Best ND filter: 6 top models tested and rated

Best ND filter: 6 top models tested and rated

Bright light isn’t always a good thing. Get some serious stopping power as we test six of the top options to find the best ND filter for photographers…

Fast shutter speeds are great for freezing motion, but that’s not always what you want when you’re taking a photograph.

Mount your camera on a tripod and set a long exposure, and you can add motion blur to subjects like weirs and waterfalls, for a much more dreamy look.

Tripods also make it possible to blur people and vehicles out of busy street scenes as they’re walking around, for cleaner architectural shots.

The only problem is enabling a long exposure in bright light, such as on a very sunny day, as over-exposed and even blown-out photos are likely.

SEE MORE: 9 filter mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

One solution is to fit a high-density neutral filter to your lens, typically one with a rating of 10 stops.

These dark filters reduce the amount of light passing through the lens. If, for example, a sunny scene would require a setting of f/11 at 1/125 sec for a correct exposure, fitting a 10-stop ND filter will enable you to slow the shutter speed to eight full seconds at f/11.

Another option, which is also particularly advantageous when shooting video, is to use a variable or ‘fader’ ND filter.

Based on two polarising filters, one of which is rotated against the other, these usually give a range of between two and eight stops.

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

Best ND filter: 01 Tiffen IR ND 3.0

Best ND filter: 6 top models tested and rated

Price: £65, $90 for 77mm fitting
Tiffen’s older standard ND 3.0 filter is a typical triple-density filter that gives the usual 10-stop light reduction.

However, in our tests it gave a very pronounced red colour cast when used on a Nikon D7000, and the effect was still noticeable to a lesser extent when fitted on a D610.

According to Tiffen, the new IR Cut edition is specially engineered to reduce ‘infra-red and far-red pollution’.

SEE MORE: Choosing the best ND filter -remember these 4 tips and print out this cheat sheet

In our tests, we did find that it gave a much more neutral colour balance on both cameras.

The standard of construction is very good, with a low-profile design to combat vignetting, even when used on ultra-wide lenses, and no light seepage around the edge of the filter.

The claimed 10-stop density is very accurate. If you’re on a limited budget, this filter is a very good buy.

Verdict
Pros… Very good colour accuracy, low-profile design.
Cons… Metering with the filter fitted tends to give dark images.
We say… Very good performance and excellent value.

Score: 4/5

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Best ND filter: 01 Tiffen IR ND 3.0
Best ND filter: 02 Light Craft Workshop Fader ND Mk II
Best ND filter: 03 B+W MRC 3.0/1000x ND
Best ND filter: 04 Formatt-Hitech Multistop ND
Best ND filter: 05 Lee Big Stopper 100mm
Best ND filter: 06 Hoya Pro ND 1000
5 things to look for in an ND filter

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