Variable neutral density filters are typically more common for video than photography, but there’s that grey timelapse area in the middle where the two worlds tend to often collide. I usually go with regular NDs for long exposures and timelapse, but having recently picked up a variable ND for video, I have found myself using it a lot more for regular photography, too.
Mine doesn’t go quite as dark as Syrp’s new “Super Dark” variable ND filter, though. Offering 5-10 stops of neutral density, the filter will ship in both 62mm and 82mm sizes, with step-up rings to fit other lens sizes included. It also contains built in physical stops and handy markings around the edge of the filter to let you know just how many stops of light you’re blocking.
Most variable ND filters I’ve come across offer 1-6 or 2-8 stops of light reduction. Mine’s 1-6. So. this will more easily offer long exposures in very bright conditions without having to constantly switch filters. If I want more than six stops right now, I have to stack multiple Schneiders in a Cokin Z-Pro holder, or switch out to the B+W 10 stop.
While the 1-6 stop variable NDs are great for bringing bright sunlight down to manageable video framerates of around 1/50th of a second, they aren’t quite strong enough for those long multi-second exposures. Whether shooting a single still scene, or a sequence as part of a timelapse, it can make all the difference to the final result.
The front of the Super Dark ND is threaded, allowing you to stack on other filters if needed, such as a polariser. Or, for keeping hold of your lens cap between uses. I keep seeing a lot of filters popping up lately without front threads, and it’s a pain to have to keep taking them off and putting them back on again. This is especially so when shooting long exposures in cold weather. So, it’s a nice touch, even if you don’t want to stack filters.
The Syrp Super Dark 5-10 stop variable ND filter is available for pre-order now at £209, and is expected to start shipping on December 16th. It comes with step up rings, a lens cleaning cloth, and carrying pouch to keep it safe and clean when not in use.
What ND filters do you use? Do you use the more traditional neutral density filters? Or have you ditched them all in favour of variables? Is 10 stops enough for you? Or do you often find yourself needing more?