Tiffen Variable ND Filter

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by RenaudVL, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. RenaudVL

    RenaudVL Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 21, 2011

    Anyone use this filter, I was about to buy it when I find this review. Filter is not cheap, and if this review is representative of what to expect, I am probably better off with a couple of filters and swap depending on the conditions…

    Any one have field experience with it?

    Tiffen Variable ND Filter Review

  2. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    What specifically are you worried about? I picked up a fairly cheap Fotasy Vari-ND, and it performs almost exactly like what they are describing, but for far less money.
  3. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Me also

    I'm also looking to purchase one and what I'm finding is that this cross pattern situation differs in intensity from brand to brand, but seems to exist (at some level) in all the variable ND filters?

    Lots of chatter on the Internet about this, but it's difficult to separate fact from opinion.
  4. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    First ask yourself, do you need that level of granularity of control? Do you really need control over the light entering your lens to the 1/2, 1/3rd, 1/10th degree? Do you really care whether a long exposure 2.5 seconds or 2 seconds? I'd say for most people, the answer is a resounding no! People generally will fall into two camps. First camp are the people who want to shoot a wider aperture in daylight... resolved by a medium ND filter. Second camp are those that want to have a really long exposure while mounted on a triipod.... solved with a strong ND filter.

    A variable ND filter is simply two polarizers placed back to back.. With that comes some sacrifices. First stacking filters puts more in front of your lens. MOST except of the most expensive variable ND filters use cheap polarizing glass.. two of them!. Second, you can get some strange effects. Do a google search on "variable ND filter X pattern"... they all exhibit this behavior to some degree. Third, issues with ultra-wide angle lenses, since you are dealing with polarizers.

    I use two very high quality ND filters... they are still a fraction of the price of a high quality variable ND filter. One is a 3 stop for shooting handheld in bright daylight. Second one is a 10 stop for shooting long exposures on a tripod in daylight. Never had a need for anything else.

    PS> If you have two polarizers, you can make your own fairly easily. That's what I did and realized it was a waste of time. My comments above only apply to still photography (not video).
  5. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    John Griggs
    How much the cross pattern manifests depends on how much you try to block and it may be manufacturer specific but I suspect not too much since it's a polarization effect. I had one but sold it -- it was just easier to carry a couple of ND's and stack them as needed.

    What I found was that above a certain "X" factor you got crosses and below it you didn't. So if a filter said it went to 400x -- fugeddaboutit, lol.

    For my purposes, I could stack say an ND4 and ND16 and get about as much as I ever needed.
  6. MingTyhMaa

    MingTyhMaa Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 20, 2012
    Lafayette, CA
    Real Name:
    Ming-Tyh Maa
  7. Heavy Doody

    Heavy Doody Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    I have the Tiffen you're asking about. It pretty much works as described. It's good if you need a final level of control through the first 6 settings. Beyond that it's worthless. I think I'm going to switch to a dedicated ND, as those long exposures are what I'm after.
  8. dbrown1395

    dbrown1395 New to Mu-43

    May 31, 2013
    Wow. Thanks. Now I get it. I've always wondered and have even spent the money for a high quality variable ND but have 3 other lenses I have been planning to buy the same for and now won't. Dedicated ND filters would have been cheaper and, by what you have now cleared up, more effective.

    Again, thanks.
  9. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Real Name:
    And you can stack them for a stonger effect.
  10. Heavy Doody

    Heavy Doody Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    Are you able to use auto-focus through the 10-stop?
  11. Sanpaku

    Sanpaku Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    Just mount a linear polarizer in front of either a linear or circular polarizer, turn one relative to the other, and voila, you have a variable ND. Cross patterns seen near the highest density is an artifact of the technique, and all variable ND filters, no matter how expensive, will exhibit it. Also, variable NDs, as stacked polarizers, can have the same issues with uneven skies at wide angles that single polarizers have.

    Their main purpose of is for cinematic work, where aperture or shutter speed can't be imperceptibly adjusted during a take. A variable ND allows moving shots from interior to exterior and light to shadow.

    For stills work, a 3 stop + a 9-10 stop ND are all you need.
  12. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    yes... as long as there is enough light entering for the camera to AF. It doesn't matter the density of the filter. Its no different than trying to AF in low light (sans light assist) without filter.