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 on the second page of this article we’ve compiled a handy photography cheat sheet to understanding ND filter strengths and shutter speeds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Using filters – the only cheat sheet you’ll ever need to get beautifully balanced exposures
The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)
Best circular polarizer filter – 5 top models tested and rated
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