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Freewell upgrades the DJI Mavic Air drone with new accessories
Fri, 29th Jun 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Action camera specialists Freewell Gear have extended their range to include accessories for the small but perfectly formed DJI Mavic Air drone.

Freewell are no strangers to helping photographers and videographers get the best from their cameras. Freewell's filters and accessories for GoPro, Sony, Yuneec and DJI cameras have enabled users to capture amazing outdoor photos and video footage.

Despite DJI's Mavic Air being a miracle of drone engineering, the lack of any aperture control puts it at a bit of a disadvantage. On bright days aerial videographers have no built-in way of reducing the amount of light entering the camera. The only way to eliminate over-exposure is by increasing the drone camera's shutter speed. The only problem with this is that an increased shutter speed eliminates motion blur, resulting in a noticeable flicker between frames.

Filter ring

To create footage with a cinematic look your shutter speed should be set to double therate. For instance, if you want smooth footage at 30 frames per second the shutter speed needs to be set to 1/60. On a bright day, with a stock Mavic Air you are likely to need a shutter speed of 1/2000 to avoid over exposure.

DJI's designers added a little feature to the Mavic Air to help get around this lack of aperture control. There is a little ring around the Air's camera that can be carefully unscrewed. It's tough to remove the first time (a rubber surgical glove will provide the required grip). Once off, it reveals a thread onto which special filters can be attached.

ND Filters

Freewell's 4K Series All Day Filter 8 Pack for the Mavic Air allows pilots to control the light entering the drone's camera for professional results. They come in a handy plastic case with a cleaning cloth.

The pack has three straight Neutral Density (ND) filters for just reducing the amount of light entering the camera. These are an ND4 - which in photography terms cuts light by 2 f-stops, an ND8 – 3 f-stops and an ND16 – 4 f-stops. The CP filter is the equivalent for 1.6 f-stops but also has an adjustable polarizer that can be set to reduce glare in the scene.

The other four filters are ND filters with a polarizing function as well to reduce reflection from glass and water. The filters are ND8/PL, ND/16PL - which are polarised versions of 3-stop and 4-stop filters, as well as the 5 f-stop ND32/PL and 6 f-stop ND64/PL filters for extremely sunny days.

Videographers will find the ND filters essential to get that shutter speed down and create smooth cinematic video. The polarized filters need to be adjusted according to the direction of the sun. This makes them more useful for the photographer's static set-up than a videographer's shoot- which may rotate closer or further away from the sun, creating an undesirable effect.

Freewell's 4K Series All Day Filter 8 Pack give Mavic Air owners all they need to start producing smooth cinematic video and striking photos.

Landing gear

The guys at Freewell have been busy. As you take your drone out and about you soon realise that some of the most dramatic scenes don't always have a decent place to take off. Brave/foolhardy pilots may want to chance launching for their hand to avoid dust and sand getting blown into the machine. Similarly, when landing, you don't want to scrape your camera gimble on a stone.

With the filters, Freewell also sent us a set of Mavic Air landing gear. Like little stilts, the landing gear raise the drone about 30mm higher off the ground. This gives it a little bit more clearance for when flying from an uneven surface. The plastic legs clip onto the Air's landing gear. I must admit I'm a little concerned that with continuous use you may end up scratching your drone taking them off and putting them back on again. With the landing on you can't fold the drone and set-up takes a bit longer.

Landing Pad

Far more practical, was the third item Freewell set us- a foldable landing pad. The study, double-sided (orange on one side and yellow on the other) pad is perfect for sandy areas or where the grass is a bit too long. The landing pad is also useful practising precision flying and landing techniques.

The landing gear are a bit of a gimmick, in my mind, but will cover you if you have concerns about your drone's camera getting struck when landing on uneven ground. The landing pad isn't something that you are likely to use every time but is a useful item to have in your bag.

A good set of ND filters are an essential item for any Mavic Air pilot that wants to capture cinematic video. Freewell's 4K Series All Day Filter 8 Pack for the Mavic Air provides pilots with eight very well made filters that are easy to use and add a professional touch to your videos and photographs.