Make Better Content with these Filters | Are they Worth the Money?!

I don’t talk about this a lot so most people have no idea that Pete and I have been really good friends for a few years I’m so grateful that he watches all my videos and gives me feedback so that I can continue to get better but I don’t want you to think that our close friendship in any way would ever influence this video what’s up guys to give here and welcome to another tech gear talk today I’m going to tell you about how you can use nd filters to drastically improve the quality of your content and in all seriousness this is one of the most important accessories that you can have in your bag I want to thank polar Pro for sending me some of the gear that I’ll show you in this video I’m gonna talk about photography and video nd and variable nd what’s the difference why you should use them at what makes for a good filter I’m also gonna give you some practical tips for how to use them show you how you can save a bunch of money when you’re choosing a filter and then finally I’ll show you something about these particular filters that was life-changing you know that I like to keep things simple so let’s start with what an ND filter is and what it does an ND filter which stands for a neutral density and

you’ll see why in a minute is a special filter that’s designed to reduce the amount of light that passes through it and then ultimately gets through your lens onto your sensor and if this isn’t the first video you’ve seen about ND filters you’ve probably heard someone say that it’s like having sunglasses for your lens basically it’s a darkened piece of glass or resin and if you look around you’ll see that they come in different strengths and you’ll see that the filters are referred to in terms of stops or optical density and then sometimes nd factor that depends on the manufacturer now for this to make sense let’s take a quick moment to discuss what a stop of light means a stop of light is a doubling or halving of the amount of light that hits the sensor so to increase your exposure by a stop of light means that you’re doubling the amount of light to decrease your exposure by a stop of light means that you’re cutting the amount of light in half you can already do this with your camera without a filter is you can either slow down or speed up your shutter speed or you can open or close your aperture now a very simple example is let’s say you’re

shooting with a two-second shutter speed and you change it to a one-second shutter speed so obviously you’re cutting it in half you basically brought down your exposure by one step you therefore also reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor by half because the shutter is only open for half of the time and if you watched my exposure video you’ll see why I’m not including ISO here it does affect your exposure and you can use it but it’s not actually changing the amount of light that hits the sensor it’s just changing how sensitive the sensor is to light now one last thing which I’ll touch on more when we talk about what makes for a good filter is the neutral part the filter is supposed to just black out light without changing any of the colors and some filters can cause a pretty drastic color cast which you can’t correct in post but it’s just an extra step do you have to deal with okay now that we know what an ND filter is let’s look at a variable ND filter a variable ND filter serves the same purpose as a fixed ND filter but it’s constructed of two polarizing filters Oh as you rotate the front filter you’re either increasing or decreasing the amount of light that you’re letting through depending on the direction so instead of a fixed value let’s say something like three stops a variable ND filter will have a range now with these polar Pro variable ND filters you

can choose between the two to five stops and the six to nine stops depending on which works best for what you plan on doing and I’ll help you pick the right one for you later on in this video okay I want to head off something before we move on there are some criticisms regarding variable nd filters and these are mostly the byproducts of the fact that we’re using two polarizing filters and I know that I can completely eliminate these criticisms by using fixed and D filters but for how I shoot and for the convenience that a good variable ND filter offers I still think it’s the best choice I’m out there shooting alone I carry all my own gear I don’t have an assistant that would carry all the extra gear I would need a matte box then swap out filters for me so I’m willing to compromise very slightly on image quality for convenience and for the most part we do this anyway so I’ll give you an example I know that I can carry a series of prime lenses which would give me amazing results I could bring a 24 35 a 50 and 85 be super fast and incredibly sharp but for the most part I would rather just carry a 24 to 70 F 2.8 which almost covers the entire

