Today’s Question: I just watched one of your videos from a B&H Photo presentation and thoroughly enjoyed it very much. I focused in on your discussion about the neutral density (ND) filter and I’m convinced that I want to get one. So, what do you recommend? Variable or solid, and what brand?
Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal preference is to use solid neutral density filters, rather than variable. In terms of brands, I’ve been very happy with filters from Singh-Ray and I consider B+W to offer excellent quality at a good price point. However, I’ve also recently discovered Breakthrough Photography filters, and am very impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
More Detail: There is certainly a convenience factor when using a variable ND filter, since you can achieve a range of densities with a single filter. However, it can be challenging to achieve just the right density or exposure. For me those challenges slow down my workflow (and sometimes frustrate me). Therefore, I prefer to use solid ND filters, so that I always know exactly how many stops of light I’m blocking for the exposure.
For a long time I’ve considered Singh-Ray filters (http://www.singh-ray.com) to be among the very best in terms of quality. These filters do tend to be a bit more expensive than those from other companies, but the quality in my experience has been excellent.
I’ve also been a fan of the filters from B+W, such as the 10-stop filter I’ve been using for some time now (http://timgrey.me/bw10stop). I have found the filters from B+W to be of excellent quality, while being offered at a competitive price.
More recently, I’ve been introduced to the filters from Breakthrough Photography, and I am very impressed. A quick test has demonstrated that the ND filters from Breakthrough Photography are very neutral, and the quality is excellent. You can find an example of one of the ND filters from Breakthrough Photography here: