Loving my new Variable ND Filter

Discussion in 'Nature' started by Vincepad, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 29, 2013
    I'm having a ton of fun playing with it. This shot was from a very windy Wisconsin twilight today. Shot on the a6000 with the Sony 10-18 f/4 lens. ISO 100, 18mm, f/16, 181 seconds.

    As with much of my stuff, this was beaten to a pulp in Lightroom and Photoshop.

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  2. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    Real Name:
    Very nice, I keep thinking I should get a set of ND filters, or maybe 1 variable... Any thoughts on fixed vs variable - or is it akin to prime vs zoom - with quality over flexibility?

    I'm making a trip over to Madison tomorrow BTW!
  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Real Name:
    The main downside to variable ND filters is that they don't play well with wide angle lenses. The one I own doesn't get much use.
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  4. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 29, 2013
    If you're free at all, let me know! I'd love to meet a forum member and maybe grab a cup of coffee!

    I think there are tradeoffs, and I'm not sure where I fall. I didn't get the best variable ND - though I did spend $130. As it gets close to it's darkest setting, I get very dark bands in the upper right and lower left corners. I have to correct those in post. I'm not sure if a higher quality variable ND would fix that. If so, then I'd slightly lean toward variable.

    However, if that's a problem of all variable ND filters (and it may be given how they work), then I'd easily go toward staking fixed filters to get what I need. The other upside of stacking is that you know exactly what your filter factor is, making expsoure calculations much simpler. With the variable, there's no way of knowing (at least on mine), precisely how much filter factor I'm using, so exposure is a guess and trial-and-error process.

    Actually, as I talk my way through it, I think I'm leaning toward fixed strength filters for stills and variable for video (since the shutter speeds for video will not be anywhere near the length I'm trying to get with stills. I could use shutter priority or manual to set the shutter speed and dial in the aperture using the variable ND.

    One more factor - stacking filters to get a really long exposure means more glass, lower IQ, and the possibility of vignetting at wider focal lengths.

    I guess I just need both systems. :)

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  5. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 29, 2013
    As I'm sitting here eating my Wheaties, I'm shooting the 55mm on the a6000 out the patio door to do some testing, and I'm getting the aforementioned banding. Could be attributable to the Promaster filter.

  6. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Real Name:
    That's a beautiful shot indeed!!! :thumbup;
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  7. mcvu

    mcvu TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 24, 2014
    Bay Area, CA
    Real Name:
    Thanks Vincepad for the picture and the ND discussion.

    I'm thinking about getting a variable ND filter to use for outdoor portraits, shooting wide open on the FE 55/1.8, whenever I don't want to use HSS flash sync.

    Any negative? do you get color cast problem? any other issue?
    Thx for your response.
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  8. thebigz

    thebigz TalkEmount Rookie

    Nov 10, 2014
    Great looking picture!
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  9. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Real Name:
    I have a Tiffen variable. It's about $130. Is that the one you have Vince? Either way, it's not the best, but it's good. I also have a couple cheap fixed NDs too. There are pluses and minus' to both. Vince and David pointed these put already. Variables are subject to banding as you get close to it's upper limit, but on a UWA lens a variable (depending on how thick) may prove better than stacking. The reason is that the more you stack the more pronounced vignetting will be on a UWA. I actually stumbled into a way to help with the UWA vignetting. Buy larger filters and use a step-up ring. I accidentally found this out by using my 72mm filters on my 67mm 12mm; no more vignetting.
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  10. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 29, 2013
    I'm the wrong guy to ask about color casts because I absolutely beat the snot out of my files in post. That said, color casts are really easy to correct in either Lightroom or Photoshop (and I'm sure in just about any other program). The easiest way is with a custom white balance, but there are other options. Just about any ND filter, when you get to the upper limits of filtration, will give you a color cast, but with digital it's not the problem it was with film.

    If you have a reason for it, I highly recommend ND filters in general.
  11. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 29, 2013
    I have a Promaster, but I've heard that Tiffen is the original manufacturer for Promaster filters. It's decent, but not as good as they get. My 62mm variable cost me $129.
  12. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran

    Feb 5, 2014
    Nice shot Vincepad.

    On the subject of variable ND filters has anyone tried on of the Fotodiox ND throttle adaptors. Looks like a nice idea if you have a number of adapted lenses of the same mount. I've currently got 5 Minolta MD lens with plans on getting at least one more. If the ND throttle is good quality it looks like a no brainer.

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  13. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 29, 2013
    Looks like a cool solution!