focal range and still gives me really good results without having to carry four lenses before we get to when you should use nd and variable and D filters if you like what you’ve seen so far let me know by giving this video a thumbs up this way I know what kind of content is being useful so that I can create more of it and if it’s your first time here go ahead and hit the subscribe and notification buttons so you can stay up to date on all the latest gear reviews and tutorials alright so let’s get back to these filters for the most part when I’m shooting stills I don’t need an ND filter if I’m shooting something like portraits I can just use a really fast shutter speed like one eight thousandth of a second if I need to and that would cut down enough light even on a super bright sunny day I mostly use an ND filter when I want to introduce motion blur so for example if I’m photographing waterfalls and I want that super smooth look I would use an ND 1000 which is essentially a ten stop filter and this lets me slow the shutter speed down to six eight or ten seconds which is plenty for what I need and the reason why I mostly use a fixed ND filter here is that I have a lot more flexibility when it comes to shutter speed and aperture with my photos than I do with my video and because of that I can mostly just

carry one of these and be done this nd1000 has a super solid brass frame and it’s made of a 99.99 fused quartz glass which gives it excellent optical clarity and I like the fact that again it’s super solid and almost rugged and gives me good quality so this is pretty much the only fixed ND filter I carry with me now the natural question might be can’t you use fixed ND filters for video and the answer is absolutely if you’re comfortable with bringing a series of different filters at different stops if you’re willing to take the time to screw and unscrew them every time a cloud moves in front or away from the Sun if you have that extra time and flexibility during your shots then by all means you can just get a whole bunch of fixed ND filters and they’ll give you excellent results but like I said before for how I shoot that’s just not gonna happen and let’s not forget that video is more restrictive than photography in this case because of the 180 degree rule so essentially that means that we always want our speed to be twice that of our frame rate so if we’re shooting at 24 frames per second we want to shutter speed of about 150th of a

second for shooting at 30 frames per second we want it to be one sixtieth of a second and if we’re shooting at 60 frames per second and I mostly used one over 125 125th of a second is it that’s not even how you say it 1 125th of a second I’m gonna go with that now because we’re shooting with such slow shutter speed it’s very likely that we’ll run into situations or outside and we just have too much light now you might say but can’t you just close down your aperture definitely and when I’m gonna pinch that’s exactly what I do but for the most part I like to get very shallow depth of field for my videos which means that I’m using super wide apertures like F 1.8 or F 1.4 and that means that I’m letting a ton of light through the lens and I’ll definitely need to block some of it to get a proper exposure I also can’t use the aperture because I need a consistent depth of field so if I’m shooting something like a talking head portion I can’t have the background be in focus in one clip then out of focusing another one then back in focused and back out of focus that would just look terrible when I edit it all together so a variable ND filter lets me make these adjustments very quickly and I can make a slight or significant change even while I’m shooting so if I’m in mid-sentence I could just reach over turn to filter and then rerecord that last sentence

I’m not removing a filter or having to figure out which one I need to use putting one away screwing a new one on testing it I just twist in and I’m good to go okay so now you see why I use variable ND filters why I think it’s a good idea so let’s talk about what makes a good variable ND filter and I’ll tell you why I’m using these now instead of the one that I used before first I want you to think about how much time you spend picking a camera lenses how much money you invest in getting the best quality gear that you can afford conceptually do you want to take a bad piece of glass and put it in front of all this great gear I don’t think so in order to figure out what makes for a good variable ND filter let’s talk about some of the issues with these filters remember that I said that a variable ND filter is essentially two polarizing filters but the problem is that a polarizing filter is used to do things like darken the skies manage reflections and suppress glare now in this case we don’t necessarily want all or any of those to happen we just want to block out some of the light a variable nd filters that are not very good are still gonna block out the

