VND Filters

Variable Neutral Density Filters are like sunglasses for your camera — protect from harm, but allows you precise control.

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Learn more about Variable ND Filters

Light is cut out in a single plane by the inner polariser. The closer the front layer gets to being opposite to the inner layer, the more the available light is reduced as the outer polarizer is rotated. The two polarising layers block out increasing quantities of light as they come into alignment as the filter is rotated. To achieve the desired result, simply twist the outer layer to increase or decrease the light exposure.

Filters help to eliminate glare and distortion, improve contrast, reduce lens light, and more. Each lens filter is designed to provide a particular effect to increase the ultimate look of an image. In extremely difficult conditions they may be essential for capturing scenery, improve color and minimize reflections, or they may simply protect lenses. Camera Lens Filters in photography and film are commonly used and although some use filters only in rare cases, others rely on filters for their daily work.

Neutral density filters minimize the amount of light that reaches the sensor, lowering the shutter speed and lengthening the exposure time. Because of the abundance of light that cannot be greatly decreased by stopping down the lens aperture or lowering the ISO, these filters are especially useful during the day. Stopping down the lens to f/22 would just slow down the shutter speed to 1/30 of a second if you're photographing a waterfall and your starting point is ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000, which results in a nice exposure. To create a "foggy" look for the falling water, this would be too fast. You could slow down the shutter speed to 2 seconds by using an 8 stop neutral density filter and holding the lens aperture at f/11 instead of f/22 (using apertures beyond f/11-f/16 in standard lenses reduces image quality due to diffraction).

What are Variable ND Filters and How Do They Work?

You may be wondering — So, what exactly makes Variable ND filters so useful?

For flash photography, neutral density filters are also useful. You'd most likely end up with an overexposed subject if you shot a model at 1/250 of a second at f/2.8 on a bright sunny day with flash to produce a dramatic effect. Since flash sync speed is limited to 1/250, you can only increase the shutter speed by stopping down the lens aperture to a larger amount. Assume the number is f/11. But what if you want to separate your subject from the context while maintaining good bokeh? The only way to minimize the amount of light reaching the sensor without using high-speed sync is to use a neutral density filter.

The variable ND lens filter provides great versatility and convenience, as well as being simple to use, since you can choose what spectrum of light you want to allow to enter your camera lens. It eliminates the need to bear multiple filters for various light densities. Some photographers say that using a variable ND lens filter makes it easier to compose and focus an image, particularly if you would have wanted to use a very heavy ND filter like a 1000x version, which can make seeing through the camera's viewfinder difficult.

Variable ND lens filters are used by photographers and cinematographers to manipulate light levels, particularly on sunny days, and to slow shutter speeds to add motion or blur to clouds, water, traffic, or people. You can also use the filter to obtain a wider aperture and monitor the depth of field of an image by separating objects from their backgrounds.

To reduce the shutter speed even further, it is often important to stack neutral density filters. To prevent vignetting, avoid stacking ND filters with wide-angle lenses.

Difference between Neutral Density (ND) vs Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

ND Filters

Reduces the amount of light entering the lens, thus decreasing the camera shutter speed for your images. Useful for situations where motion blur needs to be created (rivers, waterfalls, moving people) or large apertures must be used with flash to avoid overexposure.

A variable ND filter is a great choice to screw on to the end of your lens, as you’ll be able to change how much light you cut out to suit the environment. If it’s really bright, take it all the way to 8 exposure stops! – The wider aperture also helps you control the bokeh in brighter conditions when normally it would be impossible.

A variable ND filter allows you to get down to the desired f-stop of around 2.8 even in bright conditions giving you much more control for portrait shots with gorgeous bokeh!

Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND)

Hard-edge GND filters are primarily used in high contrast situations, where the sky is much brighter than the foreground and the horizon is flat. These filters are always rectangular (giving the ability to move them in all directions) and are typically used with filter holders.

Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND)

Soft-edge GND filters are also used in high contrast situations, but where the horizon is not necessarily flat. The soft edge allows for smoother transitions, making the use of filterless evident. Soft-edge GND filters are also rectangular and are normally used with filter holders.

The distinction between graduated neutral density filters and neutral density filters is that the latter is half transparent. Most GND filters are rectangular in shape because the size of the sky versus the foreground can vary depending on the composition. As a result, these filters must either be used with a filter holder device or placed in front of a lens by hand. Using a filter holder has the benefit of allowing you to stack several filters without having to worry about alignment issues. When using wide-angle lenses with focal lengths less than 35mm, the downside of using a filter holder is that it can cause vignetting, so be careful.

How much do Lens Filters cost?

Filters are here to add secret sauce to cinematic footage and crispier photos... you can get the new Moment CineBloom Diffusion Filters starting at $49.99.

Is it worth it buying Camera Lens Filters?

Here is why you should use a Variable ND Filter to enhance your images.

They Protect Your Lens

The most affordable types of lens filters are those that are clear and simply used for protection. These are great for protecting the front lens element during normal shooting situations, as the clear glass does not affect your images in any way. Protective lens filters eliminate the possibility of scratches, cracks, and dust accumulating on the surface of your lens.

They Can Correct or Enhance Image Colors

There are certain types of photography filters that can alter or boost the colors in your images. Some have the ability to correct the color temperature of a scene, while others can enhance color and contrast for a more vibrant image.

They Help Ensure Accurate Exposure

When working with particularly difficult lighting conditions, filters are a great option for achieving even and accurate exposure across your entire image. They do this by blocking some of the light that enters the lens (in varying degrees). These are particularly helpful when shooting outdoors during the daytime, particularly when using fast shutter speeds may not be enough to avoid overexposure.

They Add Impact to Your Images

Camera filters can help improve your images in various ways—they’re useful for increasing contrast in an image, creating more vivid colors, eliminating glare and distracting reflections from water and glassy surfaces, and more. But they can also be used to add a little oomph to an otherwise lackluster shot by adding some interesting effects, like multi-point “stars” on light sources or softened edges.

Wrap Up

Photographers and Filmmakers, whether you're an entry-level creator or a professional who's not sure which lens filters would fit best for you and your projects, or if you need recommendations for lenses or accessories brands that will help you achieve the image results you need, please contact our Gear Guides Team hello@shopmoment.com. We'll pair you with a guide based on your background and needs, and we'll find the right Lens Filter for you.