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ND filters, waste of time and money
1325 32 3-23 11:50
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Aurelian Irimia
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I'm very sorry but I personally see the ND filters for drones more as a waste of time and money than something useful. And I'll say why I think this. Today I flew with my Mavic Air. Sunny day, the settings of the camera in manual mode, 4k 30fps and dcinelike. In a single flight I changed the view several times, with the sun in front, with the sun behind, in shaded areas ... I have obtained very different shutter speeds in a single flight, from 1/160 to 1/2000. To be able to use the 180 rule, according to the PolarPro application, I have to use 4 ND filters on a single flight, ND4, ND8, ND16 and ND32. Practically every time I change the angle to record another perspective, as the shutter speed varies a lot, I have to land the drone and put a new filter. I practically have to spend more time changing filters than record my videos. That's why I do not see ND filters very useful. They can be useful only if you fly in only one direction.
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3-23 11:50
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AlansDronePics
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Your observations are quite right and I agree with you. I mentioned the same results on this and a photography forum in the drone section and it wasn't received well.
The supporters of this odd belief in ND filters claim it makes the video cinematic. Not only is this a meaningless buzz word in this context, but it has no basis in fact. It takes skill to make an interesting video for your audience, no a bolt on that is inappropriate.
Then you get the twaddle about the 180 rule. It is essential to comply with this hangover from the old B&W filming days we are told, because this is what the public want and they are use to seeing it.
No they aren't, and proof of this is the move to ever higher resolution and breathtaking, super sharp TV pictures. How many customers do they know, including themselves, who would prefer a 1080P over 4K for clarity, dynamic range and colour rendering? The best definition I was given for Cinematic was a soft image with motion blur. For goodness sake, they didn't go for that decades ago when they made South Pacific...
There are only 2 uses for ND filters with a drone. I have taken scenes in blinding sunlight and reflective sea and white cliffs and the drone handles it with no trouble.
1/ to capture misty water, just like still photographers do. How often does that happen?
2/ to create motion blur when passing close to picket fences, rotating bike wheels and some car wheels. These would be limited scope shots at best and can be taken from a better angle without the ND filter.
Have you noticed how many newbies buy a drone and then shell out for ND filters so their videos will look awesome? (To hell with reading the drone manual, I use a P&S camera, set to auto, so I know all about photography. Question to Forum, can you tell me where the camera settings are, I need to know how to switch on manual from auto so my ND filters will work...)
Have you watched videos from people who claim they leave their ND filter on all the time. You know the sort of vid, zooms along the sun drenched beach, pans around to the granite cliffs and coastal village in an unbroken pass. There is only one way to compensate for that wide range of exposure and it shoots barn-door sized holes through the 180 rule they worship, if the filter isn't changed on each new exposure. Some of the vids are good though, but it has nothing to do with the ND filter.
OK, the two of us will start receiving our fatwas pretty soon or will be cast out into the wilderness as heretics. I hope the wilderness is Namibia, by the way, seen some awesome drone vids from there.
Have a great day.

3-24 09:46
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Aurelian Irimia
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AlansDronePics Posted at 3-24 09:46
Your observations are quite right and I agree with you. I mentioned the same results on this and a photography forum in the drone section and it wasn't received well.
The supporters of this odd belief in ND filters claim it makes the video cinematic. Not only is this a meaningless buzz word in this context, but it has no basis in fact. It takes skill to make an interesting video for your audience, no a bolt on that is inappropriate.
Then you get the twaddle about the 180 rule. It is essential to comply with this hangover from the old B&W filming days we are told, because this is what the public want and they are use to seeing it.

