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ND filter quality survey

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Hello everyone!
I've been a photographer during most of my professional life and, as any other photographer out there, I've been paranoid about sharpness and image aberration. Yes, I understand that the perfomance of most drone cameras is barely mediocre in those particular characteristics but, unfortunately, it takes quiet a lot of money to put high quality glass up in the air. So, given the proper allowance, I would like to start a small survey about the quality of ND filters for drone cameras, since I haven't found any good one.

The two main problems that plague ND filters in general are lack of sharpness (a major concern not only with NDs) and colour cast. While I think that everyone understand what the fomer is, some people (even photographers) seems to don't notice colour cast until they're shown what it is. The problem arises from the fact that most (if not all) cheaper filters do not reduce all wavelengths in the same way, which can lead to a (mostly) magenta cast in the final image. Even some very well known and established brands can suffer from it. The problem can be a minor concern with stills, especially using RAW/DNG since it allows way more control over the image, like changing the WB in post production. But when it comes to video it can be a pain to deal with in an adequate manner.

So, if you folks can spare some time, I would like to ask you to post your impressions on the filters you own, as well as some examples. Of course, if there are any questions I will be more than pleased to help, if I can.

Personally, I have used Polar Pro and DJI filters with my Mavic Air and, despite the fact that I have not made extensive testing, they seem to be quite good and I haven't noticed any casts of significant loss of sharpness.
Looking forward to hear your opinions!
 

Steve Carr

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I'm a "Hackographer" and mainly concentrate on video. So I'm a recipient, not a source. 🤣
I have noted a tremendous difference between the CGO3+ and the C23. The glass certainly seems to be a better quality. And I only use ND filters for video. They are Polar Pro.
@Ty Pilot has a lot of experience with both cameras and is a "real" photographer.
 
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I'm a "Hackographer"
Please enlighten me on the meaning of this term! 😄 😄 😄

I have noted a tremendous difference between the CGO3+ and the C23. The glass certainly seems to be a better quality.
Don't even get me started... I own a Typhoon H and I (vainly) yearn for the day when someone comes up with a hack to make C23 work on my machine, since Yuneec wouldn't care less, it seems.
 
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Hello everyone!
I've been a photographer during most of my professional life and, as any other photographer out there, I've been paranoid about sharpness and image aberration. Yes, I understand that the perfomance of most drone cameras is barely mediocre in those particular characteristics but, unfortunately, it takes quiet a lot of money to put high quality glass up in the air. So, given the proper allowance, I would like to start a small survey about the quality of ND filters for drone cameras, since I haven't found any good one.

The two main problems that plague ND filters in general are lack of sharpness (a major concern not only with NDs) and colour cast. While I think that everyone understand what the fomer is, some people (even photographers) seems to don't notice colour cast until they're shown what it is. The problem arises from the fact that most (if not all) cheaper filters do not reduce all wavelengths in the same way, which can lead to a (mostly) magenta cast in the final image. Even some very well known and established brands can suffer from it. The problem can be a minor concern with stills, especially using RAW/DNG since it allows way more control over the image, like changing the WB in post production. But when it comes to video it can be a pain to deal with in an adequate manner.

So, if you folks can spare some time, I would like to ask you to post your impressions on the filters you own, as well as some examples. Of course, if there are any questions I will be more than pleased to help, if I can.

Personally, I have used Polar Pro and DJI filters with my Mavic Air and, despite the fact that I have not made extensive testing, they seem to be quite good and I haven't noticed any casts of significant loss of sharpness.
Looking forward to hear your opinions!

Once again I will give you some good advice, but like everything they come at a price. The c23 has an adapter (step up ring) so you can use standard 40.5 mm filters. I have purchased two sets of these from different manufacturers and found only one of them gives me reasonable or acceptable results. The main problem it the wait of the filters as they are bigger plus the wait of the step up ring itself. According to my research and everyone I have spoken to on here the Freewell filters are the best as they are specially made for the C23 and the E90 Yuneec cameras. I have posted a link to the only site that I can find then on the net.
Cheers.
Mike
 
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Eagle's Eye Video

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The only reason the Freewell filters are considered the best for the C23, is because they are the only dedicated choice. When they were available, the Polar Pros were the best for the TH. Unfortunately, Polar Pro no longer makes filters for any Yuneec aircraft.

Every other option involves compromises to one degree or another. These can be easy fixes, such as appropriate counterweights when using the adapter or a more challenging task of finding a set of quality filters within a continuous range of ND strengths and of a single brand, for consistency of color rendition.

