Top positive review
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Well made variable ND filter
on February 20, 2011
ND filters reduce the amount of light that gets to your lens. They let you shoot at a slow speed in daylight so you can capture movement of water or people against a fixed background, for example, or at night when you want to capture the movement of lights on cars, etc. You can buy ND filters of various strengths, or buy a
variable ND filter that gives you a wide range of adjustment
Light Craft's Fader ND filter is the variable type. This is a lower cost alternative to Singh Ray variable ND filters. I can't make a direct comparison with Singh Ray products, but I did run the Light Craft Fader through some tests on a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-105mm lens and it's certainly satisfactory - designed well and made well. There was no loss of sharpness, based on comparing images shot with no filter and about a dozen images shot with the Fader filter at various degrees of ND. The filter shifts color slightly in the warm direction. It's not hard to compensate for this on your computer, but it's probably a good idea to take a shot without the filter so you have a baseline for making adjustments. Adjusting is easiest if you shoot in RAW, because you can reduce the color temperature slightly as a first step in processing.
The filter consists of two polarizing filers mounted in a ring so that the outer filter can be rotated. That allows you to vary the degree of density from about 2 stops to about 9 stops. The inner ring is the same size as your lens threads. Light Craft puts a slightly larger diameter filter into the outer ring to reduce the risk of vignetting. The 77mm Fader has an 82 mm outer filter and there was no vignetting with my 24 -105 mm lens set at 24 mm. The filter comes in a plastic case and it's supplied with an 82mm lens cap because the maker realizes that the cap from your lens won't fit the larger diameter outer ring. Another nice touch is that the outer ring is threaded in case you want to attach another filter. There's a small leaflet in the case with instructions written in perfect English that explains that the amount of increased density available varies depending on the focal length of your lens. On a very wide angle lens, you can't use the full 9 stop potential. With my lens set at 24 mm and the filter set for maxium density, the vertical edges of the frame are darkened more than the center. You can see the effect in your viewfinder especially if you use Live View, so it's not hard to avoid, and it the limitation vanishes as the focal length increases. I could get about 5 stops of density at 24mm and the full 9-stop effect was available at 50mm without any unevenness across the frame.