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Top 10 Best Variable ND Filter For Video: Review & Buying Guide[2021]

Working with the best variable ND filter for video and taking control of exposure is pure joy for videographers and filmmakers.

Variable ND filters are great accessories in photography for controlling the amount of light coming through their camera lens to the sensor.

With variable ND filters, photographers do not have to swap between filters to achieve perfect effects.

Contents

 Top Comparison List of Best Variable ND Filter For Video

PREVIEWBRANDDETAIL
Tiffen
PolarPro
Freewell
Tiffen
Breakthrough Photography
Hoya
B+W 77mm
Lee Filters
Gobe
ProMaster

What is the Best Videography VND filter, and why? 

Based on the current user trends and reviews, PolarPro Variable ND Filter- Peter McKinnon Edition is the best and popular with professional videographers.

This is because the filter offers excellent value, functionality, no vignetting, and easy to maintain compared to other options in the market.

It is designed with hard stops, and the videographer cannot rotate the filter ring beyond end-stops; thus, reducing cross-pattern, color shift issues.

Best Variable ND Filters for Video Options:

01. Tiffen Variable Neutral Density Filter- 58 mm

 

Key features

  • Light-control Stops (2 to 8)
  • 9 mm profile ring
  • Vignette-reducing outer optic/ring
  • ColorCore optical glass

A versatile filtering tool is a popular option among many videographers thanks to its easy-to-use design, fast speed, small size, and lightweight.

Tiffen 58VND 58mm Variable ND Filter provides a peculiar way of controlling field depth while enabling videographers to produce special effects.

It comes with an inbuilt rotating ring for controlling exposure from neutral density 0.6 to 2.4 through 2-8 stops.

With smooth rotation, the ring allows easy adjustment of filtering power.

Focusing at heavier densities means that the shutter speed will be sower.

It will give a more prolonged exposure for the camera to record the exposed field and create motion within the shot as the shutter remains open for longer.

The ColorCore technology makes this filter a practical purchase.

With a ColorCore-designed optical glass, this Tiffen Variable ND filter videographers can control color and density with greater accuracy to get color-neutral effects, which cannot be achieved with many budget-friendly filters.

In a nutshell, the ColorCore technology helps in controlling filtration power with precision.

Pros

  • Reduced vignetting
  • Smooth rotation and powerful filtration
  • Filter ring made of black aluminum
  • Capable of creating unique effects, including blurs
  • Controlling color and density with great accuracy

Cons

  • No lens cap for the outer ring
  • At high filtration power, bad cross-patterns may be noticed

02. Best Premium Filter: PolarPro VND Filter- 2 to 5 Stop, 82 mm – (Peter McKinnon Edition)

 

Features & Specifications

  • A light reduction from 2 to 5 stops
  • Aluminum (gold-coated) ring
  • Thread size of 82 mm
  • Quartz glass
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Multi-Coatings (16 layers)

This neutral density filter comes with a gold-coated aluminum ring, and it allows exposure control or reduction through four stops from 2 to 5.

With a filtration power between 0.6 to 1.5, the PolarPro 82mm Variable ND Filter can darken an entire image, enabling videography with slower shutter speed.

Filtration density can be controlled using the easy-to-use front ring to allow predetermination required exposure.

By increasing exposure length or aperture, it will be easy to control field depth.

The front ring is marked with numbers, from 2 to 5 stops, for easier control and precise, repeatable density settings, making it the best variable ND filter for video professionals can purchase.

For consistent exposures, the PolarPro 82mm Variable ND Filter is designed with a front ring that prevents rotation beyond the minimum and maximum stops.

Constructed with an aluminum ring and quartz glass, the filter has enhanced durability.

Moreover, it consists of 16-layer anti-reflection coatings that prevent scratches on the filter substrate while enhancing color-neutrality.

When the filter gets in Contact with water, it creates a beading effect, allowing efficient cleaning.

Also, a slim lens cover prevents videographers from accidentally leaving fingerprints on the glass surface.

Pros

  • Offers great control over field exposure
  • Increased flexibility while using a video camera
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Enhanced durability
  • Smooth rotation and controlled vignetting
  • Clear markings and hard stops to prevent rotating beyond the maximum and minimum range
  • No cross-polarization

Cons

  • It is a premium variable ND filter; the price is too high.

