12 Best Variable ND Filters for Photographers/Videographers

variable ND filter

In the world of photography, you need a Neutral Density (ND) Filter to control exposure.

You probably already know this but ‘exposure’ in photography means the ability to reduce the amount of light that goes in through a lens.

Controlling exposure is a basic necessity for any photographer who wants amazing results at the end of any photography session.

While there are different kinds of ND Filter, the Variable ND Filter seems to be the most outstanding one.

What is a Variable ND Filter?

A Variable ND Filter is a device that helps you regulate the amount of light passing through a lens. The ability to do this is due to the architecture of the filter that blocks out light.

Ultimately, it means switching in-between individual filters is avoided.

On a structural outlook, this kind of filter has a unique feature – two circular polarizing layers of glass that makes it possible to do all kinds of things. These layers of glass called the inner and outer layers are arranged in opposite directions.

Both of these glass layers have their functions when it comes to making sure light is inhibited in quality amounts.

The inner layer which is fixed to the lens cuts out any light that passes through the camera in a single plane.

The outer layer, on the other hand, rotates along a filter frame and when in a perpendicular plane to the inner layer, it reduces light. The outer layer, however, remains attached to a ring to increase or decrease light passage.

What makes a Variable ND Filter different from Single Fixed ND Filter?

If you are stuck between choosing a variable filter and a single fixed filter, here is something that might interest you:

A single fixed ND filter works using a button-controlled mechanism to regulate light, and this isn’t always effective in getting results. Most photographers often don’t go for this because it is a lot of stress trying to adjust the light in a room during a photo session.

On the other hand, a variable ND filter has markings on its frame that bear its minimum and maximum light adjustment levels, i.e., density ranges. It allows you to adjust from ND2 (the lowest level) to ND400 (the highest level).

One important thing you should have in mind is not going beyond any of these levels as that can cause interference that would lead to an exposure variation. The final results may not be very encouraging if that happens.

However, the ability to adjust between these unique levels is dependent on the brand of the filter in use, and there are great recommendations like the Syrp Variable ND Filter, B+W XS-Pro Digital ND Vario MRC Nano, and many more.

Also, Variable ND Filter does not pose any threat to polarization which means color balance is always going to be great, unlike other ND Filters. Also, this filter is highly flexible and convenient to use – one of the reasons why it is an ideal choice for pro photography work.

What are the advantages of using a Variable ND Filter?

The filter is used by photographers and cinematographers who want good quality work by manipulating light levels. Here’s what is in it for you if you choose a Variable ND Filter.

  • You would be able to reduce the intensity of light on sunny days to get more professional-looking photos.
  • Adding effects to pictures gets easier as the filter helps in slowing shutter speeds needed to add effects such as motion, blurry clouds, etc. to an image or a video.
  • You would easily be able to gain control over an image’s depth of field. This also goes a long way in making separating objects from their initial background less stressful.

What strength ND filter should I buy?

There are a few options when deciding between the strengths of ND filters. There’s the 3-stop, the 6-stop, and the 10-stop variable ND filters.

 

We recommend that you buy a 6-stop filter to fit all your requirements for shooting. Your 6-stop filter with a longer shutter speed, you get 5 seconds, which the other speeds cannot compete with.

 

But, you may like the nuances that come with a 3-stop filter and a 10-stop filter, so if you can afford them, go with all three for many different types of shooting situations.

 

When it all comes down to is that the 6-stop filter is the most versatile, especially when buying your first neutral density filter.

 

Do ND filters affect image quality?

 

While many will argue that a lens filter affects the image quality, a superior variable ND filter will not be an issue.

 

Many people believe that an extra layer of glass causes issues with your pictures and video, where quality is concerned. We’ve taken the test and found that lens filters do not adversely affect image quality.

 

Buy the right ND filter, and you should not have a problem with image quality. In fact, these best variable ND filters are fit to work harder on your images.

What is the best Variable ND filter?

We believe the best variable ND filter is the PolarPro 67mm variable ND filter. Continue reading to find out what makes it the best variable ND filter.

Overall Best Variable ND Filter

Best Variable ND Filter

PolarPro 67mm Variable ND Filter (2 to 5 Stop)

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First on our list of best variable ND filters is the PolarPro 67mm. We picked this variable ND filter because it is the top-rated.

