Detailed comparison of commonly used ND filters

msinger

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Detailed comparison of commonly used ND filters (for the Phantom 3 & Phantom 4)

Overview

The goal of this thread is to compare the size, weight, type, and quality of commonly used ND filters for the Phantom 3. Since there isn't one best filter for every situation, this comparison should help everyone choose a filter that works best for them.

Since filters from the same sets have the same build quality, only one filter from each filter set was considered. Here's a list of the filters compared below:
The above filters were chosen for the following reasons:
  • Most can be purchased on Amazon and/or eBay
  • They are commonly discussed in forums on the Internet
  • They have good reviews, so you should also have a good experience if you choose one of these brands
The following types of filters were compared:
  • Glass filter: This is the most common type of filter. It has a single glass lens and is only designed to be used in a specific lighting condition (e.g. cloudy, sunny, sunrise/sunset). These filters often come in sets since one is not right for all situations.

  • Gel filter: This filter has a thin, flexible plastic lens. Since the lenses are very thin, they can be layered as needed to block out more light. They can be easily scratched and/or bent, so they require more care than glass filters.

  • Adjustable ND filter: This filter is made of two layers of glass and has a top and bottom section. When the filter is twisted, more or less light is blocked. The advantage is that you can use one filter for any situation. A commonly discussed disadvantage is that they might not produce as clear of a picture as regular ND filters that contain a single layer of glass.
Note: All of the above filters will fit the Phantom 3 Professional, Phantom 3 Advanced, Phantom 3 4K, and Phantom 4. Only the slide-on filters will fit the Phantom 3 Standard since it does not have a removable filter.


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Close-Up Photos

DJI UV (screw-on stock filter)
Filter-DJI-UV.jpg



DJI ND8 (screw-on)
Filter-DJI-ND8.jpg


Anbee/BTG ND16 (screw-on)
Filter-Anbee-ND16.jpg



DitzCo ND8 (slide-on)
Filter-Ditzco-ND8.jpg



Freewell ND2-400 (screw-on adjustable)
Filter-Freewell-Adjustable.jpg



Mudder ND2-400 (screw-on adjustable)
Filter-Mudder-Adjustable.jpg



Neewer ND16 (screw-on)
Filter-Neewer-ND16.jpg



Polar Pro ND8 (screw-on)
Filter-PolarPro-ND8-ScrewOn.jpg



Polar Pro ND8 (slide-on)



SRP ND16/CP (slide-on)



TACO-RC ND16 (screw-on)


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ND Filter Specs
  • DJI UV--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.05 oz)
  • DJI ND8--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.05 oz same size as DJI UV filter)
  • Anbee/BTG ND16--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.05 oz same size as DJI UV filter)
  • DitzCo ND8--(slide-on/gel filter/plastic rim 0.01 oz)
  • Freewell ND2-400--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.20 oz)
  • Mudder ND2-400--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.35 oz)
  • Neewer ND16--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.10 oz)
  • Polar Pro ND8--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.15 oz)
  • Polar Pro ND8--(slide-on/glass lens/plastic rim 0.25 oz)
  • SRP ND16/CP--(slide-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.25 oz)
  • TACO-RC ND16--(screw-on/glass lens/metal rim 0.05 oz same size as DJI UV filter)
Note: Slide-on filters are used along with the stock UV filter. So, they add extra weight on top of the weight of the UV filter.


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Color & Sharpness Comparison

The following photos were taken indoors to ensure the same lighting was used for each photo. The Phantom was not designed to take detailed close-up photos, but it's a great way to compare the color and sharpness produced when using various filters.

Filter-Magazine-Comparison.jpg


Note: The color differences above aren't really that important if you're planning on editing your photos/video in a program like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Premiere.


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Likes & Dislikes

While these filters all produce nearly the same end result, here are some things that set them apart:
  • All: Filters that are not the same size as the DJI UV filter might need to be removed in order to use your camera lens cap and/or gimbal lock.

  • DitzCo: These lenses attract more lint/dust than filters with glass lenses.

  • DJI: These filters have no marking on the outside, so you'll need to somehow label them or label the storage case so you're able to easily tell them apart.

  • Freewell: This filter has tick marks on the outside to show the selected ND level. This could come in handy if you want to use a similar setting again for a specific flying condition/location.