Totally agree with you! Do not be a sheep, follow your instinct and enjoy your passion. Fly safe!
3-24 11:19
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Francis
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you dont need to follow the rule  to the letter. Nd is useful to lower the shutter speed making your footage better. Just like that.
3-24 18:46
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Boffin
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AlansDronePics Posted at 3-24 09:46
Your observations are quite right and I agree with you. I mentioned the same results on this and a photography forum in the drone section and it wasn't received well.
The supporters of this odd belief in ND filters claim it makes the video cinematic. Not only is this a meaningless buzz word in this context, but it has no basis in fact. It takes skill to make an interesting video for your audience, no a bolt on that is inappropriate.
Then you get the twaddle about the 180 rule. It is essential to comply with this hangover from the old B&W filming days we are told, because this is what the public want and they are use to seeing it.

The only filters that I have found useful for occasional use are polarising (neutral) filters, correctly adjusted for some shots over water when reflections may be a problem. They are great for certain still shots.

A lens with an automatic iris would be a possible solution to compensate for varying light conditions Automatic Iris. Expensive and one would need a DJI Inspire or bigger to carry a camera fitted with one.

Your Mk1 eyeball has a pretty good automatic iris btw.

The 180 rule is a throwback to B&W celluloid film and the 24 FPS requirement for early movie making.

I suspect that the fatwas shall originate from the expensive filter manufacturers

* Bof *

3-24 19:59
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Montfrooij
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Exactly my point .
But since some influensers have told us we should use filters, most follow.....
Now I'm not saying that the 180 rule is bs. It is very important, but when flying with a drone you can't control the lighting since it will change a lot.
So they are just impractical for me.
Not to forget that if you like photography as well, you should get rid of ND filters for a lot of scenarios, since you want a faster shutterspeed.

There will be debate about this all the time. A lot of people rather invest in stuff than in knowledge

PS, I do own ND filters and use them on important projects. But in those projects I don't mind flying back to me, changing filters.
3-24 23:23
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Aurelian Irimia
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Boffin Posted at 3-24 19:59
The only filters that I have found useful for occasional use are polarising (neutral) filters, correctly adjusted for some shots over water when reflections may be a problem. They are great for certain still shots.

A lens with an automatic iris would be a possible solution to compensate for varying light conditions Automatic Iris. Expensive and one would need a DJI Inspire or bigger to carry a camera fitted with one.

you're right. In a case like this, a filter can be useful. but for the other cases, I see it as a waste of time. it's just a marketing promoted by influencers who receive free products. If they gime me a Xiaomi drone for free, I'm sure I'll find some good things to say about it, I'm not going to say that it's a  garbage.
3-25 04:06
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Charissa
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I do mostly photography with my drones. And filters DO work for the following.
1: They remove glare on reflective surfaces, mostly water.
2: They provide slower shutter speeds and the ability to take images in bright sunlight, with drones like the Mavic Air, that does not have variable exposure settings.
3: Without filters, some shots would definitely not have any detail in blown highlights, with a drone like the Air.
4: I prefer to use them, and cut down on post processing time, and I absolutely don,t like images where the sky is so over exposed, as to not have any detail in it.

Most videos and images is so over exposed, as to be just snapshots. So if snapshots is your thing, fair enough, blow out those highlights.
I find with drones, even at blue or golden hour, sunlight is still quite harsh, as the angle of the sun up there is different, than what we experience on the ground.
My 2 cents.

3-25 04:36
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AlansDronePics
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Charissa Posted at 3-25 04:36
I do mostly photography with my drones. And filters DO work for the following.
1: They remove glare on reflective surfaces, mostly water.
2: They provide slower shutter speeds and the ability to take images in bright sunlight, with drones like the Mavic Air, that does not have variable exposure settings.

