Fader ND filter from LCW review

Disclaimer: Light Craft Workshop is now a sponsor of Canon5dTips.com. If you read the sponsorship page, you know that I only agree to promote products that I actually use and love. So if it wasn’t good, I would not recommend you to buy one, as my painful Pocket Wizard TTL experience proved.

If you don’t know what a ND filter is or why you need one, take a look at this post on the subject (coming soon).

The good

The price! At about 110$ for the 77mm, this product is cheap for the results it yields. Basically, without it you can’t shoot outside on a bright day and expect to get a cinematic looking image. You will either be stuck at f22 or use a super high shutter speed. With this puppy, you can block up to about 8 stops of light from coming in which allow you to shoot wide open at a eye pleasing f2.8 right in the middle of the day.

I tested the 77mm version, a small detail that eluded me at fight is that the front glass element is a bit bigger. In the case of the 77mm, the front is 82mm. A bigger front element makes the filter easier to grab and adjust than let say a circular polarizer.

Adjustments are quite easy to do thanks to the gradation on the side of the filter and there is nothing preventing you from using in between values if needed.

I have been playing with the filter for a while now and contrary to my variable polarizer, rotating the filter does not accidentally unscrew the filter from the lens. This caused a few accident with my other variable circular filters so I am happy to see that it is not the case with the one from LCW.

The glass

I am impressed. I can barely see any difference in image quality when using the filter for video. For still images, which are much higher resolution, I could see some differences in the overall sharpness but nothing to worry about. Of course the filter will change the image color but then again, it is going to be adjusted in post anyways so I dont really see this as an issue.

Now the question: how can you protect against flares? While standard lens hood can’t be used (they dont fit or block access to the filter), rubber lens hood are a perfect alternative since they screw on the front element. The only problem is that I have not found a manufacturer who makes 82mm version of these but for smaller filters you should be fine.

Of course, even with a hood you have to be careful of the sun and other bright light sources else it will flare, hood or not.

Box content

The filter comes with a carrying box, a 82mm lens cap and a small string to attach the lens cap. Unfortunately, the filter box is not big enough to carry both the filter and the lens cap. This is a minor annoyance but I would have preferred to stash everything in the same box for convenience and to make sure I do not lose anything.

Overall impression

This is a must have product for anyone serious about his videography work. I would even pick this before a Z-Finder. I have not used it much to stills yet but I am planning to do some super long exposure this weekend, if the weather is cooperative.

And if 8 stop is not enough…

LCW also sells a a model, the Ultra, that reduces light between 9 and 12 stops. That is a lot!

If you are in Canada and want one…

Contact me at: boss @ thiswebsite.com

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...
  • http://www.photonook.net Nanouk el Gamal – Wijchers

    Love this filter and used it a couple of times now. Buttttt I have to say that when you close the filter completely it results in a big cross all over your picture. So my advice, don’t close it further then +7,5 stops and you’ll get amazing shots.
    The convenience of the variable filter is that you can first focus on the subject and then close the filter. I use a B&W +10 stops filter too and hate it that I first have to focus before I screw on the filter. That is a big big + with this filter, focussing while it’s on.
    F.Y.I. I use the filter on a 24-105 and on a 16-35.

    Now getting curious on the 9-12 stops filter :-))). Having said that, with this filter again you first need to focus before you screw on the filter.

    Grtz,
    Nanouk

    • admin

      Good point about the big cross. Forgot about it!

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com/ Zack Jones

    Are you sure the link to the vendor’s site is right? I keep getting an error trying to access it. Also I would love to see some sample (still) photos, especially one showing the star’s you’re talking about when you use the +8 setting.

  • http://www.photonook.net Nanouk el Gamal – Wijchers

    Hi Zack,
    Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the cross anymore. Deleted probably on camera ;-).
    But on the following page you can see an example of a picture taken with the LCW filter at aprox. 7.5
    Exif: 121 sec @ F22, ISO 50

    http://www.photonook.net/gallery/lcwfilter/

    Hope this helps.

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com/ Zack Jones

    Thanks for posting the link for the image. It’s awesome. Too bad the company web site won’t load for me :(

  • http://www.palmerhalvorson.com PH Photography

    Unfortunately my results were not as good as yours. I was really hoping this would work well and save me from having to buy the more expensive Singh-Ray model. I tried two different copies of this filter and both caused a major loss in sharpness. Thankfully the company has a good return/exchange program. I now use the Singh-Ray and it works perfectly. For professional outdoor video shooting with a DSLR, a filter like this is a must.

    • admin

      I am curious about your results. Which lens did you use and do you remember your picture style settings? I am wondering if the difference could be caused by the level of sharpness in the setting. Then again, the Singh-Ray should have had the same issue.

      There is no doubt in my mind (and post) that the SR is better. But is the improved performance worth the 300% price premium? From my sample, the Fader ND got me at about 99% of what a more expensive filter would. Good enough for me and probably most people delivering to the web or a non 1080p target market.

      I will try to do some more testing on this because you set a doubt in my mind now! Then again, Philip Bloom and many others have given their thumbs up so I dont know what do say…

  • http://www.deanbreaker.com/ Amy

    Love this filter and used it a couple of times now. Buttttt I have to say that when you close the filter completely it results in a big cross all over your picture. So my advice, don’t close it further then +7,5 stops and you’ll get amazing shots.
    The convenience of the variable filter is that you can first focus on the subject and then close the filter. I use a B&W +10 stops filter too and hate it that I first have to focus before I screw on the filter. That is a big big + with this filter, focussing while it’s on.
    F.Y.I. I use the filter on a 24-105 and on a 16-35.

    Now getting curious on the 9-12 stops filter :-))). Having said that, with this filter again you first need to focus before you screw on the filter.

    Grtz,
    Nanouk

  • De azevedo

    Hi, nice site you have here!

    I reaaly wanted to know if the NEW version of this filter is released or not. And if not, when it ll be?

    • admin

      Yes, they are available

Facebook

Twitter

Google Plus

YouTube