- B+W 77mm ND Neutral Density 3.0-1000X MRC 110M Lens Filter - B&W 66-1066186
- ICE ND1000 Filter for Cokin P Neutral Density 10 Stop Optical Glass 84mm x 98mm
- Zomei® Ultra Slim HD 18 Layer Super Multi-Coated SCHOTT Glass PRO Density Neutral Gray ND1000 Lens Filter - 67mm
You might have seen them in the filter section of your local camera store, looking all black and apparently not related to photography. Neutral density filters look a lot different from other filters such as polarizers or UV filters. They are little square or round pieces of glass that look a lot like welding glass and have different stop values. Ten stop ND filters are some of the most commonly used, so we think it’s a good idea to bring them to attention.
Many beginners and newcomers to photography underestimate filters and overestimate the use of programs such as Photoshop. While these can be used to replace some filters, like color filters, ND filters have an effect that can’t be copied using software.
They are widely used in landscape photography because they allow the photographer to take very long exposures during daytime. Why would anyone want that, you ask? Think about those awesome landscapes with silky water and fluffy skies. Those are all taken using ND filters, very commonly 10 stop ones.
The filter acts similarly to a welding glass. If you look through it, you’re not really going to see anything. Nor is your camera, so make sure that once you find the right view, you frame and focus the shot without the filter mounted. Otherwise your camera will just move the lens back and forward in an attempt to lock focus onto something. After you frame and focus remember to switch the lens to manual focus. If you don't do that, you'll just have to take it all from the top again.
Take a few test shots without the filter mounted until you find the correct exposure. Then, calculate 10 shutter speed stops (it’s a 10 stop filter, remember?) and increase the exposure time accordingly. This isn't a fail-safe method however as some of the filters on the market actually reduce exposure by more than 10 stops.
Here’s a cool video tutorial made by Professional Photography Tips on how to use these efficient little pieces of glass.