DIY ND Filter for GoPro Hero

I often hear that people struggle with jello-like footage and artifacts when shooting with digital cameras – especially when using the GoPro Hero camera on a RC multicopter. This post explains what causes these problems and how to eliminate them.

Tutorial 49

The main reason for these footage defects is the fact that most digital cameras these days (including the GoPro Hero) shoot with a rolling digital shutter. This means that the image pixels are not captured all at once, but instead each pixel is progressively scanned and exposed one after another. This happens real fast so normally it’s not an issue. This effect, however, becomes visible when shooting fast moving subjects with a high shutter speed. So, you might be in trouble when shooting fast action outside in bright sunlight – you are forced to use a high shutter speed in order to not overexpose the image.

The only way to slow the shutter speed is to close the lens iris as much as you can, i.e. increase the aperture number / the F-Stop on your lens. But what if you’re shooting with a camera that doesn’t let you control the aperture, like the GoPro Hero?

In that case, you can simply decrease the amount of light that enters the lens by using an ND (natural density) filter. There are many great ND filters out there for all sorts of lenses. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any for the GoPro Hero cameras. At least not the ones that you can use without the GoPro case. That’s why I had to build my own.

Especially when shooting with a GoPro Hero camera attached to any multicopter, you will notice super fast tiny vibrations. Even if you balance your propellers and use vibration dampeners when mounting your camera (which I recommend), you will not completely take out all the vibrations. Now, you might not notice the vibrations when shooting on overcast days or during sunrise/sunset where there isn’t as much light. But whenever you try to shoot aerial shots with a multicopter during a sunny day, your problem will be amplified.

You can buy all the parts on eBay:

or Amazon

If you have any more questions then leave them blow in the comments section of this post. Thanks!

(UPDATE! There is finally a ready ND filter for the GoPro that you can buy on Amazon).

13 thoughts on “DIY ND Filter for GoPro Hero”

    1. Hello Tom,
      I have been following many of your YouTube videos as they are highly informative. I have a DJI Phantom and a RCTimer gimbal. I want to add a tilt function to my set up. I am a total amateur. I know this can be done. Can you direct me to where I might find clear instructions on how to do this customization? Everywhere I look the instructions assume I know much more than I do.
      Best regards,
      Chuck Derer
      Producer- RidesWithChuck

      1. Im doing a project right now that I had on where I show how to customize the DJI Phantom with a digital camera gimbal for stabilization and tilt control. Also I show how to setup wireless video system so you can see what you’re recording… etc. If you want to get the tutorials when they’re done later on in October then send the pledge via to email address of $25

    1. Try it on the gimbal. If after a minute or so you see the gimbal struggles. Or the gimbal motors get really hot then you know it’s too much weight. But maybe it will work great.

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