Attaching the NiSi Vario filter to a lens basically means that we have added a fourth dimension to our camera. The exposure triangle; aperture, iso, shutter speed, has been expanded with a fourth variable with which we can play to achieve a desired effect or outcome. This of course opens up for new creative opportunities in our photography, and also adds a lot of flexibility to our shooting.
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.
Today, PolarPro has announced their new Peter McKinnon Edition Variable ND filters. They’re available in two strengths of 2-5 stops and 6-9 stops. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the 77mm 2-5 stops version in my possession for the last couple of weeks. As I write this, I’m sitting in Glasgow airport waiting to board a plane to take it on a real test in the deserts of Arizona, but I’ve been able to have enough of a play with it to give some first impressions.
Variable neutral density filters are quite a wonderful thing. In theory. They let you adjust your exposure outside of the camera’s own systems as the light on your scene changes. They’re quick and convenient, and expensive if you want a good one. But are they really all that good?
Lok Cheung used variable ND filters during his tenure at Digital Rev. He was typically the one manning the camera filming Kai. But since he’s gone solo, he’s noticed that they’re not really as practical as he’d like. Nor do they really offer the quality that one needs today. In this video, he explains why variable NDs just don’t hold up to the job, and why fixed NDs reign supreme.