Question #20: About Neutral Density Filters

Q: "Do you ever use ND filters?" Jonty B, Australia


A: "Hi Jonty! Nice to hear from you.

Since I rarely shoot landscapes or nature photography I don't have much use for a neutral density filter. For those who are not familiar with ND filters, they are a grey piece of glass that fits in front of your lens and reduces the amount of light that hits the sensor of your camera. ND filters are typically 3 stops in strength, some go as far as 10 stops! By slowing the shutter speed, ND filters will allow you to capture motion in water, clouds or any moving subject in daylight with a creamy or blurry look instead of freezing the action. With the use of an ND filter you can set the shutter speed and aperture you want, without having the actual light conditions dictate the settings.

In street photography, the use of an ND filter can be useful in order to add motion blur to a street scene for example. My new Fuji X100s is equipped with a 3 stop ND filter in camera which I use to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor when I shoot wide open in bright daylight.

ND fllters are expensive and come in two forms: screw-in or slot-in. The screw-in filters are small, light and easy to fit on the lens. The drawback is that you need one for each lens diameter you own and stacking them can cause vignetting problems. The advantage of the slot-in filters is that they are also stackable and you can adapt them to different lens sizes by using an inexpensive adaptor ring for each lens you own.

 I hope my answer is useful and helps shed some light on ND filters."





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