As far as recommendations, it's more of what should be avoided...

1) Do not invest in variable ND filters, for a couple of reasons...

a) Variable ND filters will generally weigh more, since you have 2 pieces of polarized glass controlling exposure.
More weight = more needed counterweight.

b) As the variable ND filter is rotated, the color will shift... this will create more work to remove that shift in post production. Also I know of few variable filters that have any kind of an engraved scale on the filter, to estimate degree of ND at a specific position of rotation. Repeatability is out the door.

2) Don't rush to grab the cheapest filter on Amazon... why get a higher resolution camera and then throw a $15 filter in front of it?

The best photographic results will be achieved by taking the extra time and effort to land and remove the ND filters... the only reason for using them to begin with, is to slow down the shutter speed for video.
 

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When I had the Typhoon H and CG03+ I used the Polar Pro filters and I felt they did about as good a job as could be expected, as you said; it's hard to get high quality glass up in the air. I noticed a slight color cast, perhaps some very slight vignetting on the higher numbers and a little magenta shift but; as drones under 1500 bucks or so go, they were acceptable.

I was one of the lucky ones and got a set of the Freewell filters for my C23 and feel they do a pretty fair job. I felt the sharpness was fine but for the most part I shoot photos with no ND, maybe a polarizer if it is absolutely essential. When shooting videos during daylight (which is the majority of my shooting), I always have an ND filter and to the point about sharpness, I don't worry too much, because if I am filming a segment there is every chance it will have movement either from the camera (drone) or the subject, and I am after motion blur which is a natural effect and I find it lends well to the shot as long as the shot is composed right.

I am currently shooting a video of a forest and river where I live and am doing shots from inside the canopy and outside as well. As many know, the closer you are to foliage and depending on light the stuttering and glare can ruin even the most well thought out shot so I am finding I am also using polarizer/ND filters and taking the time to look through the lens direction and setting the angle on the ground to get the shot. In addition I am finding at certain distances from the subject a shutter speed of exactly the same as frame rate is giving some very cinematic shots.

So my conclusion? ND filters for consumer drones range from 'fair' to 'good enough to work with' and we just need to learn the characteristics of the ones we use and figure out our best workflow in the field and in post production; to get the most out of them.
 
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Unfortunately, Polar Pro no longer makes filters for any Yuneec aircraft.
That's some bad news... :confused:

1) Do not invest in variable ND filters, for a couple of reasons...

a) Variable ND filters will generally weigh more, since you have 2 pieces of polarized glass controlling exposure.
More weight = more needed counterweight.

b) As the variable ND filter is rotated, the color will shift... this will create more work to remove that shift in post production. Also I know of few variable filters that have any kind of an engraved scale on the filter, to estimate degree of ND at a specific position of rotation. Repeatability is out the door.

2) Don't rush to grab the cheapest filter on Amazon... why get a higher resolution camera and then throw a $15 filter in front of it?

The best photographic results will be achieved by taking the extra time and effort to land and remove the ND filters... the only reason for using them to begin with, is to slow down the shutter speed for video.
I never did neither as an earthbound misfit and I won't start now. Variable NDs are the opposite of what I want in front of my lens, which is less glass. I totally agree with you on number 2.
 
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When I had the Typhoon H and CG03+ I used the Polar Pro filters and I felt they did about as good a job as could be expected, as you said; it's hard to get high quality glass up in the air. I noticed a slight color cast, perhaps some very slight vignetting on the higher numbers and a little magenta shift but; as drones under 1500 bucks or so go, they were acceptable.

I was one of the lucky ones and got a set of the Freewell filters for my C23 and feel they do a pretty fair job. I felt the sharpness was fine but for the most part I shoot photos with no ND, maybe a polarizer if it is absolutely essential. When shooting videos during daylight (which is the majority of my shooting), I always have an ND filter and to the point about sharpness, I don't worry too much, because if I am filming a segment there is every chance it will have movement either from the camera (drone) or the subject, and I am after motion blur which is a natural effect and I find it lends well to the shot as long as the shot is composed right.

I am currently shooting a video of a forest and river where I live and am doing shots from inside the canopy and outside as well. As many know, the closer you are to foliage and depending on light the stuttering and glare can ruin even the most well thought out shot so I am finding I am also using polarizer/ND filters and taking the time to look through the lens direction and setting the angle on the ground to get the shot. In addition I am finding at certain distances from the subject a shutter speed of exactly the same as frame rate is giving some very cinematic shots.

