We put six fab filters to the test
Capture long exposures without the hassle of conventional filter systems
Neutral density filters are essential for landscape photographers as they enable longer exposure times, smoothing out flowing water and clouds. In urban settings, moving people and vehicles can be blurred or even made to disappear. The filters also appeal to portrait photographers, as they enable them to set wide apertures (and so blur our backgrounds) even in very bright conditions.
ND filters generally come as part of a filter kit. For ease of use, a great alternative is a variable ND filter – these are basically two polarisers fixed together to form one screw-on filter. As they’re rotated, the elements restrict the amount of light that is able to pass through them, and therefore extend the exposure time. Despite the ND title, many are simply known as faders, as they do produce slight colour casts (so aren’t strictly ