difference.
With a filter you can almost see the waves smashing into the rocks whereas without a filter the motion just stopped.

Apart from motion blur there is no need of an ND filter for normal pictures.
The second reason why you want to consider a ND filter with photos is when you are making photos of snow covered landscapes you might need to use one to compensate for all the whites in the picture.. it might not be over exposed, but the amount of whites because of the snow might be too much for the camera.

Leave a Reply