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EphraimP

Variable ND Filters

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I'm sick of limping along with a single ND8 filter and adding on my circular polarizer when I need less light. It's time for an variable ND. Should I be the ultimate hipster and wait for the Polar Pro Peter McKinnon glass to final arrive in stock, or do some of you have suggestions for good NDs that don't cost as much a decent lens? Thanks in advance for your advice 😉

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from what little i have read on this forum  a few people aren't that impressed with the colour casts you get with variable nd. How big an issue it is i don't know but i'll take their word for it. Anyone feel free to comment if that hasn't been your experience  and it can be noted on the forum for posterity. i'd certainly like to hear peoples experiences.

Personally i have shied away from variable nd, i bought a cheap set of nd filters. They may be just as bad as one variable nd if i'm completely honest, time and some more experimenting will tell. the most positive thing i can say at this point was that i got a whole bunch of step up rings and a holder pretty cheap. In future i can just buy a proper nd filter and slot it in. thats my 2 cents worth.

i wouldn't just rely on just one reviewer or blogger either, better to get a few opinions, less chance of being disappointed

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On 3/27/2018 at 11:43 PM, Cinegain said:

[..] the usual suspects ND quality rankings (think: Breakthrough Photography, SLR Magic, Tiffen, Formatt-Hitech, B+W, Singh-ray, Heliopan, et cetera). Also. People could generally point out that you're better off with a set of fixed value NDs, rather than one vND. But you must have your reasons (like [..] finding ease of use of having variable ND outweigh any possible downsides).

This has always been a hot subject in the past, so for more: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=variable+nd+eoshd+site:www.eoshd.com&hl=en . [..]

Also: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=variable+nd+filter+shootout

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Despite the silly branding, many tests have shown the Polar Pro to be one of the top variable NDs out there. And I'll attest that it has WAY less color cast and vignetting than my Tiffen variable ND. Along with not affecting picture quality that much, the Polar Pro also has very nice hard stops so you never get the dreaded x-pattern or really strong corner vignettes. 

Another ND I'd recommend is the Aurora PowerXND Mark II - also has great hard stops and very easy to change ND strength with no x-pattern or vignetting. A bit more expensive than the Tiffen, but much cheaper than the Polar Pro.

 

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All Variable ND’s will do something funky to your image.  Can’t be helped. But, you can decide if the trade off is worth it. 

For me, running and gunning, the answer is “okay, let’s do it”  The ease of grabbing exposure quickly and getting the shot far outweighs a slight color cast or odd lens flare. 

I’d rather a better option, but there’s really not one, imho, when shooting on a hybrid cam and lenses. 

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I ended up with Tiffen Variable ND (wasn't tested in the above topic), which combines the best of the best worlds:

- doesn't affect contrast, sharpness and bokeh, 

- offers up to 8 stops of filtration. 

Sure, it has a color cast, but I custom WB every time I arrive on location, so it's not a big issue for me. 

Bought it locally for 40$, couldn't be happier. 

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4 hours ago, currensheldon said:

Another ND I'd recommend is the Aurora PowerXND Mark II - also has great hard stops and very easy to change ND strength with no x-pattern or vignetting. A bit more expensive than the Tiffen, but much cheaper than the Polar Pro.

 

i have the aurora, can't complain about it. left a heliopan for it

 

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An affordable way to do ND, IMO, is get like a Tiffen or Hoya variable 77mm and then grab like a B+W IR cut filter. Then it is universal, and you aren't spending as much on all in one IRND. Maybe not quite as high quality as all in one options, but I have been stacking a B+W Ir cut, then Black pro mist, and then Variable ND (when needed) for a while and getting great results on the Pocket 4k, never get any reflections. Different lens packages and cameras may have different issues with reflections though, something to be aware of.

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I have the SLR Magic II, it has wild colour casts at either end, I'm not that stoked on it. I think the Aurora is a better option, far less colour casting, which for me is the most annoying issue with Vari-NDs.

 

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20 hours ago, currensheldon said:

Despite the silly branding, many tests have shown the Polar Pro to be one of the top variable NDs out there. And I'll attest that it has WAY less color cast and vignetting than my Tiffen variable ND. Along with not affecting picture quality that much, the Polar Pro also has very nice hard stops so you never get the dreaded x-pattern or really strong corner vignettes. 

