Neutral Density Filters


Today’s Question: Which brand of Neutral Density Filter do you use? Is it the B+W 77mm 3.0 ND MRC and the equivalent 6-stop neutral density filter?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For my photography I generally carry a 10-stop (for dramatic photographic possibilities) and a 6-stop (for slightly faster shutter speeds) neutral density filter. I typically use filters from B+W, as I have found them to provide excellent quality at a competitive price.

More Detail: A ten-stop neutral density filter (with a density value of 3.0) provides excellent creative possibilities in your photography. With a filter this strong you can achieve 30-second exposures even during full daylight, and you can achieve longer exposures during darker (or night) conditions. With a ten-stop neutral density filter I find I can produce images that would otherwise be impossible, and I have a great deal of fun in the process.

For situations where I don’t need quite as long an exposure time (and I don’t want to increase the ISO setting just to get a faster shutter speed while using a 10-stop neutral density filter) I also carry a 6-stop filter. If I only carried the 10-stop filter, I would need to raise the ISO setting to 1600 to achieve the same shutter speed as the 6-stop filter while using the 10-stop filter. So I find it helpful to have an “extra” filter in my bag to help avoid the need to raise the ISO setting too much.

Because I also shoot a lot of video, I carry a 2-stop neutral density filter in addition to my 6-stop and 10-stop filters. This is primarily for situations where I need just a little bit of help to achieve a 1/30th of a second exposure based on video captured at 30 frames per second. Sometimes I only need 2-stops of density to get to the target shutter speed for video, and with video in particular I try to avoid raising the ISO setting. So, I carry a 2-stop neutral density filter in addition to the other two filters when I anticipate capturing video along with stills during a photo outing.

You can find all three of the neutral density filters I reference here using the following links:

10-Stop Neutral Density Filter:

6-Stop Neutral Density Filter:

2-Stop Neutral Density Filter: