Stepping up your travel photos with camera filters

No, definitely not your in-app filters



With access to an array of available travel cameras, consumers have been getting more and more engrossed on documenting their trips. Action cameras are available left and right and more consumer drones have popped out of nowhere featuring the latest technologies.

Although while these cameras boast high-quality images, one can still go for better output and achieve more creative shots by using extra accessories. Such is the case for this feature’s spotlight. Freewell has sent a couple of travel necessities if you want to step up your travel photos.

The gear we received from the HongKong-based company consists of the following sets:

  • 4-pack Standard Day Filters for GoPro Hero 5 Black and onwards
    • ND4 filter
    • ND8 filter
    • ND16 filter
    • ND32 filter
  • 6-pack All Day Filters for DJI Mavic Pro and Mavic Pro Platinum
    • ND8 filter
    • ND16 filter
    • ND32 filter
    • ND8/PL filter
    • ND16/PL filter
  • Pro M3 Carbon Action Camera Monopod
    • Snap-fit remote holder
    • Smartphone clamp
    • Aluminum thumbscrew
    • Aluminum thumbscrew wrench

Apart from the monopod and its included mounts, the sets consist of neutral density (ND) and polarizing (PL) filters which we’ll get to know better in just a bit. They range from ND4 to ND32 but on top of those, Freewell also threw in single ND1000 filters for both the GoPro Hero and DJI Mavic.

What are ND filters and what do the numbers represent?

For the unfamiliar, ND filters lessen the light coming into the camera’s sensor. You can think of them as sunglasses for your lens. Whether it’s a DSLR, mirrorless camera, action camera, or a drone, you can use ND filters to have more control over light coming in.

The number that usually follows indicates the ‘stop’ or basically by how much it darkens the image. Filters usually start from ND4, then ND8, ND16, ND32, and so on as it gets darker and darker.

Applying filters

You might ask, “what instances could I use ND filters for?” Basically, a good rule of thumb is to use an ND filter whenever there’s an abundance of light in your scene. This way, you still get an image with the right exposure when the camera’s shutter speed doesn’t go as fast as you need it to be.

Another good use of ND filters is when you want to achieve time lapse during the day. By now, a lot of people know the principle behind shooting time-lapse photos at night: By lowering the shutter speed, the camera’s sensor allows more light to come in and capture more movement that can produce unique images.

Shot at 5 seconds shutter with Freewell ND1000 filter for GoPro HERO

Although did you know that you could also pull this same effect during the day? You still need to lower your shutter speed but with the help of an ND filter. Without it, what you’ll get is just a washed-out photo due to overexposure.

Having the appropriate filter, you can lower your shutter speed to show motion while at the same time, limit the light going into your camera.

Shot at 2-sec shutter speed with Freewell ND1000 filter for DJI Mavic Pro

The above photo may look like an ordinary aerial shot I took with my Mavic Pro but look closely and you’ll notice that I was able to capture a short time-lapse through the movement of vehicles passing by. You can pick up this technique and apply it to different scenarios and achieve creative shots.

While these filters will mostly be used when the sun is bright, you can also use them even at night when you want to capture certain effects.

Check out the sample photo above taken at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing. Me and my wife remained focused while groups of people around us appeared as ghosts and the lights behind us illuminate the shot.

The ND16 filter I used was able to dial down the lights while the shutter was set to a low speed, capturing the flow of people while me and my wife just had to stand there and not move for a few seconds.

Slow shutter speed with no ND filter

Although it was night time, I still used Freewell’s ND16 filter since I had to lower the shutter speed to show the motion of people crossing. As I’ve mentioned earlier, if I do that without any filters on, the above photo is what you’ll get.

Akihabara without ND filter

Additionally, you can also use ND filters to show more details in both the ground and sky. What happens usually when shooting a landscape is that the subject has the right exposure but the sky gets overblown. By using this kind of filter, you can retain the details of the sky and make clouds appear while keeping your subject’s exposure.

Shot with ND8/PL filter

We’ve covered getting the right exposure in tricky situations but one final example is about removing glares using polarizing (PL) filters. Just like the two example shots above, we see a huge improvement in the photo when I used a neutral density filter with a polarizer. The unwanted glare was minimized and more details on the clouds could be seen.

In conclusion, there are still different kinds of accessories one can use to further improve the quality of photos for different scenarios, but being ready with a couple of sets of ND filters for your cameras are some of the considerably inexpensive things you can buy to achieve a more professional and creative output.


realme Buds Air Pro now in the Philippines

Affordable TWS earbuds with ANC



realme’s commitment to expanding its AIoT lineup is on full display with the announcement of the realme Buds Air Pro in the Philippines.

realme says it reduces noise by 35dB due to the dual microphone setup and the customized S1 noise cancellation chip. It also has Transparency mode that lets you hear ambient sound in one click. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0.

