The DJI FPV is not your typical drone. It’s still possible to make great cinematic videos with it, even with the limited camera. You just need an ND filter.
What are the best ND filters for the DJI FPV?
I recommend FreeWellGear’s ND filters for the DJI FPV for their high quality, variety, and results. Your purchase gets you a four-day pack consisting of ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32 filters as well as ND64, PL, and UV filters. Other ND filters you can check out are the PolarPro and PGYTECH filters.
Keep reading to learn more about ND filters for DJI FPV and how to get the most use out of them. There’s lots of great info to come!
The Best ND Filters for DJI FPV
Below are the best ND filters you can use with your DJI FPV drone.
1. FreeWell ND Filters for the DJI FPV
You can’t go wrong with filters or any other drone accessories from FreeWell Gear.
For the DJI FPV, you get five different types of ND filters, a stand-alone polarizing filter, and a stand-alone UV filter.
These include a standard day four-pack comprising ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32 filters for $50.
Unless you need any special effects, these are all the filters you should require for drone photography.
FreeWell also sells a standalone ND64 filter for the DJI FPV for an extra $19.99, which comes in handy if you think you will be in very bright areas.
All FreeWell’s filters are made of high-quality, dust-resistant, and protective materials, but if all you need is extra protection, a UV filter will still work.
I looked for people who have tested these filters, and one of them is Drone Camps RC.
As you will see in the video, this is an image taken from the DJI FPV without an ND filter and with a shutter speed of 1/120, ISO 100, White Balance set to Auto, and in Manual Mode on a bright sunny day.
It doesn’t look that bad, but wait until you see the changes when you add ND filters.
The sky looks more bluish, the vegetation color is more saturated, and the horizon looks better. The sweet spot was the ND16 filter, but you still need to test each one since your region’s brightness level may differ.
2. PolarPro ND Filters for the DJI FPV
PolarPro is another reputable brand specializing in filters for cameras, though their products are more expensive than those from FreeWell.
For instance, for the DJI FPV, you get three filters for $99 compared to FreeWell’s $49 for the four-pack. But their design, aesthetics, and resulting images make them worth a look.
PolarPro offers a Cinema Series Shutter Collection bundle comprising of ND8, ND16, and ND32 filters, making them perfect for bright-day filming. They also appear smaller and may not cause the gimbal issues you might find in other models.
To see how these filters work, check Nyokie Ruiz’s video showcasing the filters in action.
At first, he took a shot at a shutter speed of 1/3000. According to him, he had to increase the shutter speed to achieve the proper exposure.
After adding the ND filter, he could lower the shutter speed to 1/200, allowing him to achieve the 180 shutter rule. That produced shots with better color saturation and a good degree of motion blur.
3. PGYTECH ND Filters for the DJI FPV
PGYTECH is a less-known brand than FreeWell or PolarPro, but they have made a name for themselves in the camera and drone accessory market.
Among other accessories for the DJI FPV, they have an ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32, and ND64 filter set.
These filters look similar to FreeWell’s filters in installation, are made of durable and protective materials, and affect the appropriate f-stops based on their strengths.
Why You May Need ND Filters For the DJI FPV
The purpose of flying an FPV is to enjoy the world of drones from the drone’s “cockpit,” so to speak. That’s why you can even fly the DJI FPV in manual mode without obstacle avoidance or any other fancy features.
This drone is super fast and can perform acrobatic moves, and at one point, you would need to post this footage for other people to see. For instance, you may film the interior of a house, a cave, or even a racing car to create some cinematic footage.
However, the DJI FPV has a fixed aperture of f/2.8, which might seem great overall, but that might be limiting. How?
When taking photographs, you use the photo triangle (aperture, shutters speed, and ISO). It would be best if you kept the ISO at low numbers (100 to 400) unless it’s very dark. And with a fixed aperture, the only way to regulate the light is to use the shutter speed.
As a result, achieving the sweet spot of the shutter speed being double your frame rate will be difficult. If there’s too much light and reflection, your photos may also seem overexposed, and adjusting the shutter speed may not always solve this problem.
Another issue with the DJI FPV is that the color profile isn’t as extensive as in other camera drones. Many users have reported getting bad footage out of this drone, but it’s not all bad when you know what you need to do.
