Do you want to get the most visually-stunning photos and videos possible out of your Mavic Air or Mavic Pro? Having the proper camera settings is important, as is proper post-processing.
But the way that the light comes through the lens is equally important. Have you considered getting any lens filters for your Mavic?
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Why should you have lens filters for your Mavic?
Your Mavic is going to be flying quickly through the air, which unfortunately is not an entirely sterile environment. There are bugs, particulates, and raindrops. Additionally – as much as we don’t want to admit it – drones are prone to crashing. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
Having a filter on your lens provides an extra level of protection for that little piece of glass over the camera. You don’t want to send in your Mavic for camera replacement. A lens filter will be much less expensive to replace.
Cut glare & reflections
Polarizing filters are very popular with landscape photographers. Have you ever compared two photos of beautiful Caribbean waters, and noticed that in one the ocean is a bright, dull blue, while in the other the water is a deep, rich, vibrant turquoise? The second photo most likely had a polarizing filter over the lens while the first didn’t.
Much like your favorite pair of sunglasses, the polarizing effect of these filters reduces the glare of sunlight reflections. You’ll be able to see through water & glass better and foliage will actually appear its natural color. It’s a great way to make your photos pop.
Slow the shutter speed
You’ve probably seen a number of action camera videos. Have you noticed how some of them appear to have very jerky video, almost to the point of making you nauseous? But others have a very smooth video where the frames almost seem to blur together, making it much easier to watch. Why is this?
The name of this “rule” is controversial, but it doesn’t matter. The rule states that for the most fluid, natural movement, your shutter speed should be slowed to no more than double the framerate. This means that if you’re recording at 30 frames per second, your shutter speed should be 1/60 second or slower.
The only way to do this in bright conditions is to put sunglasses over your camera. These filters are called neutral density filters and are a must in bright light.
What qualities should you look for in Mavic lens filters?
You certainly don’t want the filter to fall off in flight! It should slide over the camera and be snug enough to where it won’t slide off. These types are most common on the Mavic Pro.
The most secure method of affixing filters to the Mavic Air are threaded filters that actually screw into the gimbal, replacing the OEM lens that screws off.
Easy to install & remove
There’s a caveat to having a secure filter. You don’t want it so secure that you can’t get it off. Especially if you’re filming a time-sensitive situation and don’t have time to fumble around with it!
You’ll often be leaving the filters on the camera between flights. When you start up your Mavic Air or Mavic Pro it will go through its gimbal calibration. Some filters have large profiles that will interfere with this calibration and give you an error. You can still use these filters, but you’ll have to take them off for the calibration. They could also possibly interfere with gimbal movement during flight.
There are filters out there where the glass easily pops out of the frame. This filter is now useless. You should look for manufacturers with a history of good construction.
The filter glass is the first element that the light will pass through before hitting the camera, and because of this, it should be of high quality. There are lower-grade types of glass that will alter light as it passes through the filter. They can also blur your image. You should avoid these.
Even higher-grade filters will have special coatings on the glass that will reduce the flaring effect the sun has on the glass, and increase contrast – and colors – of the scene.
Which are the best lens filters for Mavic drones?
Best filters for the Mavic Pro
PolarPro has been leading the charge for quality Mavic Pro filters. They also construct excellent filters for other drone models and action cameras. If the price is of no issue, these have proven to be the best. They meet all of the criteria discussed earlier.
Their durable metal frames securely hold the highest-quality glass. The filters are available in both a Cinema collection and Professional collection. The Professional filters are great, but the Cinema filters have an extra edge with lens coatings and lighter design.
Cinema filters are available as Neutral Density (ND) filters up to ND64, which is for ridiculously bright scenes. ND and Polarizer combo filters are also available, polarizing the light while slowing the shutter at the same time, up to a value of ND64.
Professional filters are only available up to ND32 and ND16 Polarizers.
SANDMARC also makes high-quality filters for Mavic Pro. They’re slightly cheaper than PolarPro filters but aren’t available with ND values as high as PolarPro’s. This may not matter to you if you’re not over snow or bright sand. You also may not notice a quality difference, as you really have to look hard to find differences.
Best lens filters for the Mavic Air
PolarPro makes the same filters for the Mavic Air as the Mavic Pro. These filters screw onto the front for extra security. Choose between the Cinema collection and the Professional collection.
A number of other manufacturers have been getting in on Mavic Air filters, and they’ve been getting some very good reviews considering their cheaper prices. Other manufacturers to consider are FSLabs and Freewell. They’re newcomers to Mavic filters but have impressed a number of filmmakers.
Are you sold on Mavic filters yet? Go ahead and try them out – you’ll immediately see the difference in your photos and videos. They’re an essential piece of any drone photographer’s kit.