Tech

Review: PolarPro Cinema Series filters

10.25.2017

Review: PolarPro Cinema Series filters

Drone videos have come a long way. Just a few years ago, warped, shaky, low-altitude drone video was so new it was mind blowing. Times have changed.

Today, drone operators are able to capture stunning, stabilized aerial videos with camera systems that get better with each new drone that hits the market. If you want a piece of this action, you’ll want to consider purchasing a set of neutral density (ND) filters to add to your drone’s carrying case.

Videos are simply large collections of individual image frames. If the shutter speed of those individual images is high, the resulting video will usually display some non-ideal visual artifacts. Most notable is the “Jello effect,” where a beautiful field of grass becomes a shimmering, distracting sea of movement on replay.

The initial design of the Shutter Collection filters, pictured here, could stop the Mavic's start-up self test if not seated carefully. The redesign, top, solves the issue.
© Justin Moore
The initial design of the Shutter Collection filters, pictured here, could stop the Mavic's start-up self test if not seated carefully. The redesign, top, solves the issue.

 

To combat this, PolarPro created the Cinema Series—a collection of ND and polarizing filters for the DJI Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro drones. You immediately get a sense of the filters’ high quality when you open the package. The filters are enclosed in gold bezels that project solid design quality, and the set comes with a reusable case.

The Shutter Collection includes ND8, ND16, and ND32 filters. The 16 and 32 filters are true light killers, only to be used in the brightest of conditions. You’ll likely find that the ND8 is the filter you’ll use most to help you achieve videos with a cinematic look. In most cases, you can accomplish this by shooting video at a shutter speed that is twice the video frame rate. For a 30-frames-per-second video, for example, you’re looking to have a shutter speed of 1/60 second.

Do these filters work? Absolutely. The dark, multi-coated glass reduces harsh glare and brings shutter speeds down to manageable levels.         

No noticeable image quality is lost, which is a testament to the filter quality. The end result is an ability to capture smooth, cinematic aerial videos without artifacts.

Mounting a filter is simple. The Phantom 4 Pro filters screw into place on the camera (after you remove the clear filter that comes with the drone). I tested an early, chunkier version of the Mavic Pro filters (above). If not carefully seated on the lens, the filter could get in the way and stop the camera from completing its self-test because it stuck out just enough to cause the camera to strike the gimbal. It has been redesigned to fix this issue with the same optics but a sleeker housing (top).

If you want to take your aerial video to the next level, the PolarPro Cinema Series ND and polarizing filters would be a welcome addition to your drone bag. •

Justin Moore is a photographer and pilot in San Antonio, Texas.

Tags: camerasdrones

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