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Best variable neutral density filter?

  
 
lsquare
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best variable neutral density filter?


I need to get one in 62mm and 72mm. It should give the best possible image quality and have a minimal color cast, but hopefully, a white balance card will help deal with it? I don't need it to be a strong ND, but enough to use it for video and pictures in the daytime. What are some good options? Has anyone heard of KEF?


May 09, 2024 at 06:30 PM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best variable neutral density filter?


These days Breakthrough filters often top various semi-quantitative rankings. Many here use them. I personally am not prepared to pay the asking price for a small improvement in performance over the mid-priced competition. All my filters are NiSi or Haida.


May 09, 2024 at 08:19 PM
docusync
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best variable neutral density filter?


I tried many but I ended up having NiSi True Color VND. They are the most "neutral". Get the biggest one you ever need and a set of step-up rings - it'll save you some money.


May 09, 2024 at 10:54 PM
lsquare
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best variable neutral density filter?




GroovyGeek wrote:
These days Breakthrough filters often top various semi-quantitative rankings. Many here use them. I personally am not prepared to pay the asking price for a small improvement in performance over the mid-priced competition. All my filters are NiSi or Haida.


What about Tiffen and B+W?



May 10, 2024 at 12:16 AM
lsquare
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best variable neutral density filter?




docusync wrote:
I tried many but I ended up having NiSi True Color VND. They are the most "neutral". Get the biggest one you ever need and a set of step-up rings - it'll save you some money.


Can't a white balance card help achieve a neutral color? What about Tiffen and B+W?



May 10, 2024 at 12:17 AM
docusync
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Best variable neutral density filter?


lsquare wrote:
Can't a white balance card help achieve a neutral color? What about Tiffen and B+W?



You can but to certain extent. You'd restore the white/gray color but the entire palette will be somewhat skewed... at least my experience. I think you may need something like ColorChecker to restore all colors correctly. Also, you may not even have time for a gray card/ColorChecker

Tiffen is ok but I don't like B+W - it's brownish-yellow at 5 stops (the 1-5 stop one, definitely not what you're expecting for the price).



May 10, 2024 at 02:09 PM
rscheffler
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Best variable neutral density filter?


@docusync What about going past 5 stops and staying neutral? For example I'm thinking of video if shooting in a log mode where the 'ideal' ISO is 800. In full sun ~1/60 shutter and wanting to shoot wider apertures, you're going to need more than 5 stops. I think some stack a fixed ND with VND...


May 10, 2024 at 03:41 PM
lsquare
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Best variable neutral density filter?




docusync wrote:
You can but to certain extent. You'd restore the white/gray color but the entire palette will be somewhat skewed... at least my experience. I think you may need something like ColorChecker to restore all colors correctly. Also, you may not even have time for a gray card/ColorChecker

Tiffen is ok but I don't like B+W - it's brownish-yellow at 5 stops (the 1-5 stop one, definitely not what you're expecting for the price).


I've never heard of NiSi before. Are they a reputable company? I'm assuming their 1-5 stop VND is one of the best on the market?



May 10, 2024 at 05:52 PM
 


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docusync
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Best variable neutral density filter?


rscheffler wrote:
@docusync@ What about going past 5 stops and staying neutral? For example I'm thinking of video if shooting in a log mode where the 'ideal' ISO is 800. In full sun ~1/60 shutter and wanting to shoot wider apertures, you're going to need more than 5 stops. I think some stack a fixed ND with VND...


There are some options like 2-9 or 3-9, but I never tried those, sorry. Except for the Canon EF-RF VND adapter but I cannot recommend that one because it's extremely blue and uncorrectable at 9 stops.
I think there is nothing wrong using an ND + VND, if they are really neutral. You can stack a couple of VNDs as well, but consider that their external diameter is always one size bigger. I.e. you need 77 and 82, or 72 and 77. I did it once with a couple of B+Ws. The result was barely correctable though

Regarding Log and ISO - here's a great article about exposure: https://www.xdcam-user.com/2018/08/noise-iso-gain-s-log2-v-s-log3-and-exposure/?amp=1
TL;DR for normal looking graded footage you need to overexpose by 1.3-1.6 stops (SLog3 or CLog3). Yes, you will protect your highlights if you don't overexpose but your midtones are going to be noisy when you lift them to the appropriate level.


lsquare wrote:
I've never heard of NiSi before. Are they a reputable company? I'm assuming their 1-5 stop VND is one of the best on the market?


