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.


New Google Pixel Buds coming in 2020

Gotta wait a while longer



The new Google Pixel Buds have officially been unveiled but we won’t get our hands on them until Spring 2020.

Google says the Pixel Buds were designed with the user in mind. It is truly wireless and promises rich sound, clear calls, and a comfortable fit. The company notes how it’s great hardware made exceptional by having Google deeply embedded into it. For instance, it should help you in your out-of-the-country trips with Google Translate built in.

The new Pixel Buds are supposed to last for five hours of continuous playback and extend that to 24 hours through the wireless charging case. The headphones will retail for US$ 179.

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This is an official Pokédex iPhone case

For your iPhone X or iPhone XS



Your dreams of carrying an actual Pokédex is still just a dream. This iPhone case by Premium Bandai is the next best thing.

It’s officially called the Pokédex Smartphone Case, but it’s only really made for the iPhone X and iPhone XS. You should be able to fit the iPhone 6, 7, and 8 in here but it will cover mic and the flashlight. Unfortunately, this won’t fit the iPhone 11 at all.

The case costs US$ 69.99 and will launch on March 2020 in Japan. It’s open for international pre-orders. Check here to secure one.

SEE MORE: The average American needs 5.8 days to save up for an iPhone 11 Pro

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LG Tone+ Free wireless earbuds launched in South Korea

LG joins the wireless earbuds party



Most companies today are throwing their weight behind wireless earbuds. They are compact and versatile for everyday listening needs of the average user. Not to be left behind, LG has launched a new pair of wireless earbuds: the LG Tone+ Free.

LG opted for a compact design that resembles the Samsung Galaxy Earbuds instead of the Apple Airpods. The design also ensures a secure fit so users can wear it for hours.

What differentiates it from the current crop of wireless earbuds is its charging case. It’s equipped with UVNano function that uses ultraviolet rays to kill harmful components, keeping the earbuds clean and sanitized after every use.

LG Tone+ Free

LG partnered with Meridian Audio to provide the earbuds with rich bass, clear mid and high sounds, and three-dimensional sound to its wireless earbuds. The earbuds’ signal processing technology also reduces digital noise, minimizing distortion while listening.

LG also equipped the earbuds with voice and noise-cancelling microphones that works in tandem to ensure clearer call quality. Both earbuds have touchpads that enable various functions such as call, play, or pause music. Holding the touchpad summons the Assistant app.

Sweat and rain is not an issue with the earbuds since it has IPX4 waterproofing certification.

Fully charging the earbuds lets users listen to music for six hours. Since it supports fast charging, users can listen to music for up to one hour with just five minutes of charging.

Pricing and availability

LG Tone+ Free is available in two colors, black and white. They will be available in South Korea this October for KRW 259,999 (US$ 215). Global availability is yet to be announced.

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