Shisa the guardian of Okinawa a photo by Shenanigans in Japan on Flickr.
Just ordered myself the LightCraft Workshop Fader ND filter from Hong Kong as I have always wanted to try this sort of filter and love shooting long exposures. I have been using gel ND filters and cheap ones from China but I was always fascinated with the idea of being able to change the density with one filter as working with a very dark gel ND is a pain in the bottom big time.
I have to first compose and focus the shot, remove the lens and slip in the gel filter into the rear of the lens. Put lens back on being careful not to touch the focusing ring. Then I have to guess the exposure as the cameras internal meter will not work at such extremes. Or I can also use a little iPhone app called ND calc which also does a good job.
Singh Ray probably makes the most well known variable ND filter known as the Veri ND. But it retails for about $400 I believe. They can also be found at places online such as Linkdelight.com for about $30 but the quality of the filter would have to be absolute rubbish Im guessing at this price. I had read quite a few good reviews about this LCW Fader ND so thought I would give this one a try.
Set me back about $150 for the 77mm version and I'm happy to report Im quite happy with the image sharpness and faithful colour representation so far.
One problem it states in the user manual is to not use the ND filter at the maximum setting as you will see black lines in the image, especially with full frame sensors such as my Canon 5D mkII. I tested for this and found that yes at around the 9 (maybe 10) stop mark the image becomes unusable. Heres an example of the black lines appearing at the maximum density setting.
All in all I'm quite happy with the filter. I'm sure it will come in very handy in future long exposure shoots and also for video where I will be able to shoot as say an aperture of f1.4 in bright daylight for shallow depth of field if I wish. Recommended!