So my conclusion? ND filters for consumer drones range from 'fair' to 'good enough to work with' and we just need to learn the characteristics of the ones we use and figure out our best workflow in the field and in post production; to get the most out of them.
Good to see things from a fellow photographer's perspective. :)
I never really felt the necessity for ND filters durign most of my professional life, until I started making videos. When I got my first drone, I realized that they were a must.
It seems that Polar Pro are the best ones around, but they are quite expensive here where I live (like twenty times more than in US). Also, like said before, they are not produced anymore, so I think they will get harder and harder to find. I think I will have to rely on makeshifts, which is something I do very often with my feet on the ground, but hate to do up there...
 
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Sorry I didn't know you live in Brazil. So as you said things are very expensive there. The link that I posted above for the Freewell filters that fit your camera cost €90.00 + postage for (4 Four filters) ! When I think that I have spent upwards of €140.00 each for some of my filters for my Dslr cameras. I really don't that the Freewell filters are a bad price atall!!
Regards.
Mike
 
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Sorry I didn't know you live in Brazil. So as you said things are very expensive there. The link that I posted above for the Freewell filters that fit your camera cost €90.00 + postage for (4 Four filters) ! When I think that I have spent upwards of €140.00 each for some of my filters for my Dslr cameras. I really don't that the Freewell filters are a bad price atall!!
Regards.
Mike
I'm really starting to worry about it, Mike. I simply can't find Freewell (or any other decent brand, actually) filters here. And those € 90,00 alone are going to be like R$ 800,00 after conversion, duties and post office taxes. 😄
 

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There is one thing on the new H3 that I think was revolutionary; and that is the built in ND filter frame. It basically is a little slide out frame that allows you to cut a little piece of ND filter Film - and place that in the frame, and slide it back into the body.

A similar set up might be the way I would go if I could not find any dedicated filters.
 
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I had about a dozen filters (Cokin) I used back in my film days.
Now I set the CGO3+ to save the image as PNG, then work with the editor.
If i could find a CPL, I might use that.
 
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There is one thing on the new H3 that I think was revolutionary; and that is the built in ND filter frame. It basically is a little slide out frame that allows you to cut a little piece of ND filter Film - and place that in the frame, and slide it back into the body.

A similar set up might be the way I would go if I could not find any dedicated filters.
Indeed. It's quite stupid to implement if you think. When I first saw it I thought "oh, finally they asked a photographer to design the camera".
 
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I had about a dozen filters (Coken) I used back in my film days.
Now I set the CGO3+ to save the image as PNG, then work with the editor.
If i could find a CPL, I might use that.
How did you managed to use your filters with CGO3+? Is there any adapter out there?
I also have tons of filters, but they are all too big and heavy to adapt. Maube if I am brave enough to cut one of my Cokin P series...
 
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@Lucas Galli are you looking for C23 filters or CG03+ filters? I just did a search and found that here in the states the CG03 filters can still be found.
Oh, sorry... I never said which one I have. It's the CGO3+.
I found lots in US, but none in Brazil. Down here DJI reigns supreme and it is quite difficult to find Yuneec stuff. I will keep monitoring eBay, however.
 
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How did you managed to use your filters with CGO3+? Is there any adapter out there?
I also have tons of filters, but they are all too big and heavy to adapt. Maube if I am brave enough to cut one of my Cokin P series...
I only use the Cokin filters on an old camcorder. FILE0137.JPG
I'm sure they are too heavy for the CGO3+ gimbal.
Except for the CPL, most effects can be done OK in my free PhotoPad editor.
 
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Ok It seems that we were hunting for the wrong camera filters? I found some filters sets for your camera but there again they are in Germany!
Here in the link to them:
Hope this helps.
Mike
PS. The prices seem very good to me?
 
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Ok It seems that we were hunting for the wrong camera filters? I found some filters sets for your camera but there again they are in Germany!
Here in the link to them:
Hope this helps.
Mike
PS. The prices seem very good to me?
Thank you, Mike! But unfortunately they won't ship it to Brazil (like most EU stores).
 
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Oh, sorry... I never said which one I have. It's the CGO3+.
I found lots in US, but none in Brazil. Down here DJI reigns supreme and it is quite difficult to find Yuneec stuff. I will keep monitoring eBay, however.

Freewell ND Filters are still available for the CGO3+ online.


I have this set although not close to being a pro by any stretch of the imagination....so not sure if would be a good choice for you?

I am also ordering a lightweight lens hood compatible with the Freewell filters to try...what do you think?

They also make a hood for the std. Yuneec Filters.

 

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