“The most common option for shooters using still photography lenses on digital cameras that don’t have in-built ND is to use a variable ND filter, but often this can lead to compromises in image quality. Using fixed ND filters often results in better overall image quality, but it does come at the cost of convenience….”
The esoteric arts of creating top quality neutral density filters have come to the fore again in recent months with Breakthrough Photography’s Dark CPL & X4 GND Kickstarter campaign and Formatt Hitech’s release of their new Firecrest Ultra range.
I have been relying on one of the most highly recommended variable ND filters for some time, the Genustech Eclipse ND Fader, and it has proven itself well enough in the field though its technology is now somewhat behind the times.
But I have resisted investing in a set of circular fixed ND filters in the range of strengths I have been considering – 2 stops, 4 stops, 6 stops, 8 stops and possibly 10 stops for shooting time lapses in the way that Griffin Hammond demonstrates.
As much as I really like Breakthrough Photography’s optics, its manufacturing quality and especially its brass traction frames, I find the company’s circular fixed ND values of 3, 6 and 10 too limiting for video and 15 stops may not be necessary unless using a high base ISO camera like the Sony a7S series.
I need to shoot video run-and-gun as well as fixed-camera, with one, two or three cameras as needed, and that means more than one set of NDs or one variable ND.
The solution Matthew Allard writes about here – “I would buy a variable ND and several fixed ND filters – probably 0.9, 1.2, 2.1 and 3.0.” – has merit and I am now seriously considering buying my own SLR Magic fixed-plus-variable ND set.
Whether 2, 4, 6 and 8 stops or 3, 5, 7 and 10 stops, or something else again, the idea of combining such a fixed ND set with a matching 10-stop maximum variable ND filter is tempting.
- Breakthrough Photography
- Formatt Hitech – Firecrest Ultra
- News Shooter – It’s a kinda magic? The Image Enhance Pro filter from SLR Magic claims to give your camera a ‘natural look’, fix flesh tones and colour balance
- News Shooter – SLR magic announces 2X and 1.33x anamorphic cine lens sets
- ukdigital – SLR Magic Shop
- Wikipedia – Neutral-density filter
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- Breakthrough Photography 62mm X4 UV Filter – B&H
- Format Hitech Firecrest Ultra – B&H
- Genustech 82mm Eclipse ND Fader Filter – B&H
- SLR Magic 82mm Circular Fixed ND Filter – B&H – coming soon
- SLR Magic 82mm Image Enhancer Pro Filter – B&H
- SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops) – B&H
- SLR Magic 86mm Image Enhancer ND Filter (4 STOP) – B&H
- Xume Magnetic Filter Adapter System – B&H