Reverse ND filters: what are they, and when should photographers use them?

Lee reverse ND grad filter
A reverse ND grad filter (Image credit: Lee Filters)

What is a reverse ND grad?

A reverse ND grad darkens skies, just like a normal ND grad, but instead of getting darker towards the top of the filter, it has the darkest part close to the transition in the middle of the filter, and then a lighter area towards the top. 

Sunsets are the most common reason for using a reverse ND filter, as this with (above right) and without (above left) comparison shows (Image credit: Chris Rutter)

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at

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