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Old 20-02-2007, 12:12   #1 (permalink)
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Variable Neutral Density Filter

Here is a link for the Variable Neutral Density Filter I ask about awhile ago. What do you think it is going to do. Will it work?
Singh-Ray Filters: Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter
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Old 20-02-2007, 12:26   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

It was all looking great.......... 'til I saw the price!

Don't have any experience of, nor know anyone using, but the theory seems sound! It's just that price!
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Old 20-02-2007, 12:32   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

On face value, it will do what it says. As it is being marketed as a photographic filter, we can only assume that the quality is going to be fit for purpose.

How it achieves the variable density is the question. If you get two pairs of Polaroid sunglasses ovrlaid on each other, you will get a similar effect. This is because there are very fine lines in the lens. When the lines are at 90 degrees to each other, there is a reduction in the light that can pass through. If one set of lines is rotated, and the lenses are aligned so that when the lines are parrallel they form a 'solid' filter, between the two extremes ther will be a variable amount of light transmission. I think the technical term is 'Moire fringes'

The question for me is, if what I'm saying is right, (and i'm not sure that it is!) when you are at an intermediate point, will the shapes formed by the two sets of lines have any impact on your camera's meter, or the image?

Maybe someone else can add something to this?
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Old 20-02-2007, 12:43   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Well, I assumed it's a couple of Circular Polarisers stuck together and so shouldn't interfere with the light meter (like Linear Polarisers can). So maybe shouldn't impact meter or image? Assuming that fairly good optics
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Old 20-02-2007, 12:55   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Good point, Mark, but why market it as a variable ND? They might just as well market it as a polariser.
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Old 20-02-2007, 13:00   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Because it'll work as a variable ND and no longer as a CP?
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Old 20-02-2007, 15:56   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

This is definitely two polarisers working together to control the light transmission. If you look at the top left corner rocks in the last two sample images you will see a noticeable polarising effect on the wet rocks. In fact, since the surface angle of the rocks varies so does the pola effect (which is normal) but this only goes to highlight that they are polarisers.

I have often used my pola filter as an ND when I needed to change exposure settings for whatever reason. It may be possible to obtain a variable ND using two ordinary polas, and it would be cheaper!

Most people think of polarisers as colour saturation improvers, which they are, but in fact what they really do is control reflections. A side effect of this is increased colour saturation. It is useful to think of them in terms of their ability to control subtle highlights on things like foliage, painted metal etc. It isn't always the best creative option to use the maximum polarisation of a filter as it can kill the subtle reflections from the myriad surfaces in a scene and make it look 'lifeless' and unnatural. Just an aside about polas, sorry!
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Old 20-02-2007, 17:29   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Thanks, Les - that's cleared that up. Back to the original post, would it be any good, or is it better to use different dedicated ND's?

Based on whet you've said, I think the dedicated ND's would be better.
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Old 20-02-2007, 18:31   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

So what is gained from this VERY expensive vari-ND filter over two polarisers which would be much cheaper and potentially even more variable than the one being marketed here?

I have a Cokin polariser that I could use in front of my mounted polariser and get the same results.... but haven't tried that so might be talking out of my jacksie! I'll have to give it a go and see what results I get.

Also, whilst we know about the quality of some maufacturers filters, we know very little about Singh-Ray's filter (well, i don't anyway!) so they might have optical imperfections that would degrade the image of an L series lens or whatever? Has anyone seen any independent tests or reviews of this thing? My slight wariness is in the fact this filter has now (according to the copyright info on the pictures in the ad) been around for about 4 years yet I have not seen anything written up about it in a photographic magazine.

If anyone else has either used this filter or seen a trusted review, I'd like to receive details and read it.

Cheers,
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Old 20-02-2007, 18:41   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
Well, I assumed it's a couple of Circular Polarisers stuck together and so shouldn't interfere with the light meter (like Linear Polarisers can). So maybe shouldn't impact meter or image? Assuming that fairly good optics
that's what I thought at first. Then I tried it. it's not two cp's
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Old 20-02-2007, 18:44   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

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Originally Posted by orangepeel View Post
that's what I thought at first. Then I tried it. it's not two cp's
No, no, you can't get away with just saying that! Tell ALL!
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Old 20-02-2007, 19:13   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

I don't think this would work with circular polas. The idea is that the lines in the pola interfere with each other which I don't see happening with CP's. But then I'm not an expert on CP's so this may be wrong but it makes logical sense to me.

In my professional opinion, I would go for high quality ND's in different strengths depending on your requirements. Also, remember that adding ND's together simply increases the effect i.e. two 0.3 NDs makes one 0.6 BUT of course the optical quality might reduce slightly because of the extra surfaces (but probably not enough to bother you). If adding two filters together any gap between them will more than likely incur internal reflections. I once saw a good example of this whilst using two Kodak CC gelatins with a shot including candles. Had multi images of the candle flames.
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Old 20-02-2007, 20:28   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

I haven't bought a filter yet, I read about a B+W variable that they stopped making. It is supposed to be a steal if you find one on e-bay. The same read said that they give you creative leaway. Reading here, I remember that I bought a polerizer on a trip, returned home and found that I already had one. Maybe I will try to stack them. I was informed that wasn't a good thing but I could try anyway seeing they are the same ones.
I think the wife might want this one on the thread, she works hard enough she can get it.
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Old 20-02-2007, 23:55   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Barron View Post
So what is gained from this VERY expensive vari-ND filter over two polarisers which would be much cheaper and potentially even more variable than the one being marketed here?

