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Overcoming the DJI Dance for Long Exposure

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Hey, everybody! I put almost an hour on the aircraft yesterday from 30 minutes before sunrise to almost 30 minutes after sunset.

In previous night flights, I have noticed that shutter speeds slower than 0.5 seconds typically do not come out sharp because of what some people call the "DJI Dance." Here's an example shot of a 5-second exposure ...
Screen Shot 2021-03-13 at 7.23.59 PM.png

My solution:
  1. 15 minutes after sunset: Takeoff and get into position. Take a burst of at least three shots at shutter priority at 1/2 second with exposure compensation at -1/3 EV.
  2. For each subsequent burst of shots, slow shutter speed by 2/3 EV. Go for as long as possible.
  3. Select the sharpest shot to use as the base layer and the best long exposure shot you are able. For the base layer, focus on the entire overall image; and for the long exposure shot, focus on the moving parts.
  4. Combine shots in Affinity Photo or Photoshop: Place long exposure shot over base layer with layer mask that is initially all transparency. Brush in your streaks of light because you know where the road is.

Final result:
Lights v2.jpg
 
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Interestingly, I've never had problems with long exposures - even in moderate wind. You may have a problem with your gimbal. You didn't mention which camera you're using, but if you're using a Z3, that explains it. I found those cameras to be junk.

Here's an oldie but goodie - 5 years old(?). I believe a 3 or 4 second exposure....

1615823725327.png

Yes, it's a noisy, crappy photo (taken with my Inspire X3, I believe). But my point is the lack of motion blur. I bet I can take a better one.

D
 
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I have an X5S with a Panasonic Summilux 15mm f/1.7. Word is that some Inspire 2 aircraft are not 100% stable at hover. I got mine used. Also, I should clarify that the screenshot was the worst of the bunch and is at 400% zoom.
 
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Hey, everybody! I put almost an hour on the aircraft yesterday from 30 minutes before sunrise to almost 30 minutes after sunset.

In previous night flights, I have noticed that shutter speeds slower than 0.5 seconds typically do not come out sharp because of what some people call the "DJI Dance." Here's an example shot of a 5-second exposure ...
View attachment 30687

My solution:
  1. 15 minutes after sunset: Takeoff and get into position. Take a burst of at least three shots at shutter priority at 1/2 second with exposure compensation at -1/3 EV.
  2. For each subsequent burst of shots, slow shutter speed by 2/3 EV. Go for as long as possible.
  3. Select the sharpest shot to use as the base layer and the best long exposure shot you are able. For the base layer, focus on the entire overall image; and for the long exposure shot, focus on the moving parts.
  4. Combine shots in Affinity Photo or Photoshop: Place long exposure shot over base layer with layer mask that is initially all transparency. Brush in your streaks of light because you know where the road is.

Final result:
View attachment 30686
Thanks for sharing such importing things with us!
 
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I always check that the exposure is no longer than 1/6s (if I use a 45mm lense on the X5S). When I shoot with a wider lense, I can try an exposure up to 1/2s; however I will then have to pick out the sharp images during development.
Some examples attached.
 

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I always check that the exposure is no longer than 1/6s (if I use a 45mm lense on the X5S). When I shoot with a wider lense, I can try an exposure up to 1/2s; however I will then have to pick out the sharp images during development.
Some examples attached.
You have some very compelling shots too! ? I am relieved to see that it is not just me that is seeing this behavior. I am using a 15mm lens. Compositing the shots is for when you might want a "streak of lights" effect.
 
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If you were zoomed in at all, that would amplify any small movements and cause blurring of long exposure shots. Also the amont of wind will affect clarity as well as if the wind is gusty or not. There are many factors that affect long exposure shots.
 
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ED921187-F5E8-49AB-82E6-CE35AE2397E5.jpeg
This is a single 7 second exposure but with my Mavic Pro.

I would think once you got your base layer you could add the rest of the photos with a luminosity mask so only the brightest parts of those images are visible. If you shot enough of photos the the shutter speed wouldn’t even matter because the streaks would eventually converge.
 
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View attachment 30717
This is a single 7 second exposure but with my Mavic Pro.

I would think once you got your base layer you could add the rest of the photos with a luminosity mask so only the brightest parts of those images are visible. If you shot enough of photos the the shutter speed wouldn’t even matter because the streaks would eventually converge.

Pictures like this is why I want to sell my Turbo Matrix E, as well as my Inspire 1. I'm in Canada, and haven't obtained my SFOC yet for night time shooting.
 

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