Features & Specifications

  • Get full control over your content as this variable ND filter is 67mm 2 to 5 stop.
  • Eliminates any cross polarization with its preset stop range.
  • Zero to 16 mm focal length stops vignetting.
  • Made of quartz glass for pure focus and the best optical clarity.
  • Comes with a VND filter, soft case, hard case, and VND lens cover.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because of its design. You’ll love that the quartz makes the filter protected against scratches, breaking, and fingerprints. And, with a lifetime warranty you don’t have to keep buying new filters. You’re set.

Budget Best Variable ND Filter

K&F Concept 67mm ND

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Our budget best variable ND filter is the K&F concept ND filter. For those who want the most professional shots without spending much money, this ND filter is for you.

Features & Specifications

  • 67mm adjustable density professional filter ND2~400 with a microfiber lens cleaning cloth.
  • Made of professional optical glass and microfiber cloth by Japanese Raw Material and not optical resin.
  • The slim design helps avoid vignetting while shooting photography.
  • Compatible with all 67mm lenses (do confirm lens thread size before purchasing).

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this budget best variable ND filter because it’s easy to use and the filter does it’s job correctly.

Runner-Up Best Variable ND Filter

Tiffen 77mm Variable Neutral Density Filter

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Our runner-up best variable ND filter is the Tiffen 77mm variable neutral density filter. We picked this variable ND filter because it is highly rated for its job.

Features & Specifications

  • This filter gives 2 to 8 stops of light control in different focal difference scenarios.
  • It has a thin profile and a black aluminum rotating ring of 9mm.
  • The wider outer optic helps reduce vignetting when shooting at wider angles.
  • Made of quality optical glass including Tiffen’s color core technology that makes shots sharp while using the filter.
  • Made in the USA.
  • 10 year manufacturer’s warranty.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because you can change the stop settings or crank them up while using the filters, which most filters do not allow. It makes photography easier for you.

Honorable mentions

B+W 77mm XS-Pro Digital Vario ND with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating

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The next best variable ND filter is the B+W 77mm XS-Pro digital vario ND with nano coating. This neutral density variable filter lets you set a density between +1 and +5 stops.

Features & Specifications

  • Comes with an extra-wide design, letting you shoot with most 17mm lenses on a full-body frame.
  • Comes with multi-resistant coating with nano technology.
  • Designed with xs-pro mount and brass ring construction.
  • You can also combine with other B+W ND filters for higher density.
  • Adapt the filter to meet your needs.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because it does its job with no change in color cast going from 1 to 5 stops.

Hoya 77mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter

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This best variable ND filter is the Hoya 77mm variable density screw-in filter. This filter is known for its superiority for a few reasons.

Features & Specifications

  • The filter ring rotates with a scale that indicates max to minimum settings.
  • Gives you 1.5-p stop exposure reduction. Its equal filter factor is NDX3-NDX400.
  • You can use slow shutter speeds with this filter.
  • The ring material is aluminum.
  • Gives you better control over depth of field.
  • Color balance and detail are not affected by the design.
  • The outer ring rotates so it can control the amount of neutral density.

 

What Customers Say

 

Customers like you enjoy this best variable ND filter because of its superiority in the market. Vloggers especially love the good variable density.

Syrp Large (82mm) Super Dark Variable ND Filter

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The next best variable ND filter is the Syrp large super dark variable ND filter. Made of high-quality glass, this VND filter is your new best friend.

Features & Specifications

  • Made of high-quality Japanese glass.
  • 82mm 5-10 stop variable ND filter.
  • Comes with 77mm and 72mm-82mm step up rings.
  • Comes with a genuine leather case and lens cloth.
  • Great for long exposure photos and time-lapse.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because it is so high-quality. You’ll love shooting both time-lapse photography and long exposure photos.

Singh-Ray 77mm Vari-ND Neutral Density Filter

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This next best variable ND filter is the Singh-Ray 77mm variable ND neutral density filter. With a dramatic look, this VND filter controls with sharpness.

Features & Specifications

  • Adds a dramatic look when you work with motion effects and shallow depths of field.
  • Also works with bright light or flash.
  • All you do is turn the variable ND control to the amount of light passing through for either 2 through 8 stops.
  • No loss of color fidelity and no loss of sharpness.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because not only is it a variable ND filter, but also a polarizer in one. You’ll love the fit, the finish, and the optics of this filter.

K&F Concept 82mm Fader ND Filter Neutral Density Variable Filter

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This best variable ND filter is the K&F concept 82mm fader ND filter. This professional quality variable ND is sure to impress.

