Which ND filter


Well-Known Member

I am thinking of buying ND filter. Pls suggest brand and your experience with it. Also if i have to buy only one or max two, which stop grade should i select.



Hi Anupam,
I have been through this ordeal of selecting and buying a ND recently. Let me share my experience.

What is the usage?
I wanted to click milky sea waves in day light/evening, so i wanted a filter which cuts light by at least 10 stops. For super long exposures.
A 10 step ND will decrease shutter speed by 1000x. So practically a shot at f/8,1/200 sec transforms to f/8,5 sec and so on.
Real Life exp: using 10stop ND is time consuming and challenging as you can not see anything through it. I generally compose a shot and then screw my filter.
Camera metering goes for a toss. You have to use hit and trial mostly. Live view mode comes real handy as it illuminates the LCD to show the frame atleast.
It requires a lot of patience, i would say.

What is the budget?
As with all photography equipment expensive is better. But what is different with NDs is that they get attached to lens. So putting a cheap ND filter in front of a expensive glass will defy the whole purpose of buying an expensive lens. if you are looking best in class filters, Big stopper by Lee and Singh- Ray are brand you should consider.
I went for BW ND10 MRC filter after reading various reviews online. So far I have been happy with this filter. This filter leaves a magenta color cast and vignetting at worst. (correctable in PP)


It depends what you want the ND for.
Ankur has explained the pros and cons of using ND filter, however in the case of ND filter most expensive is not always the best. I bought the expensive SinghRay filter which sucks.
One advice, which ever ND filter you buy see that it is bigger than your widest lens.


Where is the remote?

I am thinking of buying ND filter. Pls suggest brand and your experience with it. Also if i have to buy only one or max two, which stop grade should i select.

To build upon the excellent suggestions that Ankur and Henry has provided, let me share with you the filter buying path which I suggest to all the friends who ask me about this. But that will happen only when I return from work :-(. No short answer to your question because buying filter should follow a plan , wrong choices are costly.
In the meantime I suggest you have a looksy to the following :





Where is the remote?
When we progress a bit beyond our rookie days with our camera the requirement of creative filters do arise ( I am not getting into protective filters / UV filters). The web space is full of articles regarding filters but web-gyan being web-gyan , it can never ever replace the practical understanding that we earn for ourselves. So I stick my neck out and share the myths, truths, half-truths, conjectures and absolute misinformation that my confused brain does store, all gained through the path of photography :-

Do we actually need creative filters?

The digital photography necessitates certain level of proficiency in post processing. Almost all the photo-editing software bundles quite mind-boggling array of digital filters. With a click of a mouse you can change how your image does look. To be brief in modern days if you employ techniques like HDR/exposure bracketing/exposure blending etc. you can certainly avoid a lot of use of filters. The Pundits tell that software like Photoshop etc. can perfectly mimic all the usual filters except Circular polarizer and Infra-red filters. I am not qualified to vouch for that but yes , if you are good in PP, you can do without most filters.

Then why do some use them?

  • To save time : Post processing is a time consuming and tedious job. I find it to be actually very boring. So if you get the image right in the camera itself the time needed to tweak in PP drastically reduces, so does the boredom.
  • Not everyone is a PP wizard : Most of us are very average in PP. Simulating a filter effect “perfectly” through mouse and keyboard does call for much higher skill level. If I try to do that the image will look very artificial and aweful so I actually use filter while shooting.
  • Satisfaction : Not everyone believes in that but taming a challenging scene with the help of filter gives many a sort of creative high. The metering, the weighing of odds, the counting/discounting various factors and then when a satisfactorily exposed image appear on the LCD , that is a very joyous moment. Compare that to crouching in front of a computer and tweaking with mouse and all, no brainer for me.

What to buy ?

Like everything under the sky you can have a 100 things in that list and never be satisfied. Our needs are unlimited but means are limited, at least for most folks like me. So I frankly suggest a planned way to go at things. Know what you want, plan accordingly and get them in phased manner. If I was starting today,with limited budget and value for money in mind, I would go like this.

  • CPL 77 mm : First buy will be a circular polarizer to cut the glare/increase the contrast. Size would be 77 mm. Most professional grade lenses are of 77 mm and even if I don’t own a single one of them who knows I may get one next year. Buying a smaller diameter would mean selling that and buying again, losing money in the process. So buy 77 mm, be future proof, upon lenses with smaller filter threads use with “step-up” rings. Buy good quality step up rings because cheaper ones get bent and the filter gets stuck. Minimum acceptable quality is HOYA HMC (multi coated ) or equivalent. If you have the fund get PRO-1D or B+W or Singh Ray or whatever.
  • HITEC graduated NDs 0.3,0.6,0.9 /Square/ Soft/ 85 mm: They are most essential tools for landscape photography during early morning and late evening. At that time we see that the sky is much brighter ( due to rising/setting sun) and the ground is much darker. So these graduated filters which are dark on the top and gradually lightens to transparent from middle part onward , if fitted in front of lens will cut 1 stop (0.3) , 2 stops (0.6) or 3 stops of light (0.9) from the bright sky and will ensure better exposure. Why Square and not “screw in” ? Because the screw in types will ensure that the “edge” will be bang in the middle wherein you can fit your square filters in different ways to blend/align properly with the horizon , which may be at upper/lower third OR at an angle, according to your composition. Why 85 mm ? To mitigate the filter thread size issue of the lens same as in CPL. Why “soft” and not “hard”? Because in most cases light reduces gradually and not sharply , so personally I find that ”soft” ones are more useful.
WHY NOT COKIN : Because Cokin filters are not neutral. They impart colour cast ( mauve, grey, tobacco etc.) . There may be neutral ones but I haven’t seen them. So if you like such colour cast buy Cokin else go for Hitec.

  • Filter holders and adapter rings for HITEC grads : Buy good quality (sturdy) filter holders and adapter. Don’t go for expensive OEM ones. There are many Chinese know offs that can be had at a fraction of a price. Recently one manufacturer called “Haida” is supplying quite sturdy ones at reasonable price.
  • Hoya multicoated NDX400 screw in 77 mm: It blocks 9 stops of light. So if you are interested in motion blur, long exposure kind of images, if you love the flowing whiteness of water, this filter is for you. I prefer screw in filters in this category to tackle the “light leak” issue. Square filters are generally susceptible to light leakage through holders/rings etc and in long exposure that becomes more pronounced and often ruin the image. I personally rarely use 2 stop/3 stop NDs. One may buy of it’s must but in my opinion the pure joy of ND filter is at 9 stop/10 stop level.
This is the basic minimum that I would like to have in my kitty, balanced between price & performance. Once I master them I can add on as many filters as I need, over a period of time and in a phased manner.

I reiterate that these are my personal understandings/misunderstanding and YMMV.


Hi Benhur,
I have not used above brands. Other people in forum can help with feedback.
I have B+W MRC ND10 filter. I find it okay for my usage.
Here is an imahe i clicked last weekend using this filter. exposure time was around 10sec i think.