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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎03-04-2014

Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

Hi,  I'm looking for suggestions for a varible ND filter for my 7D EFS 17-55mm lens. Wanting to shoot video on the high end towards the f/2.8 range of this lens. Currently, my sweet spot without a ND is anywhere from f/14 to f/18 bright/cloudy outdoors. I normally shoot at 1920x1080 at 24fps with my shutter speed at 1/50. As you know, the higher the aperture the brighter things get. At f/2.8 I'm totally washed out. I have a B+W UV XS-Pro filter that currently lives on the lens https://www.schneideroptics.com/Ecommerce/CatalogItemDetail.aspx?CID=1554&IID=8160

 

I see Light Craft Workshop has come out with a Rapid Variable ND lately that looks interesting. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1015993&Q=&is=REG&A=details

 

If you have any suggestions that would give me great results, I would sincerely appreciate it. Thanks, Ray

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 849
Registered: ‎03-06-2013

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

Depends on your budget, if money is no problem, Sing Ray Vari ND is pretty good but it's really expensive. Tiffen is also good. I also like Marumi filter too. But remember that with Vari-ND you don't want to use at the extreme (say 10 stop) because it will give some kind of weird effect and color cast. And take off the UV filter if you use another filter. You don't want to stack them.

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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎03-04-2014

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

Thanks for the suggestions...... I will check into the ND's that you mentioned. Your help is most appreciated. Ray

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

Personally I'd get a standard ND filter instead of a variable.  Looks like 5 stop is what you need.  I know B+W makes a 6 stop, you might be able to get that to work.

 

Perhaps variable NDs work well with video.  When I looked into getting one for stills it seemed to me it just wasn't worth it if you're picky about your quality.  Anything less than the SR was of dubious quality and even the SR had problems with the X banding at higher opacities.  With stills you usually have some wiggle room over settings so having a 3 stop and a 6 stop, and stacked for 9 stop, was enough for my needs.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,816
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens


@Skirball wrote:

Personally I'd get a standard ND filter instead of a variable.  Looks like 5 stop is what you need.  I know B+W makes a 6 stop, you might be able to get that to work.


I'd 2nd this advice.  Variable NDs work by using two polarizing filters.  Polarizers block light based on the angle of the light and it's polarity.  This works well at standard and long focal lengths, but at WIDE focal lengths it's a problem because the the wide angle of view means light is coming from many different angles and it's not possible to tune a polarizer uniformly for all of them.  What you end up with is a dark band going through part of the image and then brighter in other areas.

 

If you use a standard ND filter, you're not using polarization to block light so the density is even throughout the entire frame.

 

I suspect you'll find that a variable ND works well somewhere around 30mm and longer... but at shorter forcal lengths (e.g. 20mm or shorter) that the effects are noticeable to the point that you probably wont like the results.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎03-04-2014

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

Wow..... Great info! I do want to take video as well as stills. I am looking for something to get me through both worlds, but I do not want to lose quality. You got me thinking...... Thanks, Ray

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎03-04-2014

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

[ Edited ]

Hi, The biggest reason I'm thinking of a VND is due to keeping video very close to the same brightness level in different shooting instances. As for portraits, landscapes, etc. I believe that a variety of fixed ND's would be fine, I could always fine tune lighting in Lightroom due to shooting in raw. I'd like to add, I use Sony Vegas Pro for all my video editing.
A couple questions do come to mind;
1) Would stacking 77mm ND's introduce vignetting?
2) Are there thin enough ND's that could be stacked without vignetting?
3) Would you suggest stepping up to a fixed 82mm ND using a 77-82mm step-up ring? I believe that this should allow stacking without the issue of vignetting. The downside would be losing the ability to use my hood.
4) As for fixed ND's, which ones in your opinion are the cleanest/sharpest?
Lots of questions I know and I thank all of you for your great help and input. I sincerely appreciate it. Ray

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,816
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

You can stack NDs but you'd want filters with good anti-reflective coatings to avoid ghosting.  The filter rings can show up and cause vigneting when used with very wide-angle lenses (especially when stacking.)

 

There are a few ways to try to avoid this.  

 

You can get filters with extra slim rings.  Just be careful here because sometimes extra-slim rings don't have threads on both sides (not stackable) but many are.  You'll just have to check.

