You can’t fly a drone in moderate to bright conditions without using an ND filter - at least if you want smooth, 180-degree shutter for your videos. And the DJI Osmo Pocket is essentially a little handheld drone.
The camera and sensor in the Osmo Pocket is reportedly the same as the one inside the DJI Mavic Air. The 1 / 2.3-inch sensor has a constant aperture of f/2, which is great if you’re shooting indoors. With a high ISO, we’ve been able to get gorgeous footage even at night time, with very natural-looking noise.
But in the daytime, the low-light sensitive aperture means your image is going to be very exposed. To compensate, you either have to increase your shutter speed, or you have to use an ND filter - aka sun glasses for lenses.
Freewell has been making filters for drones for a while now, so it was completely natural for them to release filters for the DJI Osmo Pocket as soon as it came out. In fact, for the first few months when the Osmo Pocket was the hottest new filmmaker’s toy, Freewell had the only available ND filters on the market.
But now that the dust settled, we wanted to take a look at Freewell filters on the Osmo Pocket, and give our recommendation for what filter or filters will stay on the Osmo Pocket for the majority of the time it’s being used.
Before you read the review, take a look at our video test of a bunch of Freewell filters for the DJI Osmo Pocket:
DJI Osmo Pocket Auto vs Manual Exposure
As we wrote in our DJI Osmo Pocket review, we have found the Osmo Pocket especially great for filmmakers who want to hand it off to others for bonus footage. So if you have an A-cam available and are operating it yourself, then you’re probably going to pick it 9 times out of 10 over the Osmo Pocket.
However, if there’s someone else available to help collect footage, but they’re not experienced shooters, then handing them the Osmo Pocket is a dream come-true for ease of use and reliability. We’ve given it to people for a wide variety of shoots - day and night - and they’ve come back with really usable and smooth footage.
And a big reason for that is the auto-everything mode. Autofocus, auto white balance, gimbal on follow mode, and exposure switched to automatic. Now you can simply walk and point the Osmo Pocket anywhere, and it’ll adjust its shutter and ISO for a decent exposure.
The problem is in daylight conditions, auto exposure relies on the shutter speed almost entirely to generate a correct exposure, as ISO bottoms out at 100. So you’ll get shutter speeds like 1/3200, which lead to very jerky footage without motion blur. There’s also the potential for jello due to rolling shutter - which we all have seen hundreds of times in drone footage when flying without ND filters.
In manual exposure mode, if you’re shooting in daylight conditions and you want 180 degree shutter, then you’re just going to have a highly overexposed image. Even shooting 60fps with 1/120 shutter, it’s barely going to be exposed even in a shaded area. You can leave ISO on auto and it may serve you in darker scenarios, but in most conditions it’ll bottom out at 100.
So we highly prefer shooting in automatic mode because that’s what makes the Osmo Pocket the easiest to use video camera we’ve ever come across. But to eliminate the fast shutter, we’re going to need to use an ND filter. The question is, which ND do you choose?
Freewell Filters for DJI Osmo Pocket
Here’s a rundown of Freewell’s offerings for the DJI Osmo Pocket.
All Day Filters - 8 Pack
The Freewell All Day 4K Series a collection of filters that include both of Freewell’s designs: the regular snap-on system, as well as the rotatable ND combo filters with polarizers.
They’re made with lightweight magnetic rings that really do snap on without having to put your hand on the glass, thereby avoiding fingerprints. They’re also light enough that they don’t affect the gimbal load at all.
Freewell says they use razor sharp optical glass, with 16 layers of coatings, to ensure the filters are scratchproof, waterproof, and dustproof.
In this set, you get: ND4, ND8, ND16, Circular Polarizer (CPL), ND8/PL, ND16/PL, ND32/PL, ND64/PL.
The hybrid ND/polarizer filters help to eliminate reflective surfaces, like windows, water, and snow. When you rotate the filter, the Osmo Pocket will shake a little, so don’t expect to be able to handle the filters while capturing an essential shot.
But in between shots, it’s quite useful to be able to adjust the reflections in the image to your desire.
