Graduated Neutral Density Camera Filters

One of the hardest things in photography is to expose for both bright skies and foreground shadows. It’s usually one or the other: have a nice blue sky and dark shadows or open up for the shadows and blow out the sky. Or you can invoke the HDR electronic tricks available in cameras today where two exposures are taken in rapid succession and the highlights from one are combined with the shadows of the other to increase the dynamic range.

This 77mm rotating filter knocks the sky down the old fashioned way — with smoothly graduated neutral density — and allows you to open up for the shadows. The effect is stunning, yet it’s almost impossible to see that a filter is being used as the graduation is very smooth.

I intend to use this especially when shooting video outside, where the subject is in open shade or under a diffuser so he’s not blinded and can read the teleprompter, but the background is in full sunlight. Looking forward to doing some time lapse sunsets, too.

This filter has the effect of expanding the dynamic range of the camera. HDR and other dynamic range tricks aren’t even possible with video, so this filter will be most effective.

The filter screws into the 77mm front thread and can still freely rotate so you can position the graduation where you want it. And the lens hood still works too, to control flare. We used to have to use a matte box for this effect. And if you’ve priced a 4×4 grad, you’ll be shocked. Try somewhere between $60 and $150 per filter, plus the clumsy mattebox filter holder and you lose your lens shade, too boot.

This Fotodiox rotating grad is a bargain and will come in very handy!