I didn't test every single VND on the market so I can't tell if NiSi are the numero uno. They are better than everything else I tried before so I stopped my search for the best filter when I got my NiSi.These filters require minimum color corrections in post, have decent amount of friction so you won't occasionally turn it while shooting, plus they have an optional tightening screw. Zero complaints from me regarding optical and mechanical qualities. Simply give it a try. You can always return if you don't like it.



May 11, 2024 at 12:17 AM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Best variable neutral density filter?




lsquare wrote:
Can't a white balance card help achieve a neutral color? What about Tiffen and B+W?


Have not used B+W for 7+ years. Back then their NDs had a very strong magenta cast, particularly in the 10 stop variety. Things may have changed since then but I am happy with Haida and NiSi. Have never owned anything but cheap UV Tiffens so I can't comment.



May 11, 2024 at 01:01 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Best variable neutral density filter?


rscheffler wrote:
@docusync@@ What about going past 5 stops and staying neutral? For example I'm thinking of video if shooting in a log mode where the 'ideal' ISO is 800. In full sun ~1/60 shutter and wanting to shoot wider apertures, you're going to need more than 5 stops. I think some stack a fixed ND with VND...


docusync wrote:
There are some options like 2-9 or 3-9, but I never tried those, sorry. Except for the Canon EF-RF VND adapter but I cannot recommend that one because it's extremely blue and uncorrectable at 9 stops.
I think there is nothing wrong using an ND + VND, if they are really neutral. You can stack a couple of VNDs as well, but consider that their external diameter is always one size bigger. I.e. you need 77 and 82, or 72 and 77. I did it once with a couple of B+Ws. The result was barely correctable though

Regarding Log and
...Show more

Thanks for the link and info. My understanding is VNDs are polarizers and stacking a couple just leads to more problems. The appeal of shooting log is that the tone curve applied to the footage lifts the shadows so they don't crush like they do with the standard non-log in-camera color styles/profiles. Apparently my camera also switches to internal 10-bit log recording vs. 8-bit with the standard profiles, which provides a little more flexibility in post. From the reading I've done, because of the gain applied at 'base' log ISO (800) it's better to ETTR, as you suggested. One source suggested just putting the histogram peak to the right without clipping. I have to play around with it more to determine if there is really any gain to shooting log at 800 vs. lower ISOs. IIRC (I don't have the camera with me right now), when ISOs are below 800 when in log, the histograms usable range is compressed on the right (highlight) side to imply it's capturing a narrower tonal range...



May 11, 2024 at 11:37 AM
Flowernut
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Best variable neutral density filter?


I use fixed


May 11, 2024 at 01:07 PM
chez
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Best variable neutral density filter?




Flowernut wrote:
I use fixed


Yep, a 6 and 10 stop and then use the iso to adjust.



May 11, 2024 at 01:42 PM
docusync
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Best variable neutral density filter?


chez wrote:
Yep, a 6 and 10 stop and then use the iso to adjust.


This will work for landscapes but way too dark for portrait photography with strobes, especially during sunset/sunrise time when you may need 1-1.5 stops at best. The goal is to slow down the shutter speed so it'd stay within the x-sync range while maintaining ISO 100 and responsive AF. I used to carry 1, 2 and 3 stop ND filters with me but it's a pain to change them vs just rotating the VND ring. The A9 III made my VNDs obsolete though...



May 14, 2024 at 06:56 PM
IndyFab
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Best variable neutral density filter?


No need to pay big $$ for the best ND filters. A very easy way to remove color cast from ND filters is to go to Image in PS and click on Adjustments and down to Match Color and click on Neutralize, and Wala Color Cast is removed !!!

I use Lee ND filters and they have a pretty bad color cast, I use the method I described above, and pufffff color cast is gone

Give it a try folks !!!



May 15, 2024 at 09:49 AM
AZHeaven
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Best variable neutral density filter?


I researched, mostly CPL's, and chose PolarPro. The consensus is That the top filters seem to be NISI and Polarpro.
PolarPro's MagLock system seems like an excellent product.

I've been reading that the other filter manufacturers have gone downhill on quality.



May 15, 2024 at 09:53 AM







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