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Tiffen Variable ND 82 $69. Is it any good?

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Hi is Titffen Variable ND any good?  
B&H has their sales and after a mail-in rebate it will be $69. Is this variable ND any good? 

 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/821128-REG/Tiffen_82VND_82mm_Variable_Neutral_Density.html

I'm weighing this vs. buying a few individual NDs from https://breakthrough.photography/products/x4-neutral-density?variant=30850759185 

 

This way I can alway reuse the same settings if I use fixed ND filters and the quality might be better, without any criss-cross effects at extreme ND levels. Thoughts? 

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4 hours ago, salim said:

Hi is Titffen Variable ND any good?  
B&H has their sales and after a mail-in rebate it will be $69. Is this variable ND any good?....if I use fixed ND filters and the quality might be better, without any criss-cross effects at extreme ND levels. Thoughts? 

I have several Tiffen NDs. The optical quality is OK but (as with most 8-stop variable NDs) they have polarization artifacts at high attenuation. Another problem is Tiffen filters have no hard stops at each end, so you can't tell by feel where you are.

I have some NiSi variable NDs and I like them much better. They have hard stops plus don't have the "X" effect at high attenuation, OTOH they are limited to six stops: https://www.dpreview.com/news/8909959108/nisi-launches-variable-nd-filter-with-the-dreaded-x-effect

My favorite filter is the Heliopan 77mm, which also has hard stops and also avoids the "X" effect. It's minimum attenuation is only 1 stop and max is 6 stops. It is expensive but it's an excellent filter. IMO it doesn't make sense to put a cheap filter on a $2500 lens, but if you test a cheaper filter and it works for you, go ahead and use it.  https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/829300-REG/Heliopan_708290_82mm_Variable_Gray_ND.html

Although not commonly discussed, a major factor with variable NDs is whether they fit inside the lens hood. You typically use them when shooting outside which often means the sun is out and you need a lens hood for best results if shooting within 180 degrees of the sun angle. There are various strap-on hoods, french flags, etc. but they can be cumbersome. Ironically even some very expensive cameras like the RED Raven have no built-in ND so you can end up using the same screw-on variable ND as somebody with with a GH5.

This is a very difficult area because neither lens manufacturers nor filter manufacturers have specs on filter/lens hood fitment. A big place like B&H can sometimes give advice but not always. You basically need to take all your lenses to some place with a huge in-stock supply that would let you try them all; maybe B&H or the NAB show? If people would methodically post (maybe on a sticky thread)  what filter fits inside the hood of what lens, that would help.

I know from personal testing the Heliopan 77mm variable ND fits inside the lens hood of my Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II, and I can easily reach inside (with lens hood attached) and turn the filter. It will not fit inside the hood of the Sony 70-200 2.8 G-Master, and none of the NiSi, Tiffen or GenusTech 77mm variable NDs I've tried will fit.

I have this 95mm filter which NiSi makes for Hasselblad, and it fits inside the lens hood of my Sony 28-135 f/4 cinema lens: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/NiSi-95-mm-Slim-Fader-Variable-ND-Filter-ND4-to-ND500-Adjustable-Neutral-Density-for-Hasselblad/32311172283.html

Some of the longer Sony A-mount and FE-mount lenses actually have a cutout in the bottom of the lens hood where you can turn a variable filter -- provided it fits. 

Dave Dugdale did a variable ND test here:

 

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I have the tiffen vari nd 82 and as other have mentioned it suffer from the x effect at maximum stop and it does not have hard stops that is a real pain. You simply bump the lens and it rotates so there is no way to fix the ND value. I would buy the Heliopan... buy the largest one that you need and some step down rings... it will not fit inside the hood of the smallest lenses...

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The Tiffen Variable ND is good. One of the drawbacks of the cheaper ones is the depth and placement of the rotating part of the filter. In my experience, they are usually too slim and awkwardly placed. The Tiffen one is relatively chunky and placed well. 

The "X" effect mentioned by others is inevitable of an 8-stop variable ND. Others that don't have the X effect only go up to 6 stops. 

Of course you can go a step higher to the SLR Magic VariND, which has hard stops, a nice handle and better optics. But you really don't need to unless you have the money or are being paid good money. 

You can also go to fixed stop filters like JonPais suggests, but they're a pain in the ass in the field. 

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