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A 50mm Lens is All You Really Need in Landscape Photography

I’m photographer Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens. In this video and article we’re going to take a look at why a 50mm lens is the only lens you need for landscape photography.

You might wonder why I say that? Well, when I was shooting with Cheyne Walls, who is an excellent landscape photographer, he only shot with a 50mm equivalent on his Alpa 12 TC and PhaseOne Back.

I wondered, “Why do you only shoot with a 50mm lens?” Well, here are the reasons why he shoots about 90% of his images with a 50mm lens.

First, it’s sharper. It’s a fixed focal length lens. It has a great fast aperture if you get a good 50mm. It’s going to give you the same normal view that your eye sees. It’s lightweight, so you can carry it with you. It gives you the ability to move around. It makes you look and study your composition.

The most important reason is because you can stitch your images together and give yourself a beautiful large canvas print with great detail by stitching images together.

That’s what Cheyne Walls does. He doesn’t just shoot a single 50mimage. Just about every time he shoots three images. He shoots middle, right, and left. Or he shoots middle, up, and down. And he shoots a beautiful stitched image that he’ll put together later in Photoshop.

There’s a reason why shooting the 3 images and stitching them together is such an important thing. It gives you a different perspective than, say, a 24mm. When you’re shooting these three image sequences, it doesn’t distort the view when you shoot up, middle and down, because you’re giving it all a 50mm normal view in each one of those angles.

When you stitch those together, it’s as if you’re looking at that from the same 50mm normal eye view of each one of those images. And now when you put them together, it gives you a very nice perspective of that scene.

A 50mm shooting in three pieces gives you a curved plain view because your camera is centered and then you turn over to the left and the right. Those three normal views stitched together give you a normal curve view perspective of the scene, and they look fabulous. A wide-angle lens works on a flat plane view to give you a larger vista. Now you can say, “I love the wide-angle view, this is what I like”. That’s fine if that’s the direction you want to go, but I think stitching the 50mm images together gives you incredible landscape photography.

That’s why I think a 50mm lens is the only lens you really need when you’re doing landscape photography.

If you like this stuff, you should check out Cheyne Wall’s landscape photography course in which he talks about everything he does to be able to get great landscapes, from his camera setup to the way he meters.

The cylindrical perspective works a little better with things that are a bit further away from you.

You can have things like in Death Valley shot of sand dunes, where the sand is coming right up to you. That’s okay. You can have perspective in the foreground, that pushes out to the background.

It’s just a matter of sometimes a little more distance is going to make that cylindrical perspective look really good. If you have things really close to you that you really want to be a part of the image, you might need to go to a linear perspective to be able to get that.

For most of the things I’m shooting, I think that a cylindrical perspective looks great.

Another quick tip, when I’m going to stitch images together, I always do the first shot with my hand in front of the lens. Then I know that the next three images or four images go together.

The last thing I do is I’m going to photograph my hand at the end of the series. Now I’m going to take those four images and I’m going to stitch them together.

I also do not leave it on any kind of autofocus function because it’s going to change a little bit. I focus the first one. Then I make sure it is on manual focus if I started off using autofocus for the first image. Then I leave it on manual for the rest of the series.

Remember, you don’t have to shoot this panoramic always in a horizontal fashion. If you are in too close, just take this camera, drop it to the side and do the images as vertical images. Now make sure you shoot plenty of images so they stitch together correctly. Now you can have a much taller view because if you’re in too tight, you’re not going to be able to see the whole scene unless you go vertical. That works great.

So there you go. Get out there and shoot some cylindrical perspective landscape images, stitch them together and see what you think. I think you’re going to like it.

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more content like it.

About the author: Jay P. Morgan is a commercial photographer with over two decades of experience in the industry. He teaches photography through his company, The Slanted Lens, which runs a popular YouTube channel. This review was also published here.

Shooting Landscapes with the Horizon 202 Panoramic Film Camera

The Horizon 202 is an analog panoramic camera from a company out of Russia, and for those who couldn’t afford a Hasselblad XPan or Fujifilm GX617, it was the next best thing. Photographer Jay P. Morgan decided to take the camera out to enjoy it today, nearly 50 years after it originally debuted.

In this short 5.5-minute video, Morgan shows how the Horizon is designed differently than something like the Hasselblad XPan. While the Hasselblad has a lens that is designed to expose the whole panoramic frame at once, the Horizon 2020 uses a 28mm f/2.8 lens that rotates from side to side to expose just over two frames of 35mm film in one image.

