I have just received my Singh-Ray Vari ND. Something I have desperately needed recently on a number of 5d shoots. The Canon 5dmkII has no built in ND filters like video cameras which means if you want to shoot wide open in bright light you have to stick a huge amount of shutter in to knock the light back. Now this is a bad idea. You create unnatural movement and when there are artificial lights you raise the chance of flickering. Ideally when shooting with the 5d, which records at 30fps you should keep the shutter at 1/60th for optimal film motion. This is equivalent to 180 degrees in a film camera. It creates the most filmic looking image. Too low and you get motion blur, too high and you get staccato motion.With ND’s on the front of your lens you can knock back the light coming into the camera depending on the strength of the ND filter.
You don’t want one ND lens for your lens, you want a variety depending on the brightness of the light outside. This gets expensive and also very fiddly. An ideal solution is the Vari-ND. A clever little bit of kit that can vary the density from a minimum of 2 stops up to more than 8 stops! Very handy! With the Singh-Ray one there is no loss of colour, fidelity or sharpness. Check out the little movie below to see it in action
I bought the 82mm version which is the max filter diameter of my lenses, I have also bought a number of step down rings to make this work on other smaller lenses. It’s not cheap, it costs $390. But it’s been around for a while, is of superb quality and is very highly spoken of by professionals in the photographic and video industries. Just with my simple play around today. It’s great. It’s like having an extra manual iris control on the front of the lens!
It also comes in a natty leather man pouch!
Now if this is too pricey for you I have also bought a cheap version off of ebay called the “Fader ND Filter”, it’s just over $100. I haven’t received it yet as it is coming from Asia. But it does the same thing according to the blurb and costs a lot less.
I have bought a smaller diameter version of this and should hopefully arrive soon. When I get them I will compare the sharpness of the two. The Singh-Ray is superb. Be great if the cheapo one is great too…I will keep you informed
EDIT: Got my Fader-ND and used both on a recent shoot. Singh-Ray is better but if on a budget the fader ND is very very good.
Want to learn how to create the film look? Click below.