My answers are in relation to your numbered list.
1/ They remove glare... Are youtalking about ND filters or polarising filters? ND filters seem to be dark glass, and work just like a pair of cheap sunglasses. They dim the light entering the camera by a fixed amount. No doubt you can reduce glare this way, but you reduce the low light component of the scene, like shadows, by the same amount. Deeper shadows simply  become black.
The polarising filter will reduce scattered light, provided it is turned to the correct angle to the sun, and this will remove glare from light scatter while at the same time allow direct light to pass through. It has only a marginal effect on the light range of the scene, so bright or dark scenes remain unaffected. This is the same effect as polaroide sunglasses, but without the dark tint.
I don't own an air, but according to the description I see, in manual mode and I assume you use this, you have a fixed aperture, and adjustable ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation. How can you claim it doesn't have variable exposure settings?
You might chose to use a lower shutter speed to allow adequate light to reach the sensor, but the ND filter cannot do this. Why would you want to lower the light entering the camera, only to compensate by slowing the shutter? The sensor is quite able to cope with brilliant sunlight by increasing shutter speed.
3/ Perhaps this is a defect with the Air, but the Mavic Pro and Phantom 3 Pro give a perfectly acceptable exposure throughout the cameras dynamic range. I have no trouble getting nice blue skies, even in Zante on a brilliant sunny day. The shot is a reject, un tweaked and reduced in resolution for uploading here.

4/ is just a continuation of 3/.
Where you run on in the last paragraph, I can only answer you by providing a screen grab from the original uncut and unedited video I took at Zante.
There are other images that further dispel your assertion that without a ND filter, the sky is blown out.








Regardless of my replies, we all know the huge change in exposure that takes place as you switch from a land shot with a bit of sky, to a sea shot with a lot of sky. How do you cope with that variation without changing the ND filter or breaking your shutter speed rules by adjusting its speed? One filter will not cope with both exposures, so you must adjust something.
3-25 08:30
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AlansDronePics
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Another shot from Zante for consideration.
Not a glare in sight. No ND filters, lovely tones. Not bad for an old wreck!
3-25 08:41
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Aurelian Irimia
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AlansDronePics Posted at 3-25 08:41
Another shot from Zante for consideration.
Not a glare in sight. No ND filters, lovely tones. Not bad for an old wreck![view_image]

3-25 10:04
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Charissa
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As you wish. I said filters, not specificly ND filters.
Sometimes I do not want my SS to be so high, as to freeze every single moving thing. Very fast SS often look way too bright and sharp. (unless you plan to use this for sport, or fast moving objects that you deliberately want to freeze in action. For landscapes, too fast SS often looks like a middle of the day affair, no proper contrast, and not a lot of shadows)

I have a MP2 and the Air, and the MP2 have a lot more to play with, than the Air. (appeture wise, which makes a huge difference as I can then play with my shutter speed more.
Top 3 images (although very nice), looks too bright and noisy on my calibrated screen. The 4th image would have looked awesome with some detail in the water, reduced glare with a CPL. Seems like you pulled back quite a lot in pp on the sky of the  ship wreck image, see the edges looks a bit wonky, a few sharp halos. (but still good shots
Also, I never said that ALL images is blown out without a ND filter, but being a bit finicky with my images, I do prefer to have them at hand if I need them, and to me, they do help.

I expose to the best of the drones ability, meaning, that I make sure I can get detail out of the skies and I shoot Raw. For that, the first rule would obviously be to shoot in golden, and blue hour, but if I absolutely have to shoot in very bright light, Filters to me is a must, as fast SS for landscapes is not always a good match and I mostly don,t like the extra sharp edges a fast ss creates.
But, to each his own. You don,t have to use them, it is your shots. To some of us, some filters, give us that extra creativity to play with to get our motion, or landscapes, just precisely as we want it.

Also, tell me, if your drone have a fixed appeture, and you mostly want your ISO to be as low as possible, why not go all auto then, since you don,t have a lot to play with, if you only choose your ss, but it need to be just about the same as what the drone would choose, to get the correct exposure?  Don,t leave you with any creative options, in my humble opinion.

