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How to use a Variable ND Filter

Jeff Overall 
Founder, Adventurer


Welcome back everybody! Jeff here with our most sought after and anticipated release to date - the variable ND filter. Today I am going to provide the benefits of utilizing a VND and what sets our Peter McKinnon Edition VND apart from others on the marketplace.

First, let's discuss the use of ND filters and why they are important. The use of ND filters allow you to meet the 180 degree rule of shutter to keep your shutter speed twice that of your frame rate. This means that if you are shooting at 30 frames per second (fps), your shutter speed will be 1/60th or 1/50th when shooting at 24fps. The general idea behind this is to achieve blurring that looks most natural to that of how we perceive motion in real life. Using these ratios will allow you to mimic natural motion blur to make your videos seem more cinematic and realistic to your audience! 

The PolarPro Peter McKinnon Edition 6-9 Stop VND Filter

This is where the new PolarPro VND comes into play and has quickly become my go-to travel filter. The VND comes in two options with ranges of 2 to 5 stops and 6 to 9 stops to quickly adjust to any lighting condition. This is my first reason why I really like this VND is due to the quick adjustability in lighting changes during a shoot rather than having to determine what filter I need to switch to, take the time to swap them out, and begin shooting again. Having this range at a twist of the frame allows me to capture in the moment.

Another benefit is changing the depth of field by adjusting to a lower aperture, all I have to do is adjust the stops by twisting the frame accordingly for the increased amount of light now hitting the sensor. Now you might be thinking, "isn't this just like any other variable ND filter on the market?" Now you would be correct to a degree, however, we built a brand new frame that has fixed stops that only allow adjustment through a predetermined range. This addition eliminates the chance of rotating the outer ring too far which will introduce that dreaded cross pattern on your footage all the way down to 16mm. And on those really bright days, the PolarPro VND the 6-9 stop option that still does not introduce the cross pattern down to 16mm lens size.

                 PolarPro Peter McKinnon Edition VND

Traditional Variable ND Filter

Another unique feature that sets the PolarPro VND apart from others is the frame size. It consists of a back end with traditional sizing of 67mm, 77mm and 82mm, while the front has a larger diameter because of the makeup of a VND. A VND consists of two polarizer elements stacked on top of one another which push the glass elements out further. Having the larger diameter which reduces, even eliminate, the introduction of vignetting in your images or video down to 16mm.

The last and most important characteristic of the PolarPro VND is the Quartz Glass elements used to craft the two polarizing elements. This naturally occurring element does not have to undergo the same process of composites such as melting down or chemical procedures to create the glass element. This creates excellent optics which is important in a variable ND filter as there are two glass elements so any imperfections would be doubled!

However, before I end today I did want to speak about the negatives of using a variable ND filter. As a VND is composed of two stacked polarizing elements it increases light scattering as it passes through and does not allow for a circular polarizer (CP) to be added. Therefore, for any video that is a personal project meant to be light hearted and fun, the PolarPro VND is the perfect option. However, if I was to do a paid project I would stick to fixed stop QuartzLine ND and ND/PL filters to spend the time getting every shot perfectly exposed and captured.

That's all for today! Thank you for taking the time to check out our new Peter McKinnon Edition VND. We a confident this will become an integral part of any traveler or run-and-gun kit to maximize stop range while minimizing the footprint within your gear bag. As a team of avid adventurists and photographers, we appreciate you choosing our brand and ask that you check out our VND by clicking the button below.

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