reduce glare when flying drones

How to reduce glare when flying drones

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about how to reduce glare when flying drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I live in Florida, and the sun blocks out readings from my controller and cell phone.  How can I can solve this problem of sun reflection? 

Ah, yes! Been there! You look up at your drone, and you’re blinded by the sun. You look down at the controller, and the sun is so bright that you can’t even see it. Luckily, there are a number of solutions to reduce glare on your smartphone or other controller, which is imperative in enabling you to not only see the drone’s live camera feed, but also in being able to control important settings on the drone.

Here are some options:

DJI Smart Controller screen glare

The best way to reduce glare if you have a DJI drone: DJI Smart Controller

One of the best ways to still be able to see your controller screen in bright light is with a relatively new product from DJI, the DJI Smart Controller.

It’s an add-on accessory you can purchase in addition to your drone, but for pilots who frequently fly in bright conditions, it’s worth it thanks to the 5.5-inch, 1080p built-in screen display. At 1000 cd/m2, the display is approximately twice as bright as most other smart device screens. Yes, that means your live feed should be easily viewable, even in direct sunlight. Once you have a Smart Controller, you’ll no longer need your smartphone or tablet.

Plus, there are other reasons to consider the DJI Smart Controller beyond just reducing glare:

  • OcuSync 2.0: This reduces the chances of interference on drone operation and image quality. Plus, you’ll unlock even wider range of up to 10 km.
  • Intuitive controls and pre-installed features like SkyTalk and the DJI GO 4 App: This will get you up in the air quicker than if you were trying to connect a third-party device (e.g. your iPhone).

The DJI Smart Controller is compatible with most newer DJI drones, including the Mavic Air 2, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Enterprise Series, and Phantom 4 Pro V2.0.

Purchase the Smart Controller from DJI, Amazon or B&H Photo.

The budget option if you have a DJI drone: Remote Controller Monitor Hood

Here’s a significantly alternative solution to the $700+ DJI Smart Controller: the DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller Monitor Hood. The best part? It costs less than $30.

You won’t get the OcuSync 2.0 or the seamless connection to the DJI GO app that you can skirt by using a Smart Controller in lieu of your own smartphone or tablet, but you will save a ton of money, making this an option well worth it if your primary concern is just to reduce glare on your screen.

The DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller is compatible with the Mavic Air 2 Remote Controller and the DJI Mini 2 Remote Controller.

Since shipping is only free on the DJI Store for orders over $149, I’d recommend buying this one from Amazon, where shipping is free if your order includes at least $25 of eligible items.

Man applying protective tempered glass to smart phone screen

If you have a smartphone: anti-glare film

If you’re flying a drone that doesn’t offer a controller hood, consider anti-glare film for your smartphone or tablet. You can typically find anti-glare film available in sizes specific to your smart phone or tablet. If you have an odd-sized device, you can also purchase a bigger sheet of anti-glare film and cut it down yourself, (though I don’t recommend this if a film that has been pre-cut for your device is already available).

Just keep in mind that this option won’t completely block out the glare on the brightest of days — and when you’re flying a drone, you can’t afford to not see your screen at all times. This solution is designed for someone who wants to see their texts or emails more clearly; it wasn’t specifically designed for drone-flying. It’s better than nothing, but a controller hood that acts as a complete shade cover is generally better.

I recommend searching Amazon for an anti-glare film that fits your device.

Anti-glare film has a few other benefits beyond reducing glare including cutting down on fingerprints, or reducing the chances your screen could crack should you drop your device.

And the cheapest option: adjust your phone/tablet’s brightness

When all else fails, there’s one more easy solution that won’t cost you a dime. Ensure your brightness on your smartphone or tablet is turned all the way up.

If you have an iPhone, you can adjust the brightness by going to Settings > Display and Brightness. From that screen, drag the slider all the way to the right to make the display brighter.

Just remember to drag it back down when your drone flight is complete, as having a brighter screen display than necessary can quickly drain your smartphone’s batter.

And keep in mind that often, relying on auto-brightness can be insufficient. While your smartphone may default to auto-brightness, which use an ambient light sensor to adjust brightness levels based on the light conditions around you (lowering brightness in dark locations and raising brightness in light locations), that might not work on your drone flights.

On the iPhone, you can turn auto-brightness on or off in Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size. Toggle auto-brightness off when flying drones through your smartphone.

If you don’t mind weird looks…

And if you don’t mind the weird looks, here’s one drone pilot’s creative and creepy solution. We don’t recommend this one, but we got a chuckle. And on the bright side, you won’t be able to see the weird looks people will inevitably give you anyway.

How have you dealt with situations where you’re flying drones in the bright sun? Share your tips in the comments section below!

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