Choosing Solid Neutral Density Filters
Solid neutral density filters (ND filters) enhance image quality by providing more control over the volume of light that passes through your lens. These simple accessories allow you to adjust shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, giving you more artistic options when photographing.
What's a Solid Neutral Density Filter?
Fashioned from glass or resin in a metal frame, an ND filter fits over your lens to restrict the light passing through. There are two types of ND filters: graduated and solid.
Variable or graduated neutral density filters restrict light in certain parts of the frame. These are useful when the light source is located in a specific spot. Solid neutral density filters have a uniform degree of density throughout, and thus darken the entire image. They offer different degrees of filtering power, measured in stops.
These filters don't affect image color, and you can use them in conjunction with other filters, such as circular polarizer filters, 58mm solar filters, or color compensating filters, as required.
What Are Neutral Density Filters Used For?
ND filters have many uses. They let you use slow shutter speeds to capture movement, decrease depth of field through the use of wider apertures, and reduce effective ISO for high-speed film, for example. You can also use them with video cameras to avoid overexposure in bright settings.
How to Select a Solid Neutral Density Filter
A major consideration when choosing an ND filter kit is the method of attachment. The two primary options are screw-on style and slot-in style.
The former are circular, and simply screw into the lens. Screw-on attachments can only fit on lenses of the same size, so you'd need 77mm filters for 77mm lenses, for example. However, you could buy a step-up ring to convert various diameters. Slot-style solid neutral density filters, also known as plate filters, are square or rectangular, and slip into a holder that you mount on the lens. These are desirable when you're using lenses of different thread sizes, as they can fit over any size lens. Additionally, you can move plate filters around as required; though this feature is more important with variable ND filters than with the solid variety.
ND filter kits come in a range of stop numbers, which indicate their filtering power. The higher the stop number, the darker the filter is, with 3 and 10 being the most popular.
To find solid neutral density filters, light balancing and color conversion filters, and ND filter kit options that are just right for your needs, check out the premium selection at B&H Photo and Video.