Freewell makes a range of filter solutions for DJI products, and that includes the new Osmo Action camera.
In this review, I am going to be looking at their DJI Osmo Action Camera Filters – All Day – 8 Pack.
- 16 Layer premium multicoated optical glass
- Waterproof, scratch proof, dust proof, oil proof
- Gimbal Safe aircraft grade super lightweight CNC aluminum construction frame
- ND4, ND8, ND16, CPL, ND8/PL, ND16/PL, ND32/PL, and ND64/PL
- Scew-On system for easily attaching/detaching
- Lifetime warranty
Why do you need ND Filters for your DJI Osmo Action?
For professional shooters to get the most out of their DJI Osmo Action they really do need to use ND filters, otherwise, they will have to run excessively high shutter speeds to achieve correct exposure. High shutter speeds cause all sorts of problems, and you want to avoid them at all costs.
As the DJI Osmo Action has a fixed f/2.8 lens you can’t just simply close down the camera’s aperture and run a low ISO to stick to the 180-degree shutter rule. This is why optional ND filters are essential.
On low bitrate, inter-frame codecs running high shutter speeds, there is a lot of strain on the codec. Less motion blur means more fine details per frame, therefore, harder decisions for the codec on what to keep and what to crunch. By sticking to the 180-degree shutter rule you will be helping the codec out.
Unlike DJI’s Mavic Pro 2 you can’t adjust the f-stop, so you will have to use a lot more ND on the Osmo Action to achieve the correct exposure.
What filters do you get?
- ND4 filter – The ND4 filter reduces the amount of light hitting the camera sensor by 2 f-stops. ND4 is useful when shooting in conditions where there are cloudy and overcast skies.
- ND8 filter – The ND8 filter reduces the amount of light entering the camera sensor by 3 f-stops. ND8 is useful when shooting outdoors where there are slightly cloudy skies.
- ND16 filter –The ND16 filter is designed to reduce the amount of light entering the camera sensor by 4 f-stops. This makes it suitable for use in normal bright daylight conditions.
- CPL filter – The CPL filter reduces unwanted glare from reflective sources.
- ND8/PL filter – The ND8/PL hybrid filter reduces the amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor by 3 f-stops. ND8/PL is useful when shooting outdoors where there are slightly cloudy skies. As this filter also had PL qualities is also helpful in preventing unwanted reflections.
- ND16/PL filter – The ND16/PL filter is designed to reduce the amount of light hitting the camera sensor by 4 f-stops, making it useful when shooting in bright sunny conditions outdoor. The PL aspect of this filter allows you to avoid the undesired reflections from outdoor reflective surfaces.
- ND32/PL filter – The ND32/PL filter reduces the amount of light hitting the camera sensor by 5 f-stops, making it a good choice when shooting in very bright amazingly sunlit conditions. The PL factor in this lens filter prevents unwanted reflections.
- ND64/PL filter – The ND64/PL filter can be used in very bright conditions such as snow, sunsets or sunrises, or when you want to capture long exposure time lapses from your Osmo Action.
The filters come in a plastic case, and although the case is reasonably well made, I would have much prefered to see the filters come in some sort of pouch that doesn’t take up so much space.
The whole purpose of an action camera is that it is small and compact. I just don’t see the point of having a case solution that is four times bigger than the actual camera.
Freewell makes their filters in house and they claim that they are manufactured from the finest premium quality optical glass. The filters are coated with a total of 16 layers, 8 on each side, to ensure minimal re-reflection from within the lens filter. A super lightweight CNC ring houses the filter.
The filters weigh in at around 6-7 g ( 0.2-0.25 oz).
The Freewell filters fairly solidly made, but I did find that the smoothness of the rotation ring on the ND/PL filters varied.
While some of the filter rings were smooth to rotate, others were not. One of the ND/PL filters I was testing felt like the two pieces of glass were grinding against each other.
You don’t have to be that careful when handling them as the ring surrounding the filters is quite deep. Because of this depth, they are easy to handle without getting fingerprints on the glass. I still found that it was a good idea to carry around a cleaning cloth and give both the filter and the front of the Osmo Action’s lens a wipe every time I made a change. In a nice vote of confidence, the filters do come with a lifetime warranty.
The ring on the hybrid ND/PL filters can be rotated to change the polarizing effect. This is a nice feature and it is quick and easy to make changes on the fly when you are using the Osmo Action.
How do they attach?
The filters use a simple Screw-On system for attaching/detaching to the front lens of the DJI Osmo Action. The one thing I did notice, is that the first time you try and take the stock DJI UV filter off it is very difficult. It requires a lot of force to get the stock UV filter to move.
Once you have loosened the stock UV filter for the first time, the whole process is quick and easy to do. The changing of filters on the Osmo Action is a lot easier to do than the rather tedious process of changing filters on DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro.
