I’ve created a tutorial for everyone that guides you through some of the best camera settings when using the DJI Inspire X3 and DJI Phantom 3 video capture modes. I’ve also explained a little about the importance of ND filters and how you should aim for the correct exposure. This guide will talk you through the best settings for shutter speeds, ISO, colour profiles and ND filters for your aerial filming.
Editors Note : Will, the man behind 'ManAndDrone' has created some great guides for flying and filming with drones. We feel they have some invaluable lessons on how to get the most out of your kit. He has kindly let us reproduce versions of them on our blog, this is part one of a series.
It’s important to understand the impact of shutter speed and how it effects the overall look and feel of what you shoot. Take a look at this post here over at Vimeo it’s aimed more for mechanical DSLR’s but the principal is the same for the drones : All about Shutter Speed
Aim for a shutter speed of double your FPS so let’s say you shoot at 1080 @ 60fps then your shutter speed setting should be fixed at 120 in conjunction with the use of an appropriate ND filter (If necessary, you won’t require an ND filter if the natural lighting is very dark). If you shoot at 4k @ 30fps for example, then a shutter speed of 60 would be the number you are looking for.. Follow?
For the “Cinematic Look” you can still shoot in 30 or 60fps. but we must change this to 24fps (23.976) later with our editing software. YouTube and Vimeo both support this frame rate. 30fps and above is just going to leave us with a smooth video like look, which is fine if that’s what your aiming for.
Light Sensitivity : ISO
ISO should be fixed at 100. The sensor on the Phantom and Inspire X3 drones are only so good, we want to keep noise at a minimum. If you want to shoot a cityscape at night then you could probably increase it here but I personally wouldn’t want to go higher than ISO 400. It’s not going to look professional. For night filming I would be looking at something like the Inspire X5 or X5 Raw and better.
D-Log. Why? It’s quite a flat profile which is good for post production. There are now a couple of plug-ins too from 3rd party companies that have written specific colour grading profiles for use with this D-Log mode. The ‘Standard Profile’ is also a good one for starting out so don’t worry about leaving it in that mode. For the Phantom 3 Standard it varies slightly, so I can recommend the ‘Video Mode’ profile here, seems to produce some nice results.
Use ND filters
Not only will they help your exposure but they will help with the jello effect. If you shoot on dark cloudy days you may find they won’t be required to achieve a nice exposure and the shutter speed of double your frame-rate. This may also be the case for early morning shots. It’s all dependent on the natural light. Good filters are available from DJI themselves, Polar Pro and SRP. For the Phantom Standard there is no removable lens cover option. Therefore we must use a slip-on ND filter such as the one’s from Ditzco
If possible, pick your moments
Try to avoid shooting in the afternoon on ultra bright sunny days. The best windows for shooting are generally found in the mornings during and after sunrise, early evenings and sunsets. I’m not saying to totally rule out any afternoon day that has blue sky and sun, obviously the right ND filter can produce some nice results here. You have to think and act like a professional if you want professional footage. As a semi-pro landscape photographer you’ll never see me shooting midday with a high sun for the “money shots”, we are always looking to shoot in those magical morning and evening windows. All these details will add up to your overall creation.
Camera Settings Cheat Sheet for DJI Phantom 3 Video Capture
Below is a quick reference cheat sheet for your convenience if you forget some of these settings whilst out in the field.
I suggest that you save it to your phone or tablet device that you use as a monitor for your drone:
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