vND Filter Life Changing?
I’m not sure a variable neutral density filter is life changing but it certainly has changed the way I photograph! I like to use my flash manually, which means I figure out the light and not my camera. This is a much more accurate way to control your light and achieves extremely consistent exposures. However when using a flash manually, it only works at the X-Sync speed of the camera or below which is 1/250 or slower. This makes it impossible to use low fstops in bright light using your flash.
In bright sun situations a typical exposure to capture blue in the sky is: F16, 1/100, ISO 100
Equivalent exposures to shoot at lower fstops:
- F11, 1/200, ISO 100
- F8, 1/400, ISO 100
- F5.6, 1/800, ISO 100
- F4.0, 1/1600, ISO 100
- F2.8, 1/3200, ISO 100
- F2.0, 1/6400, ISO 100
According to the chart above, anything in red is above current X-Sync speeds of most DSLR cameras. Consequently using lower Fstops with manual flash is not possible.
Introducing the vND Filter
The vND filter is a game changer because it allows the use of manual flash with low shutter speeds because it limits light into the camera, anywhere from two to 10 stops- the Fstop can be lowered without raising the shutter speed. The vND Filter has a rotating piece of glass that varies the amount of light and can be adjusted to create a two to 10 stop difference in exposure.
Consequently, on a bright day, if light entering camers is reduced by 5 stops, the camera can be set at F2.8, 1/100, ISO 100, which is well within the X-sync speed.
Sony A77 and the vND Filter
Another reason why I LOVE shooting with Sony A77 is the electronic viewfinder or OLED which allows me to SEE the effect of the vND Filter in real time. Here is my workflow…
Workflow: Shooting in bright light with vND Filter
Set camera to F2.8, 1/100, ISO 100 and leave it there the entire time shooting in bright light. I adjust vND filter according to how dark or light I want my exposure and then fill in with flash on subject as needed. On a bright day I use multiple flashes so I can over power the sun and create a higher quality of light source. I usually keep sun behind subject to give me a nice highlight and use flash to expose the darker subject.
If you enjoy shooting with flash in manual, you’re going to love using my vND filter for a variety of creative lighting and shallow depth of field effects.
Scott Robert Variable ND Filter $69
Images using Scott Robert vND Filter