Is it hard to see what ND filter you are using?
My gripe with previous Freewell filters was that the writing on the filters was fairly tiny and it was very hard to see what ND strength you were using.
On the Osmo Action, the filter strengths are a lot easier to see, but I still would have preferred to have seen a system where they were labeled inside of the carry case. Often if you are in a hurry you don’t want to waste time searching for the exact strength of ND you need.
How do they perform?
Having ND filters is one thing, but if they aren’t well made from high quality glass then they can introduce fairly extreme color shifts, particularly when high strength ND is used. This is especially true when you combine both ND and PL properties into a single filter. I decided to do some tests to see how well the Freewell filters performed. To do this I shot a color chart, first with no ND/PL filters being used, and then with the various strengths of ND and ND/PL. What I wanted to see is if there were any color shifts or loss of sharpness when using the filters. Even though no one is actually going to shoot a color chart indoors with an action camera, it is the only way to conduct a controlled test for the filters.
The standard ND filters performed very well, even at ND 16. All the strengths maintained consistent neutrality and there were no color shifts that I could see. As far as sharpness goes, there is a slight decrease in sharpness, especially as you start using stronger strengths of ND. The sharpness is probably not going to be noticeable with most action shots that you do. I had the action cam quite close to the color checker chart, and you are unlikely to be shooting something that close when you out and about shooting.
The ND/PL filters did have a slight push towards magenta, this is only really noticeable when using the ND/PL 64 strength, but it is fairly minimal. Above you can see the slight magenta push. On the left is with no ND/PL filter being used, and on the right is the Freewell ND/PL 64.
Unfortunately, I haven’t reviewed any other ND or ND/PL filters for the DJI Osmo Action so I have nothing to compare the Freewell filters too.
The filters do suffer from a slight loss of sharpness, but this is only really noticeable at higher ND strengths, but you know what, I’m ok with that. I find the images from the Osmo Action to be too sharp, so if anything, I would prefer filters that reduce the cameras sharpness. If you use the ND/PL 8 and ND/PL 16, you probably won’t be able to perceive any real-world difference in sharpness.
Now, nobody actually shoots color charts with an action camera for a living so I also tested the filters in real-world conditions. In short, they certainly make a big difference to the results you can obtain when using the DJI Osmo Action. Not only do they allow you to keep the shutter speed down, but they also do a very good job of minimizing and creating more pleasant flare. Sticking to the 180-degree shutter rule (or just over it) certainly does make your vision look so much better.
The colors remained nice and accurate, but you will get a very slight color shift if you are using the higher strength ND/PL64 filter. There was only a very slight loss of sharpness that I could see. The ND/PL filters also help the OSMO Pocket with bright reflections and glare, and it’s nice that Freewell has made the filter rotatable so you can adjust the polarizing effect.
There are a few ND filter options starting to appear for the Osmo Action, and I’m sure more options will become available. Here are some that are currently available:
- Tiffen DJI Osmo Action Camera 6 Filter Kit ($129.99 USD)
- PolarPro CINEMATOGRAPHERS COLLECTION – CINEMA SERIES 10 filter kit ($249.99 USD)
- PolarPro SHUTTER 5-PACK – CINEMA SERIES | OSMO ACTION ($129.99 USD)
The Freewell’s DJI Osmo Action Filters All Day 8 Pack retails for $129.99 USD. This is a very good price considering everyone else is charging the same amount for 5 or 6 filters.
Not only is there 8 pack, 6 pack, and 4 pack kits available, but you can also purchase filters individually as well. Here is what is available:
- Freewell ND16 Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (4-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND16/PL Hybrid Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (4-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND32 Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (5-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND32/PL Hybrid Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (5-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND4 Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (2-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND64 Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (6-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND64/PL Hybrid Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (6-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND8 Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (3-Stop) $19.99 USD
- Freewell ND8/PL Hybrid Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera (3-Stop) $19.99 USD
The company also has an ND1000 Long Exposure Photography Camera Lens Filter for DJI Osmo Action Camera. No, that isn’t a typo, it is ND1000. This would be pretty cool for doing long exposure time-lapses during the day.
The Freewell DJI Mavic 2 Pro Filters All Day 8 Pack is a pretty good solution if you are looking for ND and ND/PL filters. The regular ND filters are extremely neutral and you aren’t going to see any color casts when using them. The ND/PL filters do have a slight push towards magenta but it’s not really enough to cause any real concern, and it’s only noticeable when using the ND/PL64.
The DJI Osmo Pocket has a pretty average codec and bitrate for an action camera, so you don’t really want to be pushing the image around too much. Despite this, you won’t have any problem dialling out that slight bit of magenta in post. I was reasonably impressed with the Freewell filters, and they seem to strike a good balance between price and performance.