03. Freewell 67millimeter Threaded Hard Stop VND Filter – 2Pack (2 to 5 Stop & 6 to 9 Stop)

 

Key Features

  • 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 stops filters
  • Schott B270 glass
  • Magnetic lens cap
  • Side knurlings
  • Hard stops
  • Aluminum alloy-made filter ring
  • Both filters mountable onto 67 mm filter threads

This Freewell Filter Kit comes with two filters, one for controlling exposure on a typical day and the other designed for a bright day.

The Standard Day variable ND filter consist of four usable exposure-reduction stops from 2 to 5 with a neutral density of 0.6 to 1.5.

At the same time, Bright Day offers exposure control with 6 to 9 stops.

With 0.6 to 1.5 and 1.8 to 2.7 neutral densities, respectively, the Freewell 67mm All-Day Variable Neutral Density Kit

Filters are capable of darkening an entire image, enabling the videographer to make a shot with a slower shutter speed or wider aperture than usual.

Control of field depth is more manageable if both the exposure time and aperture are increased.

Also, it has visual markings with numbers representing stop values on the front ring and side knurlings for easy and precise control of repeatable density settings.

Both filters are designed with Schott B270 glass to enhance field clarity and color balance.

Multi-coatings on the glass surface reduce reflections and internal ghosting.

The coatings also prevent scratches and other foreign particles on the filter and help to keep it cleaner than uncoated filters.

Pros

  • Increased control of exposure and color balance
  • Durable filters
  • No rotation beyond min. and max. range
  • Easy to clean using a microfiber cloth
  • Easy and smooth rotation
  • Comes with a storage case

Cons

  • No soft-carrying case
  • 2 filters but only one lens cap

04. Tiffen Variable ND Filter (82 mm)

 

Highlighted Features

  • Light control using 2 to 8 Stops
  • Durable aluminum filter ring
  • Shooting at a wider aperture
  • 9 mm filter ring
  • Optic glass designed with ColorCore technology
  • Rotating ring for selecting neutral densities

The Tiffen product is a versatile and flexible filmmaking tool offering a particular way of controlling field depth while creating unique effects.

With this filter, a videographer can reduce exposure with six usable stops (from 2 to 8 Stops).

Coming with 0.6 to 2.4 filtration power or neutral density, a filmmaker can reduce the shutter speed, which will give increased exposure length and keep the shutter open for an extended period to sufficiently record the focused field and convey movement.

With this filter, it is possible to rotate to the neutral density best for your shot and achieve quality results.

Capturing special effects like “blur” of waterfall-rippling water is possible thanks to slower shutter speed and a wider aperture, which can be achieved using the filter.

The ColorCore technology is used in designing the filter to allow control of color accuracy and balance with precision.

Pros

  • Quality degrees of filtration
  • Reducing vignetting
  • No need to buy many ND filters

Cons

  • The marks do not represent Stops
  • No hard stops; possibility of cross-polarization

05. Worlds Sharpest: Breakthrough X4 Fixed ND Filter for Camera Lenses ND (49 mm, 10-Stop)- Photography

 

Distinctive Features

  • 49 mm photo filter
  • MRC 16-layer coating
  • Nanotec coating technology
  • Schott B270 optical glass
  • Plastic storage case
  • Lens cloth

The X4 ND is one of the best color-neutral filters that photographers can use to gain sharp field focus.

It comes with a weather-sealed frame for increased durability, offering excellent traction that makes it easier to get filters on-and-off.

Undoubtedly, the filter is designed with outstanding craftsmanship to provide quality results.

A well-controlled transmission throughout the visible light into IR is another spectacular feature the X4 ND filter guarantees for excellent color fidelity.

MRC16 16-layer multi-coating with scratchproof, waterproof, oilproof, etc., to prevent lens flare and internal reflections.

By Preventing scratches and repelling dust, oil, and water, the optical coating enhances the filter glass’s durability and makes it practical for outdoor working.

Also, by reducing reflection, minimum light is lost to the environment; thus, enhanced efficiency.

On top of the MRC16, the filter is designed using a nano-coating layer to enhance dust or water-repelling capability through beading.

The X4 neutral density filter comes with powerful ten stops and can be mounted in all cameras with 49 mm lenses.

Pros

  • Lightweight (3.66 ounces)
  • 10-stop for increased control of exposure
  • Multiple coatings make the filter’s glass usable for longer
  • Reduced light loss, enhanced efficiency

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No reference marks but only traction treads

06. Hoya Variable Density Screw-in Filter- 77 mm

 

Key Features

  • Exposure reduction by 9 Stops
  • Reduced shutter speed
  • Darkening the entire image
  • Wider aperture
  • 45 to 2.7 neutral density
  • Thin profile Aluminum ring

The mid-range light controlling tool has many features similar to that of the Tiffen VND Filter.