The time it takes to make that rotation isn’t necessarily fast. In the video above, Morgan shows how long the process can take to make an image, and you can count the seconds between when it starts and when it completes. The benefit of this, however, is that you are always using the sharpest part of the lens for the entire exposure of the image: the center. That means that even though it’s a slower, less expensive method it is capable of making relatively sharp images.

“It should be sharper, cleaner, and not have the edge problems you get with a flat plane panoramic camera where optics start to fall apart a little bit on the edges,” Morgan says.

However, the lens has another downside: its focus is always set to infinity.

“If you get something really close to you, and you’re shooting at f/2.8, there’s no way it’s going to be in focus,” he says. “You cannot focus this camera. You just have to live with the focus that it gives you.”

Still, the images it makes can be pretty great and have a beautiful nostalgia to them.

I really enjoy shooting with this camera. It is an easy camera to use, except for loading the film which may be a little bit difficult,” Morgan says. “But if you want to camera that gives you a different perspective, it’s just fun to use. I mean for the compromises you have to make to use this camera is well worth it.”

For more from Jay P. Morgan, make sure you subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

Image credits: Photos by Jay P. Morgan and used with permission.

Does Shooting Video on Medium Format Make Any Sense?

Medium format has become far more accessible to more people than it has ever been in the past, and that includes the ability to shoot video on the giant sensors. In this 9.5-minute video, Photographer Jay P. Morgan looks to find out if shooting RAW video on medium format is something you should even do.

Once you get past issues with rolling shutter (Morgan found that it wasn’t too bad when the camera is locked off), there are some benefits to shooting with medium format that are most noticeable when compared to traditional video camcorders. For comparison purposes, Morgan and co-host Kenneth Merrill shoot the same scene in RAW on the Canon C200, the Panasonic S1H, and on the medium format Fujifilm GFX100 to see what they could notice as differences.

These three cameras were chosen because the C200 has a super-35 sized sensor, the S1H has a full-frame sensor, and the GFX is, of course, medium format.

“Right off as you look at this there are several things if you just look through them very quickly,” Morgan says. “You can see the detail becomes better when you go from Super 35 to that full frame. It looks nicer. But then when you go to that medium format it is so pretty and (there is) so much detail.”

Morgan says that for him, the most drastic visual difference is between the C200 and the S1H.

“I feel like the S1H image really pops out at you. And then you get it even more with a GFX. But for me, it’s not as noticeable. I do notice more gritty detail in the GFX. You certainly see the focus if you look at the depth of field there. If you look at each one of these next to each other it’s a much shallower depth of field at f/2.8 on that medium format compared to the Super 35,” he says.

Image quality at low ISOs is one thing, but Morgan wanted to see how each of the cameras held up at increasingly higher ISOs.

“We just wanted to start as low as we could and that’s 1250 for the GFX,” Morgan says. “So we went 1250 across the board. So the light we have on his face is pulsating. The flame is kind of flickering. And so what you see in the black deep shadows is that kind of pulse from the flame. It’s not some kind of issue with the ISO.”

“So the S1H is really clean at 1250,” he continues. “It seems cleaner than the GFX 100 to me, and that’s native for the GFX 100. The GFX 100 is already a little bit noisy.

At ISO 3200, the Canon starts to show weaknesses due to the smaller sensor

“So the Canon is not looking terribly great, but it’s not a huge step up from 1250,” He says. “If we go to the S1H, I feel like there’s a big change with the S1H. It’s not doing very well here. We see a lot of noise. And we usually see that with the S1H as you approach that dual gain of 4000. That’s when it kind of gets better again. So this isn’t that surprising.”

Morgan was surprised to see that the GFX was actually performing really badly at this ISO.

“The GFX is doing terribly the 3200,” he says. “It is honestly not what I expected. I thought it’d be much cleaner at this point. But the photo capabilities don’t always translate to the video capabilities, especially for these hybrid bodies. It is fascinating, because we have tested the GFX 100 with regards to stills and ISO and it performed extremely well. But if we’re not seeing it in this video format at all. I would not want to shoot this above its native ISO.”

In the end, Morgan admits that there wasn’t a big reason to shoot video with medium format if a full frame video camera is available.

“This step up to medium format didn’t feel like such a jump with these cameras, at least at this level. But there was a difference,” he says. “The color depth was just fabulous. I think it’s just a little early, I think we’re going to see medium format come into its own. As we’ve seen the full-frame kind of become the standard, then we’ll move up to medium format. Maybe it’ll cross a barrier where it’s just more cost and more difficult than it’s worth. I don’t know, it’s possible.”

