Fader ND filters are very handy, but is it really worth it to DSLR film makers to spend big bucks on higher end brands? That was the question I had when I first started looking at the LightCraft Fader ND. The cheap Polaroid Fader ND filter that I’d been using seemed to work just fine, but is there really that much of a difference in quality between a mid range filter like the LightCraft Fader ND when compared to something on the lower end like the Polaroid Fader ND?
This footage took me a few tries to put together, the first time I filmed, I accidentally switched the camera into AWB mode and all of my shots ended up being useless. Then I had to wait for a day with enough sun to film again. But after all of that I finally managed to get all of the clips I needed to put together a few minutes of comparison shots. I tried to keep the settings for each shot as close as possible, but they aren’t perfect. A few of the shots are very slightly darker on one filter then the other. I shot all of the comparison clips on the Canon 7d with a Canon 50mm f1.2 lens. The settings on the camera where 1/60, iso 100, and an f-stop of 3.5 to 4.5 (depending on the amount of light) with daylight white balance. I tried to make sure the Fader ND was set about the same on each shot by using the light meter but its not perfect.
The song playing behind the test footage is one of mine. If you like it, you’re welcome to download it for free, if you really like it, just send me 99 cents via the donate link at the very bottom of the right hand column.
Over all the results aren’t nearly as dramatic as I thought they would be. My earlier shot of that train car was probably a AWB problem more then a filter problem because I didn’t end up seeing anything that dramatic in my final set of tests. I will put that one down as operator error. I captured the same shot again and the difference was much more subtle.
I looked over the footage quit a bit and it seems to me like the Polaroid Fader ND still causes a slight color change, and a few things looked soft around the edges, but over all I don’t think it did to bad. It did seem like overall the LightCraft Fader ND came out on top, but I’m interested to know what everyone else thinks. Is the difference enough for you to justify spending $85 more on the nicer filter?
If you’re looking for a high end option, Singh-Ray makes some very nice Fader ND filters, but I’ll warn you, the prices are almost as much as some people spend on cameras. Regardless, I hope these tests help those of you still in the market for a Fader ND find something that works for you.