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Anyone Recommend a Variable ND Filter

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24 minutes ago, fuzzynormal said:

This is a free video I did for some friends of mine.  I used a VND on 90% of the shots.  You can easily see the issues it creates.   Just the flaring alone is annoying.  On the other hand, I shot everything in about 6 hours and had lots of shots to choose from.  Which, for these types of low-budget-fast-moving situations, is much better than structured shooting.

https://vimeo.com/275498959/9ad0d5cf95

 

What VND did you use... because I saw nothing in that video that would disappoint me with my narrative work. And I assume that’s from the GH5?

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As far as VNDs go, I have always used them and have always been happy with them. But I have two points of criteria after testing a lot of cheap VNDs and a couple moderately priced ones...

1. I will only use VNDs that have hard stops.

As most on here know, due to the nature of VNDs, if you push them into no man’s land, you can get the dreaded X pattern and in most instances you won’t notice it until after you get the footage into the computer. And strangely enough, there aren’t that many brands that offer the hard stops.

2. Color neutrality - most VNDs will have a color cast, especially the cheaper ones.

With some cheap ones, like the Fotga, you’ll get a crazy greenish/brown color cast but you do gain a very specific look that is interesting in its own way, so for the price and a specific shoot, the Fotga is worth the $10.

But most of the time I don’t want any color cast.

So there are really only two brands I use now... 

• Bower - cheap around $30 a filter with neutral color and hard stops.

These were shot wide open with an f/2 lens or faster and a Bower VND...

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• B+W Vario ND - they’re more expensive with less stops of ND but they are better built with a really nice coating... gotta love Schott Glass. And the less stops actually keeps me honest... forcing me to stop down my lens sometimes.

These were also shot with an f/2 lens or faster using the B+W Vario ND...

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I shot this with a cheap 21 dollar VND filter at full bore. First try with it but it seems to be pretty good on this video for the money.  I used my Sony FE 16-35mm f4 which has a 72mm filter size. I ordered the VND at 82mm. So it covers the wide angle lens with no problem it seems. 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06ZZP72D9/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Used a Arri CLog LuT in Resolve 15. No coloring, pretty much OOC and LuT applied. Red is a little Wonky though.

I have been experimenting with a +3 expose on the A7s in SLog 2 because of this Long ass tutorial video from wolfcrow LoL. It actually makes sense when you see the video a few times!

 

 

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1 hour ago, mercer said:

What VND did you use... because I saw nothing in that video that would disappoint me with my narrative work. And I assume that’s from the GH5?

It's a cheap one.  Zomei.  Adds hue to the mix, but whatever, one lives with it.  I can shoot outside in the sun at f.95 with it.  No hard stops, but that's okay as I'm often adjusting exposure during a shot (when one tries to capture candid doc stuff, the camera just keeps rolling).  My issue is the extra layers of glass really does flare alot and it does knock down other details.  But that's true on whatever VND you use, or any stacking of glass.

Yeah, it's a GH5, for whatever that's worth, with (mostly) a Voightlander 42.5mm.

BTW, I too used B+W ND's a lot in the past, and wanted to go that way, but just couldn't get my hands on them fast enough for an upcoming shoot I had last year, so settled for the Zomei.

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12 minutes ago, fuzzynormal said:

BTW, I too used B+W ND's a lot in the past, and wanted to go that way, but just couldn't get my hands on them fast enough for an upcoming shoot I had last year, so settled for the Zomei.

I think Zomei also uses Schott glass, so that’s something. In the past I used the Ritz Camera Store Brand because their VNDs used Schott Glass but I just got tired of the freewheeling spinning and X Pattern, so that’s when I decided to give the Bower a try and for a cheap filter, I cannot complain at all. I think you get 8 or 10 stops of ND and since I film a lot down the shore, on the beach, I’m never worried about them getting sand or salt water splattered.

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I use the Tiffen VND, ive never noticed any image issues but I rarely pixel peep. Also never seen the X pattern within the min-max range. I wish it had hard stops however... I got the 82mm so it was quite pricey but worth it.

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IME Multi-coating is  essential when you are adding 4 glass-air surfaces infront of your lens. The B+W nano VND has hard stops and a 5 stop range but you can split the 2 halves and remove the pin and you have a couple of extra stops range but you need to take care you don't hit the X limit.

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1 hour ago, Shirozina said:

IME Multi-coating is  essential when you are adding 4 glass-air surfaces infront of your lens. The B+W nano VND has hard stops and a 5 stop range but you can split the 2 halves and remove the pin and you have a couple of extra stops range but you need to take care you don't hit the X limit.

Yeah the nano coating is pretty amazing and it really helps keep the filter clean. I’d rather have the hard stops on the filter than a few extra stops of ND... it only becomes an issue with full afternoon sun at apertures faster than f/2.

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5 hours ago, mercer said:

Yeah the nano coating is pretty amazing and it really helps keep the filter clean. I’d rather have the hard stops on the filter than a few extra stops of ND... it only becomes an issue with full afternoon sun at apertures faster than f/2.

Yeah but if you are using the A7s with a min ISO of 3200 in SLog 2 you need all the extra stops you can get! Yikes. And I am pushing it 3 stops over to boot.

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2 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

Yeah but if you are using the A7s with a min ISO of 3200 in SLog 2 you need all the extra stops you can get! Yikes. And I am pushing it 3 stops over to boot.

In that case I'd use fixed ND filter + a VND and as long as they are all good quality multicoated glass you shouldn't see any image degradation.

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I've debated chiming in, because the variable ND I use is a low budget option, but I've been using a Tyfoto variable ND after a friend recommended it to me almost a year ago. I've only really seen Nigel Barros review it since I've owned mine, so I'm not sure how well known they are, but I've been pleased with mine. I'm admittedly a sucker for budget gear, though! 

 

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15 minutes ago, AaronChicago said:

Ron Sim is a good dude. I have 3 Leica R’s that he modded for me, and he’s always been on top of quality control. I haven’t tried the NDs but I’m guessing if he puts his name on it they’re top quality.

Yeah I think his VND Filter might be my next filter purchase.

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I really like my B+W filters, pretty color neutral. The variable ND filter is also good, the only downside is the low maximum of ND32. I also tried stacking the ND filter with an ND64 (B+W) but that significantly increases the color cast and also introduced some CA. 

Recently I baked for this filter on Kickstarter 

Sounds pretty decent of it hold what it promises! I have to wait till September though...

I tried the Haida Optical Slim PRO II MC-S ND 12x - ND 500x, which is nice for its big range, but has a nasty greenish color cast when you go to max. The so popular Tiffen filter is pretty unusable for my taste, too much blue and limited range. 

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Had a quick test with the Hoya Solas VND. It is exactly what it claims, there is almost no polarization or colour shift. It also maintains the sharpness as if there is no filter. It is better than the SLR Magic MkII in every way. 

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