There are many various and simple ways for you to improve the quality of images and videos with your drone. In the case of using drone cameras, an exceptional way to do so is to use camera filters. Here we will name and explain different types of camera filters and describing when to use each filter but also point out the best ones. In this article, you will find a solid amount of information to give you a basic understanding to know your way around with the usage of lens filters in landscape photography.
Additionally, underneath the written paragraphs, you will find some interesting and useful videos listed, explaining the types of lens and camera filters. We highly recommend watching them. Especially to those with extra interest in this topic and a wish to know detailed information professionals do.
By taking and producing good quality images and videos with an assorted number of drone lens filters, you are qualified to apply to some large and well-known photography competitions such as Skypixel Competition run by DJI. The prizes are magnificent too.
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Types Of Lens Filters for Landscape Photography Explained
Lens filters have been used by many, not just professional photographers but also amateurs that desire better quality images. Even before digital photography was introduced to the scene, filters have already been on the stage for a while. Most professionals use apps and try to imitate what actual camera filters do.
Those apps are used in post-production when editing photos, trying to achieve what would have been achieved right away while taking the picture if the camera had the right filter lens. You probably heard of them as well. Some are: Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, VSCO, and even Instagram filters. Those apps are not bad but in most cases, it’s impossible to achieve immaculate results with what they offer.
On the other hand, real lens filters are, colloquially saying, the real deal. They are attached right in front of the camera and they alter light hitting the camera sensor very precisely. Many wonder why can’t app filters do the same thing. Well, it’s quite simple. Filters, among other things, manipulate the light, enhance colors, reduce reflections, and block UV lighting.
With apps, in most cases, it is impossible to do, even in a video editor. It must be done in that exact moment of taking the photo. Just like things in life, sometimes the stuff we do cannot be changed, altered, or undone after. That’s why we need to do it right from the start. What you should take from this paragraph is; lenses change the way your camera sees the scene and really create something magical.
Types of Camera Filters For Drones
Most people categorize camera filters by the way they attach to the lens or the effect they give to your image. So, to simplify things for you later, we will follow the same template.
Screw-on Lens Filters
Screw-on filters vary in size, depending on the different camera lenses to which they are supposed to attach. They can be compared to a key and the lock; they only work together if they were meant for each other. For example, a lens with a 52 mm mount can only work with 55 mm filters.
If you work with multiple lenses of different sizes, this type of filter might not be for you. You would have to continue buying the same filters you want to use daily, for every single lens size. Sounds quite costly.
That is why there is another option, sheet filters. They are sheets of glass that slide into lens adapters. The adapter itself is quite reasonably priced and the glass can be used on adapters in any shape or size.
This means, once you buy the adapter and filters you want, you should be set. By shape, the most popular filter is the circular filter but there are also square and rectangular filters available on the market.
Drone Camera Filters For Landscape Photography
Camera Filters Types For Aerial Or Ground Photography
The main and most used lens filters for landscape photography can easily be recognized by UV filters that are crucial for clarity improvement and lens protection.
The more occasional and unique filters are called “effects filters”. They mightily change and alter the appearance of the photographed scene, with the purpose of constructing unique visual effects.
If you are new to using and working with camera filters, a friendly tip would be to take notes of what each filter can do to your image and in what conditions and lighting. Practice with each filter. This will help you get a better idea of what you are working with and what filter to use the next time.
It might sound complicated in the beginning, but sooner than you think, you will be pulling out the right filters at the right time without any second-guessing. Additionally, even when you mastered the filter choosing, it’s great to plan ahead, create a vision. You will know what you are going for and what equipment to bring with you.
Here are some specific types of filters and their brief descriptions. We hope this will help you make the best purchasing choices when shopping for your future equipment.
1) UV Lens Filters
The UV filter can be considered as the “standard filter” for drones. It is designed to block ultraviolet light, but today almost every drone manufacturer includes these filters on the camera as the standard. Therefore, everyone who is engaged in photography is familiar with it and there is not much to add. Keep in mind that when you reach higher altitudes with your drone, there is a thinner atmosphere that doesn’t block UV.
2) Neutral Density (ND) Lens Filters
A Neutral Density filter, also widely known as the ND filter is mostly used in harsh and direct sunlight to modify the intensity of light. The filter does a great job in preserving colors and avoiding an over-exposed, “too white” photo. The filter “flattens” the levels of exposition and often gives photos a soft and even blurred effect.
It is often used in videos as well with the same purpose, but also to allow the photographer a longer filming period with a widely open camera lens, without the image getting overexposed. The most common example of great usage of this filter are photographs of rivers and waterfalls under bright sunlight. An example is a waterfall picture taken by J.J. Harrison.
3) Circular Polarizer (C-POL) Lens Filter
If you are a professional photographer, then the circular polarizer (C-POL) lens filter is a must-have filter. That’s why this filter is used for a variety of purposes. C-POL reduces or removes glare and reflections but also helps you to capture full-color depth.
For drone photography, these filters will give you much better image and video quality. Photo elements such as pools, lakes, wet lawns, and city streets can be presented much better with a polarizer filter.
4) Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Lens Filter
A Graduated Neutral-Density filter, also known as a GND filter, or even sometimes referred to as an ND Grad, serves a very similar purpose to an ND filter mentioned above. The only noticeable difference is that the GND filter has a variable light transmission that is frequently used in photographing scenery that includes a brightly lit horizon in combination with a darker landscape. Its main purpose is to balance out the lighting and stops the, for example, sky, from being too exposed and the landscape from being underexposed.