light but you’re gonna see things like having one part of the image be darker than the other look when you’re shooting a sky and a bright day you’ll see certain colors start to pop and you’ll also notice a color cast that you’re not gonna like and when you’re using a polarizing filter ideally you want to shoot with the Sun on your left or on your right meaning that you’re shooting 90 degrees from the angle of the Sun but realistically again for how I shoot I just don’t have the time or the option to always recompose the entire shot I might be on a gimbal and I’m walking around someone or they change direction and I quickly need to react to that so I need a filter that will help me when I’m shooting in less than optimal conditions one other issue with variable ND filters is the dreaded X pattern no mutants or anything like that but if you’re not familiar with this phenomenon as you get too close to the point where the two polarizing filters are at 90 degrees to each other you start to see this horrible X pattern in your shot so it’s great here is that the polar probe variable ND filters do a very good job with both of these issues they almost completely remove the darker areas and the light distribution throughout the frame is really good even when I’m not shooting at the ideal angle from the Sun now as far as the X pattern both the 2 to 5 and the 6 to 9 polar Pro filters come with heart stops at each end of the range so with my previous filter I could just continue to rotate it below the minimum or beyond the maximum so if I wasn’t paying attention it was really easy to ruin my shot now with the polar perf I’m using a 2 to 5 filter then when it gets to 2 it completely stops rotating when we gets to 5 it completely

stops so there is no chance that I could rotate it beyond the highest or lowest designated stop now speaking of stops I love that polar Pro filters have actual numbers on them instead of just dots like what I had on my old filter so with my old filter there were just these markings that were essentially meaningless they didn’t really correlate to anything so turning the filter by two dots didn’t mean that you are now blocking twice as much light it was sort of arbitrary now with the polar pros their actual numbers and markings telling you if you’re a 2 3 4 and finally 5 stops so I found this to be much more convenient and accurate now the next issue people have with variable nd filters is vignette II and there is truth to that you can’t 100% eliminate vignetting at super wide focal lengths what I’m looking for is something that would let me get excellent results in the most convenient way I want to get the shot that I need have it look good and move on and the polar Pro says that there is zero then getting down to 16 millimeters there probably is a very very slight vignette at 16 millimeters if I shot a perfectly evenly lit white wall and looked for one but I don’t usually do that with my freetime what I can tell you is that I get very good results and I would never think twice about using any of the footage that I got even when going as wide as 16 another issue that

some variable ND filters have is color cast remember the neutral part we don’t want to add any color we just want to block out the light because we’re using polarisers some form of color cast is most likely going to happen especially at higher stops but like we talked about before it’s a matter of degrees this is an area where as you pay more you should expect to get less and less of a color cast I found that the polar Pro filters performed very well probably as well as variable ND filters that cost almost twice as much so you could pay a lot more and get very slightly better results if you really wanted to but I have other things that I’d rather spend my money on like the endless list of lenses that I want am I the only one now speaking of saving money I want to give you a simple tip and then we’ll get to the life-changing part now if you go to the polar Pro website you’ll see that these variable nd filters come in three different thread sizes 67 77 and 82 what you want to do is look at your lenses and then find this annotation which will give you the filter thread size but what if you want to use this same filter on different sized lenses

do you need to go and buy multiple filters nope what you want to do is get one that will fit your largest lens and then by step up rings for all your smaller lenses so for example you can get the 82 millimeter and then get a 60 to 67 72 and 77 step-up rings so that you can use that same larger filter with lenses ranging all the way from 62 to 82 and these step-up rings will just screw on to your lens and then the ND filter will screw into the step-up right and I really like these step-up rings from polar they look and feel really nice but most importantly they have this very deep knurling which is that’s a word I didn’t even know that was a word I guess I would have just called them super rugged and the reason why this is so important is that it’s amazingly easy to screw these on and off your camera and to remove them from your filter and these are not cheap so they’re gonna cost I think it’s like thirty nine dollars each but ciggy that’s really expensive for a brass ring know what’s really expensive is buying a super cheap $6 step-up ring on Amazon then putting it on and then putting your awesome filter on and then being unable to separate them then you try the rope trick and it still doesn’t come off so you eventually have to just grab wires which will get the ring off and will also ruin the threads on your 250 dollar filter seriously don’t do it invest in good step-up rings you’ll never need to buy them again this is definitely

a buy it nice or buy it twice situation now I mentioned this before that the filters come in two strengths the two to five stop and the six to nine stop variation and here’s how you pick most people are gonna do just fine with the two two five stop version it’s perfect for someone who’s running and gunning and works well even with fast lenses in most conditions now the six to nine stop variation is excellent for someone who wants to work with super fast lenses on a bright day so for example something like f 2.