For more from Jay P. Morgan, make sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

Shooting Portraits Through a Giant Theater Lens with a Fujifilm GFX100

In January, photographer Jay P. Morgan shared a video where he took portraits with what at the time he called an IMAX lens on a Canon EOS R. In part two of that series, he takes it one step further and mounts the medium format GFX 100 to it.

As many PetaPixel readers and others pointed out, the lens isn’t an IMAX lens but actually a theater projection lens. Its original purpose was to project light out of the lens, not pull in light for taking photos.

After publishing his first video, Don Iwerks along with Kurt Swiska reached out to Morgan to tell him more about the lens, which they were surprised he even managed to acquire. Iwerks is a former Disney Executive and co-founder with Swiska of Iwerks Entertainment, the company that originally developed the lens.

“First off, it’s called an 870 format, meaning that 70-millimeter print film with a frame size of eight perforations,” Morgan says. “It’s an f/2.0 lens, which means it’s going to have a very shallow depth of field. But it’s in that one plane that matches exactly the cinema dome where it was projected. It’s 180mmx160mm focal length. That indicates it’s asymmetrical, not variable. And also it was used to project the image wider rather than taller.”

All that new information aside, Morgan just seems to enjoy taking “really weird” photos with it despite the fact it was never intended to be used for this purpose.

Morgan shared several of the portraits he captured in this session that combine the lens with the large sensor of the GFX 100.

As you can see, thanks to the larger physical size of the GFX 100 sensor, the photos Morgan takes show a nearly-full image circle, in contrast to the images captured on the Canon EOS R. Morgan comments that it’s almost a full 180-degree perspective.

Morgan says that he intends to keep playing with this lens with different cameras and situations in the future.

“Don’t be surprised to see this lens again. It’s going to come up again, there’s no doubt about it. I’ll shoot it again, but probably on a different camera just to see exactly what it looks like,” he says.

Image credits: Photos by Jay P. Morgan and used with permission.

Lens Review: The Tamron 70-300mm Telephoto Zoom for Sony E-Mount

Photographer and YouTuber Jay P Morgan from The Slanted Lens has published this 6.5-minute video review of the Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens for Sony E-Mount. In summary, Morgan says that it “did all the things I really needed it to.”

Morgan took the Tamron 70-300mm lens, what he says is the “world’s smallest” telephoto lens that covers that zoom range, out to Canyonlands National Park. Morgan said that he was really impressed with the focusing range.

“One of the things I’ve been really impressed with already is the focusing distance, how close you can focus – it’s like 31.5 inches, which is incredible,” he said. “It allows you to get very close. As I stand here I can focus on the dirt at my feet with 300 millimeters.”

One of the ways Tamron was able to keep the lens so compact was to remove all controls from the lens, which some might see as a downside to the camera. For example, even changing from manual focus to autofocus must be done from the camera’s menu. However, Morgan didn’t see it as a major drawback, since the result is a lens that is extremely light and compact.

As far as image quality is concerned, Morgan was impressed. “The edge to edge sharpness seems really incredible. It seems great both on the 70mm and the 300mm.”

“When I punch in on that shot of the moon it’s pretty stinking sharp, pretty amazing,” Morgan exclaimed.

Morgan believes the lens fits well into a category of lens that’s really designed for the everyman photographer at a price that is approachable.

“When it comes to $550, it really makes this lens more achievable. There are other lenses out there that are like $1100. This puts it in a category that you can afford the lens you’d like to have without breaking the bank.”

You can read Morgan’s full review here, and for more from The Slanted Lens, you can subscribe to Morgan’s YouTube Channel.

Image credits: Photos by Jay P Morgan and used with permission.

4 Steps Every Photographer Should Know To Balance Strobes and Sunlight

In this video and article, Chanda AM is going to help me illustrate how to balance ambient light with strobes. I love shooting in this situation with ambient light and strobe light. I want to be able to combine the ambient light here in this beautiful area with strobes.

So the way I generally do this is:

First off, I set her up so that she has the sun coming from behind. I always like the sun from behind because it gives her a nice rim light on her hat and on her shoulders. But I’m going to keep her in the shade pretty much.

It’s just that little bit of rim light coming through is giving us a few highlights on her hair, on her back, and on her hat. If I’m out in direct sun, I’ll throw up a translucent to make it look like she’s in the shade or just a plain reflector to get her out of the sun.