Another ND I'd recommend is the Aurora PowerXND Mark II - also has great hard stops and very easy to change ND strength with no x-pattern or vignetting. A bit more expensive than the Tiffen, but much cheaper than the Polar Pro.

 

Those are solid choices. For the budget side, K&F is not bad for $50.

I wouldn't recommended the Tiffen at all. Horrible blue cast at all settings.

I would get the polar pro's but $300 is hard to swallow, especially when there is finally some innovation in the space. The drop-in filters that sit very close to the sensor are a neat idea. I wish they could somehow make them variable. I just think we are going to see some long term, solid solutions soon.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I'd seen the Gerald Undone video when the Polar Pro first came out, hence the hipster joke in my post. I find it interesting that he placed the B&W first but said it cost more than the PP version. In 77 mil, the B&W is actually less than the PP,  though it doesn't have the fancy rubber cap and all the PM shwag I can live without. 

Anyway, I blew this month's gear budget on studio monitor cans because I was having a ton of trouble with some audio for a video I had to finish. Maybe filters next month.

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Is there any readily available vND in Europe that worth its price? What are the top 3 options?

On 9/12/2019 at 6:27 PM, JeremyDulac said:

An affordable way to do ND, IMO, is get like a Tiffen or Hoya variable 77mm and then grab like a B+W IR cut filter. Then it is universal, and you aren't spending as much on all in one IRND. Maybe not quite as high quality as all in one options, but I have been stacking a B+W Ir cut, then Black pro mist, and then Variable ND (when needed) for a while and getting great results on the Pocket 4k, never get any reflections. Different lens packages and cameras may have different issues with reflections though, something to be aware of.

Why you put the IR there? Do you believe we need one for the P4K?

What Black Pro Mist do you have? 1/8 is too little? And half is too much? 1/4 is ok if you want to have only one?

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5 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Is there any readily available vND in Europe that worth its price? What are the top 3 options?

Why you put the IR there? Do you believe we need one for the P4K?

What Black Pro Mist do you have? 1/8 is too little? And half is too much? 1/4 is ok if you want to have only one?

I personally have a Hoya Variable ND which has been fantastic is is very affordable.

There is IR pollution when using ND filters on the P4k, not nearly as bad as the Ursa but it is definitely there. I put the IR cut first based on some recommendations i received on filter stacking - I figure since most IR cut filters are over the sensor, it makes sense to have it first?

I use a promist 1/8 and just leave it on all the time. I feel it is a nice balance, sometimes it isn't enough, but it is never too much - and I like being able to leave it on all the time to take the edge off any harshness.

 

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2 hours ago, JeremyDulac said:

I put the IR cut first based on some recommendations i received on filter stacking - I figure since most IR cut filters are over the sensor, it makes sense to have it first?

I'd suggest anyone stacking filters try different orders and see which order gives the least reflections.  Setup the camera on a tripod and shine a light source into the lens to really accentuate the effect and then compare images and see which has the least undesirable side-effects.

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On 9/12/2019 at 4:19 AM, fuzzynormal said:

All Variable ND’s will do something funky to your image.  Can’t be helped. But, you can decide if the trade off is worth it. 

For me, running and gunning, the answer is “okay, let’s do it”  The ease of grabbing exposure quickly and getting the shot far outweighs a slight color cast or odd lens flare. 

I’d rather a better option, but there’s really not one, imho, when shooting on a hybrid cam and lenses. 

I agree completely here, I do mostly events, run-and-gun.  I've tried several "good" variable ND brands like Aurora Aperture Power XND (using that lately) and Genus and Heliopan.  They all do funky things to the image with colour, especially as you change them and get towards the maximum limits.  Also they seem to flatten the picture somewhat too.  I did sort of like the look with Heliopan though...

I have had better results with my non-variable Breakthrough Photography ND filters, and I think I might just move back to them and change between 3-stop and 6-stop and ride the aperture and shutter to get exposure.  Hopefully this will save time and angst balancing and matching shots in post.  I have to finish off the project that I am working on now with the Aperture variable NDs to make things look similar I think.

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