8 F 2 F one point four one point two those lenses let in a ton of light now on top of that if you’re shooting in log because you want to capture a better dynamic range and you want more information to work with and post-production your camera is very likely to raise your minimum iso sometimes two value is higher than 800 this is super important to think about because for the most part on a bright sunny day you’re gonna want to use the lowest ISO value that you can because you want the cleanest image and you have plenty of light to work with but raising your minimum ISO from let’s say 100 to 800 is the equivalent of three stops of light right there that means that you need a variable ND filter to block three stops of light just to get to the same exposure that you’re gonna get if you are shooting at ISO 100 and this is where having the additional strength is

awesome to have if this was even a little confusing I know I talked about a lot there let me know in the comments section and I’ll explain it because I want you to get the one that works best for you and of course if it’s in your budget and you have use for both you can save a hundred bucks by buying a kit with both filters alright remember that I told you about something that was life-changing okay so because I mostly run a gun one of the most frustrating parts of a variable ND filter is that I can’t put the camera back in my bag without having that take the filter off because the lens camp doesn’t fit anymore and not only that I actually don’t like traditional lens caps because they always fall off in my bag like when I use something like my think tank Airport International that doesn’t happen because there is more structure to the bag but in my backpack they always come off and then make their way to the bottom so polar Pro includes this thing called the defender slim so seriously now this is brilliant basically it’s a rigid abs plate that somehow molded with a softer elastomer so what you get is something that easily fits over your lens won’t come off during travel like ever is still easy to remove when you want to and protects your lens and better than your original camp and the reason why I say better is that your original cap isn’t protecting your $2,800 lens at all when it’s floating at the bottom of your bag so as far as the variable nd that means that I can now pop this defender back on the filter and put the camera back in the bag and then when I take it out it’s

ready to be used and I don’t have to mess around with removing and remounting the filter every time on top of that it makes it super easy to screw the filter on without having to worry about touching the front of the filter with your hand or dropping the filter because the defender adds a ton of grip and what I want to put the filter away it’s stored with the defender on it so it’s always protected and it’s ready for me to just grab and install if you haven’t used filters before and had to deal with taking them off and putting them on each time you want to shoot or having to change lenses this might sound like it’s not really that big a deal if you’ve watched my channel before you know that I tell it to you how it is this was such an annoyance for me before and when I have an opportunity to remove friction from the creative process I go for it because these seemingly small things add up and they create a much less enjoyable user experience which honestly leads me to creating less and I remember seeing this defender in one of their promo videos and thinking it was kind of a throwaway item yeah well guess what now I use the full-size

defenders for my actual lenses they come in five sizes which cover lenses with 55 to 115 millimeter outer diameter so you can use your filter size thread as a guide now whether you end up getting these variable ND filters or not you should definitely buy a couple of these for your lenses when I reach for an expensive lens in my bag and it comes out without a cap I’m like and now I know this thing is staying on it’s not going anywhere and I’m super confident that it’s protecting my lenses now speaking of protection the filters also come with a very solid magnetic case I like that they added the markings on the case so I can very quickly know which filter thread size and strength they are without having that open and take a look all right now I want to know what you think about the features and performance of the polar Pro variable ND filters and which version would you get Pete I’ll wait to hear your comments the two to five stop version sells for two hundred and forty nine dollars the six ten nine stop is $2.99 and if you buy them both together you can get them for four hundred and forty nine dollars which saves you a hundred bucks I’ll put links in the description to where you can get everything that I talked about in this video they’re always holiday specials and discounts so the links will be automatically updated with the lowest pricing when you order anything using the links in the description not just these items if you can help support my channel for free and help me create more content for you so thank you in advance if this video was helpful please let me know by giving it a thumbs up tweet it share it and if you haven’t yet join the community by hitting the subscribe and notification buttons you can always find me on Twitter Instagram and Facebook at Tech your talk you know what I always say buy it nice or buy twice good luck and see you soon

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