Also, I am purely talking from a photography perspective. I don,t have to convert you to filters, and I am definitely not selling anyone to the idea of them, or which ones, or how much they should cost. I do know however, that I enjoy a creative shot much more, than a "whatever came out of the drone by luck" shot.
3-25 11:32
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Charissa
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Pano, shot with a ND16, Polarized. Without the filter, this would have been WAY to bright in the sky, and a fast shutter speed would have spoiled the overall mood of the image (and probably would not have given me any detail in the shadows.) Without the polarizing part, the glare on the sea would have been worse, and the mistiness on the horizon would have not been as pronounced.
I also wanted the very slightly slower movement in the waves, did not want to freeze them.This also don,t look quite as good since I had to downsize for the forum. Link to bigger pic provided.
https://www.facebook.com/Chariss ... ?type=3&theater
And then again, I wonder how many people take the time to calibrate their pc monitors for perfect exposure and colors?



3-25 11:44
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Aurelian Irimia
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Charissa Posted at 3-25 11:44
[view_image]

Pano, shot with a ND16, Polarized. Without the filter, this would have been WAY to bright in the sky, and a fast shutter speed would have spoiled the overall mood of the image (and probably would not have given me any detail in the shadows.) Without the polarizing part, the glare on the sea would have been worse, and the mistiness on the horizon would have not been as pronounced.

Very nice picture!
3-25 11:59
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Charissa
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Thank you.
3-25 12:03
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AlansDronePics
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Charissa Posted at 3-25 11:44
[view_image]

Pano, shot with a ND16, Polarized. Without the filter, this would have been WAY to bright in the sky, and a fast shutter speed would have spoiled the overall mood of the image (and probably would not have given me any detail in the shadows.) Without the polarizing part, the glare on the sea would have been worse, and the mistiness on the horizon would have not been as pronounced.

I love the photo. The polarising filter is very effective when fitted correctly, I think everyone agrees with that.
I also agree about the slower shutter speed in relation to the waves, but I haven't found this to be a problem in practice.
I strongly disagree with you when you state "and the mistiness on the horizon would not be as pronounced". Not sure how you square that with the fact that removing the mistiness, a byproduct of light scatter, is a good reason for a PF...
I can see that you have a distinct style or 'look' with your photography. Generally, I strive for a different look. Don't always get it though.
Like you, I believe the mist adds greatly to the composition.

However, we digress from ND filters. I tend to agree with the science.
3-25 13:02
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AlansDronePics
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Charissa Posted at 3-25 11:32
As you wish. I said filters, not specificly ND filters.
Sometimes I do not want my SS to be so high, as to freeze every single moving thing. Very fast SS often look way too bright and sharp. (unless you plan to use this for sport, or fast moving objects that you deliberately want to freeze in action. For landscapes, too fast SS often looks like a middle of the day affair, no proper contrast, and not a lot of shadows)

I don't disagree with you about pic 1 which is as I said, a rejected shot and was a jpg, straight from the SD card. The second was a screen shot of a video. Neither would look their best, but it does show that even in that brilliant sun, the drone copes very well.
Pic 3 was late evening and the sun caught in the lens, yet still not the disaster you think a ND will prevent.
The others still show the sky doesn't blow out.
I doubt I was even aware of the sky in the shipwreck. I threw that in just for fun.
I am happy that you are content with your filters. I have tried them and find them as expected. Long live the polarising filter.
By the way, you mentioned your calibrated monitor. Nice one. Sadly, like many men, I suffer from green colour blindness. It is something a calibrated monitor won't help with. Then again, most people will view photos from all and sundry on their uncalibrated ones, including enhanced settings on phone and tablet, with or without eye disease or colour issues. Seems we can only do our best.
Keep up the great photos, I will look out for them.
Thanks.
3-25 13:14
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Charissa
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AlansDronePics Posted at 3-25 13:02
I love the photo. The polarising filter is very effective when fitted correctly, I think everyone agrees with that.
I also agree about the slower shutter speed in relation to the waves, but I haven't found this to be a problem in practice.
I strongly disagree with you when you state "and the mistiness on the horizon would not be as pronounced". Not sure how you square that with the fact that removing the mistiness, a byproduct of light scatter, is a good reason for a PF...

Not going into tooo much detail again.
The Polarizer did its job to remove some glare in the mist, thus showing more mist, and less washed out exposure. By "penetrating" the mist, it makes it more visible, although not as widely spread. Difficult to explain. Like containing the brightness puts more focus on the subject, IN THIS CASE.

