Choosing the best ND filter: remember these 4 tips (and save this cheat sheet!)

How to choose the best ND filter for your camera: 4 tips for deciding which one is right for you

ND filters are sold in different strengths, and different scales are used to measure this. Some use an NDxx number, others refer to optical density, and some refer to the light reduction in EV or ‘stops’. Below we’ve served up four of our best tips for choosing the best ND filter for your DSLR.

And we’ve also compiled a handy photography cheat sheet to understanding ND filter strengths and shutter speeds.

How to choose the best ND filter for your camera: 4 tips for deciding which one is right for you

Tip 1: Choose a strength
ND filters come in a huge range of strengths. A one-stop (0.3 or ND2) filter cuts just 50% of light. A 10-stop (ND1000) filter blocks 99.9% of light. The stronger versions are best for seascapes.

 SEE MORE: How and when to use ND filters (and what the numbers mean)

How to choose the best ND filter for your camera: Round or square?

Tip 2: Round or square?
Round filters are the best option for ND filters as they prevent any light leaks. However, if you use them in conjunction with ND grad filters, the square slot-in type are a good choice.

 SEE MORE: Camera filters: which type is right for you?

How to choose the best ND filter for your camera: variable ND filters

Tip 3: Variable ND filters
Variable ND filters use two polarising filters in one mount. The front ring is rotated to vary the ND’s strength. They’re popular for shooting video as you can use wide apertures, however bright the light.

SEE MORE: Variable ND filters – how to capture cool motion blur effects

How to choose the best ND filter for your camera: low cost options

Tip 4: Low-cost options
Cheap ND filters can cause colour casts. A useful tip is that two ND filters can be used together – two three-stop NDs on top of each other give a six-stop effect, and a standard circular polarising filter can block out almost two stops of light.

SEE MORE
9 filter mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)
Best graduated neutral density filter: 6 top models tested and rated
Using filters – the only cheat sheet you’ll ever need to get beautifully balanced exposures

Photography cheat sheet to ND filter strengths and speeds

This table compares the systems and shows how much slower a shutter speed each strength will allow you to achieve.

ND Filter Strengths and Speeds: photography cheat sheet

Now Use Your ND Filter!
In this tutorial we show you how to use your ND filter to take long exposure pictures of the sea.

READ MORE

Best graduated neutral density filter: 6 top models tested and rated
5 accessories every landscape photographer must own
12 promises every landscape photographer must make
What your histogram says about your landscapes
Best circular polarizer filter – 5 top models tested and rated

 

  • flexnz

    So, I’ve seen a lot of cheap ND filters(around $40) as compared to brands like Hoya, B + W, etc($100 +). Is anybody able to let me know if there is a significant difference between the image quality from cheaper brand ND filters?