Tag Archives: fader nd

26 Comments

What happened to cheap Variable ND filters? So I recently picked up the Sigma 30mm lens for the Sony NEX-7 camera and it's been the only lens on the camera since. Today I decided I needed a Variable ND filter and did some online shopping. For cheap, normally the Nature ND filter (seen here on eBay) was pretty good, but today it's going for around $50 bucks. Even the purplish color casting Polaroid Variable ND filter on Amazon is now being listed for more than $35 dollars (seen here)..

Now the option for a cheap Variable ND Filter for under $13.00 dollars is the Slim Variable Fader ND version from Fotga. The listing on the product details claim to use high quality glass from Japan that avoids color shift when changing densities. I doubt it's that good, but I can correct a little color cast through a WB shift or in post. I know Fotga has some decent products, but so far there's no talk about these Variable ND Filters. Not many options now for cheap Variable ND filters, so to find out if it's any good, I went ahead and ordered a 46mm.

Fotga Variable ND Filter
find-price-button Fotga Slim Variable ND Filters

 26 Comments

9 Comments

A few days ago I posted about using Rubber Hoods as an inexpensive solution to shading your glass (as opposed to Matte Boxes). The LCW - Light Craft Workshop Digi Pro ND Filter starts with a 77mm thread and cones out to an 82mm thread. Since these ND filters can be pretty expensive, you can adapt one ND to several lenses by using cheap step up filter rings. The same idea goes for other filters like a CPL - Circular Polarizer. If you plan to do this, you want to make sure that you get the largest ND filter available to cover all your lenses. The one problem you'll run into is that you can no longer use the stock lens hood, so a cheap fix is to use these folding rubber lens hoods. Here's a look at how it all comes together.

When shopping for Step Up filters, make sure the first number is smaller than the second. There is such a thing as 'Step Down Filters' which you probably won't have much use for. Not sure about the thread size of your lens? Normally you'll find the information on the lens itself, but another tip is to look carefully for tiny numbers on the back of your Lens Cap. Rubber lens hoods can be for under $5 bucks (click here).

folding-lens-hoodfolding-lens-hood-rubber
find-price-button Rubber Lens Hoods - via Amazon

Cheaper of course if you check on eBay

Folding Rubber Lens HoodFolding Rubber Lens Hood
find-price-button Folding Rubber Lens Hoods

I don't suggest stacking a step up on top of another step up. This could work in a pinch, but it will have a slimmer profile if you use just one. I'm using a 77mm LCW Digi Pro Variable ND filter, so to save myself the headache, I ended up purchasing (2) of every filter size up to 77mm. There's only about 7 common sizes to cover most DSLR lenses you'll come across from 49mm-77mm, 52mm-77mm, 55mm-77mm, 58mm-77mm, 62mm-77mm, 67mm-77mm, and 72mm-77mm.. Depending on the size of the ND or CPL you're trying to adapt to, you might want to do the same. For Step up filter rings, they run as low as $1 dollar + Free shipping.

Step-up-filter-ring
find-price-button Lens Metal Threaded Step Up Filter Rings

 9 Comments

33 Comments

LCW-ND-Filter (1 of 16)LCW-ND-Filter (4 of 16)

If you love to shoot outdoors on bright sunny days with a shallow DOF, you'll need to get yourself an ND (neutral density) Filter. The ND filter will cut down the amount of light that comes in through the lens so that you can tame that shutter speed, and use a wide aperture without blowing out the image. Still confused? Olivia has a short video that explains how shutter can change the look of your video here: http://vimeo.com/25851113.

LCW-ND-Filter (5 of 16)LCW-ND-Filter (12 of 16)

There are static ND filters in various sizes and densities, and then there are Variable ND filters. The convenience of a Variable type ND filter is you can simply dial in how much light you need to block out. Variable ND filters are a two piece glass filter design. Rotate the outer glass, and it will increase/decrease the amount of light passing through.

One important thing to know is that you will get different results from different Variable ND filters on the market. Because the filters are using two pieces of polarizing glass, you could suffer from color cast (reddish/purplish), also color shifting (color temp changes as you rotate the filter), and more importantly Softness of image. The more expensive ones don't suffer as much with these problems, but they can be out of reach for most hobbyist. Of course, I use what I can afford, because in some situations I feel anything is better than nothing. If you're a stickler on quality, or invested thousands of dollars on that Zeiss and Canon 'L series' glass, I think you'll want to try to maintain the best image possible by using something of higher caliber.

LCW-ND-Filter (6 of 16)LCW-ND-Filter (14 of 16)

Shown throughout this article is the latest 77mm LCW Digi Pro HD, which on the outer end terminates to a larger 82mm. This step up from 77mm-82mm design prevents obstruction when used on wider lenses. Packaged well, the LCW Digi Pro HD comes with it's own padded case and an 82mm Lens cap if you choose to leave the filter on during storage. To ensure the filter does not accidentally rotate during use and changing exposure, there's a locking pin to hold position.