Features & Specifications

  • The ND filter is made by completed professional optical glasses, not resin.
  • Reduces light intake without changing the color balance.
  • For lens cap/hoods at 86mm.
  • Does not give you common image issues that many other filters can give, including the “X” cross on images.
  • Nano coating layer technology makes the filter waterproof, scratch-resistant, anti-reflective with green coating, fingerprint proof, and protected.
  • The slim rim design prevents wide angle vignetting.
  • Made of an aviation aluminum frame, which is durable and prevents jamming.
  • Compatible with all 82mm lenses.

What Customers Say

Customers like you enjoy this best variable ND filter, especially for outdoor shooting. You’ll love the quality of your photos and videos using this variable ND filter.

Gobe NDX 77mm Variable ND Lens Filter

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The next best variable ND filter is the Gobe NDX 77mm variable ND lens filter. You’ll enjoy how versatile this ND filter is.

 

Features & Specifications

  • The filter rotating ring goes between ND2 and ND400 to give you enough versatility to change light.
  • Reduces light intake from 1 to 8.66 f-stops without making a difference on color balance.
  • Perfect for landscape photography and videography.
  • Made of premium Japanese optical glass and 8-layer nano coating for neutral color balance.
  • The filter reduces lens flare while also removing ghosting.
  • Variable light reduction means no washed-out images.
  • Allows for long exposure.
  • Not recommended for wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Your purchase means Gobe will help fund local communities by planting 5 trees affected by deforestation.

 

What Customers Say

Customers like you enjoy this best variable ND filter because it is a real bargain for the high-quality filter you get. What is the most enticing is you get the lifetime warranty and you know you are doing something good because they will combat deforestation with your purchase.

Breakthrough Photography 77mm X2 6-Stop Fixed ND Filter for Camera Lenses

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This best variable ND filter is the Breakthrough Photography 77mm X2 6-stop fixed ND filter. This filter eliminates unwanted glare and so much more.

Features & Specifications

  • The MRC8, harder than glass itself, applied to the filter eliminates unwanted glare and ghosting.
  • It provides a scratch-resistant layer and shields glass from elements of shooting photography and videography.
  • The X2 ND 6-stop features are critically sharp H-K9L optical glass, which is made in Japan.
  • The quality is remarkable and of supreme quality.
  • The aluminum frame is made environmentally friendly and it is matte black, which makes reflections absorbed so it’s not reflected into the lens barrel.
  • Made with nano coating layer technology. The nanotec repels dirt, water, and elements while shooting.
  • The frame is built for the harshest of conditions.
  • Compatible with 77mm camera lenses.
  • Includes 25 year guaranteed support.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because you get the full confidence of shooting at any time during the day, even midday.

JONGSUN 82mm Variable ND Filter

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The next best variable ND filter on our list is the JONGSUN 82mm variable ND filter. Made of optimal glass, this glass does not give any vignetting, which is the goal with a superior VND filter like this one.

Features & Specifications

  • 82mm variable ND filter.
  • Made in Japan, the optical glass has 16 layers of MRC and Nano coatings.
  • Uses 2 pieces so vignettings do not appear in the picture.
  • The unique framework design makes for interval adjustment locking in order to avoid crossover.
  • 10-stop ND2-ND1000 stepless adjustment for easier photography.
  • Lettering is laser engraved and will not fade after use.

What Customers Say

Customers like you love this best variable ND filter because it is so lightweight and comfortable. The super-hard coating ensures no scratching.

Neewer 82mm Variable Fader ND2

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Our final best variable ND filter is the Neewer 82mm variable fader ND2. This variable ND filter makes our list because it uses advanced technology to do its job.

Features & Specifications

  • The filter has advanced technology that turns 0-75 degrees in order to avoid a black cross on images that poor filters show.
  • Functions as ND2-32 and CPL filters at the same time, which reduces the amount of light entering the lens and reduces the softening effect.
  • Gives improved sharpness.
  • Constructed of optical glass.
  • Wrapped in aluminum that is aircraft-grade.
  • Increases light transmittance.
  • Prevents light reflection.
  • Waterproof, oil-proof, and scratch proof.

What Customers Say

Customers like you like this best variable ND filter because it is a ND and CPL all in one and you can easily switch between the two. This means you have less filters to carry around with you. The frame is also well-made and you get clear pictures.

Final Considerations

You now have an arsenal of the best variable ND filters at your fingertips. You may be considering the size of your lenses, or you may be considering the place in which the glass is made.

 

Do make sure you consider the ND filters that will work with your lens at your budget, and will give you the best quality overall. We hope this helps you make the right decision when picking our variable ND filters. Good luck and happy shooting!