Drone filters: how they can improve your drone photography

Do you use a drone for photography or videography? One of the best investments you can make is a set of drone filters.

Neutral density (ND) filters are coin-sized pieces of semi-transparent glass and have long been used by videographers . Their purposes is to reduce the amount of light your drone’s camera receives. An ND filter allows you to slightly slow your shutter speed down or (if your drone’s camera allows it) use a wider aperture than you would otherwise be able to use.

ND filters fix common problems you see in any photo — but particularly aerial photos — including glare, overexposure, harsh shadows and other issues.  That means you can get those shots of silky soft, flowing water, or maybe just shooting straight down on a bright day, without worrying about harsh shadows.

With drones that have a fixed aperture, the only variables for correct exposure are ISO and shutter speed. On a very bright day, the camera has no other option than to increase shutter speed to properly expose a scene, which results in shaky footage. 

PolarPro makes a variety of filters for many drones including the Mavic series of drones and the Skydio 2 drone. I tested out PolarPro’s 3-pack of filters for my Yuneec Typhoon H, which includes ND4, ND8 and ND16 filters. The 4-gram filters are easy-to-attach and drastically improve the quality of my shots.

The Typhoon H does come with a stock filter, but the PolarPro filters are a huge improvement.

  • The ND4 2-stop neutral density filter should be used for filming on mild days or during the golden hour (the first and last hour of sunlight in a  day) and reduces highlights and lens flare.
  • The ND8 3-Stop neutral density filter should be used on bright days to help prevent lens flare and mild rolling shutter.
  • The ND16 4-stop filter is the darkest shade and works well on very bright days and creates the smoothest cinematic look to your videos of all the filters.

Here’s a guide on what filter to use, when:

If you do end up getting a set of PolarPro filters, I also recommend getting the Polar Pro 3-pack filter case, which is just $4.99. It’s a small price to pay to protect your glass!

Of course, PolarPro isn’t the only company that makes neutral density filters. Some of the biggest drone makers like DJI manufacture their own filters. For example, the DJI Mini 3 Series ND Filter Set, which comes with ND16/64/256 filters, goes for $55.

One Comment

  • Thank you for providing such an incredibly detailed breakdown! I purchased an inexpensive UV filter for my Phantom 3 Professional a few weeks ago and it didn’t work out so well. Now that I have your guide, I’ll be able to chose the correct filter for the conditions in which I’m filming.
    Keep up the good work!

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