After purchasing my DJI Air 2S drone I thought I was all set as I had paid extra for the fly more combo which came complete with ND filters in the shape of a 4,8,16 & 32 ND filters.
How Does An ND Filter Work ?
I quickly found that If I wanted to shoot during the daytime then the 32 ND was simply not up to the task, I needed the 64 ND, having looked online at the genuine DJI filters it seemed I could only buy this along with another two other filters that I simply would never use, and it wasn't cheap at £75 for the three and I simply couldn't justify it to myself. I also had concerns as DJI's 32 ND suffered from a magenta colour cast and was worried the DJI 64 ND filter would possibly be even worse.
I looked at some other brands like Polar Pro which looked nice but were shockingly expensive, the same sort of price as the full Freewell kit but only usually three filters as opposed to the 8 that came in the Freweel kit.
Freewell were actually the first company to introduce multicoated filters for drones so they have an innovative pedigree and seemed like a a great starting point.
I had used Freewell's variable ND filters for my OSMO pocket camera and had been really impressed with them so I dug a little deeper to see if these could be exactly what I wanted.
What I really felt I was really lacking was a polarising filter for my drone but I was yet to find one that could clip on in front of my existing filters so I was somewhat stuck, enter Freewell and the All Day 4K ND kit !
Whats In The Freewell All Day Filter Kit ?
Essentially the kit comprises of a set of 8 filters including ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32 & ND64 all with circular PL, plus single circular PL for the days when its not bright enough to need the ND filters, plus another two for long exposures of ND1000 & ND2000.
This caught my interest as the kit was exactly what I needed to cover all bases, with the added bonus of having a CPL on each of them.
Why Do You Need ND Filters ?
So why do we need to use ND filters on drones ? well the simple answer is it enables you to keep to the golden rule of shutter speed to be double your frame rate, for example I shoot at 24 FPS so I need to keep to a shutter speed of 1/50 in order to keep the right amount of motion blur to make it pleasing to the human eye, if I were to shoot at 60 FPS for example then I would need to use a shutter speed of 1/120 in order to keep the same situation.
Now as you generally don't have a variable aperture on most drones you can't control it that way, and because your ISO is generally kept at its lowest in order to keep the quality of your footage the only area left to change is the amount of light coming into your sensor, The answer is ND filters and shooting on a drone is essentially impossible without them for 90% of the day.
Will A Polariser Help You ?
Polarisation isn't AS essential but equally I love to have it available to me as it punches up the saturation in a natural way and removes glare from items, really handy when filming over water, it simply gives a much nicer finish to your footage.
So I had a choice, I could buy the remaining filters I needed from DJI at an inflated cost plus 2 I didn't really need and have no polarisation, Or I could choose the upgrade option of the Freewell All Day Kit for a similar price, have a very usable set of 8 to cover all bases plus polarisation as well, it was a no brainer ! A set was ordered and I couldn't wait for them to turn up !
First Impressions of the Freewell All Day ND Filter Kit
When they arrived I was super excited and the packaging looked very premium ! Kind of like what you would expect from a brand like Apple, clean & sleek.
Opening the box revealed a crystal style case with all 8 filters neatly nestled in a protective foam to keep them safe and in their own space and finger/thumb gaps with the added bonus of it having a magnetic clasp on the case to stop it accidentally opening.
There was also a microfibre filter cleaning cloth inside which was a lovely touch and much needed as I have a habit of letting friends use mine only to never see them again ! (The cloths not the friends !)
The filters seemed to be really well made and reassuringly good to the touch and the CPL's were all easily operated thanks to the grooved edge they all had but there was enough tension to stop them turning accidentally while in use and two clear marks to show absolute zero position, I was itching to get out and give them a try ! I just needed a decent bit of weather, I looked outside and it was horrific rain and wind, I guess i'd be waiting for a few days to try these !
Testing Out The Freewell All Day Filter Kit
The forecast was looking grim for a few days and such was my excitement to try these I ended up just mounting them to the drone inside to see the view.
The fitted on perfectly with a reassuring click and were easily as good a fit as the OE originals, I played around with the polariser on them pointing towards the TV and it really did reduce the glare perfectly ! I simply couldn't wait to get out and try them.
Finally some decent weather came around and I was out to put them through their paces.
A fairly bright day saw the 32ND with CPL selected for the first flight.
The difference was immediately obvious with the CPL adjusted to suit conditions and I just knew I had mad a good choice, the footage was indeed far more punchy and controlled and would make a much better start for colour grading.
