Variable ND Filter for Phantom 3 Standard (Bodge)

Pro Bodge Skills

I was looking around forever for a decent solution to my problem - The lack of choice of good ND Filters available for the Phantom 3 4k and Standard.

There's these by Neewer which allow you to attach one filter at a time without overloading the gimbal on the Phantom 3. This is okay, but really none of the ND filters provided can even begin to block out enough light to allow for a shutter speed of the needed 1/50th of a second in bright daylight. 

No problem I thought as I went online to look for another, better, solution. The only decent one I came across was by some random guy from the US under the name of Ditzco who has 3D printed a plastic bracket that will fit snugly over the Phantom's camera and hold in place some film/paper based ND filters. The setup is really light which is great for not interfering with the gimbal but to block a decent amount of light you need to stack a few bits of the 'ND film' which creates an odd purple hue over the image and if not all of these bits of film are stacked perfectly can also lead to odd ghosting and flaring when shooting into the sun. Creases in the film are also easy to create which will ruin your video. Furthermore I live in the UK and to get these filters from there to here will in total cost me around £30! For a bit of plastic and some bits of film. 

I was after another solution - Desperately I decided to try and order a variable ND (ND 2-400) filter designed for the Phantom 3 professional and unsurprisingly when it arrived it didn't fit. That's when I realized: I still had the Neewer ND filter set which had a solid, lightweight means of attaching a bracket to the camera to hold things in place. I needed to block a lot of light so I figured that combining the two things I'd ordered would be perfect.

To make my creation I simply carefully sawed off the 'screw thread' part of the Neewer ND filter set to leave only the camera mount section. I sanded down the rough edges created from sawing with some sandpaper. Then I very carefully (so as not to get glue on the glass) put tiny dots of superglue on the variable ND I had ordered and making sure it was centered I placed it onto the camera mount bracket. (Which it fits perfectly on to) from there I neatly wrapped some black electrical tape around the join where I had super glued to eliminate the chances of light getting in the small holes in the join and interfering with the image.

Boom, a removable variable ND filter for the Phantom 3 Standard. This setup does not overload or interfere with the gimbal. However the filter DOES VIGNETTE IN IMAGE MODE. So using this bodge for long exposure photos will not be possible. Happily, in video mode there is a crop which means that the vignette is not visible at all. Even more happily the variable ND is set back in its housing a fair bit, meaning the housing acts as protection for the glass and as an accidental lens hood too. ND 2-400 means that no matter what the situation, I can be shooting at the speed of 1/50th of a second I need for my videos! 

You get the idea, cut the front of the mounting bracket off, carefully superglue on the variable ND in its place and then wrap the superglue join in a single layer of black electrical tape or similar to stop light leaks.

You get the idea, cut the front of the mounting bracket off, carefully superglue on the variable ND in its place and then wrap the superglue join in a single layer of black electrical tape or similar to stop light leaks.