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I bought a inexpensive variable neutral density filter, this ND2-ND400 variety. I wasn't expecting a whole lot because of the very low price point, but I think I'm either using it incorrectly or my unit is defective. Do I simply need to back off the maximum filtering setting until the results are acceptable? It seemed to provide very minimal filtering when I reached and acceptable point, maybe ND8 or so. Is this cheap ND filter only usable up to something like ND8? I am shooing with a full frame camera and a 17-40mm lens.

17mm, approximately maximum ND filtering: enter image description here

40mm, approximately maximum ND filtering: enter image description here

17mm, less then maximum ND filtering: enter image description here

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Normally we do not recommend a polarizer on such a wide-angle lens.... except you used two of them! They don't cancel each other out :) –  Itai Feb 15 '13 at 3:35
    
@Itai - So would your suggestion be to use a square solid ND filter over a threaded one on my wide angle lenses? Forget the vari-ND threaded? –  dpollitt Feb 15 '13 at 20:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, that cross effect is common with all variable neutral density filters, especially with very wide angle lenses (12-17mm). You'll have to do some combination of zooming out or backing off the maximum density.

I did some experimenting with a mid-range filter in the blog : Marumi ND2-400 Variable ND Filter Review. The effect was almost non-existent at 17mm with that filter, but noticeable at max density at 12mm.

The filter I tested did give roughly 7-8 stops. It was roughly an ND2 at its minimum. You should certainly get better than ND8 from it.

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Does it means the cross effect is only on the variable filters. Then I can use a ND400 (or ND1000) on a wide angle without this effect? –  ruffp May 5 at 15:19

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