Its filter ring sits flush on the camera lens, unlike Tiffen’s filter, which is wider than the lens.

The Hoya Variable Density Screw-in Filter offers a light reduction of 1.5 to 9 stops.

With 0.45 to 2.7 neutral densities, the filter can darken the entire image; thus, providing a wider aperture and slower shutter speed for excellent photography.

Filtration power or density can easily be controlled through the easy-to-use front filter ring, which offers smooth rotation and predetermines the exposure length required for recording shots with special effects.

The filter allows videographers and filmmakers to slow shutter speed using a denser focus to increase aperture and control exposure with great accuracy while conveying movement efficiently.

It is designed using optical glass to help in maintaining image contrast and clarity.

Since it is held within an aluminum ring, vignetting is reduced at wider angles.

Pros

  • Flexibility in using specific ISO settings
  • More control of exposure
  • Great value and quality results
  • Reduced vignetting
  • Increased exposure flexibility

Cons

  • No hard stops; thus, the likelihood of cross patterns

07. Best for Professional Users: B+W XS-Pro Digital Vario ND (Multi-Resistant Nano Coating)- 77 mm

 

Key Features

  • Schott filter glass
  • 1 to 5 stops reducing exposure
  • Brass filter ring
  • MCR with Nanotechnology
  • 3 to 1.5 optical neutral density

B+W XS-Pro variable ND filter is a high-end tool constructed with the most features suitable for professional video shooting.

The filter controls the polarization effect with five usable stops and maintains image quality with naturally-like color contrast and balance.

A wider mount or outer ring helps to prevent vignetting when using a camera with wide-angle lenses.

Multi-Resistant Coating (MRC) made using Nanotechnology to keep the filter safe from elements like water, oil, dust, or scratch while reducing glare and flares.

Its filter ring is constructed using brass, which is a heavy metal and highly durable; thus, videographers can use this filter for many years.

The most exciting thing with this filter is that it has hard stops with clear marks on the outer ring to help the videographer or filmmaker avoid rotating beyond the minimum and maximum range.

Made from Schott optic glass, the B+W filter offers excellent image clarity and color balance, which cannot be achieved with some other filters.

Pros

  • No rotation beyond extremes
  • Image quality is not impacted by polarization
  • High-quality brass for enhanced durability
  • MRC repellant to contaminant elements

Cons

  • Markings are dots and challenging to determine stops
  • High-end price

08. Lee Filters- Big Stopper 3.0 Neutral Density Filter- 100 mm, 10 Stops

 

Key Features

  • 10-stop light control
  • Easy to convey movement
  • Optical glass
  • Slowing shutter speed
  • Darkens entire image

The solid ND filter provides exposure reduction by 10 Stops.

With a high neutral density of 3.0, Lee Filter darkens an entire image, allowing videographers and filmmakers to photograph a broader aperture and slower shutter than usual.

A slower shutter and increased aperture enable videographers to control field depth and easily convey movement.

It has a high-quality optical glass for enhanced color accuracy and image clarity. It is mountable on camera lenses with 100mm filter threads.

Pros

  • Big stoppers can blur anything moving
  • High definition and image clarity
  • Does not cause vignetting

Cons

  • Light leakage is an issue

09. Best Budget: Gobe 77mm ND Lens Filter (2Peak)- ND64 and 6 Stops

 

Highlighted features

  • 8 optical density darkens the entire image
  • 6-stop exposure reduction
  • 16-layer coatings
  • Magnalium-alloy filter ring

This highly flexible tool is rated as one of the cheapest filters in the market, and it is a perfect option for customers on a tight budget.

Gobe has a similar design to that of Tiffen and Hoya filters.

The neutral density filter has a 64X filtration factor and offers exposure reduction with six usable stops.

Its capability to darken an entire image with 1.8 optical density helps widen the aperture and lengthen exposure time, thus having excellent field depth control.

It does not affect image coloration but maintains it’s quality and color fidelity.

The best budget variable ND filter consists of optical glass, which has 16-layer anti-glare or flare coatings on both sides.

The coat-layers also prevent scratches on the glass while enhancing image clarity and color accuracy.

A lightweight magnalium-alloy covers the optical glass to enhance the durability of the filter ring.