 

B+W brand are top of the line for thread-on type filters... but there is another option if you're worried about vignetting.

 

You can ALSO use slide-on filters.  Lee filtelrs and Singh Ray filters are two very high end makers of slide-in filters.  These filters are square instead of round.  You buy a filter holder and adapter ring for your lens.  The ring threads on to your lens just like a filter, but it holds a bracket which typically has about 3 (but you can actually stack these to more) slots.  

 

Incidentally, these filters and filter holders come in different sizes depending on lens focal lengths, but 100mm width is typical. E.g. you'd have a holder that can hold 100mm wide square filters.  On the back of the holder is an adapter ring which you buy with the appropriate thread-size for your lens (e.g. 77mm filter thread size for the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM).    

 

This gives you a system where the filters are substantially wider than the lens so you shouldn't have a problem with the lens picking up the edges of the filter holder.

 

Another nice advantage to this is that you can also use gradient neutral density filters with it (GNDs).  A GND is rectangular, slides into the same filter holder, and is tinted on only half... clear on the other half.  The idea being that if you're trying to take, say... a landscape shot late in the day, and the sky is still bright but the land is dim, these filters allow you to cut the light on just the sky, but the view to the land is clear.  Now when you expose for the foreground, the sky isn't blown out.

 

I should also mention that Cokin makes the same system and Cokin is the system I remember from my youth.  They're less expensive than Lee and Singh-Ray (but you did ask who makes the good stuff).  I've had no real problems with Cokin filters other than the coatings and properties of the higher end filters are better.  Oddly... a "complaint" I hear about Cokin is that they are hard to keep clean.  Their filters seem to be formulated from some type of plastic which is a static electricity dust magnet.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens


@PaulaRay wrote:

Hi, The biggest reason I'm thinking of a VND is due to keeping video very close to the same brightness level in different shooting instances. As for portraits, landscapes, etc. I believe that a variety of fixed ND's would be fine, I could always fine tune lighting in Lightroom due to shooting in raw. I'd like to add, I use Sony Vegas Pro for all my video editing.
A couple questions do come to mind;
1) Would stacking 77mm ND's introduce vignetting?
2) Are there thin enough ND's that could be stacked without vignetting?
3) Would you suggest stepping up to a fixed 82mm ND using a 77-82mm step-up ring? I believe that this should allow stacking without the issue of vignetting. The downside would be losing the ability to use my hood.
4) As for fixed ND's, which ones in your opinion are the cleanest/sharpest?
Lots of questions I know and I thank all of you for your great help and input. I sincerely appreciate it. Ray


1) It can, and will depend on your lens/focal length.  You should be ok with 2 filters unless you're shooting ultra wide.

2) They make thin NDs, but again, it will ultimately depend on your focal length.  Ultrawide can have problems with a single filter, which is why they make the thins.

3) That's certainly an option.  I don't know that I would do that, 77mm is such a universal diameter, I buy all my filters at that size.

4) B+W

 

I you using post processing for your video?  You can adjust the light levels.  You would have to regardless of having a variable ND, light levels vary in all but the most tightly controlled situations.  THe variable ND won't help with that, you can't see brightness levels with your eyes anywhere close to the level as you will when you splice two different scenes together.

 

If you got the 6 stop ND filter that would put you on the far end of where you're shooting (for the settings you mentioned you'd have to open all the way up to f/2.8 to get the same light level).  So if you're shooting a scene a bit darker you can bump up your ISO a fraction if needed to compensate.  Or shutter speed and downscale in post.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎03-04-2014

Re: Needed Varible ND Suggestions For 7d EFS 17-55mm Lens

[ Edited ]

You two are awesome!! Thanks for the fantastic information...... Lots of things to think about. I'm really starting to lean towards the fixed ND's and now possibly the slide in's. Either way it would probably be a good idea to get an adapter ring just to save my 17-55mm lens from the possibility of cross threading. I'm thinking that three filters would give me a good variation. I know a 5 or 6 stop would be good at f/2.8, but what others would you suggest to f/14? Also, are the slide-on's called the same (stops)? Again, thanks for your help. You are definately educating me. Ray

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