Enter the ND filter.
What Do ND Filters Do?
ND (neutral density) filters minimize the amount of light that gets to the lens, reducing the exposure and making the subjects clearer as well as the colors darker and more pronounced.
Even though there isn’t too much light, ND filters can help you get better images overall compared to filming without them.
ND filters will also help you add motion blur to your footage to make it look more natural. They do this by allowing you to use a slower shutter speed than you would without the filter.
The Types of ND Filters
ND filters are categorized based on how much light they can stop, which helps you choose the most appropriate one depending on the amount of light available.
Below are the most common types of ND filters, how much light they stop, and when to use them.
- ND2 – 1 f-stop of light. This one doesn’t stop much light and works best for low-light conditions like sunrise or sunset.
- ND4 – 2 f-stops of light. This filter works best for low-light conditions.
- ND8 – This type stops 3 f-stops of light and works best for cloudy days.
- ND16 – 4 f-stops of light. You’ll find this filter works best on partly cloudy days.
- ND32 – Sunny days.
- ND64 – Very bright days.
ND filters with larger numbers than 64 work best for bright areas like deserts or snow.
They also work well for long-exposure photography or when you need to add a special effect, like a milky effect on water bodies and waterfalls.
So, how do you know which filter to use with the DJI FPV drone? There’s no definitive formula. Most drone pilots gauge the amount of light or time of day and pick an appropriate filter.
Just hold out your drone with the ideal camera settings, then try all the filters available until you get one that works best for the situation.
How Do You Use DJI FPV Filters?
Due to the nature of the DJI FPV camera, the ND filters have a pushover design.
All you do is hold the gimbal with two fingers, then hold the top and bottom part of the ND filter with two fingers and push it in.
Make sure you push it in tightly since, due to the drone’s vibrations, they tend to come off easily and could cause your drone to crash.
If these filters come off, switch to Auto Mode, guide the drone back home, and look for the filter or replace it.
Do The Filters Affect Gimbal Calibrations?
Some of them do; it depends on the filter’s weight and design.
Some users were worried that the filters might be too heavy for the DJI FPV gimbal, affecting how it works.
While most manufacturers try to make their filters superlight, gimbal errors may still occur.
Also, due to the design, ND filters do affect how flexible the gimbal is. So, you will note that the gimbal will not move as far as you’d want it to compared to when you don’t have a filter.
It’s a good thing the DJI FPV performs several acrobatic moves that can compensate a bit for the gimbal limitation.
Other Types of Filters
Besides ND filters, you may consider trying these other filters for the DJI FPV.
- Polarizing filters: These filters remove the glare and reflection of objects, making your footage look better and more realistic.
The clean shots that show what’s underwater, the lush color of vegetation, or what’s behind a somewhat reflective glass is most likely taken with a polarizing filter.
- UV Filters: These are protective filters that safeguard your camera’s lens from damage from excess UV light without altering any light that goes through them.
How to Get Cinematic Shots with the DJI FPV
As I mentioned earlier, some people struggle to get good footage with the DJI FPV since it’s a bit different from other drones. Below are some tips to make it easier.
- Improve your flying skills. You can’t get good shots if your flight is wobbly.
- Use ND filters. In this post, I have discussed some of the best filters you can use, what they do, and how to know which one to use.
- Try to fly closer to the ground as it helps you get better motion blur.
- Always use Manual Exposure. If you leave the drone to set its level of exposure, it will sometimes overexpose your images, especially when you keep changing the drone’s orientation. It’s good to have some control over it.
- Use the D-Cinelike color profile, which gives you more control and more room for manipulation during color grading compared to the standard mode.
- Always color-grade your footage using editing software like Adobe Premier Pro. Some of the things you can do include increasing the shadows, reducing the highlights, increasing the saturation, and adjusting the contrast using curves. These can vary depending on how exposed your footage is.
Here is a video with more tips on editing footage from a DJI FPV.
And there you have it. A lot goes into creating good footage. And even with the best drone, if you don’t know which settings to use and which accessories to add, it will not be of much use.
An ND filter is one of the accessories that will change the quality of your footage. Once you buy one, invest some time in learning and experimenting with the best way to fly FPV drones and the best settings.