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08-24-2020, 01:48 AM   #1
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Good ND filter?

Guys, can you recommend some affordable variable ND filter 6-9 stops maybe, with minimal vignetting and color shift?

08-24-2020, 05:48 AM - 1 Like   #2
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This is an interesting video that answers your question.

08-24-2020, 07:24 AM   #3
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Great find Kozlok. That video says it best - stay away from the really cheap ones. Really a good video for ND filter users.

One thing that isn't brought up in the video is that variable ND filters are made by using crossed polarizer elements. This can account for color casts which can change depending on the ND value selected and can also contribute to image artifacts where polarized light from the scene interacts with the polarizers. Also, if you use any polarizer for infrared, polarizers are often transparent in the infrared and a variable ND won't work (or it will give unexpected results). Personally, I would tend to use fixed polarizers over the variable type unless the need exists for changing the ND value often and over a wide range.
08-24-2020, 07:26 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lev Quote
Guys, can you recommend some affordable variable ND filter 6-9 stops maybe, with minimal vignetting and color shift?
Iíve been using Breakthrough filters for the last few years. Iím very happy with the results. The big things for me is that they donít soften the image and they donít impart a colour shift, the latter can be quite a problem with high number ND filters, the former can be a problem with filters in general, both are, I believe, more of a problem with inexpensive ones.

08-24-2020, 07:57 AM   #5
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I'm satisfied with my Bower VND. The range goes from 2 to 8 stops. It's multicoated but I've never carefully evaluated how well. Color shift is very minor. There's a risk of a darkened "X" pattern in blue sky at wide angles beyond 28mm equivalent, but that's shared by all VND filters.

Wow, the price on this has really dropped since I bought mine many years ago. B&H wants $22 for a 77mm. Bower 77mm Variable Neutral Density Filter FN77 B&H Photo Video

My use case for the filter is when I want to smooth moving water, blur people out of a scene, or get a sharp landscape with blurred clouds. I'm not a super-thin depth of field photographer so I've never used the VND to shoot wide open in full sunlight.

The only other VND I can compare mine to is B+W. I originally picked a B+W filter based on reviews, but got 2 consecutive bad filters (the adjustment ring had very uneven tension during rotation and sometimes felt like there was grit inside). The Bower adjustment ring is arguably a little too tight but I guess that's good because it keeps it from shifting after exposure is set.
08-24-2020, 07:57 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Iíve been using Breakthrough filters for the last few years. Iím very happy with the results. The big things for me is that they donít soften the image and they donít impart a colour shift, the latter can be quite a problem with high number ND filters, the former can be a problem with filters in general, both are, I believe, more of a problem with inexpensive ones.
I've been looking at Breakthrough holder, it's relatively cheaper and made by aluminum, nice to hear that its filters are also good. Trying to find some ND filters for my lenses, I'm definitely confused by how many of them exists on market. Considering solid ND filters to cover most of my lenses, I'd have to pay a lot of money. Now I think that variable ND filter, mostly 2 to 5 stops would be enough for shooting kids in sunny day to cut harsh light leaving aperture alone, and invest in some good holder and solid ND filters for landscapes and etc.

---------- Post added 08-24-20 at 08:13 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
I'm satisfied with my Bower VND. The range goes from 2 to 8 stops. It's multicoated but I've never carefully evaluated how well. Color shift is very minor. There's a risk of a darkened "X" pattern in blue sky at wide angles beyond 28mm equivalent, but that's shared by all VND filters.

Wow, the price on this has really dropped since I bought mine many years ago. B&H wants $22 for a 77mm. Bower 77mm Variable Neutral Density Filter FN77 B&H Photo Video

My use case for the filter is when I want to smooth moving water, blur people out of a scene, or get a sharp landscape with blurred clouds. I'm not a super-thin depth of field photographer so I've never used the VND to shoot wide open in full sunlight.