Pros

  • Minimal vignetting
  • Enhanced image quality
  • Easy cleaning with a microfiber cloth
  • Metal filter case enhances safety

Cons

  • No hard stops; cross-polarization possible
  • Unclear markings

10. ProMaster 77mm VND Filter (9566)

 

Key Features

The ProMaster VND filter allows sufficient light control in almost any environment.

It offers exposure reduction using 2 to 9 stops and can reduce shutter speed on a sunny day from 1/1000 to 1/2 second.

Also, the filter allows shooting with a wider aperture under different lighting conditions.

Meanwhile, it creates images with special effects by allowing the videographer to set the filter on the desired shutter speed and specific aperture to achieve a certain field depth.

The ProMaster Variable ND filter does not affect the color fidelity of images.

Pros

  • Good for outdoor usage
  • Color balance is enhanced
  • Can be used for fast films like recording waterfalls

Cons

  • Marks do not represent Stop values
  • Not a better choice for professional videographers

Factors to Consider When Choosing The Best Variable ND Filter For Video

Many variable neutral density filters are available in the market, each priced differently depending on features and value; thus, a videographer must understand what he/she is investing in.

Every filmmaker has specific requirements, and they should be achieved by getting the best variable ND filter for video with the most practical features.

The most important consideration is whether the videographer is shooting as a professional, casual, or for-family and friends.

Variable ND filters help eliminate the need to buy several fixed ND filters by providing a rotating mechanism for exploring different stops.

They are perfect if a videographer is shooting outdoors or any place where lighting varies from time to time. To help filmmakers make a composed decision when purchasing a variable ND filter, below are key considerations to look at:

What kind of videographer?

As stated above, one has to know the type of videographer he/she is or wants to become.

A lower-tier filter is suitable if video shooting is done casually or for fun with friends and family.

If the videographer does not aspire to venture into videography deeply, there is no need to spend a lot of cash on a premium variable neutral density filter.

However, for anyone shooting videos professionally or aspires to make a living through videography, a mid-range or high-end variable ND filter is the best option.

Professional shooting requires a videographer to work with the best variable ND filter for high-quality results.

What does Quality Lens Videographer use? 

Every filmmaker wants to get the best shots, depending on the camera lens and filters he/she uses.

Professional filmmakers always invest in high-quality lenses and make their output more appealing;

it is recommended for them to obtain quality variable neutral density filters.

The last thing a videographer wants to do is mount a cheap ND filter on his expensive lens, which would undoubtedly affect image quality.

Low-quality filters can negatively affect the videos’ quality, and a videographer may lose clients because of low videos.

Is a variable ND filter Necessary, or a Solid ND Filter can Do?

This is another crucial question a videographer needs to ask him/herself before purchasing a variable ND filter.

Sometimes, an item can be bought where it wasn’t necessary; therefore, knowing if a variable ND filter is essential to enhance shooting can save expenses.

If solid ND filters can perfectly fit the requirements, they usually come cheap and help avoid potential adverse effects of variable ND filters such as vignetting.

Also, if a videographer will be shooting at night, indoors, or in a studio, then a solid ND filter is the perfect option.

Build quality

Here, the videographer will get whatever he/she pays for.

Different variable neutral density filters are designed using different materials and technology.

Premium variable ND filters are designed with multi-coatings to reduce flares and glare while preventing scratch on the glass and other contaminant-elements.

Their filter rings are also made of quality materials like aluminum to make them more durable.

However, if the budget allows purchasing a cheaper ND filter, ensure the best quality by referring to reviews.

More inexpensive variable ND filters can damage threading in lenses since they are made of low-quality material.

Availability of Hard Stops

One of the essential aspects to consider when purchasing a variable ND filter.

Variable filters like PolarPro Peter Mckinnon Edition, B+W XS-Pro, Freewell, etc., are designed with hard stops to prevent filter ring from rotating beyond the minimum and maximum points.

The hard stops help to avoid image quality issues like bad cross-patterns on images.

Actual Usable Stops

The trickiest thing regarding variable ND filters is to determine usable stops.

A filter may have a strop range from 2 to 9, but not all stops are functional.

Variable filters are made differently, and image quality will reduce while approaching the maximum stop.

High-end variable ND filters usually have more usable visits than cheaper options.

The more usable stops a filter has, the more control over density a videographer will have.

Additional Accessories

Although additional items do not influence the image quality, it is nice when accessories are included in the package.

These accessories are useful to allow the videographer to handle the filter easily.