Next thing, most shots and I suppose videos, that are super good, was most probably planned and was given some thought of how to go about it etc.......With that said, any filters would work perfectly, if you PLAN your shots, and fit them to support the images you plan to capture.

Agree with the fact that if you just fly around, willy nilly, hoping to get a shot, or a good video clip, not sure, waiting to be lucky, then yes, I suppose Polarizers  (not really ND filters) could be a problem.

I would rather have one super cool image in a 3 battery flight, than 20 average ones. But that is just me.
The last image looks good, love the comp. Thanks for sharing.
3-26 00:08
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JHollimanPhoto
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Charissa Posted at 3-25 11:44
[view_image]

Pano, shot with a ND16, Polarized. Without the filter, this would have been WAY to bright in the sky, and a fast shutter speed would have spoiled the overall mood of the image (and probably would not have given me any detail in the shadows.) Without the polarizing part, the glare on the sea would have been worse, and the mistiness on the horizon would have not been as pronounced.

Truly beautiful photo.
3-26 03:37
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Charissa
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Thank you kindly. A link to the posted image on this forum. Would be nice if the comments go there so as not to hijack this threat toooo much.
https://forum.dji.com/forum.php? ... p;page=1#pid1806570
3-26 03:55
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ChrisJG
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Montfrooij Posted at 3-24 23:23
Exactly my point .
But since some influensers have told us we should use filters, most follow.....
Now I'm not saying that the 180 rule is bs. It is very important, but when flying with a drone you can't control the lighting since it will change a lot.

I do wonder when products are recommended, and often with a link to a website, how many of those links are an affiliate link that generates a commission for the person recommending the product...?
3-26 04:06
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Montfrooij
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ChrisJG Posted at 3-26 04:06
I do wonder when products are recommended, and often with a link to a website, how many of those links are an affiliate link that generates a commission for the person recommending the product...?

Well, as long as people get free products to test, they will most likely be more positive about that product in their review.
So not even affiliate maybe, but somehow not a true open mind
Plus, people in general like to have a 'one size fits all' solution to make their product better instantly.
Whereas pro's know (I'm not one of them though) that a beautiful product requires a lot of work and practice.
But that does not sell, so we stick to a simple solution
3-26 04:09
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Charissa
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ChrisJG Posted at 3-26 04:06
I do wonder when products are recommended, and often with a link to a website, how many of those links are an affiliate link that generates a commission for the person recommending the product...?

Maybe they get paid in products. I also think that some people can really sing the praises of some really crappy products.
I normally take most of it with a pinch of salt, or two.
3-26 04:17
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Charissa
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Montfrooij Posted at 3-26 04:09
Well, as long as people get free products to test, they will most likely be more positive about that product in their review.
So not even affiliate maybe, but somehow not a true open mind
Plus, people in general like to have a 'one size fits all' solution to make their product better instantly.

Agree. Mostly. Point to prove, personally, my set of Freewellgear cheaper filters, give the same quality, as the more expensive PolarPro's, in the same type of conditions.
Mostly not WHAT we use, but HOW and IF we use it properly that makes all the difference.
Although some people give biased reviews, does not make the actual product bad (or good for that matter)
3-26 04:21
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Montfrooij
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Charissa Posted at 3-26 04:21
Agree. Mostly. Point to prove, personally, my set of Freewellgear cheaper filters, give the same quality, as the more expensive PolarPro's, in the same type of conditions.
Mostly not WHAT we use, but HOW and IF we use it properly that makes all the difference.
Although some people give biased reviews, does not make the actual product bad (or good for that matter)

