Hoya has today launched their new ProND Graduated neutral density filters. Like all graduated ND filters, they’re designed to help you darken down the brighter area of sky in your image in order to help get a more even exposure with retained highlights and shadows.
The new Hoya ProND Graduated filters, though, aren’t your usual graduated NDs. These aren’t square format ones that you slot into a holder. They’re round screw-on filters, that can rotate to let you get the angle you wish (much like a circular polariser or variable ND).
The new filters come in 77mm and 82mm diameters and are available in ND16 and ND32 densities offering up to 4 stops and 5 stops of ND in the darkest areas respectively. Hoya says that their ProND Grads use “extremely high quality optical glass” and use their special ACCU-ND coating technology.
Obviously, the big question is are these hard grads or soft grads? After all, those are the two we typically pick from when using square or rectangular ND grads. On this note, Hoya says…
Rather than having to choose between hard and soft graduation, HOYA ProND graduation is ‘blender’ style, with a smooth, continuous transition from dark to clear across the whole filter. A blender type filter is highly versatile and can be used in a variety of situations, especially when the scenery and horizon have a complex or uneven structure. There is a slim rotating frame, made from aluminium alloy, for precise positioning of the graduated ND area and a special marker on the rim, showing the point of deepest density.
So, essentially, the entire filter is graduated from one “side” (come on, it’s a circle) to the other and then it can be rotated so that the gradient matches the scene before you. This continual “blender” style gradient does mean that you don’t have to worry about losing the ability to slide a filter up and down, because even if you could, the whole thing is relative anyway. The entire frame would be darkened by the same amount relative to everything else.
Those who are shooting landscapes with sharp flat horizons might want to consider going with the more traditional square filter systems with hard ND grads, but if your needs aren’t quite so extreme and you want to fit more into your bag, then these might work out wonderfully. Personally, I’ve not tried this “blender” style of ND grad before, so I’m kind of curious how well they perform in various situations myself.
Hoya says that they feature anti-reflective and water repellent coatings to deal with harsh outdoor environments, and they also have a threaded front, allowing you to stack on another filter, such as a polariser (or perhaps a VND for some long exposures) or for attaching your usual lens cap.
The new Hoya ProND Graduated filters will be available in 77mm and 82mm diameters and ND16 and N32 densities. The price in the UK is set to be between £110-160 with shipping expected to begin in July. There’s no word on US prices yet, but they’re expected to follow soon.