If you’ve read Ali’s post about the 180-degree shutter rule you’ll know that as a general rule the shutter speed should be kept to twice that of the frame rate.
That’s relatively easy to achieve when you have control over aperture and sensitivity. But if you want to shoot with a wide aperture, you have to use a neutral density (ND) filter to cut out some of the light.
The camera onboard the DJI Mavic Air has a fixed aperture of f/2.8. Even at the lowest sensitivity (ISO) setting, this sends the shutter speed way over the 1/50sec or 1/60sec that’s required for most footage.
However, this can be addressed in just the same way with a territorial camera. DJI’s neutral density (ND) filters for the Mavic Air are sold in a set of three. They are ND 4, 8 and 16 filters which means they reduce the amount of light 2, 3 or 4 stops.
The ND 16 filter is useful on bright summer days as it can reduce a shutter speed of 1/800sec to 1/50sec. The other filters come in handy at the start or end of the day when the sun is less powerful.
Fitting ND Filters to the DJI Mavic Air
The Mavic Air’s camera lens has a glassless bezel that needs to be unscrewed before you can fit a filter. This is fixed on quite tight in the factory, so you need to be careful how you undo it. I found I was able to remove it just turning it with my fingers and thumb, but if you can’t get enough grip, try wrapping an elastic band around it.
It’s vital that you hold the gimbal as you unscrew the bezel.
Once the bezel is removed it’s just a case of screwing on the filter that you want to use. Again, take care to hold the gimbal still.
As they are quite small, the DJI ND filters for the Mavic Air are a little fiddly to handle. Care is needed to avoid putting fingerprints on them. There’s also a risk that dust or pollen can gather on the inside part of the filter, so try to keep your eyes open to avoid your images from being degraded.
The ND filters have a simple task to perform and they do it well. Importantly, they are neutral so my images and footage have the correct colours.
As they’re such fiddly little filters, it’s helpful that DJI supplies them with a small case. This keeps them safe, scratch-free and clean. It also makes them easier to find in your kit!
If you’ve got a drone, a set of ND filters is essential. The DJI filters for the Mavic Air have a good quality feel and do what they’re designed to do. What more can you ask for?