Drones 101: Camera Filters

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

The power of using filters with a camera is sometimes overlooked, and sometimes a filmmaker or editor may have to have to work overtime on color correcting to fix haze, pollution, color issues, or just plain overexposure. And that includes drone shooters, as well. With new filters, drone users can add them to the UAW’s camera just as easily as to their DSLR, thanks a cool set by Polar Pro. And they’re not the only game in town either.

We recommend to anyone who buys a drone, to purchase an ND filter set to help them capture the best quality pictures and video. – Drone Nerds on YouTube

When flying a drone without at least an ND filter, you run the risk of over- or underexposure, color issues, glare, and more. So just as with a camera your using ‘down on the ground,’ it’s important to have a filter on your drone’s camera.

You may have guessed that we really like Polar Pro here at doddleNEWS, and you’d be right. That’s because they make some high performance accessories that are solidly built, and go a long way to supporting the mobile and action filmmaker, and it won’t break the bank. Their line of Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 filters is no different.

These Polar Pro Phantom filter sets cover everything from polarizing filters to 4 stop neutral density filters. There’s even a graduated filter to get the most out of your sky without affecting the shot on the ground down below. Let’s take a look at each:

Set #1 is the Graduated filters. This three filter set includes a 3 stop graduated ND filter, as well as a pair of blue and orange gradient filters. The three stop ND 8 graduated filter enables shooters to properly expose the sky in difficult lighting conditions, without losing details down below because of being underexposed.

This filter can be ideal during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, where the dynamic range of the rising and setting sun can easily overwhelm the sensors of your camera. The Orange and Blue-hued filters can be used for either white balancing purposes, or creatively, as a colored filter giving a slight tint that can either cool or warm up an image, depending on the look you want.

Next comes a complete six filter set of polarizing and neutral density filters that range from ND 8 to ND 32, and can give users the ability to filter out light up to five full stops. The additional benefit about shooting with neutral density filters is that they can smooth out your image and compensate a bit for the camera shake caused by your drone’s four engine flight profile. It will dampen out the jello effect when you’re shooting at higher shutter speeds.

First in the set is a circular polarizing filter that reduces the light by 1.4 stops and will reduce reflective light coming up from the surface. Next comes a series of neutral density filters that can work to get as much detail from the clouds on a partly cloudy and bright day, as you need. In clouds, you’ll see pockets of highly reflected light, followed by some dark corners and crevasses, and these ND filters can work to give your image a sharper detail, rather than a muddy cloud cover.

These filters can run from 3-5 stops, and depending on how bright your day is. Finally there’s a fair of 3 stop ND 8 filter and 4 stop ND 16 polarizer that can reduce reflections while maintaining the color saturation of your image.


For more information, visit http://polarprofilters.com/

But if you’re shooting on a GoPro, don’t think you’re out of luck. There are options there as well. Polar Pro has another 3 pack set that slips right over the GoPro housing and snaps on, so there’s no need to remove any piece of your housing, and it can also work with the camera itself. Meanwhile, Bohus over at FotoDiox Has a great set of filters for the GoPro Hero line of cameras.

These filters work with the WonderPana Go filter system and provides the ability to screw on any similar filter that supports the WonderPana Go system, and some standard DSLR filters as well.

The Essentials Kit, for instance, comes with the mount, a UV filter, ND 8 filter, circular polarizing filter, and case. So you end up with the ability get similar performance out of your Hero from on high using this system, and it can also work while you’re shooting action on the slopes or in the water.

Speaking of the latter, there’s also a Wonderpana Go Underwater kit that comes with purple and pink filters to overcome the color refraction of the water and still get a workable image. The metal filter mount slips right onto the case without compromising the waterproof integrity of the GoPro underwater case, too.

FotoDiox also has a series of other GoPro filters called Wave 2 and it includes a H3+ and H4 mount that doesn’t require screws, and also the WonderPana Go Naked, which enables users to slip the adapter case directly onto the camera without the need of the underwater housing. FotoDiox also has a complete set of ND filters that run from ND 2 – ND 32 so that users have a complete range of filtering options depending on the brightness and contrast of your day.

To mount other filters, like DSLR filters, FotoDiox has the Make Step Up ring that allows shooters to install their camera filters all the way up to 77mm. This gives shooters the option of using their existing filter set without having to buy dedicated GoPro filters.

For more information, visit their site.

The ability to shoot aerial footage that pops is best served by adding on some gradual and ND filters. And these options are only the tip of the iceberg with which to compensate for the light on your set, without having to spend hours color correcting to get the right look. And they’re not as expensive as you would imagine. For under $50 for a three filter set ($99 for the PolarPro six filter ND set), and usually for $29.99 an individual filter, you can get that important shot.

About doddle 16509 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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