Premium Variable ND filters come with accessories such as a convenient pouch for packaging the filter is one of the essential accessories.

Other additional items that can be included are a filter cap for covering the optical glass and a microfiber cloth for cleaning.

(FAQs) On Best Variable ND Filter

When looking for a variable ND filter to purchase, it is crucial to consider reading the questions customers frequently ask and product reviews.

Answers to these questions will guide videographers on how to use a variable ND filter and maintain it to enhance its durability.

What are Variable ND filters, and How do they differ from fixed ND filters?

Variable ND filters are exposure-reducing tools to be mounted on camera lenses.

They control light levels and reduce exposure by the use of different optical densities.

Fixed ND filters are constant and are designed to prevent a certain amount of light from reaching the lens.

If further exposure reduction is required, a videographer will have to replace the filter and mount another with higher filter stops.

Variable ND filters eliminate the burden of carrying many fixed ND filters and replacing them each time.

They allow videographers to adjust filter density by rotating the ring; thus, changing filtration power and the amount of light reaching the lens.

Can Image Quality be Affected by Variable ND Filters?

“YES”

This is an essential aspect for a videographer to understand when selecting the best variable ND filter for video.

It is crucial to know how these exposure-controlling filters will impact image quality.

Variable ND filters are used to create some special effects on images, but they affect differently.

Cheap or low-quality filters have always caused issues when used; such problems can impact image quality as vignetting, cross-patterns, color shifts, and infrared pollution.

High-quality ND filters have shown minimum problems, and they produce quality images.

When choosing a variable ND filter, it is wise to know if color fidelity and overall image quality by a particular filter are pleasing.

Invest extra money to obtain the most convenient ND filter.

How does one know if he/she has pushed the variable ND beyond extremes?

Variable ND filter offers a lot of flexibility, but sometimes a videographer may rotate the ring beyond min. and max. points.

However, once the rotating ring is beyond the range, a dark cross pattern will appear across the field center.

High-end variable ND filters come with hard stops to help videographers avoid this problem.

Therefore, if one is shooting using a budget variable ND filter without hard stops, he/she needs to be more careful to avoid harmful patterns.

How do Variable ND filters work?

VND filters are essential accessories to videographers who want to have total control of light levels.

They allow users to reduce shutter speed for creating special blur effects.

As light varies from time to time, a videographer can increase or decrease the optical density by rotating the filter ring to maintain the appropriate shutter speed.

How many stops are needed for Video shooting?

These filters come with different stop-ranges, and the effectiveness of a Variable ND filter depends on usable stops within its range.

Some stops within a range are rarely functional due to heavy color shifts and cross-patterning.

For example, a VND filter with six stops may only have three or four usable stops for controlling exposure; the others are affected by bad cross-patterns and color shifts.

However, most premium filters experience minimal issues, and almost all their stops are working.

Can variable ND filters have polarizing effects?

“No”

Variable neutral density filters hardly produce polarizing effects.

Although they are designed using polarizers, they do not have a similar impact as polarizers.

If a videographer wants to have a polarizing effect, polarizers are the perfect option because variable ND filters control light levels.

How does a videographer know the size of a variable ND filter to purchase?

Variable Neutral Density (VND) Filters come in different sizes, and each will fit in a camera lens depending on its diameter.

The size of a filter is indicated in millimeters (mm), and for successfully mounting on a camera lens, its size MUST correspond to the lens’s size.

However, a filter with threats should be screwed-in on the lens’s threads, while others are designed without filter threats, and they can only be clipped-in.

What Distinguishes Variable ND filter and Polarizers?

Variable ND filters are designed to control the amount of light reaching the camera lens while reducing image exposure.

They control shutter speed and field depth to allow the creation of quality, unique effects.

VND filters work by allowing wide aperture, slowing shutter speed in bright light, capturing “blurs” of moving objects, and balance light exposure across images while protecting the camera lenses.

On the other hand, polarizing filters selectively allow individual polarization light waves to pass through and create clear colors in an image.

They work by reducing reflections on a bright day to enhance color vibrancy. The choice will heavily depend on the videographer’s requirements.

Conclusion

After reading this article, one should better understand what Variable Neutral Density Filters are and how they function.

Also, enlisted are some of the options available in the market.

If any Variable ND filter in the above list is appealing to you and within your budget, do not hesitate to get it.

The best variable ND filter for video will increase videographers’ flexibility, more speed, and convenience in their work.

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