When it comes to filtration for camera lenses, one of the most important sets of filters to always have on hand, if not the most important, is ND (neutral density). ND filters are like sunglasses for your camera. If your scene is too bright to maintain your preferred camera and lens settings you add ND. The strength of ND filters is rated in multiples of 2 which translates to lens stops: ND2 = 1 stop darker in front of your lens, ND4 = 2 stops, ND8 = 3 stops, etc. With respect to the DJI Mavic, having a set of ND filters is critical.
Imagine a fairly typical scenario flying your Mavic outside on a sunny day. At the lowest setting for camera sensitivity (ISO 100) with the aperture fixed at f2.2 you may have to set your shutter as fast as 1/1000 or even higher to avoid blowing out your image and achieve good exposure. Fast shutter speeds like this reduce desirable motion blur and introduce a stutter effect. That’s where ND’s come in. As in the example above, if setting the shutter to 1/1000 achieves good exposure then a 4-stop filter, or ND16, will shade the lens enough to reduce shutter speed to a more pleasant setting.
PolarPro is a well known company with a reputation for quality filters including a variety of options for the Mavic. We got our hands on their Cinema Series – Vivid Collection which includes three filters: ND4/PL, ND8/PL, and ND16/PL. Up until now I’ve only mentioned ND but the ‘PL’ stands for ‘polarizer’. This is another very useful filter commonly implemented to reduce glare on surfaces such as glass and water and increase the contrast of clouds against the sky. Polarizers also act as sunglasses, typically around 1-1/2 to 2 stops but PolarPro has conveniently incorporated this into the rating of their filters such that an ND4/PL is still a 2-stop filter rather than the culmination of ND4 + a the polarizer stop difference. These filters are formed like caps that slip easily but snugly over the lens. I felt fully confident that once in place there was no risk of them coming off on their own no matter how aggressively I flew. The frame is anodized aluminum providing quality construction that will not easily deform. Perhaps most importantly, these filters were specifically designed with balance and weight in mind to insure proper gimbal calibration and operation every time. Considering how small and delicately balanced the Mavic’s camera is, this is a must-have feature. “Cinema Series” refers to the quality of the filter glass itself which is multi-coated. This minimizes reflections resulting in greater light transmission and clarity which improves the image overall. To top it off the filters come in a protective case and carry a lifetime warranty.
The Mavic may be DJI’s low end offering but the flight performance is outstanding and the quality from that tiny little camera is damn impressive – impressive enough that if you’re serious about shooting quality images you should seriously take a look at PolarPro’s Cinema Series – Vivid Collection of hybrid ND/Polarizer filters.