Bright Day 4 Pack
Just like the All Day 8 Pack, the Freewell Bright Day 4 pack groups only the hybrid polarizer filters - ND8/PL, ND16/PL, ND32/PL, and ND64/PL.
The only real benefit of the All Day set over the cheaper Bright Day pack is filters that don’t have any polarization built in. And of course the CPL filter which doesn’t have any neutral density at all.
There are some photographers who have such a demand for image clarity that a circular polarizer could slightly decrease the image quality. But those photographers aren’t using the Osmo Pocket, so in our opinion, the 4 Pack is perfectly fine.
Standard Day 4 Pack
In this Standard Day set, you get only the non polarizing filters from the 8 pack. These include ND4, ND8, ND16, and CPL.
No, the polarizing feature isn’t absolutely essential - your image may look slightly different but it’s not going to make your break your Osmo Pocket footage. We’re using the Osmo Pocket for good-enough easy footage, not our A-cam work, so a simple ND filter is perfectly acceptable.
But the reason we wouldn’t choose this set over the Bright Day pack is because it tops out at ND16. If you watched our video test, you’ll see that ND16 is barely enough to cut down even a moderately bright cloudy day, in order to reach a shutter speed of 1/50.
ND32 and ND64 are the ones you want, and we’ll go into more reasoning down below. But briefly, it’s better to give yourself too much neutral density - and then pump up the ISO slightly - than to bother with ND filters that are too weak.
Landscape Series 3 Pack
Freewell’s Landscape Series features gradient - or “grad” - filters that are made for properly balancing landscape scenes where the top part is brighter than the bottom part of the frame. Simply enough, half of the filter is darker than the other half, so you can choose to darken your sky.
The trick is, these filters are rotatable, so you have to make sure the filter is completely horizontal in order to make the sky darker than the ground. Otherwise, you could have the left side of your frame darker, if you’re not paying attention.
To help, these filters are marked with horizon lines so you can line up the filter before you start shooting. But there’s no guarantee that it won’t get bumped out of its horizontal line while you’re walking around shooting.
The landscape series includes an ND8-GR, ND16-4, and ND32-8. While they’re perfectly useful for shooting photos and timelapses with the Osmo Pocket, we recommend the standard All Day Pack or the Bright Day 4-Pack for filmmakers.
Budget Kit 6 Pack
For Osmo Pocket shooters who want to save a few bucks, Freewell does have a budget kit that has non-coated glass. The construction is the same as the other filters.
In the budget kit is an ND4, ND8, ND16, CPL, ND32/PL, and ND64/PL. It’s a really great combination of filters and all you’ll ever need for your Osmo Pocket. We weren’t able to see them in person, but they look to be as solid as Freewell’s other filters.
Without the coating, these filters may experience a little more flaring than the coated filters. But we were unable to test them, so we can’t say for sure.
ND1000 for Long Exposure
If you’re into using the Osmo Pocket for photography, than the Freewell ND1000 is a must have. There are lots of good reasons to use a heavy neutral density filter for photos, and especially timelapse.
First, if you want people to be blurred as they walk in timelapses or stills, you’ll need to shoot in a slow shutter speed like a 1 second exposure. But a 1 second exposure will be highly over exposed unless you cut down the light with something like the ND1000.
The other benefit is if you purposefully want a blur effect - on water, cars, airplanes, you name it - this filter will let you do that in bright day conditions. In darker scenarios, this filter will let you slow down the exposure even more, so you can get city light streaks, flowing water, stars, and so on.
The ND1000 cuts light by 10 stops. If you’re going to do photography or timelapse with the Osmo Pocket, get this filter.
Light Pollution Reduction
Finally, for night time photography and video, the Freewell Light Pollution Reduction filter really helps you capture clear skies, without light pollution affecting the image.
It works by preventing certain wavelengths of light from artificial sources, like sodium vapor and mercury lamps, from reaching the camera sensor. So you’ll be able to see stars and small details in astral photography.
This is an essential filter if you’re going to do night time photos or videos near a city.
