Photography cheat sheet: ND filter shutter speed exposure table

The table here compares the systems and shows how much slower a shutter speed each filter type will let you achieve with your camera. Why not save it to your phone and refer to it the next time that you're shooting a glorious landscape in the field? (Image credit: Future)

The best neutral density filters are an excellent tool for landscape photographers, since they reduce the intensity of light hitting the lens (and your sensor) and enable you to extend the shutter speed – even in the middle of the day. In doing so, you can capture creative long exposures, such as blurred water movement at the coast or ghostly clouds across the scene.

ND filters are essentially darkened pieces of glass that go in front of your lens, and they come in several varieties: solid, graduated and variable. But which one should you choose? The best variable ND filters are incredibly useful when you don’t know which densities you will need and don’t want to carry four or five separate strengths. By rotating the filter, you can choose a stepless density range of often around two to eight stops.

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 15 Pro Max.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.

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