LCW-ND-Filter (16 of 16)LCW-ND-Filter (15 of 16)

Light Craft Workshop was one of the first companies to really hit the DSLR Video market with a quality Variable ND filter about 3 years ago. Since then, they've improved with an Ultra Mark II version, and now has released a much more improved Fader ND Digi Pro HD. The Digi Pro HD filter was first released in a 4x4 filter used in Matte Boxes, and has now been adapted to this variable threaded filter.

I was lucky enough to have this sent over from LCW [Thanks Guys], and will be taking it out for some use. There's no question in my mind that it will provide top quality results, and i'll try to provide some still images at different focal lengths for you all. The new Digi Pro HD filter was just announced a few days ago, and may not yet be available, but you can see all their announcements at their website here: http://LightCraftWorkshop.com. As this Digi Pro HD is not a replacement for some of their other Variable ND products, you can find those products and prices already available at their official store via eBay (click here).

lcw-fader
find-price-button Light Craft Workshop Variable ND & CPL Filters

 33 Comments

41 Comments

There's probably at least 10 different ND Filters around the studio, most of them being a type of 'Variable ND' or 'Fader Filter'. They are just so handy at getting the right exposure. Some of these filters use glass that will cast a purplish color, some more than others. Besides being able to confirm through reviewing your videos, here's another way we found. It's hard to see much difference by just holding it up to the light, and for some reason using the reflective surface from a Macbook works pretty well. As you can see two of the four don't have any color cast even when we played around and dialed them to different ND stops. The other two always have this color cast even when dialing them up or down.

Keep in mind that this does not solely apply to 'Variable' filters, but a color cast can appear in static ND filters too. For static ND filters, it would be very obvious and won't require you to flip them around. So I know you're wondering, which two had the color cast? Polaroid ND Filters and Nicna (sometimes called Rainbow Imaging). The Polaroid was actually the one with the most Purple color cast. Which ones did not have a dramatic color cast? Fader ND and Nature did not cast. Of course we all know you can't go wrong with the LightCraft Fader ND Filters, but for a slightly cheaper price I'm quite fond of the Nature brand Variable ND filters which you can find below.

fader-nd
find-price-button Nature Fader ND Variable Filter

 41 Comments

19 Comments

Vimeo member Film Cyfrowy runs through a few samples on why so many of us rely on ND Filters for video. If you're working without ND filters and need to bring your exposure down, you can try stopping down your aperture, but you'll lose all that gorgeous Depth of Field look. You can also drop the exposure by bumping up your shutter speed too, but that will give you a completely different look. To gain a little bit more control of your final footage, you can cut out the amount of light coming in with ND filters. One fast way to do this is to use the variable Fader ND filters which lets you dial in your exposure. There's pros and cons when working with Variable Faders which you can find more information about here: http://cheesycam.com/variable-nd-filters-fader-filters/

 19 Comments

28 Comments

Just received the Nature brand Neutral Density filter today. It's possibly the cheapest Fader ND on the market right now, so I wanted to see what the quality was like. I picked one up to test on the Canon 85mm F/1.2 which requires a 72mm filter. The Canon 85mm F/1.2L is one of Canon's sharpest lenses in it's lineup. With the lens at 85mm on a Canon cropped camera, you're looking at quite a distance. I was expecting to see extreme softness, which some Variable ND filters can cause, especially over 50mm. This wasn't the case with this Variable ND filter.

nature-fader-ND-filters
Nature Fader-ND Variable Neutral Density Filters

There is some noticeable difference in sharpness, but not very noticeable unless you're really trying to nitpick, so not bad at all. It's definitely not as soft as my other Fader Filter which is very noticeable when zooming into a subject. Again, i'm asking alot since i'm putting it on an 85mm F/1.2L, but for any wide lens under 50mm, definitely a solid product that will yield excellent results. I'll be posting up some samples of the lens with and without the filter soon for you guys to check out, but i'm very happy with it and will be planning to get a few more. For now the Nature brand Fader ND can be found at this link: Nature Brand Fader ND Variable Neutral Density Filter

fader-nd
find-price-button Nature Fader ND Variable Filter

 28 Comments

30 Comments

genus-fader-filters
Genus Variable ND Filter

I've collected quite a few lenses (and cameras) in the last year, and it's about time to grab more Variable ND filters instead of swapping them and sharing them during the workflow. Variable ND filters or 'Fader Filters' are Neutral Density filters used to block out light for better exposure. You will find ND filters built in to professional video cameras, but DSLR's lack this and it's an important filter to use when shooting video. Especially if you're trying to achieve a more film like look with your camera, this will help control your shutter speed on bright days. Variable ND filters are great because they are adjustable to perform like several different ND filters wrapped up in one, but if you've got time to add and swap you can use standard ND filters too. There's three big names that come to mind when shopping for these filters which are Singh-Ray most expensive, Genus, and LightCraft Workshop. Here's what you should think about when shopping for your Variable ND Fader Filter.