5) Warming / Cooling Lens Filter Types
Warming and cooling camera lenses already with their name give out what their purpose is. But, to elaborate, this type of camera lenses changes the temperature of the photographed scene. Warming lenses add a cast of warm-toned colors such as yellow, orange, and red; and are often used to warm out cloudy, rainy, and foggy landscapes.
Cooling lenses, on the other hand, add a layer of cool tones such as blues, greens, and even greys. Photographers often use them to cool down unrealistic and extremely saturated color casts. These 2 types of lens filters are quite popular in the world of photography.
6) Linear and Circular Polarizer Filter
All the filters named above are great, but not all of them are crucial for landscape photography. First thing is that both Circular and Linear Polarizers do the same thing. The polarization effects such as darkening a blue sky, reducing reflections on glass surfaces are the same on Circular and Linear polarizers.
The polarizer camera filter is basically the first filter that landscape photographers buy. The lens reduces the amount of reflected light that passes through the camera sensor and makes a remarkably large difference in photographs by adding vividness and contrast in the right places.
One of the main reasons this filter is used so often in nature images is the fact that it suppresses glare and reflection from watery or shiny surfaces such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and seas but also glass surfaces. Additionally, it can darken an over-exposed blue sky and reduce the reflection of sunlight bouncing off of green vegetation.
The most often purchased is the circular polarizing filter, also referred to as the “circular polarizer”. Its popularity comes from the fact that it can be attached to most cameras making it very diverse in application. A video at the bottom of the text goes into further detail on how to attach and use this camera filter.
7) Close-Up Macro Filters
Close-up Macro filters are not as often used in aerial photography as some other filters on this list. They are mostly used for detailed and sharp close-up images of insects, flowers, coins, jewelry and most of the other miniature creatures and objects you can think of.
It might be self-explanatory but those types of shots are usually taken from the ground and not from the air. However, having a kit of macro filters might come in handy in specific situations. The kit usually comes with four magnification increases; +1,+2,+4,+10. They can be used separate but also in combination because of their stack-able design. For example, layering +2 and +10 would become a +12-magnification rate.
8) Colored Lens Filter Types
- Yellow Contrast Camera Filter – Used for landscape and foliage for subtle contrast boosts.
- Red Lens Filter – Used in creating a contrast between the sky and clouds or flowers and foliage by darkening blues.
- Blue Blending Camera Filter – Used for bright contrasting landscapes because it adds blue tones more precisely than polarizing filters.
- Purple Lens Camera Filter – Used in aerial photography for sharpness.
- Light Green Camera Filter – Most commonly used in the black and white film with creating a contrast between the sky and clouds.
- Orange Len Filter – Most commonly used in the black and white film for landscape and architectural photography. If not used with black and white tones, the filter absorbs blue and blue-greens by darkening them.
Lens Filters Examples And Camera Filter Kits
What you will be able to see at most manufacturers is a camera filter kit, which consists of a lens filter ring adapter, a carrying pouch, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. This KIT includes something like the following;
- Circular Polarizer CPL
- Close Up Macro
- Ultraviolet UV
- Red Filter
- Yellow Filter
- Purple Filter
- Green Filter
- Blue Filter
- Orange Filter
Specific Drone Camera Filters
Some camera filter manufacturers customize their product designs for specific cameras. For example, some filters are made especially for the GoPro camera and others for the popular DJI drones. DJI drones take up over 70 % of the aerial cinematography market.
That is why manufacturers find it profitable to tailor-make filters just for the DJI-s. Because aerial landscapes are specific to capture and often need a specific filter to capture the scene, there is a humongous range to choose from.
How To Adjust a Polarizer On a Drone
One of the questions that most drone pilots ask is how you can adjust the polarizer when your drone is in the air? The answer is that you need to adjust it ahead of time. You need to follow the instructions and see what is the best method that works for you. Sometimes it can be better not to use a polarizer at all, but you need to practice.
It’s always a good idea to use filters if you want to take some high-quality landscape photography. The drone cameras have improved a lot lately, so their advantage should be taken. Today, almost anyone can afford cameras like this, so try out your favorite filters with your drone and make some good photos.
Benefits Of Filters For Drone Photography
A lot of drones are equipped with tech. They have a bunch of smart sensors, super-stabilized camera systems, wireless communication boards, and much more. When you take a look at the drone camera and gimbal, you will notice that there is not a lot of space to attach some additional items, such as filters.
For that reason, many drone manufacturers need to produce specific options for your exact drone model. You can always try to tape your own filtration, but if you make even a small mistake when setting up the filter, you risk having unstable footage. Therefore, it is recommended to choose some bespoke filter sets and to add them to your drone.
Camera Lens Filters Explained - Video
In the following video you will see great examples on how you need to use camera lens filters for landscape photography. What you can see here is polarized lens filters, that take a big role in aerial landscape photography.
Lens filters are a great step forward in improving the quality of your landscape aerial images but also your work in general. If you are new to this, do not be afraid to experiment with various lens filters in different locations at different times of the day, to see what and when performs best. With time, your knowledge and inspiration will grow, and unsureness will decrease. Keep up the good work!