Guide to ND Filters
Pick an ND filter for your drone's camera. It will make your recordings stand out and look much more professional.
ND (Neutral Density) filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens without affecting the colors. ND filters can be almost transparent, slightly grey, or nearly black.
But why would anyone want to darken their recordings?
The auto function does a pretty fair job, right?
Take control over your settings
Become a pro. Use the manual mode of your camera.
When using ND filters, you have much greater control over the aperture and the shutter speed.
The shutter speed is why you will want to use ND filters in aerial cinematography and photography.
What the Shutter Speed does
The shutter speed is nothing but a small curtain in front of the camera's sensor.
The longer it stays open, the more light enters and the brighter the recordings.
The shorter it stays open, the less light enters and the darker the recordings.
The shutter speed does have a significant visual effect on recordings.
When it is set to a slow value, the recordings will be brighter, and more motion blur will be visible.
When it is set to a fast value, the recordings will be darker, and less motion blur will be visible. The recordings will look crisper.
As the camera operator, it is your job to find a shutter speed value that combines the best of both worlds: of course, you want the recordings to look crisp, but also not too much. You need a natural amount of motion blur. Otherwise, your audience might get a headache at some point.
The Shutter Speed Formula
To set up your shutter speed correctly (for videography), some smart folks came up with a straightforward rule:
2 x frame rate = "ideal" shutter speed
If you are recording with 25fps, you should ideally set up your shutter speed to a value of 50.
If you are recording with 60fps, you should ideally set up your shutter speed to a value of 120.
And so on.
But there is only one problem
When properly setting up the shutter speed, the recordings (at least during daytime) will usually look way too bright.
And the most natural amount of motion blur can't compensate for that. The recordings simply look ugly.
The solution is simple
Now ND filters enter the game. Do you remember what they do?
Just like sunglasses, ND filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens. And that's precisely what we need. Simply attach an ND filter to the camera's lens and dial in the correct shutter speed value for the most natural (and, therefore, the most professional) results.
Become a Pro
If you want further and more detailed information about how to use ND filters, set up the shutter speed, aperture, and all other relevant settings, then don't forget to check out my online course Filming with Drones | Masterclass that you can now enroll to. More than 40 video lessons, quizzes and downloadable cheat sheets are waiting for you.
Find and buy the right ND filters
But be careful: there are a lot of crappy ND filters out there.
They will reduce your recording's sharpness or even tint them.
I will never forget what a girlfriend of mine told me once: if you buy cheap, you end up buying twice. That rule perfectly applies to ND filters.
Find the best ND filter for your drone's camera below. All filters recommended have been personally tested (yes, really all of them!).
Simply pick your drone model, and I'll show you the ideal ND filters you should purchase.