Shopping for Variable ND Filters
Variable neutral density filters (ND filters) expand your creative options by giving you control over the volume of light that passes through your lenses. This way, you can choose your aperture, shutter speed, and other settings according to the effects you want to achieve, and not as dictated by the light situation in your environment. Variable ND filters also allow you to create some exciting special effects such as blurring and swirling. Owing to their versatility, these filters offer significant advantages over solid ND and graduated color filters.
What Are Variable Neutral Density Filters?
Variable neutral density filters comprise circular aluminum frames that hold two circular plates of polarizing glass or acrylic—a fixed inner plate, and a rotatable outer plate. To adjust the amount of light that can pass through, you simply rotate the outer ring to your desired degree. Most units offer a range of 2-8 stops, with the ring marked Min and Max to permit easy adjustment.
While this double layer has the potential to cause some degradation of image quality, using high-end filters made with ColorCore Glass helps maintain image purity and quality.
What Are the Benefits of Variable Neutral Density Filters?
Using variable neutral density filters helps put you in charge of your camera and the picture-taking process by offering you the ability to set up your shots just as you wish. By allowing you to restrict the level of light that hits your film or sensor, ND lens filters let you choose your optimal shutter speed or aperture without worrying about overexposure.
Using a variable filter allows you to use a slow shutter speed or a wide aperture to achieve a desired effect, or to shoot in bright light without ending up with washed-out images, for example.
Variable filters also offer advantages over solid neutral density filters, such as Tiffen 77mm neutral density filters. With these, you often have to switch filters in and out as light conditions change, while with variable models, you simply rotate the outer ring.
Variable ND filters can also be more economical than solid ones. Though individual solid filters are cheaper as they only contain one layer, the cost of buying whole sets of them can add up.
How to Clean ND Filters
Keeping your camera lens filters clean is a crucial task for any photographer, especially when taking pictures in moist or dusty areas such as beaches. Lens tissues offer a quick and easy solution in the field, as they come in single-use sachets.
Another option is using compressed air to blow off dust or water drops, and then wiping with a microfiber cloth, perhaps moistened with distilled water. You can also find purpose-made lens cleaning formulas, though you should avoid those containing chemicals such as benzene and acetone.
Get set to extend your photographic world with the outstanding collection of variable ND filters, graduated neutral density filters, and filter kits available at B&H Photo.