Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fader ND Mark II Variable Neutral Density Filter Video Test

"You are my Density!" exclaimed Crispin Glover to Lea Thompson in the 1985 sci-fi adventure hit, Back to the Future. My preteen imagination of DeLorean time travel never included HD DSLR film making and all the essential tools like a variable Neutral Density filter.

The buzzing pursuit of the ideal DSLR video settings like a 1/50th to 1/125th shutter speed, ISO of 160 and a wide open aperture led me to a vital film maker's tool on the internet. HD DSLR pioneers, LaForet and Bloom, tout the necessity of a neutral density filter to reduce the incoming light and modify DSLR video settings for an ideal moving image.

A quick Google search displayed a plethora of variable neutral density filters. Unlike fixed ND filters, a variable ND filter replaces several ND filters all in one device. The convenience of rotating the variable ND filter to darken and lighten the image on camera is absolute ease. With benefits come drawbacks and not all variable neutral density filters are made the same.

Variable ND filters made in China, Japan and even Florida scour my Google search. Brands a plenty such as Singh-Ray, Genus, Light Craft, Fader and various EBay knock-offs compete for your coin. Which one is the best value? Better yet, which variable ND filter keeps good color and minimizes lens vignetting?

With the help of my ChadSorianoPhotoBlog friends, North Tampa Photography and The EditWizard, I began my practical review and video test of a mid price range variable neutral density filter. For a street price around $200, the Fader ND Mark II Variable Neutral Density Filter placed itself between the Light Craft and the higher priced Singh-Ray. Vincent LaForet endorses this Fader ND Mark II and you will soon see why.

I mounted the Fader ND Mark II by Fader on my Canon EOS 1D Mark IV paired with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. My video test on Youtube shows the Fader ND Mark II keeps great color throughout the variable ND stops and keeps lens vignetting to a barely noticeable level. The Fader ND Mark II is well built and the rotating filters has a solid and very smooth feel. I am confident the Fader ND Mark II can withstand hardy use out in the field.

Considering the price, the Fader ND Mark II in 77mm does not come with a lens cap. Well, all you need is a 82mm lens cap because the Fader ND Mark II front rotating glass is one size bigger than the lens filter size. Otherwise, the Fader ND Mark II by Fader is a must have in your HD DSLR film maker's bag.

You can view more photos and a video on my Fader ND Mark II Filter by Fader Video Test Gallery.
I used iMovie'09 to edit the 1080p video shot at 29.97fps. I used Quicktime at best quality to compress a 300mb h264 video file.
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  1. hey i was just wondering where did you get it from did you get it from there website faderfilters.com and how is it compared to the lcw you have

  2. Michjael,
    You are in luck! I just got off the phone with my friends at North Tampa Photography and they will soon be stocking the Fader ND Mark II by Fader in 77mm. Just give a call and they will reserve you one. Do not forget about the 82mm lens cap and maybe some Step-up rings for other lenses you may have.
    I do not own a Light Craft Workshop variable ND filter. My initial Google search came up with LCW but no U.S based retail and online establishments had them in stock at the time. Plus, I was not comfortable buying from Ebay with PayPal from unfamiliar sellers. I feel in many instances that your local brick and mortar photography shops, like North Tampa Photography, offer a more substantial customer experience. I can say this with confidence because I have been a long time customer and friend of NTP!
    Good Luck with your fader filter pursuits...