Variable Neutral Density Filters

Started Sep 23, 2013 | Questions
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foody1000 Forum Member • Posts: 73
Variable Neutral Density Filters

Has anyone used Variable Neutral Density Filters?  They seem very convenient but online reviews are mixed and there are some concerns about them degrading the IQ of images.  I'm just a hobbyist casual shooter and don't need my photos to be tack sharp.  I'm looking for a cheap one for $50 or below.  Can you please share your experience - good or bad?  Thanks.

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Jogger
Jogger Veteran Member • Posts: 8,441
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters
2

foody1000 wrote:

Has anyone used Variable Neutral Density Filters? They seem very convenient but online reviews are mixed and there are some concerns about them degrading the IQ of images. I'm just a hobbyist casual shooter and don't need my photos to be tack sharp. I'm looking for a cheap one for $50 or below. Can you please share your experience - good or bad? Thanks.

There is no such thing as a good and cheap VariND filter.

In any case, these filters are really meant for video/film production, where you need precise exposure control using slow shutter speeds (1/48, 1/60, etc) and large apertures in bright light.

If you are just using this for photos, its far better and cheaper to get a set of ND filters.

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Lightshow
Lightshow Veteran Member • Posts: 4,568
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

Jogger wrote:

foody1000 wrote:

Has anyone used Variable Neutral Density Filters? They seem very convenient but online reviews are mixed and there are some concerns about them degrading the IQ of images. I'm just a hobbyist casual shooter and don't need my photos to be tack sharp. I'm looking for a cheap one for $50 or below. Can you please share your experience - good or bad? Thanks.

There is no such thing as a good and cheap VariND filter.

+1

I bought a Singh ray Vari-ND Because most of the bad reviews came from the cheap ones.

http://www.singh-ray.com/varind.html

In any case, these filters are really meant for video/film production, where you need precise exposure control using slow shutter speeds (1/48, 1/60, etc) and large apertures in bright light.

If you are just using this for photos, its far better and cheaper to get a set of ND filters.

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Nate Dogg Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

I actually use a cheap Promaster variable ND filter on my SEL=18200, with what I feel very good results: Here are a few shots I took awhile back, using this combo:

On a side note, it should be noted that variable neutral density filters tend not to work well on wide-angle lenses, regardless of brand. See here:

http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/34696/why-are-my-results-with-a-variable-neutral-density-filter-poor

-- hide signature --

-Nate

Lightshow
Lightshow Veteran Member • Posts: 4,568
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

My Singh Ray doesn't cause X's like that.

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Nate Dogg Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

Per the Singh-Ray website:

"NOTE 2: The design of the Vari-ND Filter may introduce irregularities when used with very wide angle lenses, especially on full-frame cameras. Adjust your focal length and reduce the filter density setting until the irregularities disappear."

Fulll page found here:

http://www.singh-ray.com/varind.html

Furthermore, here is an example of someone having the exact same issue with a Singh-Ray filter, as well as a discussion about the subject as a whole:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/neutraldensity/discuss/72157625823550713/

I'm curious, what wide-angle lens have you used it on without issue? I've tried a few variable ND filters (both budget and expensive) on my E-mount 10-18mm f/4, and they've all produced that effect.

Nate

Lightshow wrote:

My Singh Ray doesn't cause X's like that.

-- hide signature --

-Nate

Lightshow
Lightshow Veteran Member • Posts: 4,568
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

Nate Dogg wrote:

Per the Singh-Ray website:

"NOTE 2: The design of the Vari-ND Filter may introduce irregularities when used with very wide angle lenses, especially on full-frame cameras. Adjust your focal length and reduce the filter density setting until the irregularities disappear."

Fulll page found here:

http://www.singh-ray.com/varind.html

Furthermore, here is an example of someone having the exact same issue with a Singh-Ray filter, as well as a discussion about the subject as a whole:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/neutraldensity/discuss/72157625823550713/

I'm curious, what wide-angle lens have you used it on without issue? I've tried a few variable ND filters (both budget and expensive) on my E-mount 10-18mm f/4, and they've all produced that effect.

Nate

Lightshow wrote:

My Singh Ray doesn't cause X's like that.

-- hide signature --

-Nate

I have the 82mm version and used it on my Canon 16-35LII and 1DIII(1.3x)

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foody1000 OP Forum Member • Posts: 73
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

I'm not planning on use the Variable ND filter on wide angle lenses.  It would mainly be for outdoor shooting on the SEL35F18 and SEL24F18Z where I want shallow DOF when shooting people shots.  I don't really consider the 24mm to be wide angle - right?

Nate Dogg Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: Variable Neutral Density Filters

foody1000 wrote:

I'm not planning on use the Variable ND filter on wide angle lenses. It would mainly be for outdoor shooting on the SEL35F18 and SEL24F18Z where I want shallow DOF when shooting people shots. I don't really consider the 24mm to be wide angle - right?

I should have better clarified my understanding of the issue between variable ND filters and wide-angle lenses. As far as I know, it’s only on “ultra” wide angle lenses. From my experience, I’ve not had any issue at 18mm on my zoom lenses; therefore, I’m pretty sure there would be no issue on a 24mm prime.

Hope this helps,

Nate

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