Step 1: Choose an Aperture for Creative Reasons

Choose an aperture for creative reasons. How much depth of field do you want? Do you want a shallow depth of field or do you want a deep depth of field? I want a shallow depth of field. I could choose a deep depth of field, but that’s not my creative purpose.

Right now I want a shallow depth of field. So I’m going to go to f/5. I can make it shallower than that. But for me, I want enough depth field to keep her face and her head sharp. And I let the background fall out of focus, and 5 does that really nicely on a 150mm lens (I used the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens). So that’s the number one point, choose your aperture for creative reasons.

Step 2: Set Shutter Speed to 1/200s

Number two is I’m going to set my shutter at 1/200th of a second. The reason I choose 1/200th of a second is that it is going to get rid of the most amount of ambient possible in the scene without having to go to high-speed sync. So I’m at 1/200th of a second, I’ve chosen f/5 for creative reasons.

Step 3: Match Strobe Power to Aperture

Now principle number three. I’m going to match the power of my strobes to my aperture. (I am using the Westcott FJ400 Strobe and Westcott 2’x3′ Softbox.) I’m going to dial the power up or down until I get the perfect amount of light on her face. I just want the strobes to match the aperture. I don’t care about the ambient light. I don’t care how dark the image looks. I just want the strobes to look right on her face.

So at f/5, I’m going to take an image here at 1/200th of a second and just see what we got. Here the strobes are perfect. I’ve dialed them up and down, and I’ve made my adjustments on my strobe. I have that strobe in a nice position up front here, the lighter face, I’ve tilted it up slightly. So I’ve got a vignette off from her shirt, but it’s too dark in the background.

Step 4: Increase Shutter Speed to Give Light to the Background

So number four, I now start increasing my shutter until I like what I see in the background. So I’m going to go from 1/200th to 1/100th sec. Now the background is becoming brighter. I like what I’m seeing. I’m going to go to 1/50s and now I’m getting some life into that background. I could even go I think to 1/30s. Yeah, I’ve got a beautiful background that she feels like she’s integrated with. The strobes don’t feel like they’re lighting it. It looks like it’s just the ambient glowing light in the scene and it looks fabulous.

The Formula

So there’s a simple formula:

1. Choose your aperture for creative reasons.

2. Set your shutter at 1/200th of a second.

3. Balance your strobe power, dial it up and down until it matches the aperture.

4. Then start opening up that shutter until you like the background the way it looks.

And that integrates those two together and then shoot away. I’m going to shoot some.

Now if I start getting a hot spot in there, and I can see one right now. You can see just over her shoulders is a really bright spot back there. I’m just going to move my camera a little bit, it doesn’t have to be very much. And I’m going to get rid of that hotspot.

So here are two images without and with the strobe. You can see the difference. Just adding a little bit of strobe opens up the image and makes it look wonderful. I got there by first getting rid of as much of the ambient as I possibly could. Then I set my strobe to my aperture, then I added the ambient until I like the look and shot away.

It’s important to note that it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any ambient light on her face. There will be ambient light on her face. But the formula allows you to get rid of all that ambient light on her face. Just see what the strobe is going to do the make sure you like the strobe and then set your aperture.

Then you add the ambient back in and you’ll find the perfect marriage of those two, strobe and ambient. Sometimes you may have a lot of ambient light on her face. Other times might not be much at all. But I’m also looking at the background trying to get that background balanced with her face as well. So I’m looking at those two things as I make my shutter longer and longer, adding more and more ambient until I like what I get. (I used the FotoproUSA X-Go Max Tripod on this shoot.)

If you do this at sunset, you can keep dragging that shutter to a second, two seconds, etc. And that gives you a really deep blue sky that looks fabulous.

That’s the formula to be able to balance your strobes in ambient light outside. So let’s wrap this up.

Follow the four steps for balancing strobe light to the ambient light and you’ll get beautiful images quickly, efficiently, and creatively every single time. Choose your aperture, put your shutter at 1/200 of a second. Set your strobes to your aperture then increase the length of your shutter until you like the match between your ambient and your strobes and shoot away. It is that easy.

About the author: Jay P. Morgan is a commercial photographer with over two decades of experience in the industry. He teaches photography through his company, The Slanted Lens, which runs a popular YouTube channel. This article was also published here.

A Comparison of Variable ND Filters

Is there a good variable ND filter out there? Today, we’re going to take a look at variable ND filters. We compare Peter McKinnon’s Polar Pro, B&W, Syrp, and Tiffen variable ND Filters. Let’s see if those pricey Peter McKinnon filters are worth it compared to some of the less expensive options.

So I just dropped $450 on Peter McKinnon’s variable ND Filters from Polar Pro. I needed some quick for a job. They were trusted. I love a couple of features. They have stop markings and hard stops and they seem pretty robust. So I dropped all that money on them because I needed a good set. And I want to see if it was worth it compared to some of the cheaper options.

I was on a shoot one day and I needed a variable ND Filters for three cameras. So I bought the Tiffin $175 inexpensive variable ND filters. Let’s compare these. We’re also going to look at the Syrp ND filters and the B&W ND Filters. What do we need to look for? What’s the concern?

Let me just say this, I don’t love variable ND Filters. One of the biggest reasons for that is color shift. Most of them have some sort of shift that’s not good at all. And then you’re also dealing with stuff like vignetting and cross-hatching because the variable ND is just two polarizers that are stuck back to back. So it can do some weird stuff to the light that’s entering the lens. And sometimes it’ll kill the contrast. It’s really interesting how it will affect the contrast. So it’s really important to look at those three things and to see what’s a good variable ND that is going to work for you. I think you’re going to be very shocked at just how little you have to pay. Let’s check it out.

We want you to see the different filters and exactly how they respond to color contrast and cross-hatching and things like that. We’re going to go quickly through these. Most of the filters were within 400 degrees Kelvin off. I think our B&W filters are like 150 degrees off. We white-balanced all these using an eyedropper in Photoshop back to a clean color and then we saw how much they had changed from the original. How much the color setting had changed.

Here we have the no filter image first. There is a tiny bit of vignetting in the corners. We eye dropped close here to the corner of the building. It’s like 5100 degrees Kelvin plus 11 on the camera.

Now we’re going to pull up our first filter here. It is the B&W 1-5 stop variable ND. The image on the left is uncorrected with the filter and then the image on the right we’ve eye dropped that same spot again to adjust it. This is 1.3 stops, which is the minimum on the B&W filter. So it’s pretty accurate. It corrected back really nicely. It’s a beautiful clean image. The blue is wonderful. It didn’t lose the contrast too much. So it actually looks great. But how does it look now if we go to three stops?

At three stops in the uncorrected image, you see the color start to wash out a little and there’s some weird shading going on. You’re starting to see that cross-hatching develop. But once you correct it, it actually doesn’t look bad. It’s a little shadowy and a little bit desaturated. It’s not amazing. It’s okay.

Then at five stops it actually looks better in my opinion at five stops then at three stops. Even though we did have to correct it a bit more. We see a little darkness in the lower right corner and lightness light in the sky. It shifted 450 degrees K and plus 10 magenta. It really looks better at 1.3 stops or up to five stops.

So let’s go to the Polar Pro. This is the one I’m already really invested in. So I was hoping that it would do great. We will let you be the judge. The minimum is 1.3 stops. It looks great corrected. It actually looks almost identical to the original. It shifted 300 degrees Kelvin and plus 10 magenta. But it easily corrected and looks good.

But then after that it turns kind of ugly. It gets muddy looking in the middle, and this is at three stops here.

At five stops it seems like the colors just got desaturated. So even though we correct it with the white balance, but the color is gone. It was that really. So the Polar Pro at 5 stops shifted minus 300 K plus 9 magenta. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that it just became very desaturated and muddy looking.

The 6 stop mark on this filter is actually delivering 5.6 stops of filtration and then the nine stop mark is delivering 7.3 stops with filtration. So it doesn’t actually filter out as much light as it advertises, which is kind of a disappointment. The color shifting at the minimum setting is still kind of bad. The 6 stop mark is not as bad as the last one was. It’s minus 400 degrees K, 6 magenta. It’s a little desaturated. It’s not quite as bad but feels kind of muddy again to me.

But then at the 9-stop mark or 7.3 stops it clears up. And actually, it looks pretty good. So if you’re using this combo of lenses, it works really well at the minimum, like the one-stop and the seven-stop end.

But in between really messes around with the color. The disappointment here for me is it’s not filtering nine stops of light.

Okay, so the Syrp 1-9 filter. This is the original image. This has way more vignetting. It kind of collapses on the side and gets dark on the sides. The color is actually pretty consistent. We lose about 450 K plus 2 magenta. Not much magenta shift but about 450 K. On its max it is 150 K.

It doesn’t desaturate. It just gets these dark areas on the right and left. You can see where the cross-hatching is starting. Maybe with some subject matters this wouldn’t show but if you have any kind of a high key area in your image like the blue sky like we have here, it is super noticeable, especially for video. If you are moving around, it’s going to be really noticeable. So that Syrp 1-9 is really more like a 1-6. With vignetting all the way through.