From what I can gather, Singh-Ray are at the upper end of the filter market. Their grad ND filters for the Cokin P Series cost about $100 each. Their polarizers, at 77mm are over $200, making the sub-$400 price of the vari-ND seem "reasonable" if it is actually two polarizers.

B-Y Polarizer
See the bottom of the review for a note about Singh-Ray.
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Old 21-02-2007, 08:35   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

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Originally Posted by orangepeel View Post
that's what I thought at first. Then I tried it. it's not two cp's
You need a linear polariser in front of a circular polariser. It's easier to explain it if you think of a circular polariser as a linear polariser in front of a quarter-wave plate (which is exactly what a circular polariser is), which gives you three filters, linear -> linear -> quarter-wave.

The first linear polariser converts the light into polarised light in a given axis (determined by the rotation of the filter). The second linear polariser does the same thing, but with the output of the first polariser - this means that if the two filters are aligned in the same direction, the second polariser does almost nothing (i.e. lets all the light through), whereas if they are 90 degrees to each other, the second polariser lets virtually no light through. This is how you get your adjustable filtration of light.

The quarter-wave plate at the back of the stack simply depolarises the light (actually it converts the linear polarisation to circular polarisation, but for the purposes of photography that's the same as depolarising the light). This doesn't in any way effect the quantity of light coming through this filter, it just means that the light is no longer polarised in a single axis, and hence allows the AF and AE sensors to work correctly. (Remember, the polarisers have already thrown away the light you don't want - so you can depolarise at this point and still get the same effect)

The reason that two circular polarisers didn't work should now be clear - instead of having the stack 'linear -> linear -> quarter-wave', you had 'linear -> quarter-wave -> linear -> quarter-wave'. This meant that after the first polariser had done it's job, the light was unpolarised by the first quarter-wave plate. The second linear polariser then polarised the light again, but because it was doing this to unpolarised light, the rotation of the second filter relative to the first had no effect on the quantity of light passing through it.
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Old 21-02-2007, 08:39   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Quote:
The reason that two circular polarisers didn't work should now be clear
LOL! You don't know me very well, do you?! Whilst science is my background, my brain is mush these days!

Hey, but thanks for the explanation!
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Old 21-02-2007, 08:41   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Sorry, I edited it to 'clear' instead of 'obvious' - having read it again, while I know what I mean, I can't honestly expect anyone else to be able to figure it out from my rubbish description
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Old 21-02-2007, 17:25   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

abirkill,
I used to work with a steam of electrons which we focused with magnetic fields, different axis for different effects, I found your explanation very entertaining and effective. I have to read things more then once normally. I read yours three times, but understand and it is good to understand. This filter will work as advertized. It is either not used very much or just not well known, anyway thanks to your skill at communication, it is very clear now how it works.

Last edited by Boofers; 21-02-2007 at 17:26. Reason: spelling
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Old 22-02-2007, 08:43   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

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Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
No, no, you can't get away with just saying that! Tell ALL!
well it just increased the polariser effect. Not much more to say really.


I have been looking into it a bit more tho and apparently cp's are just normal linear polarisers with a jumblerupererer* after it which is what allows AF and metering to work.

So in my test we have between the subject and lens (in order) - a polariser, a jumblerupererer , another polariser and a final jumblerupererer.

It's possible this variable nd filter is simply two linear polarisers then the jumblerupererer. So if that's the case, to make one yourself you need a linear polariser and a circular polariser. Make sure you stack the LP on top of the CP. I don't have an LP to test so I'll have to leave that to someone else.



*Technical term - use at will.

The real name for the jumblerupererer is "1/4-wave retardation plate" or just "quarter wave plate" apparently - it rescatters the light again allowing AF and metering to work.
I realise that may sound as tho it defeats the purpose of the polariser but remember that filter has already removed the unwanted light. The quarter wave plater just rescrambles it again for the af and metering.

EDIT: Just read abirkills response Confirms what I worked out.
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Old 22-02-2007, 08:45   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Thanks for that, Peel! What worries me is that I prefer jumblerupererer to the real description!
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Old 27-02-2007, 14:00   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Just digging this up again to confirm it DOES work. Be aware tho that when you block more and more light it shifts quite heavily to the blue end - ie. white = blue

These are all 100% crops from the same crappy lens at f8

This is with no polarisers - 0.06s (1/15s)
http://www.orangepeels.nildram.co.uk...d/_DSC1060.jpg

This is with them on but open - 0.2 of a second (1/5s)
http://www.orangepeels.nildram.co.uk...d/_DSC1061.jpg

0.66s (1/3s)
http://www.orangepeels.nildram.co.uk...d/_DSC1062.jpg

_DSC1063.jpg - 0.769s
_DSC1064.jpg - 1s
_DSC1065.jpg - 3s

This is where the blue tinge starts - 4s
http://www.orangepeels.nildram.co.uk...d/_DSC1066.jpg

Polarisers are almost closed. It could turn a little further probably resulting in a 30 second exposure but this is blue enough - 15s
http://www.orangepeels.nildram.co.uk...d/_DSC1068.jpg


I guess the more expensive Singh-Ray thingy has better glass and doesn't do this colour shift as much. But for the cost of a linear polariser (mine was £5 from ebay) it's definately usable.
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Old 28-02-2007, 01:38   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Variable Neutral Density Filter

Came home and found the filter in the doorway. My wife was shooting flowers in the very bright sun, so I put it on, "I have never used before". I could see my sutter speed change after I set the exposure while turning the filter. Here are two pictures. I will learn to use it right, I hope. I saw a stream of water on the way home, so I will pay it a visit. The first pic is adjusted a very little, the second is just less then half way.
[IMG][/IMG]

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