Do you need ND Filters on a Drone?
So in this video. What i want to go through is the question of: do you actually need nd filters when youre out flying and what do nd filters actually do for those of you who are beginners and dont know the concept behind a neutral density filter? So first lets answer the question of why my friends photos were blurry. Well, when you use an nd filter, its basically like putting sunglasses on your camera and the reason that you would use an nd filter is to bring down your exposure so that you dont have to boost your shutter speed and the reason that wed want to bring Down our shutter speed is to introduce motion blur into our footage, so motion blur is basically the blurring that happens when theres something moving in your frame. So if youre shooting video and you have a subject moving across your screen. Well, if you have a low shutter speed, then that subject will have some blur on it, its not going to be super crisp and clear, and the same thing happens if youre flying through a scene – and you have a low shutter speed. Youll see this blur on the landscape that youre flying through, and the reason that youd want to have this blur in your footage is so that you can get more professional. Looking footage movies cinema are typically shot with the 180 degree shutter rule, which is basically double that of your frame rate at its base level, when youre shooting video with your drone motion, blur is basically just to make your video look more filmic, more professional, but beyond This blur there really is no reason to use nd filters, its not going to make your colors pop more and its not going to make your image look better.
So the problem that comes up when youre, not using an nd filter, is that every frame is going to be crystal clear because youre going to have to boost your shutter speed to be able to properly expose the scene on most drones. Youre not going to have access to an aperture to be able to close down. Only a few drones have this ability, so you have a fixed aperture and your iso only goes so low. So the only aspect that you have to be able to bring down your exposure is your shutter speed and when you crank up your shutter speed, basically every frame is a still image with zero blur. And so, when you put those together theoretically its going to make everything feel a lot more jittery. But the issue is when youre flying a drone youre way up in the sky, and even if you are closer youre not way up in the sky, you are still in the sky and youre a distance away, so that stuttering, that happens with high shutter speeds isnt. As noticeable so lets, look at a few comparisons side by side to see if you notice any difference between nd filter or no nd filter, and i want to go through a few different scenarios that you might come across when youre flying your drone. This first shot is just a high in the sky pan, so the drone is way up in the sky and im just panning from left to right Music.
Now, when i watch this footage back on my phone, i dont notice any difference between the two shots. I dont notice any stuttering and then, when i put it on my laptop or my big screen here, i still dont notice any stuttering, slow, shutter, speed, isnt really going to make a huge difference, at least from these examples. This is way up in the sky. So the next sample is flying a little bit closer to the ground and just moving the drone through space Music between these two, when im looking at this sample, i still dont notice any motion blur on the version with the nd filter and even when you pause The frame and youre looking at the trees on the left and the right theres, not a whole lot of motion blur even though were moving past the tree and were shooting at a shutter speed. Thats doubled out of our frame rate, so we should be seeing more motion blur, but at this distance and at this speed were still not really seeing much of a difference now. My third sample is tracking an object through a scene and again were going to stay. A little bit further away just to see if were going to notice, any motion blur happen on either frame Music and even this sample when youre following a subject and things are passing in front of camera. Theres not a whole lot of motion blur and when you zoom in on these trees in the foreground, there might be a slight blur happening, but its still pretty clear.
So it matches up with the footage that doesnt have an nd filter on it. Now the next sample lets get close to our subject and lets move the drone faster Music and there is a clear difference with the nd filter on you see all of the ground. Has this blurring happen and nothing is crystal clear and your subject is going to be more clear because were tracking that subject now in comparison without the nd filter, everything is razor sharp. You can freeze any one of these frames and you have a still image that has no motion blur, and so, when you play these back side by side, youll see that yeah definitely with the motion blur. There is a difference, and this is where i want to hear from you. Let me know down in the comments, if you see a difference between the nd filter and the non nd filter. Im, just gon na play these side by side, one more time and im gon na put them both up on screen for you. So you can see how the footage looks with an nd filter and without – and i want you to – let me know if youre, seeing any major differences Music. So when im watching this footage back especially on a phone, i really dont see a whole lot of a difference. When i blow it up on the big screen, i definitely can tell you know: nd filter versus non nd filter, but its still a small difference and the only time thats really noticeable is when youre, fast and close on a subject and theres been plenty of situations Where i have not had nd filters for a drone and the footage works fine, especially when its put in the context of a story.
Yes, the footage that has an nd filter will have more of that. Filmic look and be a little bit more professional, but its not necessary and so its something to think about when youre out flying. If you always need to put on your nd filter – and i find that, if im doing a lot of switching back and forth between photos and videos, id rather not use my nd filter. Just because i want to be able to get clean images without motion blur. But if im not shooting photos or im working with a client, then im definitely going to be using nd filters, because it does make a difference, especially when you get close in on your subject. Having motion blur in your shot for shooting video isnt, a necessity and if its something that youre struggling with or something that youre not super comfortable with, then dont worry about using nd filters right away. If you want to get more of a filmic style or you want to get that kind of movie, look, then yeah, eventually youre going to want to learn how to use nd filters so that you can get the proper looking motion blur in your shot.