lightcraft-nd-filter
77mm Fader ND Mark II

Depending on where you shop, the Genus and LightCraft might be very close in price, but the Singh-Ray is the most expensive by an additional $200+ dollars. Some things to keep in mind when choosing a Variable ND are the quality of the glass used, color temperature change, and vignetting when mounted. These three brands have really good reviews, but I haven't tested them side by side to do a full pixel by pixel comparison.

singh-ray-variable-nd
Singh-Ray Variable ND Filter

Quality of Glass: For video use on wide lenses, you may not immediately notice a difference, but when using some type of magnified lens (macro and some zooms) you could find loss of sharpness. Especially if used in high megapixel photography, there will definitely be a difference. This is because you are adding an additional 2 pieces of polarized glass over your lens, and the quality of those 2 pieces will affect final image.

Color Temperature Change: Without getting too technical, as you turn the filter it changes the amount of light that is allowed through. Some of these filters could have slight color changes which means you will have to correct your color balance each time. It could be very marginal and even done in post without most people noticing.

Vignetting: The newer versions of these Variable ND filters are built over sized to prevent vignetting. LightCraft calls this their 'Mark II' and Singh-Ray calls this their 'Thin Mount'. So a 77mm lens will end up having something like an 82mm Filter at the tip. This means you will lose the ability to place your stock lens cap and also use of any stock lens hoods. These filters are great for controlling exposure, but shading the front of the lens with a hood or matte box is just as important to maintain contrast and color. Keep in mind about those extra items you'll still need to shop for. If you use the older versions, you should be fine with the lens cap, but most likely not the hood unless you're using an aftermarket mount like the ones in this article: http://cheesycam.com/hoods-covers-caps-and-pouches/. I would definitely think about going with the newer filters with the larger glass, but just beware if you think you've found a cheaper deal, it might be the older version.

fader-filter-variable-kit

List of Variable ND's at eBay:Variable Neutral Density Filters
List of Variable ND's at BHPhotoVideo: Variable Neutral Density Filters
List of Variable ND's at Amazon: Variable Neutral Density Filters

If you're just experimenting with ND variable filters, there's also a DIY article I posted here where you can make your own. Of course you'll probably suffer some softness, color changes, and vignetting, but for less than $10 dollars it's a great project to jump into. Here's the DIY Link: http://cheesycam.com/diy-fader-nd-variable-nd-filter/

If you're not ready for Variable ND filters, at least grab a set of basic ND filters. Having more than one will allow you to stack them to block more light, or unstack them to allow more light. Just be careful of that vignetting. Click here for a list of Standard Neutral Density Filters.

#####New Product Alert####
Quick Note: There is a new brand of these Variable ND filters showing up online for 'HALF' the price. This is the first time i'm seeing them online, but it looks exactly like one of the brands above. If anyone has tried these, send in some demo videos. I'm going to give a try on one of these to see how it works out. Here's the link: New 'Cheaper' Variable ND Filters
variable-fader-filter
click image for pricing

 30 Comments

14 Comments

 IMG_5857
Strobist: Canon 5D Mark II + Canon 24-105mm IS F/6.3, 1/125th, ISO 200, Single 580 EX II (set to manual mode) Shot through White Umbrella - Camera Left. No HSS, triggered with ST-E2, Exposure Controlled by Fader ND filter.

My neighbor often sees me running around the front of my house chasing my kids around with my camera. He asked if I can take a few snaps of his daughter. I don't think he really knew quite my investment and experience in photography. It was about 12 noon on a super duper bright sunny day. In order to expose for the sky without maxing out my shutter speed and keeping some DOF, I threw on the Fader Filter ND. It was important for me to keep my shutter down under 1/250ths of a second. Forgive some of the shots, this is her first time in front of a camera, and she's only 13. We started in the studio (my living room), to get her a bit comfortable, then took it outdoors. I think she might have been a bit intimidated by all the equipment and assistants I had with me also.

Why not use High Speed Sync?
With a single 580 EX II, shooting through an umbrella, I wanted to use the maximum power output of my 1 flash. When going into HSS mode, the flash needs to pulse which reduces the power output. So by keeping my shutter speed to normal sync speed, I was able to use the full burst power. In actuality I only needed between 1/8th and 1/4 power. Staying at fractions of full power allows me to have super fast recycle times too.

Threw my subject into a shaded area to balance lighting, under exposed the sky using a Fader ND, and then filled my subject with a single 580 EX II off camera, shot through a White Umbrella, triggered by a Canon ST-E2. Very simple, portable, cheap, yet effective way to get quality fill flash outdoors. This method allows you to use any flash since the sync speed is below HSS needs. Too bad I didn't have someone shooting some BTS video, this would have been a great tutorial to share.

 14 Comments