Neutral density is a fact of life for filmmakers. Sometimes it’s built into the camera, sometimes you need to pop a filter onto your lens, whether it be a straight up or a variable. But Panavision is taking neutral density to the next level with their new LCND filter. It’s a liquid crystal variable ND with 6 stops of range and it’s all controlled electronically.
Neutral density filters are used with video to help you get control of your exposure without adjusting your depth of field or introducing more noise into your image. In the past, this has meant carrying a variety of ND filters around, or perhaps a variable ND if you can find out that meets your standards. – and for Panavision users, those standards are very high. This unit replaces all of those.
We’ve seen electronically controlled variable neutral density before, in products like the Aputure DEC Vari-ND wireless lens adapter for letting you put Canon EF lenses onto Sony & Micro Four Thirds bodies. But the fact that such a heavyweight as Panavision is taking an interest says a lot about this technology.
Panavision doesn’t produce crap. They only produce tools that they know their customers will actually use and be able to benefit from. And they make them extremely well, too. So that Panavision has released such device at all speaks to how far liquid crystal neutral density has come.
The LCND has a built-in battery, which can be charged up while plugged into the camera, and the camera gets control of the filter, too. This means you can sync up your ND filter with your aperture ring and be able to combine the two to get consistent exposure as you adjust your aperture to change your depth of field. No more will your shot brighten or darken as you switch from the deep depth of field for a group of people to a wider aperture for a shallow depth of field look at a single individual. The filter will automatically compensate – well, as long as you’re using a compatible Panavision camera.
There’s no word on what this costs, nor availability. And it’s not showing up on the Panavision website yet, either. But I wouldn’t worry too much, this is going to be well out of the reach of 99% of us.
But its release illustrates that such technology is here and it works well. It shouldn’t be too long now before we start seeing it trickle down to the consumer end.
[via No Film School]