Let’s look at the newer Syrp 5-10. They call this the super dark filter. The range is about 5.3 to 9.6. Again, the color looks pretty good, but the vignetting is super heavy. It’s okay at the 5 stop end but it gets really bad at the 9. It looks almost as if you’ve isolated or masked out the building and you made the entire sky black. It is shifting from 300 K to 250 K plus 10 magenta. But the cross-hatching is a problem. I will say the color is pretty good all the way through. It doesn’t give you that muddy look like we got with the Polar Pro.

All right, here’s the Tiffin 1-9. It actually is not bad for being the cheapest option. I think at the 1 stop it’s really about 1.6 stops. At that end, it looks super clean with hardly any effect to the image.

Then we go to 3 stops and it is pretty good, still really clean.

We shot this to 7.3. I think this is probably as far as I felt comfortable pushing it. I felt like this is the max. It doesn’t go to nine because nine doesn’t work.

I would back off of this. I would probably just keep it at 6 stops.

It has the cleanest color this shift. It shifted minus 350 or 250 K. So it didn’t shift that much. But you just start getting that vignetting so early.

Let’s look at all these filters at their minimum setting at 1-2 stops. At this end, they all do pretty well, except the Syrp is already vignetting. But it’s hard to say a clear winner here. And now we have them all at three stops. The Syrp has the vignetting and the Polar Pro and the B&W are both a little desaturated. I’d pick the Tiffin at this point.

This is at 3 stops.

So here’s 6 or 7 stops on all the filters that can go that far. Polar Pro looks pretty good at the dark end. This is 7.3 stops Polar Pro’s colors cleaned up and doesn’t have that muddy look. I’d actually say it’s the best of the bunch at 7 stop end. The Syrp is still vignetting. The Syrp 5-10 vignetting is even worse, which is surprising because you think the super dark filter would be the one that was better at being super dark. The Tiffin does again have vignetting. It’s really more of a 1-5 filter but I thought I’d pull it up again just to see how it compares.

We tested a B&W straight filter and not a variable ND. This is a 3 stop and a 6 stop. So you can stack these to give yourself a 9 stop ND filter. It is startling how much cleaner these are color-wise and you don’t get any of the vignetting. The difference between the corrected and uncorrected images is almost negligible. It’s clean all the way across.

Those B&W filters are super high quality.

We threw in these Amazon filters. I had some filters that my son-in-law wanted. I told my wife they were terrible filters. I think they were around $50 for the set of 3. I’d be shocked if they were any good at all. They are not as good as the B&W. You get a little more of this shading going on and the color was a little less accurate, but it still beats out the variable ND filters.

So here’s my takeaway on this, if you’re a still photographer, and you need ND filters to be able to give yourself blurring water in the daytime or doing time-lapse where you want to have the people moving using a long shutter, buy a straight-up 3 stop and 6 stop set like the B&W. I think that B&W 3 and 6 will give you up to nine stops of ND. It’s going to give you really clean color all the way through but allow you to get that blurry water.

Now if you’re a video shooter and screwing and unscrewing filters isn’t practical in the run and gun situation, you want the variable ND because it’s fast. You have a range from 1-5 stops with just a twist of a thing, it doesn’t have to come off the camera. I think if I had to make a choice, it’d be really tough.

I’m leaning towards the Tiffin just because it was so consistent, but it only gives you up to 5, maybe 6 stops of filtration and often that’s not enough. If I want to shoot at a 2.8 outside in the daylight you really need 8 stops or 10 stops of ND.

I think if I had to choose a runner up, I might go with a B&W quality glass. It was 1-5 stops. There was a little bit of washed-out color. I think the worst offenders were the Polar Pro because the color just went crazy in the middle. It was good on the ends, but in the middle range it is terrible.

But there was no vignetting so it has that going for it. And the Syrp just had crazy vignetting yet the color was okay. This whole thing was a huge surprise. The cheapest option was maybe the best one which never happens in photography.

So kudos to Tiffen, who has been making filters for a long time and they have an excellent product.

So there you have it, a look at variable ND filters and a look at some standard ND filters. Hope this helps you make a decision as a photographer or as a videographer on what’s the best one for you to buy and to use on your camera.

About the author: Jay P. Morgan is a commercial photographer with over two decades of experience in the industry. He teaches photography through his company, The Slanted Lens, which runs a popular YouTube channel. This article was also published here.