Guide to Neutral Density Filters (Camera Lesson 17)

Summary: Ryan covers the first classification of filtration: image control filters and then takes a closer look at Neutral Density (ND) filters.

Length: 4:36 minutes

Video Lesson

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Broadly speaking there are two categories of filters: image control filters and special effects filters. In this video we’ll be taking a look at the first type of image control filters, neutral density filters.

ND Filters

Neutral density filters reduce the amount of light that end up on your camera’s sensor without adjusting the color of the image. (At least in theory that is what is supposed to happen.) Higher quality ND filters will have very little to no color shift, while lower quality ND Filters will have a visible color shift.

True ND - Camera Lesson 17
Variable ND - Camera Lesson 17

ND filters are traditionally marked in full stop increments. Every increase of 0.3 equals one stop of light. So it starts at 0.3, then 0.6, 0.9, and so on. When we talk about ND filters on-set, we drop the zero and just refer to it in whole numbers so I would say something like, “Get me the N9, or the N12.”

ND Filter Grades - Camera Lesson 17

There are two types of ND filters: solid and graduated. Solid NDs are what most people are familiar with. They decrease the exposure uniformly across the whole image. Graduated filters, on the other hand, change in intensity across the filter.…

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