A simple way to give the photographs you shoot (or the video footage you film) a bit more depth is to use a neutral-density filter. We’re going to take some time in this article to present what we think is the best ND filter, as well as give tips and advice on using ND filters.
A neutral-density filter, also known as an ND filter, is a filter that can be fitted on your camera to modify or reduce the intensity of all the wavelengths of light.
These filters are especially useful for shooting under bright light conditions and they can help prevent your footage from looking over exposed.
What Exactly Is An ND Filter
An ND filter is usually colorless or grey and reduces the amount of light entering the camera lenses without changing the hues of the colors.
There are different ND filters available in the market and they are usually classified according to how much light they block. An ND filter with a high grading filters out more light and allows you to use wider apertures and get slower shutter speeds.
Videographers and photographers usually use ND filters in one of two scenarios. If you want to get a shallower depth of field or slower shutter speed.
If you’re shooting outdoors in broad daylight, having a shallower depth of field will allow you to better isolate a subject. To do do, you need to set a high shutter speed. But depending on your camera, you might not be able to get the shutter speed you need.
An ND filter is a quick fix for that, as it allows you to use bigger apertures regardless of the shutter speed.
ND Filter Uses – Examples
If you want to capture the motion of water, if you’re shooting a waterfall for example, you need to slow your shutter speeds. However, if you’re outside in daylight, the amount of natural light available will play havoc on your attempts to slow your shutter speed.
Using an ND filter allows you to block some of that light – without affecting color – and get the slower shutter speed that you need to get the best shot.
For many photographers and videographers, ND filters are an essential part of their kit. If you’ll be shooting a lot of outdoor events, or a lot of footage outdoors during the day in general, an ND filter is a good investment to make. Here are a few of the best ND filters that are available on the market.
Best ND Filter
Let’s jump straight into looking at some of the best ND filters on the market right now.
This is a relatively flexible and budget-friendly line of ND filters. The SRB ND 1000 is a circular screw-in filter that comes in sizes ranging from 40.5mm to 82mm. The price of the filter will depend on the size you decide to buy.
These filters are well constructed and rugged. They should last you a long time. Their light-stopping effect is very good and even.
Cokin is famous for producing creative and quality square filter systems for photographers and videographers. Their Nuances line of filters is quite reasonably priced for slot-in filters.
The filters are made from Schott mineral glass and are coated with a nano-structure metallic alloy that optimizes light transmittance and minimizes reflections at the same time.
The Cokin ND Nuances filters come in 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 10-stop options. There are three sizes available that are compatible with a wide variety of slot-in filter brackets and holders.
The large size works with 100 x 100mm holders, the medium with 88mm holders, and there is an XL that will work with 130mm holders.
Tiffen produces variable ND filters which allow you to use one screw-on lens to get several stops of light control.
The filter is basically two sheets of polarizing fiber that is mounted on a filter ring. The front of the ring is a rotating mount that are marked with a series of stops that indicate how strong the filter is. You move the rotating mount to switch from filter to filter.
The Tiffen Variable ND Filter allows you to easily switch exposure reduction from ND Factor 1 to ND Factor 8 without removing or changing the filter.
This filter comes in a variety of sizes so it can be used with several different types of cameras.The most common filter size is 77mm, but you can get a Tiffen Variable ND Filter in sizes from 52mm to 82mm.
The Kenko RealPro ND 1000 is a circular screw-on ND filter. It is a 10 stop filter so, from a photography perspective, it’s great for taking long exposure photographs.
This filter is meant to be neutral and take images without any shift in color, so it will help you take very clear photos, especially of water landscapes.
As it is a screw-on filter, it is relatively easy to use and it comes in a variety of sizes (49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 72, 77, and 82 mm), so it is compatible with a wide array of cameras. All you have to do is find the size that will fit your camera lens, screw it on and you are good to go. More on sizes in a bit.
The Kenko RealPro’s filter is water repellent and has an anti-stain coating. The filter is mounted on a black almite frame. The lens itself has an anti-reflection multi-coating that is designed to ensure you don’t suffer from infrared light pollution.
The lens is really dark, which is technically what you want in a 10 stop filter, but could make it hard to compose a shot. You’re probably going to want to compose the shot without the filter first then quickly screw it on when you are ready to take the shot.
The price of the Kenko RealPro ND1000 will depend on the size of the filter that you need.
The Hoya PROND line of filters are circular neutral density filters. They are screw on filters that come in a variety of sizes and are compatible with a number of cameras. You can get a HOYA PROND filter in 49 mm, the smallest, and 82 mm, the largest.
Hoya PROND filters come in 9 different grades, ranging from 2 stops to 10 stops. The strongest filter available in this range is the Hoya PROND1000, which has 10 stops or a ND optical density of 3.0.
Hoya PROND filters use Metallic ACCU-ND coating, which gives all the filters in this range regardless of grade – truly neutral color balance and excellent color reproduction. They are resistant to flare and ghosting, allowing you to take really clear photos, no matter how strong the light is.
The price of a Hoya PROND filter will vary according to both the filter grade you decide to get and the filter size.
ND Filters – What You Need To Know
ND filters are graded according to stops. In photography and videography, a stop is either the halving or doubling of the amount of light that comes through.
With ND filters, you are reducing the amount of light, so if you have a 1 stop ND filter you are stopping the light by half and increasing the seconds of exposure.
Depending on the manufacturer, your ND filter will either have an “ND factor” or an “optical density”. For example, if you want a 1 stop ND filter, you need to get an ND filter with an ND factor of 2 or an Optical Density of 0.3.
Check out the table below to see the commonly available ND factors and Optical Densities and their equivalent ND filter stops
|ND Factor (seconds of exposure)||Optical Density||ND Filter Stops|
ND Filters – Types of Attachment
ND filters are also classified according to how they are “attached” to a camera. There are two basic types:
- screw-on, and
Screw-on ND Filters
A screw-on ND filter is the more common type of filter and is usually considered the easier type to use.
Slot-in ND Filters
Slot filters, on the other hand, are mounted on a bracket that place them in front off, but slightly away from the camera lens.
Screw-on vs. Slot-in Filters
The benefit of screw-on filters is that they’re relatively simple. Made of glass and metal. They are also relatively hard to scratch and very durable.
Screw-on filters are also a little less expensive then slot-in filters because the brackets that slot-in filters use tend to add to the price.
Slot-in filters are usually made of acrylic and plastic. This means they’re more prone to getting scratched then screw-on filters.
However, slot-in filters are a little more versatile and can be used with multiple cameras. A slot-in filter bracket can be attached to many different cameras and used with different lens sizes and types.
Screw-on filters, can only be used with a specific size of lens, so if you have lots of different lenses, you are going to have to buy a screw-on filter for each.
With a slot on, you just need to attach and adjust the bracket and one unit will work with all your cameras.
Best ND Filter – Conclusion
ND Filters come in all shapes and sizes and we hope we’ve explained that adequately in this article.
When choosing an ND filter there are, of course, a number of things to keep in mind:
- The camera that you have and that you want to fix the ND filter to.
- The amount of ND filter stops you want to adjust the light by.
- Your budget for buying an ND filter.
All of those are important, along with other more general buying tips that you’d consider when you’re purchasing anything.
We hope this guide to the best ND filter has been helpful to you. Did we miss out your favorite ND filter? Let us know in the comments below.
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