A long time ago, you needed to have a UV filter to shoot some awesome images out there. But times have changed and today’s cameras come with built-in UV filters. So you don’t need to worry about that anymore.
But there is one more filter that you’d need especially if you want to capture some crisp and sharp images – the ND filter.
The main task of this kind of filter is to control the amount of light that penetrates through the lens. And ultimately, this determines the amount of light that eventually ends up on your camera’s sensor.
Table of Contents
- Best ND Filter – Comparison List
- The 7 Best ND Filter in 2021
- What Are the Factors You Need To Keep In Mind When Shopping for an ND Filter?
- Which One Is The Best?
- Final Thoughts
Best ND Filter – Comparison List
Below is a shortened list which is based on the in-depth reviews located further below. So, if you don’t have the time to read the entire write-up, this brief list can help you save time.
The 7 Best ND Filter in 2021
1. Gobe ND1000 77mm ND filter
One of the main reasons why we think you should consider acquiring this ND filter is due to the fact that you can be guaranteed of high-quality landscape images without the annoying flares that may be brought about by water-bodies.
This can be attributed to the 16-layer multi-resistant technology which plays a significant role in minimizing flare and ghosting.
Additionally, this coating makes the filter suitable for adventure photography since it makes it oil & dust resistant, water repellent, and anti-scratch.
This filter will allow you to get creative as it limits the amount of light coming into the camera and as a result, you will never end up with excessively bright images.
The filter has a slim rim profile to eliminate the chances of vignetting while the double-threading will assist in filter-stacking.
Finally, the manufacturers have an environment-conscious policy whereby for every filter you buy five trees will be planted in an area ravaged by deforestation.
2. Tiffen 77mm Color Graduated ND Filter
The primary purpose of this filter is to balance the light intensity between two regions within the same scene.
The filter is multicoated and requires regular cleaning, which you should do with a microfiber cloth. It is quite easy to clean and highly damage-resistant.
The filter is available as a flat rectangular sheet or as a screw-in rotating mount. They are also available either as glass or plastic. The plastic ones are easy to damage and prone to scratches while the glass ones are sturdy and easy to wipe clean.
The filter transition from clear to gray will occur in the following forms: the hard edge (between light and dark), Soft Edge (from light to dark), Reverse Grad (from bright to dim and then less dark) and Curved (transition fits the landscape).
3. B+W 77mm ND 3.0-1
the first thing that should calm your nerves concerning this filter is that it is manufactured by the German firm Schneider Kreuznach, which has a high recommendation in the photography world.
The filter has a multi-layer coating which renders it dust- and moisture-repellant. Additionally, the filters become reflective and scratch resistant, two very crucial properties in high-density filters.
The filter has a high-quality construction which relies on the slim-profile brass mount which has a black coating which has anti-reflective properties.
The filters are available in 1, 2, 3, 6 and 10-stop and a majority of them have attachment threads lying between 25.5mm and 12
Finally, the prices of the filters vary with size, with the larger ones being pricier.
4. B+W 77mm 702M Graduated ND Filter
When you capture a subject, for instance, a bright sky, you can use this filter to darken specific areas of the image without affecting the exposure of other sectors of the image. You will find the density to be particularly strong at the edge and clears up towards the middle.
A soft-edged line of transition separates the dense and transparent areas.
All the glass surfaces have several layers of anti-reflection coating which prevent internal ghosting and reflections and at the same time maximizing light transmission.
The coating (MRC) also protects the filter substrate by enabling it to stay clean for longer durations of time. The filter features an optical glass construction which is vital for providing clarity and color fidelity as well.
Additionally, it has an F-Pro brass filter ring to enhance durability and jamming resistance. Finally, it comes with a plastic filter case for storage.
5. ICE 77mm ND1000 Filter
This ND filter has a 1000x filter factor which delivers a 10-stop exposure reduction. It has a 3.0 density which will enable take photos at slower shutter speeds than the norm.
A slower shutter speed gives you control over the depth of field as well as your movement.
The ICE ND filter features an optical glass construction which is crucial for clarity and color fidelity. Additionally, it has a thin filter ring made from aluminum that will help in combating vignetting without compromising its durability or lightweight nature.
The side knurlings are vital in providing a firm and textured grip whenever you are handling the lens.
Lastly, it comes with a plastic filter case for storage and transportation purposes.
6. B&W B+W 77mm ND 3.0-1000x lens filter (110M)
This ND filter has a 1000x filter factor which will deliver you up to 10 f-stops. It has a 3.0 density which you will find useful in darkening the whole image and in the process allows you to take photos with a wider aperture.
