What is a Variable ND Filter?

variable ND filter

In the world of photography, the importance of a Neutral Density (ND) Filter cannot be overemphasized as it is used 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. It 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. It, however, remains attached to a ring to increase or decrease light passage.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The reason why you are reading this post is certainly that you have a question or two as related to Variable ND Filters. Below are the questions that others frequently ask and you most likely are asking as well.

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 are the best Variable ND Filters you can buy?

Having described what Variable Filters do and how it is used, why not look at the best 2 types currently on the market?

B+W XS-Pro Digital ND Vario MRC Nano

This is a product from the Schneider Optics that surely gets the job done and would give you value for your money. This variable ND filter is available in 52 to 82 mm sizes and is different from every other model on the market. This is owing to its unique features like the multi-resistant coating. This coating is waterproof and so, it doesn’t matter whether you use it in the rain. The images or videos would still be as stunning.

Based on body structure, it is designed as a screw-in filter and has a depth of 9mm for making five different stops of light reduction. Also, it is very easy to locate the minimum and maximum density levels because they have been marked. In essence, the B+W XS-Pro Digital ND Filter is one you should include in your photography gear.

Syrp Variable ND Filter

This is another variable ND filter every photography gear should have. It has very good quality and performance. It is also water and dust resistant. There are only two sizes available for this filter (67 and 82 mm) which makes it useful in all kinds of ways. For instance, the 67 mm size is a small kit that has adapter rings in its package for easy mounting while the 82 mm size is a large kit that provides adapters for lenses. Either one you choose to use, they are both very effective as they are highly flexible and convenient to use.

Itching to add a Variable ND Filter to your gear already? Of course, you are! The filter is probably just all you need to take your photography game to the next level. Get one and watch your pictures come out better than they have ever been!