As the day got on and the light got brighter the 32 ND was not enough to control the light so a swift change to the 64 ND was done in seconds and I was back up again, I had to adjust my ISO to 200 just to give me enough light to capture my footage without any clipping of shadows or highlights but again it performed superbly well and I was really happy and eagerly rushed home to check my footage out on the big screen.
I was very pleased to see there was no obvious colour cast from the filters, this is something that a lot of filters do suffer from (Including DJI's 32 ND OE filter) and although you can correct it in post processing I was glad I didn't need to as it would save me time and give me a better base to start with before colour grading.
How Did It Perform ?
All the videos were just as I had hoped, clear and cast free with lovely detailed footage with perfect motion blur and the added benefit of polarisation which just made the footage look fantastic ! No glare, just lovely punchy colours !
Another issue you sometimes get with ND filters is vignetting of the corners of your video or photo and it can be really annoying to try and deal with, fortunately the Freewell All Day kit took it all in its stride and produced no vignetting at all. Happy Pilot !
The build quality is really good on the Freewell all day kit and each filter feels well constructed but its lightweight enough to cause no issues with the gimbal calibration and it starts up with no problem while doing its control check with any of the filters fitted.
The construction is so good Freewell offer a lifetime warranty on them which was a really unexpected bonus and shows they have a very high confidence in their products.
So do you really need all 8 filters ? well let me break it down for you and you can decide for yourself
ND4/PL - reduces light by 2 F-Stops
ND8/PL - reduces light by 3 F-Stops
ND16/PL - reduces light by 4 F-Stops
ND32/PL - reduces light by 5 F-Stops
ND64/PL - Reduces light by 6 F-Stops
All of the above filters are mainly for video although they can be used for photography if you so desire but each one gets use from me with my drone footage depending on time of day and how bright conditions are, my most commonly used ones are ND4/ND8 around sunrise & sunset and ND 16/32 for when its average sunlight conditions during the day and finally ND 64 for really bright days so the filming doesn't have to stop
CPL - This is really handy for photography so I can use any shutter speed I want but I am able to control any glare or reflection from shines surfaces such as water, it also enables you to be able to cut through to see more detail in water plus really punches up the saturation and makes an image pop
ND 1000 - Reduces light by 10 F-Stops
ND 2000 - Reduces light by 20 F-Stops
The above two filters are more geared towards photography only and have no real use with videos, but can come in very handy for doing long exposures especially on super bright days and can give you that silky water effect that photographers love so much, in truth I haven't used these very much as a situation hasn't really arisen to do it but I will be trying them out in the near future when I visit some waterfalls to get a more interesting angle of the waterfall so we shall see how they do !
So in short there are 6 extremely useable filters in here that will get everyday use and two which are kept back for when the situation requires them, but the all day kit really does cover all situations, Please see the video at the bottom of the page to see them in all lighting conditions.
In recent times I have used my drone a lot more for the photography side rather than just the video so these filters really have helped me up my game I think.
Are Freewell Filters Better than DJI Filters ?
So what if you already own the DJI own brand set of 4,8,16 & 32 ? Should you buy these ?
Well each pilot will have to decide for themselves if its worth it but for me it really was.
To buy the next set of DJI filters will set you back a further £75 and I have to be honest, I don't believe they are that good quality, the Freewells out perform them frankly.
Of course if you also want the ability to use polarisation then the DJIs don't cater for you but the Freewell filters do, for me this really was worth having the full kit.
I believe optically the Freewell range is superior to the genuine DJI models so I do see it as a genuine upgrade, and compared to many other brands on the market these have a respectable price tag at £112 for all 8 (At time of writing)
If you don't want to go all out on the All Day Kit Freewell also offer a smaller version of the All Day Kit called the Bright Day kit which consists of 8ND/PL, 16 ND/PL, 32 ND/PL & 64 ND/PL and comes in at just over £60, so a cheaper option is available if you just really want the 64 ND but with the added bonus of getting polarising filters on all of them unlike the DJI range.
VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10
EASE OF USE 9/10
TOTAL 35/40 87.5%
Ive been really pleased with the Freewell All Day Kit and would highly recommend it to other drone users, there is no colour cast or vignetting, the optical quality is superb as is the build quality, couple this with a lifetime warranty and you have a really great set of ND filters that cover you for all situations you might encounter. Nice work Freewell.
You can see the full Freewell range by clicking HERE Not an affiliate link
Happy shooting Daniel Wretham
FILMED WITH THE FREEWELL ALL DAY KIT & DJI AIR 2S