These earbuds sport a 10mm driver for Dynamic Bass Boost (DBB). This means you’re getting a deep, rich base sound with these earbuds. As for playback, you get a total of 25 hours with the charging case.

It also offers low latency of 94ms in Gaming mode for perfect sync between video and audio while playing games or watching movies.

Controls are as follows:

  • Double-tap: Play/pause music playback | Answer a call
  • Triple-tap: Go to next song
  • Press and hold one side: End call
  • Press and hold both sides: Enter/Exit Gaming Mode

Pricing and availability

The realme Buds Air Pro retails for PhP 4,990. However, it can be had for PhP 3,990 on Lazada and Shopee starting December 3, 7PM and at the 12.12 Super Brand Day Sale.

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Xiaomi launches 5000mAh ZMI Power Bank, it’ll also warm your hands

Winter is coming…



ZMI is one of Xiaomi’s ecosystem companies, and it is popular for making professional power banks. Xiaomi also sells power banks directly, and they’re in extremely high demand due to consistent quality, features, and affordable price.

Now, the brand is trying to do something new — a power bank that’ll also double up as a body or hand warmer more precisely. So, the power bank has a capacity of 5000mAh, enough for an iPhone once. If you’re living in the temperate or tundra region, the climate gets extremely cold during the winters. The gadget can also be used as a hand warmer.

It’s equipped with a PTC self-limiting temperature heating technology that’s patented and safe. The power bank consists of PID constant temperature control for precise control of the heating element. It can go up to 52-degrees Celsius, which is safe and comfortable for the human body.

The ZMI Power Bank can adjust the temperature according to your liking and deliver two to four hours of heating in one go. It has an LED light that can be used as a torch for convenience, and it can charge all gadgets like an ordinary portable charger.

For now, the sale is limited to Mainland China, and it costs CNY 89 (US$ 13.5).

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Huawei Freebuds Pro Unboxing and First Impressions

Sounds as good as it looks



Huawei has been killing it in the personal audio department and everyone should really start paying attention. Adding to the lineup is the Huawei Freebuds Pro. It’s their answer of sorts to the likes of the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3.

This is what the front of the box looks like. It’s a pretty tiny box.

Freebuds Pro

A closer look shows the name of the product in gold. 

Flip it over and you’ll see some highlighted features. 

Take out the top cover and you’re immediately greeted by the Freebuds Pro. 

Here’s a look without the plastic covering.

Freebuds Pro

It’s a little tricky to take out but underneath all that is the USB to USB-C Cable and a box.

Pull out the cable and the box and you get this.

Here’s a closer look at the cable. 

And here are extra soft silicone plugs so you can find the perfect fit for your ears.

Now, let’s go back to the Freebuds Pro. Here’s the back of the charging case with the Huawei text. 

You flip it over to open it and reveal the earbuds. 

The buds are tinier — the tiniest they’ve released over the past year.

On the bottom of the case is the USB-C port. 

And on its right side is the bluetooth pairing button. 

But if you simply open the case next to a Huawei phone — here it’s the Huawei Mate 40 — it’ll immediately detect it and ask to pair. 

When you press connect, it’ll show you right away how to operate the Freebuds Pro. 

After that, it’ll show you the battery life of each Freebud Pro and the case. 

As mentioned earlier, in terms of the size of the stem, it’s a lot smaller than the previous two releases. 

The cases also vary in shape and size.

Here’s what they look like when worn. 

First impressions 

I’ve only had the Freebuds Pro for a little over 24 hours at the time of writing. I’ve since used it on a video call meeting and to listen to the Eyes Wide Open album by TWICE.

I Cant Stop Me GIF by TWICE - Find & Share on GIPHY

So far, it’s performing exactly as advertised. It carries over the noise-cancellation excellence from the Freebuds 3 and Freebuds 3i. In fact, the Freebuds Pro combines the best practices of the aforementioned devices thanks to a number of engineering and design choices.

Sound quality is also right around what I expected based on my previous experiences with other Huawei audio products. It’s certainly two steps above the Freebuds 3i in terms of overall sound quality.

SEE ALSO: Freebuds 3 review | Freebuds 3i review

Music comes off as crisp and clean as the Freebuds 3 but we’ll have to try it out for a little longer for a more definitive take. Same goes for the battery life.

The controls are also more intuitive. If you are coming from the Freebuds 3, it is a little different. Here’s a photo of me assuming the controls are the same. Nope, I didn’t pay attention to the prompts during set-up. What an idiot.

Price and availability 

In the Philippines, it retails for PhP 7,999 — around PhP 1,000 cheaper than the launch price of the Freebuds 3 (PhP 8,990).

Pre-order period is from November 27 to December 3. If you pre-order you’ll get freebies worth PhP 3,989.

  • Huawei Band 4 — PhP 1,890
  • Entertainment Gift Package — PhP 2,099

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