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Why Use Filters On Your Drone
There are two key reasons to use polarizing and/or neutral density filters on your drone.
First, if you are capturing video, your shutter speed should be double your frame rate. So if you’re capturing video at the industry standard of 24 frames per second, your shutter speed should be locked in at 1/50th of a second. Since there is no aperture control on a drone’s camera, in most cases the only way you can get to a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second is to use a neutral density filter in order to reduce the amount of light entering the lens.
Second, a polarizing filter is essential for capturing high quality photography and video. Besides removing glare from water and other reflective surfaces, a polarizing filter also adds quite a bit of color depth and vibrancy, and the effects of a polarizing filter are impossible to replicate in post.
1. Best: Hoya HD Digital Circular Polarizing Screw-In Filter
The Hoya HD Digital circular polarizer is a nice mix of quality and value, which makes it our overall number one pick for the best circular polarizer.
The quality of the glass is good. On my 100mm lens, sharpness remained strong, even at the corners of the frame. The glass is coated to make it scratch-resistant, oil repellant, and water repellant. This should help keep it in good shape over the course of its life.
And the polarizing effect itself is impressive:
With a quick twist of this circular polarizer, you can go from non-polarized to polarized light. And you can watch it happen, allowing for you to make snap decisions in the field regarding how much polarization you actually want to see.
With the Hoya HD, you can make forests look green and lush. You can make water look deep and clear. You can make skies look an intense blue.
Look at the difference between a non-polarized image:
And a polarized image with the Hoya HD:
Light transmission is decent. You shouldn’t see too much light loss when using the Hoya HD, which is important for low-light shooting.
Unfortunately, the metal is aluminum, not brass, which makes the Hoya HD less durable overall.
But for the landscape photographer shooting on a budget, it can’t be beaten.
Hoya 58mm HD Digital Circular Polarizing Screw-in Filter Designed to adjust Brightly Reflected Light Especially Sunlight (Reflected off of Water or Snow) and Reduce Unwanted GlareCreates Dramatic Sky and Cloud Contrast with Saturated Colours, without affecting Colour BalanceHD POLARIZING FILM – High Transparency and High Durability UV Absorbing Film Provides 25% Greater Light Transmission than…HD COATING – 8-layer Anti-Reflective Multi-Coating Repels Water & Oil and is Scratch & Stain ResistantHD FRAME – Glass is Mounted in an Ultra-Thin Frame using High Pressure Press Technology CHECK TODAY’S PRICE Product from Amazon. Updated on 2022-04-04. We may get a commission.
You’ll want to prep your filter mount before anything else, so you know what size to cut the filter to. Methods for making different filter mounts are discussed, as previously linked, in this article.
Whatever material you decided to use for the polarized component, take out and take a good look at it. Are you sure that there are no scratches on it? If there are, is it possible to use a different part of the material? Trace the outline of your lens onto the polarized material, and begin cutting, with a preference to cutting outside of the margins to inside. Once you’ve got this done, sand the edges smooth. The filter itself is now complete.
After that, attach your future filters to your filter mount of choice and you’re done!
5. Tiffen Circular Polarizing Filter
If you’re on a budget, here’s one last circular polarizing filter you might want to consider.
First, the Tiffen circular polarizing filter does a decent job of reducing reflections and saturating skies. You’ll notice a slight vignette; if this bothers you, you should be able to crop it out fairly easily.
Unfortunately, your image quality will take a hit–sharpness and contrast drop with this Tiffen on your lens.
Like competitors in its price range, the Tiffen frame is made out of aluminum, not brass. This means you want to be careful not to give it too much of a beating.
And the filter itself is quite thin. For some users, this might not be a problem. But others may struggle to twist the glass, or even to get the filter off the lens.
All in all, the Tiffen is a decent option for landscape photographers on a budget. It’s not top of the line, but it does a fine job for the price.
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