A quick gear guide summing up three types of Mavic 3 filters you’ll want to add to your aerial photography kit.
The DJI Mavic 3 is by far the best portable drone ever made. While quite a step up in terms of investment, professional photographers and videographers are always blown away by the image quality and overall performance of this drone.
However, one thing I’ve come to learn is that to get the best performance out of my drone, I’d need some purpose-built filters to replace the standard UV filter like the one on the Mavic 3.
That’s why, in this quick gear guide, I’ll give you the roundup of the top three types of drone filters for the Mavic 3.
Whether you’re looking to take precise control of the amount of light to narrow down the frame rate or bring out rich, true colors from your aerial photography, these filters will have you covered.
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My name is Olly Gaspar. I’ve worked as a professional travel photographer for the past four years, creating inspiring content for national tourism boards, hotels, and some of the world’s top travel and adventure brands.
1. ND Filter Set For the Mavic 3
The most common filters, and the one that most aerial photographers purchase for their Mavic 3 is an ND, or Neutral density filter set.
The job of this filter is to modify the intensity of all wavelengths (light and color) equally. These filters work by using high-quality light reduction materials which don’t modify natural colors. What this means is that you’ll have precise control of the amount of light that reaches the Mavic’s 20MP four-thirds sensor.
Why Use ND Filters For Drone Photography?
The most common use of ND filters is to reduce the intensity of light, allowing drone videographers to use the correct shutter speed to conform with the 180-degree rule. This rule states that in order to create buttery smooth video, the shutter speed should be set to double the frame rate.
Of course, on a bright, sunny day, dialing in the correct exposure while shooting at 1/50 or 1/100 (25fps or 50fps) would be almost impossible, even at the narrowest aperture setting.
Snapping on the correct ND filter for the ambient light situation onto your Mavic camera will allow you to control the exposure and still have flexibility with your aperture setting.
Alternatively, a second use-case for an ND filter would be to block out a lot more light, giving drone photographer’s the flexibility to bring up the exposure time and create motion blur in their still images. While this has technically been possible on previous drones, none have been as stable as the Mavic 3 and long-exposure photography was usually a miss more than a hit for most of the time. However, thanks to the Mavic’s 3 improved stability, long exposure photography of up to 2-3 seconds usually results in great images!
ND strengths explained: the ND number refers to how strong the darkening effect is, correlated to f-stops. Say we want to reduce 1 stop of light, we want to halve (1/2) the amount of light reaching the sensor. In order to do this, we will use an ND2 filter. Conversely, if we want to reduce the amount of light by two halves, or stops, (1/4 the amount of light), we will use an ND4 filter. Again, on a very bright day, we might want to halve the amount of light six times (1/64), so we would use an ND64 filter.
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The Best ND Filter Set for the Mavic 3
I’ve used many filter brands over the years, including brands like NiSi filters, PGYTECH filters, and Tiffen. However, none offer such a high quality of optical glass as PolarPro Filters.
1. PolarPro VND Filter Set
PolarPro is my go-to brand for all my drone filters and I’ve been using their high-quality, optical glass filters for the past two years almost exclusively.
This brand is well-known for creating some of the best variable ND filters on the market. And, their VND 2-Pack is one of the best neutral-density filters for the Mavic 3.
This pack comes with 2-5 and 6-9 stop filter variations, allowing for precise control of light in the majority of conditions. Variable NDs work by twisting the ring to increase or decrease the darkening effect. This is useful since you will be able to get a more precise lighting setting without carrying around a dozen filters.
Furthermore, I’m a big fan of the reliable fit of their lightweight aluminum AirFrame 4.0 clip-on design, which is sure to stay on the camera lens no matter the flying conditions.
2. PolarPro Vivid Collection
The majority of my photo and video work involves flying over water, snow, or other bright, reflective surfaces. While I’ve gone into detail a little more regarding the use of Mavic 3 filters for polarizing light, I’ll skip ahead a little and introduce my absolute favorite drone filters.