  • Polar Pro: Many of the lenses have traces of glue on the edges where they were glued in place. This does not affect the picture quality, but it's something you will visually notice when viewing the inside of the filters close up.

  • SRP: These filters fit very tightly, so they are not as convenient to use if you'll be changing them often. I found they are easier to remove if you wiggle them from side-to-side as you slide them off.
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Tips
  • When using slide-on filters, make sure they are fully depressed. Otherwise, you might see dark spots in the corners of your video/photos (AKA vignetting) or your camera might hit the ground as it rotates when your Phantom is starting up.

  • With the exception of the Freewell, SRP, and TACO-RC filters, all filters come with a pretty poorly designed storage case. The TACO-RC filter case works well for DJI filters and those that are the same size as the DJI filters. For all other filters, this 3-pocket or 6-pocket filter case works well.

  • You'll definitely need a camera lens cleaner (like this one) to clean fingerprints and/or dust/lint that often clings to the surface of the lenses.

  • The Phantom 4 gimbal lock cannot be used if you have filters that are not the same size as the DJI UV filter -- unless you modify it like this.

  • Make sure you have the appropriate filters to handle all of the usual lighting conditions where you fly. The following chart will help you figure out which filters you'll need:

 
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Good deal Mike.
Thanks for taking the time and initiative to tackle this comparison.
I am happy with my choice and how it compared to the others.

Also great insight and tips for pre purchase consideration.
 
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Very informative...thx!
Still wanting to pick up some Taco's
That's what I use I like them. No issues


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Mike- color shift is an issue for me especially when mixing clips from different shoots using different ND filters. I prefer to avoid 'matching in post'. Which ones would you say had the most significant color shift? Adjustable ND filters? Seems you would not want to mix brands to avoid matching in post later
 

msinger

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Which ones would you say had the most significant color shift?
Any that don't look close to the color of the DJI UV filter above.

Adjustable ND filters? Seems you would not want to mix brands to avoid matching in post later
If you have an adjustable filter, you simply adjust it as needed. There would be no need to swap it.
 
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Ok it's hard to see color shift vs just darker shade unless I'm not getting it
 

msinger

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The colors and sharpness are pretty close, but it allows you to see how they differ from the clear UV filter. The test simply shows that you should be able to use any of these filters and get pretty good results -- even more so if you're editing your photos/video and not trying to use them straight off of the memory card.
 
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Here a picture of the neewer package i bought. This include UV, CPL, ND16, ND2-ND400 filters.

 
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The colors and sharpness are pretty close, but it allows you to see how they differ from the clear UV filter. The test simply shows that you should be able to use any of these filters and get pretty good results -- even more so if you're editing your photos/video and not trying to use them straight off of the memory card.
Makes sense. Great write up
 
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I bought a polar pro 3-set for P3P, but i found after unboxing them that they are the slide-on type, does the added oz. can affect the gimbal? Or is fine? Im thinking to exchange them for the screw ones.
 
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A-1 Job indeed
All the Specs to review and compare
Thank-you Mike
 
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Wow this is great. Thanks!

At a quick glance the SRP seems to have a notable sharpness advantage over just about everything else. Given the extra functionality, I'm also impressed by the mudder, which for $25, just made my Amazon prime cart.

(hopefully not too off-topic side note) Anyone know of lenscap/gimbal guards that fit over these larger filters yet?
 
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Mike, awesome info. The incompatibility with the P4 gimbal lock for some filters may be worth mentioning. The ones with a lip won't work.
 

alokbhargava

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Msinger, you spent so much money on buying those filters, I wish you had really done detailed quality optical evaluation rather than just visual comparison.

No doubt it's very useful collection of information at one place. Thx
 
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Thank you for your detailed post! This issue is one of my most sought after questions. Your visual comparison is more than adequate and if SOMEBODY else wants a "quality optical evaluation" no one is stopping them. I am a professional photographer and new pilot. Thanks for helping me with this as I will now make an informed decision on what to research further and pick up. You did 90% of an inquiry that had me itching!


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msinger

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The incompatibility with the P4 gimbal lock for some filters may be worth mentioning.
Great point! I added this in my tips above.
 

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