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Best Neutral Density Filters To Reduce Light Or Color Wavelength Intensities While Taking Photographs
Last updated: 30 Sep 2021
For every outdoor photographer, it is imperative to use proper gear to capture amazing and perfect shots. One such accessory is the ND or the neutral density filter that reduces the intensity of the sun’s radiations and the reflected chrome wavelengths coming from the surrounding objects. Thus, if you want to click a flawless picture without any color spread or chromatic aberrations, you must grab one of the best neutral density filters in 2021.
These filters can also protect your camera lenses and reduce the pressure on the shutter. Hence, your camera will stay safe even when exposed to bright light. Besides, they allow you to click some amazing and spell-bounding pictures of waterfalls, moving objects, landscape, or the bright sky. Since they can offer ample benefits, let’s have a look at some high-quality ND filters to know what they can bring to the table.
Microfiber fabric material to help you clean the filter without any scratches
Rugged aluminum circular rim for a better fit with the camera lenses
Eight layers of anti-reflective coating to help reduce the wavelength reflections
It isn’t easy to find photography gear that can be considered the best from all aspects. However, this ND filter is the most appropriate product that you need to include in your accessory checklist, regardless of the type of pictures you usually take. It can adjust the neutral density from 2 to 400 ND, which will ensure that the intensities of the wavelengths are reduced effectively without affecting the colors. Furthermore, it can reduce the depth field to help you take pictures with wide aperture settings easily. This feature will also allow you to use the filter in different light conditions, starting from bright sunlight to diffused ambient lights.
In addition, the filter is made from high-quality optical material to ensure the wavelengths are adequately filtered before they enter the lens. It will also allow you to slow down the shutter’s speed and reduce the lens’ exposure to bright sunlight. If you take wide shots, the filter’s outer optic coating will help in vignette reduction. On top of everything, it comes with nine adjustable stops to ensure that you can alter the exposure and brightness as per the requirements.
Lightweight ND filter design to eliminate the use of matte box
Wider external optic angle to reduce the vignettes in the pictures
77mm filter diameter makes it compatible with most professional cameras
The ultimate purpose of using an ND filter is to improve the image quality.
That’s why we have included this product which has become famous for producing high-quality images. It allows you to adjust the f-stop number from 2 to 8 based on the total focal length of the camera lens. Thus, you will have more flexibility to take both close and long-range shots without worrying about the wavelength intensities that might hamper the picture quality. On top of this, you can even rotate the filter after attaching it to the camera lens to adjust the wavelengths incident on it.
Furthermore, it is reinforced with the patented color core technology, which will help you to maintain the contrast and sharpness for enhanced picture clarity. You can also control the field depth and the lens exposure to ensure the shots don’t get blurred due to high color intensities. As the filter acts fast to alter the wavelengths in the required proportion, you can even take perfect shots when the object at focus is constantly moving.
Different filters for four different ND levels, ranging between 2 to 16
Has a perfect design that can fit different camera models
HD optic glass to provide a high level of transmittance
Usually, photography accessories like filters, lenses, shutters, and others are quite sensitive and can be damaged if exposed to harsh conditions. However, this ND filter is known for its durability and strength. Its circular external rim is made from high-quality aluminum, which will help you seal it tightly with the lens of the camera. In addition, the filter’s optical membrane is made from highly durable material, allowing you to take HD shots with more clarity and ease. Thus, it’s an ideal gear for professional photographers who are usually involved in wildlife, nature, and landscape photography.
Using this ND filter, you will be able to reduce the field depth so that the pictures can have transparent colors without chromatic aberrations. It will also help you reduce the effect of bright sunlight or any other illumination source on the picture. Besides, it comes with a lens pen that will allow you to remove dust, debris, fingerprints, and oil marks from the lens.
1 to 8.66 f-stops to allow apparent motion blurring while filming a particular scene
Nano coating on the filter’s glass to reduce the reflections of all incident wavelength
Water-resistant coating to help use the filter in different weather conditions
If you want a neutral density filter suitable for landscape photography, this is the best product you can get in the market. It will provide you long exposure for taking wide-angle landscape shots without affecting the image quality. Moreover, you can use it for blurring the motion of an object with changing ambient light intensity. It also has an AGC optical filter film bolstered with an eight-layered coating for anti-reflection and better neutrality of the chromatic wavelength incident on the lens.
On top of everything, this ND filter is reinforced with min-max locking technology to help you fix it on the lens with ease. This feature will furthermore enable you to prevent excessive rotation of the filter’s rim and its X-effect.
Out of all the filters used by photographers, the ND filter is the most preferred one since it can block several color and light wavelengths. In addition, it can reduce the field depth so that no chromatic aberration or blurriness is present in the shots. However, with the increasing demand for this accessory, many companies have introduced their neutral density filters with different features. Hence, choosing the best neutral density filter can be pretty overwhelming for both beginner and professional photographers. On this account, we have prepared a brief buying guide for neutral density filters explaining all the factors responsible for making the best choice.