Very true.
My point is that I don't see that much improvement on the actual output with or without filters.
So only when I really need them (important projects) I take the hassle of putting them on and off.
3-26 04:24
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elberti
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Aurelian -- you are totally right the concept of ND filters for drones is quite different (compared to a DSLR); yet I am positive you would be better off with than without. This is because the % of days with totally changing conditions due to clouds is less than the % of days easy to pre-assess the correct settings with ND filters.
4-4 03:40
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fans8b3e7869
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I am wondering why DJI not add lower ISO (50...25...) - all this story about ND filters will be ended
5-7 02:00
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lalegator
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maybe for mavic air, but on mavic 2 pro you can change aperture, and with nd16 you can fly ruffly all day, switching between  f2.8 and f5.6 on 50 shutter speed. and the differences in 50 or 2000 shutter speed is most easily seen when filming a water spring, fountain or water sprinklers. that applies to all footage, the likings mostly are to shutter speed of 50, hence the blur. for photo of course other than wanting some blur effects during day ND is tottaly unnecesary.
5-10 13:34
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Aurelian Irimia
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lalegator Posted at 5-10 13:34
maybe for mavic air, but on mavic 2 pro you can change aperture, and with nd16 you can fly ruffly all day, switching between  f2.8 and f5.6 on 50 shutter speed. and the differences in 50 or 2000 shutter speed is most easily seen when filming a water spring, fountain or water sprinklers. that applies to all footage, the likings mostly are to shutter speed of 50, hence the blur. for photo of course other than wanting some blur effects during day ND is tottaly unnecesary.

Yes, with Mavic 2 is different...
5-11 10:29
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SlammedZero
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This is what I have been experimenting with and trying to learn. The exposure going all over the place is what is confusing me. Let me clarify my confusion.

So, I take the drone out and get it set up for video on manual mode.  For example, I select 4K /30fps. So, I want 1/60 shutter speed. I get it to as close to 0 on exposure as I can and I am sitting at 1/200. So, I use the handy Polar Pro app and it tells me I need an ND4 filter. Ok, easy peasy, I throw on the ND4 filter. Now, am I supposed to leave it on 1/200 and the filter is helping adjust it, or, do I need to go back to 1/60 and leave it there?

Next question, whether I pick 1/200 or 1/60, as I am flying around I am seeing my exposure go all over the place on the screen.  Not a ton, let's say -2 to +2, but it is wandering. Obviously it won't be a perfect 0 the whole time, I get that, but do I let the exposure wander or do I need to be adjusting the shutter speed on the fly to keep it close to 0 as I can the whole time?

These are the things I'm curious about if anybody can chime in, that would be awesome!

11-27 16:14
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Aurelian Irimia
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SlammedZero Posted at 11-27 16:14
This is what I have been experimenting with and trying to learn. The exposure going all over the place is what is confusing me. Let me clarify my confusion.

So, I take the drone out and get it set up for video on manual mode.  For example, I select 4K /30fps. So, I want 1/60 shutter speed. I get it to as close to 0 on exposure as I can and I am sitting at 1/200. So, I use the handy Polar Pro app and it tells me I need an ND4 filter. Ok, easy peasy, I throw on the ND4 filter. Now, am I supposed to leave it on 1/200 and the filter is helping adjust it, or, do I need to go back to 1/60 and leave it there?

An ND filter on a drone, except the Mavic 2 Pro, could be useful only if you always have a constant volume of light. Normally this is obtained if you fly in only one direction. For example, if you fly with the sun in front you will have an exposure value, if you fly with the sun behind you will have an exposure value very different from the previous one, which means that the same ND filter will not be able to use it for both situations. For each situation you will need a different filter, so every time you are going to change the angle, you will have to bring the drone back and change the filter.
11-28 02:27
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DAFlys
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I got the freewell variable ND filter for the M2P and they are a joy to use compared to the individual filters, with a simple rotate you can adjust the strength.  
11-28 02:35
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Aurelian Irimia
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DAFlys Posted at 11-28 02:35
I got the freewell variable ND filter for the M2P and they are a joy to use compared to the individual filters, with a simple rotate you can adjust the strength.

Nice! But with Mavic 2 Pro is other story, with a single normal ND filter you are fine, because you have better camera sensor and better manual control...
11-28 05:55
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