Taking photos with a wider aperture enables you to decide on the appropriate depth of field as well as make your movements much more easily. You will find it very easy to pair this ND filter with other filters as it does not impact on the coloration of images.
All the glass surfaces feature up to eight layers of anti-reflection coating which will come in handy in combating reflections and internal ghosting.
The Multi-Resistant Coating (MRC) is also useful in protecting the filter substrate and will also facilitate in keeping it cleaner for longer durations of time in comparison to uncoated filters.
The filters have a reputation of high optical clarity, and this can be attributed to the SCHOTT glass construction.
The filter also has a brass filter ring to enhance durability as well as making it jam-proof.
Last but not least, when you purchase the package, it comes with a plastic case which you will find useful for storage and transportation purposes as well.
The filter comes with a one-year limited warranty.
7. Hoya PROND 77mm ND filter
This neutral density filter is reliable and has a 6-stop increase in exposure. This is equivalent to an optical density of 1.8, and it will create a darkening of the whole image. By doing this, you will have the ability to take photos with slower shutter speed than what is typically used.
This slowdown is essential as you will be in control of the depth of field as well as having a more comfortable conveyance of movement.
It utilizes the metallic ACCU-ND coating by Hoya on both sides of the substrate, and this will be very crucial in creating the neutral density effect which is necessary to ensure that color neutrality is maintained between filter grades.
The filter features a high-quality optical glass construction to ensure that proper image clarity is maintained. The filter also features a one-piece aluminum ring which will add to the durability property as well as rigidity so that it remains firm during use.
What Are the Factors You Need To Keep In Mind When Shopping for an ND Filter?
So, what are some of the key features that make one filter superior to another? Well, today we’d like to share some of those with you, hopefully, to help you make an informed bet.
There are mainly two types of filters. One can be slot into the filter holder and another one needs to be screwed-in. Which one should you go for?
Well, the slot-in filters would be a good choice for anyone who would like to stack filters. Besides being highly versatile, they are also quite affordable meaning they are perfect for beginners.
The second type of filters i.e. screw-in filters are meant to be screwed into place through particular threads. The problem with that is that you would need a variety of them especially if you own a number of lenses.
Different Types of ND Filters
There are two common types of ND filters namely the standard and graduated filters. As its name suggests, the standard filter is meant to control the income lighting, doing so over the entire image.
A graduated filter, on the other hand, tends to be darker in some parts than others. As such, it tends to work best when you are capturing shots in high-contrast environments. For instance, it comes in handy when shooting when there’s a lot of light in the sky.
What Filter Size Should I Go For?
This is particularly an important factor to keep in mind especially when going for a screw-in filter model. Normally, the size of a filter is determined by a measurement which is measured in mm.
The most common filter size, in this case, is the 77mm variety. But generally, you need to be keen on ensuring that you choose the size the easily complements what your camera comes with.
Simply put, if your camera’s threaded slot is a 77mm, you’d also need a 77mm filter. And so forth.
The Strength of Your Filter
As we have already mentioned, ND filters come in different shapes and sizes. Fortunately, some camera systems allow you to stack different filters. And that way, you can get a 6-stop and 10-stop filters, stack them and create a 16-stop filter.
It is also worth keeping in mind the fact that it is always possible to purchase neutral density filters. These enable you to adjust the power of your filter depending on the situation on hand.
On the flipside, though, variable filters are quite expensive. Also, in some cases, variable filters may cause cross-hatch pattern issues and even contribute to vignetting owing to their thickness.
Even though the ultimate goal of investing in an ND filter is to reduce glare by controlling the amount of light finding its way to the sensor, some of them can cause a color cast. This is quite common a problem especially when one uses the highest stop settings or when they stack different lenses.
Fortunately, this can always be corrected through post-processing. However, it is something worth keeping in mind. It’s, therefore, important to check out different online reviews to determine if that might be an issue with the filter you’re about to invest in.
Which One Is The Best?
Which is the best ND filter for the money? You might be wondering. In our view, the best of them all is one that provides you with the versatility you need in your demanding career.
In that regard, we’d vouch for the B+W 77mm ND 3.0-1. This German-made filter is loved by many all thanks to its consistency and reliability. So, in terms of value for money, we tend to think that it is truly, a cut above the rest.
What’s your favorite ND filter? Well, if you’re still not sure, we’d suggest you close your eyes for a few seconds and envision the kind of filter and photo quality you need. Open your eyes, and based on your budget, use the list above to find your dream match!