IR UV Filter
Finally, Freewell also has a filter to prevent UV and IR rays from reaching the camera sensor. It’s designed to protect the camera lens, while giving you a brighter and sharper picture with less haze.
We didn’t get a chance to test this filter, but it seems like a no brainer to leave on your Osmo Pocket for any shoot where you’re not using an ND filter. It’s a lot cheaper to replace a $20 filter than it is to send in your Osmo Pocket for repair, if you scratch the camera lens.
ND32/PL and ND64/PL are Our Picks
We’ve been flying DJI drones for years now, and we almost always have an ND filter on the camera. Usually, an ND32. Sometimes an ND16 if we can’t find an ND32 around.
Why not choose to use something like an ND4 or ND8 for precision exposure? Because the light is going to change constantly. So once we’re in the air, it’s much smarter to start with an ND32, and then let the ISO automatically adjust from 100 to 1600, while maintaining our 1/50 shutter speed. Than it is to land the drone, change the filter, and so on.
That principle applies to the DJI Osmo Pocket as well. And that’s especially true if you’re handing it to a non-expert to shoot with. You want to setup the camera with more ND than you think you need. That way, the ISO can go up a little (and you get a slightly noisier image) when it’s facing a shaded area, but it won’t be overexposed when the sun comes out.
In our video test, we actually found that even ND32 wasn’t enough ND, and we were shooting on a cloudy day in a shaded area. When the sun comes out, even briefly, you need ND64.
So we recommend either the Freewell ND32/PL or the Freewell ND64/PL as your desert island filters. And to be honest, we would leave the ND32 on even in mixed environments where we weren’t sure of the brightness, rather than bother changing the filter to ND16 or ND8. ISOs can go insanely high these days, without adding a lot of noise.
So if you want to buy a set, the Freewell Bright Day 4 Pack is our pick for ND filters. You won’t need anything else.
This custom kit will give you plenty of neutral density for video as well as creative photography and timelapse, and you’ll also have the handy light pollution reducer. And then you can just leave the IR UV filter on anytime you’re not using any of the other filters.
Freewell vs other DJI Osmo Pocket Filters
There are, of course, other manufacturers who make DJI Osmo Pocket filters. But the official DJI 4-pack only goes up to ND32, both the Tiffen 3-pack and the 6-pack only goes up to ND16, and the PolarPro Shutter Collection and Vivid Collection only goes up to ND16.
PolarPro does have a 4-pack Limited Collection that includes an ND32, ND32/PL, ND64, and ND64/PL. But in our opinion, you’re paying $80 where you’re probably only going to leave one of the filters on most of the time. The slight difference between a polarizer and non-polarized version, and between ND32 and ND64, is not enough to warrant that kit, in our opinion.
There’s also a PGYTECH set that includes ND8, ND16, ND32, and ND64, all with polarizers. That’s a nice kit, but we still believe it’s a better bet to put together your own kit. Namely, the Freewell ND64/PL, which we believe is going to be the most used filter in your daily use.
For $100 you can put together a custom kit from Freewell, which we think gives you the absolute most bang for your buck.
Freewell DJI Osmo Pocket Filters Review - Conclusion
Freewell has been a reputable brand for drone and action cam filters for quite some time. They have a lifetime warranty and are good at communication if you need support. They’re also available on both Amazon and at B&H Photo, in addition to their own web store.
In testing out their filters on an ordinary day, we found that the ND32/PL and ND64/PL filters were essential to keeping your shutter angle at 180 degrees. Anything under ND32 tended to be overexposed as soon as the sun poked out of the clouds.
Despite their extremely low weight, these filters feel durable and they attach (and stay attached) to the Osmo Pocket reliably. The rotating polarizer on the filters is handy for removing bright reflections. Although they’re not totally necessary for the type of shooting most Osmo Pocket owners are doing, it’s a nice way to have a little more control over your image.
Although Freewell does offer a few good kits, we think putting together a custom kit is the way to go, so you’re not spending money on filters like the ND4 and ND8 that you’re probably not going to use. By buying the filters individually, you also get to add a few gems like the ND1000 to your filter kit.
Here’s our final recommended filter list:
Thanks for reading!