The Exposure Triangle for Drones Defined



ISO - this is the amount of light sensitivity for the camera’s sensor

  • As ISO value increases, the sensor’s sensitivity to light also goes up

Aperture ( P4P & I2 Cams) - the amount of light be allowed in the camera

  • This manual setting feature has an inverse relationship. For example when your value is f10 a minimal amount of light will be let in while f5 allows double the amount of light

  • High aperture (f11) number is best for depth of field

  • Medium value (f6-7) is good for a sharp photography

  • Low number (2-4) could be used for low-light conditions or night photography. At the lowest aperture number, the greatest amount of light is let in and depth of field is minimal


Shutter Speed - light gathered by the sensor

  • The longer the shutter is open, the more light into the sensor

  • When using a drone, shutter speed should never be sub 1/30-1/50 (of a second)

  • Personal sweet spot for aperture is 1-2 seconds

Exposure Triangle Diagram from PP


Personal recommendations normal flying conditions

  1. f/8 aperture

  2. 1/250 shutter

  3. 100-150 ISO

What are ND Filters?

ND filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera’s lens, simply put. I use these filters to prevent the consequences of overexposure occurring when taking an aerial photo.

Standard ND Ratings

ND4, ND8, ND16 & ND32, CP

The number associated with an ND filter indicates that how much light enters the lens in terms of a fraction.

  • ND4 reduces light by 1/4. An ND4 filter can reduce 2 stops of light, allowing you to slow the shutter speed from 1/100s to 1/25s.
  • ND8 reduces light by 1/8. An ND8 filter can reduce 3 stops of light, allowing you to slow the shutter speed from 1/200s to 1/25s.
  • ND16 reduces light by 1/16. An ND16 filter can reduce 4 stops of light, allowing you to slow the shutter speed from 1/400s to 1/25s.
  • ND32 reduces light by 1/32. An ND32 filter can reduce 5 stops of light, allowing you to slow the shutter speed to 1/60s.
  • CP - can reduce up to 1.6 stops of light, normally used when shutter rates are not able to be manipulated
    • ND4-16 specs provided by Polar Pro

When to use ND/CP

CP - used in many conditions to reduce glare when the shutter speed is not controllable

ND4 - dawn and dusk applications

ND8 - cloudy or mostly cloudy situations

ND16 - partly cloudy or mostly sunny

ND32 - very bright sunny conditions, I use for snow and water

Video Recommendations

I believe the video settings are dependent on the camera. For example, the Mavic Pro is rated to shoot 4k @ 30fps, but does it? I never shoot in anything past 1080p at 30fps because the camera isn’t writing true 4k files onto your sd card. Most of us are using the media captured for social media and other web purposes anyways, so there is no point IMO. A YouTube video titled “Towson University Aerial Tour in 4k” is bogus. Unless you’re watching YT to Vimeo through a modern TV with an extreme amount of bandwidth. Of all the clients I’ve had over the years, less than ten have asked for actual 4k files. Most request 1080p or 2.7k (UHD) which is what you’ll view through Xfinity or Fios. However, the more prominent named clients will want 4k so it's essential to use a drone that will process that quality if you're a commercial remote pilot. There were a few instances when I flew the whole time capturing video with the end user having intentions of pulling still images. Since day one, I have always relied on Polar Pro ND filters. While DJI has their line, I have found Polar Pro filters provide a better final edit. Besides, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly brand; Neewer is pretty good, too.

Never have AWB on auto...Ever!

Settings for P4P, X5S & X4S

Cinelike - P4P ( For Post Users / no processing)

Sharpness -1/0

helps with aliasing and moire

Contrast -3/0

encourages dynamic range

Saturation -1/0

decreases Artifacts - blocking areas

Settings for DJI Mavic Pro

Mavic Pro with Polar Pro ND

Mavic Pro with Polar Pro ND

Cinelike - Mavic Pro ( For Post Users / no processing)

Sharpness -2/0

Contrast -2/0

Saturation -1/0

How to change your settings in the DJI GO 4 App

Go to style -> custom -> change to your custom settings

Grid -> Grid Lines (shows if the horizon is level quickly)



These are only recommendations or guideline per say. ND filters and camera settings are just like working out, one program is not right for everyone. Half of the fun of aerial media is experimentation and playing with these filters. 

Contact us with any questions you may have about ND filters and drones. As always, happy flying!