This filter system is the ultimate variable ND solution

Jan 21, 2021

Paul Monaghan

Paul Monaghan is a creative photographer based in Scotland. Paul is on of the leading landscape photographers in the UK and is an authority on ND filters in the industry. Among others, Paul is a Sigma UK Ambassador.

This filter system is the ultimate variable ND solution

Jan 21, 2021

Paul Monaghan

Paul Monaghan is a creative photographer based in Scotland. Paul is on of the leading landscape photographers in the UK and is an authority on ND filters in the industry. Among others, Paul is a Sigma UK Ambassador.

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Have you ever wanted a set of filters that could offer 1 to 9 stops of light reduction without having to screw in different filters? Then check out the latest kit from Haida with their Nano Pro Magnetic Variable ND.

Variable ND filters have come a long way in the last few years.  They offer a great combination of image quality and versatility. While there are a few different types of variable ND filters, the most common normally come in two verities:

Ones that offer a very wide range of ND reduction. Say, for example, one to eight stops with no limitations on rotation.  These tend to cause image quality issues like the dreaded X pattern when you try to reach their advertised limit or surpass them.

The other types of variable ND filters prioritize image quality and limit the amount of light reduction available to avoid the X pattern above.  But if you need more light reduction then you’d need to apply another filter.

Personally, I hate having to screw filters on and off.  Not only can it be time-consuming, but it can also be fiddly, particularly when it’s cold.  There’s also the chance of dropping them.

Haida’s new kit sets out to give you a wide range of light reduction in a convenient package.

In the box

When you open the Nano Pro Magnetic Variable ND kit box, you’ll discover

  • Two protective plastic cases
  • A lens cap
  • A screw-on rear filter
  • two magnetic filters

The filters come in sizes from 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 and 82mm.  I opted for the 82mm version since I have a few lenses with filter threads that size. I can always use step-up rings to adapt smaller lenses.

Installation

Using the filters is easy, the rear filter has a nice grip around the outside to help screw it into the lens.

You then take the desired front filter and it attaches magnetically as you can see here.

Once attached you simply rotate the front filter to get the desired stop of light reduction which Haida marked on the filters to make things even easier.

They even added a little notch between the rear and front filter. This gives hard stops at either end of the range to eliminate the X pattern from happening if you tried to rotate the filter too far.

Changing the front filter is simple. You hold the front filter, pop it off and then attach the other filter.

This method creates quite a nice rage:

  • 1 stop with the rear filter only
  • 2-5 stops using one filter
  • 6-9 stops using the other

Image Quality

Having used various other Haida Filter products over the years I’ve come to expect a lot from them and they don’t disappoint.

I am limited to what I can shoot just now due to local restrictions but here’s a 500-second exposure using my Sigma fp and 24-70 f2.8 Art dg dn with the filter stack set to nine  stops

And a crop.

 

Testing

I set up a test scene using my Sigma sdQH and 70-200 f2.8 Sport.  I used a bunch of stuff around the house and my Spiffy Gear Spekukar LED to give a very consistent light.

Here’s start it looks like without a filter.

Now a crop without, and both the 2-5 Stop and 6-9 Stop filter.

As you can see even shooting at 135mm on my Foveon camera the filters seem to have no effect on image sharpness.

There is a slight color cast but it’s very minimal with the 2-5 stop being just a touch warmer and the 6-9 stop being a touch cooler.

The filters are also very accurate in the rated light reduction when rotated to each stop marking but the 6-9 stop filter was about 1/3 lighter than rated through the range.

I decided to test them against some other vairable ND filters I had to see how they stacked up.

Sharpness wise there’s no faulting any of these filters but the new magnetic series from Haida seems to have the least amount of color cast.

Don’t get me wrong the K&F filters still over tremendous value for money at a combined price of $140.00: Nano-X Variable Fader NDX, $67.00 + Nano-X Variable Fader NDX HD, $72.95.

The m10 kit with the variable insert offers greater versatility with separate CPL control. It also offers the ability to stack filters and use grad filters. This costs around  $385.00 for the kit with extra 0.9cpl and vairable ND insert: M10 Filter Holder Kit with 82mm, $195.00 + Drop-In Neutral Density and Circular Polarizer, $100.00 + M10 Insert Variable ND Filter, $89.00

One of the things I did find during my testing though is the m10 kit can be prone to some ghosting using it as a variable ND. Possibly due to the distance between the front and back filters that are around 4x greater than the magnetic kit.

The Haida Nano Pro Magnetic Variable ND kit sits in the middle price-wise at $240.00 but offers the best image quality and ease of use.

Being that these are variable ND filters it is worth keeping in mind that unlike a true ND filter they can alter how light reflects in an image as you adjust the strength.

Conclusion

It is clear that the magnetic feature of the Haida  Nano Pro Magnetic Variable ND filters is the star of the show.   Making it quick to go from 1 to 9 stops of light reduction without the need to unscrew or screw on a new filter.

This alone I feel makes the kit worth getting, the minimum color cast and great sharpness just make it even better.

I do wish though that there was a way to control/rotate the rear CPL As this would give us more control in how the reflections are captured.

Haida are also planning on releasing a set with a lens pouch which would just make switching filters even more convenient than using the plastic cases.

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Paul Monaghan

Paul Monaghan

Paul Monaghan is a creative photographer based in Scotland. Paul is on of the leading landscape photographers in the UK and is an authority on ND filters in the industry. Among others, Paul is a Sigma UK Ambassador.

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