Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Variable ND Filter - Vario ND2-400 MMX

Recently, I purchased a couple of 'new' second hand lenses.  (see my earlier post, if you haven't already done so!)   

I was happy to see that included in that deal were 2 variable ND filters.  This was good because it meant that I didn't have to stack ND filters as I had been doing and also, I could focus through the variable filter at it's lightest setting and then adjust it to go darker without having to remove separate filters and then re-install them when I was ready to take the photo.

I went down to Rathmines where I knew there were some old piers of a wharf that had served the RAAF Base there when it was a Flying Boat Base.  It was my intention to use the variable filter to get some long exposure shots using the variable ND filter.

The filter I was using is a ND2-400.  ND2 being equivalent to 1 stop of exposure and ND400 being equivalent to 9 stops of exposure (according to Google!).  The filter cuts out the light coming into the camera.  This means that to get a properly exposed photo, the shutter speed slows right down and we are left with a long exposure photo.  You can see some examples of long exposure here in a previous blog post.

I took a few photos, chimping as I went along.  Now there's an interesting word; Chimping.  It is a virtual new word and simply means 'immediately looking at the result of a photo on a digital camera after each shot'.  Anyway, I wasn't entirely happy with the result.  Considering that the top level of the variable ND is equivalent to 9 stops (allegedly!) I was only getting a 2 second shutter speed from ISO100 at f22;  I had thought that I would get longer.

One thing about using the filter that I had not considered was the vignetting in each corner caused by using a filter on a wide angle lens.  This happened all the time when opened up wide to 10mm.

Another problem also showed up and this is a common problem found when using a circular polariser on a wide angle lens; it makes one part of the photo go darker.  Now, a variable ND filter is simply 2 pieces of polarising glass; one circular and the other linear.  One filter is turned to offset the polarisation, making the filter darker or lighter.  I did end up with this problem and a darker area appeared up the top of some photos, right in the middle!

I wasn't too impressed with my first use of a variable ND filter.

I think my next step is to purchase a 77mm filter holder and separate ND filters for this lens.  It may be a little more fiddly but I think it would give better results.  Once I have the holder to fit the lens, I can then purchase more filters for that as time goes on.

Photos Copyright ©Life with Jordy Photography
All Rights Reserved

The RAW file.  You can see the filter in the corners of the photo (at the widest of 10mm) and
the dark blotch in the middle at the top caused by the polarisation on a wide angle lens.
Shutter speed at  2.5 second.
It was always my intention to edit in B&W.  Photo edited in Nik Collection, Silver EFEX Pro.

Vignetting applied in Silver EFEX Pro helps to hide that dark blotch.

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