If you ask me what the most essential drone filters are, I’ll tell you it’s these NDPL filters. This combines high-quality Germanpolarizing glass with ND8, ND16, and ND32 neutral density options. The result is a single set of three filters that’ll have you covered for all the various shots you’re looking to capture.
3. DJI ND Filters
If you purchased the DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo, you’ll already have the awesome set of ND filters including ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32 variants.
These DJI ND filters for the Mavic 3 are among the most popular, since they are affordable and of decent quality. If you didn’t bag the fly more combo, then you can also purchase these from DJI or Amazon.
Furthermore, DJI also sell an ND64/128/256/512 filter set for very harsh lighting conditions or for some serious slow-shutter photography.
While these standard ND filters will likely do the job, it’s hard to compare them to the high-end glass you’ll get with PolarPro filters.
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2. Polarizer Filters (CPL Filters)
If there’s a single filter that I’d recommend for aerial photographers, it’s a CPL filter.
CPL filters, or circular polarizer filters, work in the same way that your polarized sunglasses do. Essentially, these filters, when oriented properly will filter out the glare, while still allowing plenty of light through the camera lens.
This is essential if you are shooting over water or harsh, reflective surfaces like roads or snow. Furthermore, reducing the shiny reflections naturally increases the vibrance and saturation of real colors, resulting in a beautiful image.
Filter tip: due to the way that polarizing filters work, you need to manually twist the CPL filter to ensure proper polarization depending on the sun’s angle. As a result, I don’t recommend regular PL filters without the option of dialing in the polarization effect.
The Best CPL Filter Kit for the Mavic 3
If you’re after bang-for-buck, then I highly recommend PolarPro’s Vivid Collection ND filter kit, which combines light-reducing ND filters with polarized glass.
However, below I’ll list some more top-of-the-range Mavic 3 CPL filters to give you some variety.
1. PolarPro CPL Filter
Unfortunately, PolarPro’s Vivid Collection doesn’t come with a CPL filter without any ND light reduction.
There are many use cases for a regular CPL filter for still drone photography. For example, imagine shooting stills of a fast-moving speed boat powering through the waves, or a snowboarder launching off a snowy ramp. In these situations, you want to maximize frame rate, while reducing glare.
The PolarPro CPL filter does just that, and is the filter that I use on my camera almost every day if I’m shooting stills or recording aerial video while trying to preserve low-light details.
This filter is very high-quality and built from the same glass and frame materials as their highly-acclaimed vivid collection.
2. Freewell CPL Filter
Freewell are well-known for making affordable, yet decent-quality drone filters. I’ve used Freewell filters on my previous Mavic 2 Pro and they performed quite well. However, while I’m yet to try the Freewell CPL filter for the Mavic 3, reviews seem to fit the bill from the previous generation.
For around $25, you can bag a decent CPL filter which does a great job at reducing glare and boosting contrast. However, just like the stock DJI ND filters, don’t expect cinema-grade glass on these cheaper Mavic 3 filters.
3. FX Filters For Unique Drone Shots
Other than a light-reducing ND filter kit and a CPL filter, there’s little else you really NEED to start creating amazing, professional aerial photographs and cinematic video with your drone.
However, advanced users, or those working in film production might be interested in FX filters. FX in the cinematography world essentially means effects, and when it comes to filters, usually work by adding some kind of cool, unique, or quirky look to the footage.
While I don’t use FX filters too much for my adventure travel and landscape content, I have listed some awesome filters below that might catch your eye.
Common Special Effects Filters for the DJI Mavic 3
1. Morphic Filters
Morphic looks are a very new concept in aerial filters. These work by adding long, cinematic-looking streaks and flares that really give a unique look almost impossible to replicate in post-production.
2. Mist Filters
Looking to enhance your footage with that dreamy, cinematic look you often see on the silver screen? Mist filters work by giving your aerial shot a soft, atmospheric vibe.
Depending on the manufacturer, these FX filters come in various strengths, or densities. The best options are from PolarPro, Freewell, and NiSi, and sometimes even come integrated with neutral density coatings as well.
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I hope this quick guide to choosing the best Mavic 3 filters will help you lift your aerial photography and videography game!
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