What Are The Types Of Neutral Density Filters Available In The Market?
There are two types of neutral density filters you can find in the market— a fixed and a variable ND filter. In a fixed filter, the f-stop number is fixed. It means that the width of the aperture cannot be altered and hence, only a certain range of wavelengths will be blocked.
However, variable neutral density filters have a wide range of f-stop numbers like ND2 to ND8. As a result, you will be able to change the aperture width and shutter speed. In addition, these filters can block an array of wavelengths and work more efficiently in bright light conditions as compared to the fixed filters.
What Factors Should You Consider To Buy The Best Neutral Density Filter?
Size Of The Lens
Firstly, you need to check the size of the lens, which is usually measured in millimeters like 58mm or 77mm. It is the measurement of the diameter of the circular lens which will help you choose a filter of an appropriate size.
Make sure that the filter's diameter is compatible with the lens you are using because you cannot fit a 58mm ND filter on a lens of 77mm size.
The F-stop number is the aperture of the lens you are using. If you have an ND filter having a small f-stop value like 2 to 4, the aperture will decrease to a limit that most of the light waves incident on the lens will be blocked. Hence, with reduced field depth, you can click pictures under bright light conditions. But if you want to capture shots with a wide lens aperture, you need to choose a filter having a higher f-stop value like 7 or 10. It will help in reducing the shutter speed also, thereby allowing you to take shots of moving objects with a blur.
Lastly, you need to check the material with which the neutral density filter is manufactured. Usually, the film is made from high-quality glass coated with multiple layers of anti-reflecting material. Due to the coatings, the accessory will be able to block the high intense wavelengths with ease.
Also, it’s better to choose an ND filter having an aluminum or steel rim, which increases its durability.
In What Ways The Neutral Density Filter Is Beneficial For A Photographer?
With an ND filter, you can quickly reduce the field depth to ensure no blurriness in still shots.
It will help you to slow down the shutter speed so that you can take pictures where there is a moving object within the frame.
A neutral density filter will also help reduce exposure of the digital lenses to bright light which can destroy the sensors due to overexposure.
What Steps Should Be Followed To Take Care Of The Neutral Density Filter?
Since the ND filters are pretty sensitive, you need to take proper care of this photography gear. Below, we have described how you can maintain the filter and improve its performance and longevity.
For cleaning the dust and debris on the filter glass surface, you can use a microfiber cleaning fabric that comes with the product.
While using the microfiber fabric, you shouldn’t rub the filter's surface with too much force because it can leave scratches on the surface and affect the product's performance.
You can buy a separate lens brush pen to clean the dust and debris from the corners to ensure that the filter is free from impurities.
Before you start using the camera with the filter placed in front of the lens, make sure to check its tightness so that it doesn’t come off from the lens.
Lastly, you should hold the filter by placing your fingers on the rim and not on the glass surface, as that will leave fingerprint marks.
Neutral Density Filters FAQs
Can I use a fixed neutral density filter for outdoor photography?
Yes, you can use a fixed ND filter to take outdoor shots with ease. Usually, the fixed filters come with varied density ranges, which will allow you to alter the shutter speed effectively for better image quality and resolution.
What kind of ND filter should I use for capturing shots of waterfalls or running streams?
Since both waterfalls and rivers are constantly in motion, you will need a neutral density filter that can blur the motion with ease. Hence, it’s best to get a 3-stop filter which will allow you to slow down the camera's shutter speed by three levels. However, if you need more clarity to capture the motion with 100% accuracy and perfection, you can choose 8-stop or 10-stop filters.
What does the ND1000 mark mean on the neutral density camera filter?
If the product you have chosen comes with a mark saying ND1000, it means that it will reduce the shutter speed by ten stops. Hence, you can capture every detail of both static and moving scenarios within the focal length. In addition, such filters will provide long exposure, which will help you to take wide-angle shots without any chromatic aberrations, blurring of lines and boundaries, and more.
Can I add a polarizing filter over an ND filter before taking the shots?
Yes, you can add a polarizing filter over a neutral density filter, provided you are using the variable ND filter. You can rotate both these films in different directions independently, which will effectively block more wavelengths and reduce the transmittance for better picture quality and sharpness.
Do I need a neutral density filter or close-range photography?
For close-range photography, you won't need an ND filter because in this case, the wavelength intensities are usually low. Hence, there won’t be any chromatic aberration or increased field depth in the picture taken.
Jordan and his wife own a small business that they run from their home. With a toddler underfoot, they’ve learned a lot about what equipment and organization helps to keep their business running and their home office setup family friendly.