The only other VND I can compare mine to is B+W. I originally picked a B+W filter based on reviews, but got 2 consecutive bad filters (the adjustment ring had very uneven tension during rotation and sometimes felt like there was grit inside). The Bower adjustment ring is arguably a little too tight but I guess that's good because it keeps it from shifting after exposure is set.
As I have discovered, VND filters suffer from X patterns mostly from 5 stops and up. No matter it's cheap or expensive, but having said that I would find a good use out of it in 1-5 range and go up if there's no other options left. I also like moving water stuff, that's why actually started to think about nds.
08-24-2020, 08:18 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lev Quote
I've been looking at Breakthrough holder, it's relatively cheaper and made by aluminum, nice to hear that its filters are also good. Trying to find some ND filters for my lenses, I'm definitely confused by how many of them exists on market. Considering solid ND filters to cover most of my lenses, I'd have to pay a lot of money. Now I think that variable ND filter, mostly 2 to 5 stops would be enough for shooting kids in sunny day to cut harsh light leaving aperture alone, and invest in some good holder and solid ND filters for landscapes and etc.

---------- Post added 08-24-20 at 08:13 AM ----------



As I have discovered, VND filters suffer from X patterns mostly from 5 stops and up. No matter it's cheap or expensive, but having said that I would find a good use out of it in 1-5 range and go up if there's no other options left. I also like moving water stuff, that's why actually started to think about nds.
Breakthrough filters X4 rings are brass, the X2 rings are aluminium. I prefer brass rings as they are less prone to freezing onto the lens. Having said that, my brand new 82mm X4 ND filter is very touchy about removal from the D FA* 85/1.4, enough so that I put it onto a sacrificial filter ring. The fixed ring on it is so thin that it get's lost in the front of the 85mm lens. I put a small amount of PTFE lubricant on the filter threads and that helped a bit.

08-24-2020, 09:41 AM   #8
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If you're going to try a couple of polarisers as a variable ND filter, it's my experience that two stacked circular polarisers will cause artefacts.
Two old-fashioned linear polarisers are no problem, very effective (and cheap ), or if using a circular and linear together, the circular needs to go on the lens first.
Can't remember why they need to be in this order, I did the tests a few years ago and came up with these results and made a note, but not of the problems if used the other way around!
All tests were done on a manual-focus lens so I can't comment on how the a/f will cope.


Good luck
08-24-2020, 09:42 AM   #9
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Just started experimenting and using NDs in the past year--landscapes, rivers, falls. My experience with a cheaper ND, was in the $20-25 range as I recall- was not good--yellowish color cast that was off and there was a lot of flare. I read reviews and then tried the Breakthroughs that a number mention here. I am quite pleased. The color renditions are great and especially for time lapse have had great results. Purchased the fixed 77mms for my largest lens, ND3 and ND6, and use step rings to get to my smaller sizes down to 52mm. Stacking, 3+6, has worked too. It's a bit more, but with these two and my investment of about $225 total for both (so not sure if thats in the "affordable" space), I feel set from ND3 to 9 across all of my lens ranges. My take is that it was worth it to be confident that my outcomes are results of my photo skills (certainly not great and still learning) and not impacted by the product I was using. Also, even though they are quite "grippy", I do use filter wrenches as I notice that when its colder outside they stick a bit but not a big issue.
08-24-2020, 10:38 AM   #10
Lev
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Breakthrough filters X4 rings are brass, the X2 rings are aluminium. I prefer brass rings as they are less prone to freezing onto the lens. Having said that, my brand new 82mm X4 ND filter is very touchy about removal from the D FA* 85/1.4, enough so that I put it onto a sacrificial filter ring. The fixed ring on it is so thin that it get's lost in the front of the 85mm lens. I put a small amount of PTFE lubricant on the filter threads and that helped a bit.
sure! lubricant is a must, in all weather conditions imho. What is yours? I'm going to use this:




---------- Post added 08-24-20 at 10:56 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Gene D Quote
Just started experimenting and using NDs in the past year--landscapes, rivers, falls. My experience with a cheaper ND, was in the $20-25 range as I recall- was not good--yellowish color cast that was off and there was a lot of flare. I read reviews and then tried the Breakthroughs that a number mention here. I am quite pleased. The color renditions are great and especially for time lapse have had great results. Purchased the fixed 77mms for my largest lens, ND3 and ND6, and use step rings to get to my smaller sizes down to 52mm. Stacking, 3+6, has worked too. It's a bit more, but with these two and my investment of about $225 total for both (so not sure if thats in the "affordable" space), I feel set from ND3 to 9 across all of my lens ranges. My take is that it was worth it to be confident that my outcomes are results of my photo skills (certainly not great and still learning) and not impacted by the product I was using. Also, even though they are quite "grippy", I do use filter wrenches as I notice that when its colder outside they stick a bit but not a big issue.
Hmm... Step ring is a good idea! And the idea of buying a largest first is clever move. Trust me $225 is affordable compared to what I have seen, some kits with a holder and a couple of filters cost a lot more, some are so expensive I can't believe how a piece of dark glass may be priced as much as a new camera.

---------- Post added 08-24-20 at 11:06 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
If you're going to try a couple of polarisers as a variable ND filter, it's my experience that two stacked circular polarisers will cause artefacts.
Two old-fashioned linear polarisers are no problem, very effective (and cheap ), or if using a circular and linear together, the circular needs to go on the lens first.
Can't remember why they need to be in this order, I did the tests a few years ago and came up with these results and made a note, but not of the problems if used the other way around!
All tests were done on a manual-focus lens so I can't comment on how the a/f will cope.


Good luck
you guys are making this stuff more interesting
08-24-2020, 11:19 AM   #11
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I have had good luck so far with Haida NanoPro ND. Rendering seems to be neutral with even coverage across the frame. Haida are aluminum frame, but I haven't had problems so far.


Steve
08-24-2020, 11:30 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lev Quote
sure! lubricant is a must, in all weather conditions imho. What is yours? I'm going to use this:

This is what Iím using.

Tri-Flow TF0021060 Superior Lubricant, 6-Ounce Drip Bottle: Amazon.ca: Sports & Outdoors
08-24-2020, 11:36 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Iíve been using Breakthrough filters for the last few years. Iím very happy with the results. The big things for me is that they donít soften the image and they donít impart a colour shift, the latter can be quite a problem with high number ND filters, the former can be a problem with filters in general, both are, I believe, more of a problem with inexpensive ones.
I agree with you Wheatfield.

The only two sets I use now are round Breakthrough's and the NiSi 100mm V6 set, neither of which have any apparent color casts. Even with the NiSI's one of those rectangular ND's I'm using is from Breakthrough. I noticed just a few months ago that they now have those available in addition to the round ones they've offered for years. If I add any more they will likely come from Breakthrough too, but to be honest I'm using them less now (for a couple of reasons) and in fact trialing an STC on-sensor for the primary reason I still use ND's: Outdoor portraits. Florida sun is tough in the summer.
08-24-2020, 11:41 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I am a real fan of Tri-Flow and have used it for years as bicycle chain and cable lubricant and for fine mechanisms. The trick is to use it sparingly since the carrier is intended to penetrate and will migrate very quickly before evaporation does its magic. I might suggest it as prevention.


Steve
08-24-2020, 02:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I am a real fan of Tri-Flow and have used it for years as bicycle chain and cable lubricant and for fine mechanisms. The trick is to use it sparingly since the carrier is intended to penetrate and will migrate very quickly before evaporation does its magic. I might suggest it as prevention.


Steve
For filter threads, I put a drop onto a cotton swab and then use that to wipe the threads. My recent Breakthrough polarizing filter turned very stiffly, for that I put a small drop on the Interface of the two rings and very quickly worked it in. I repeated the process 3 times before I was happy.
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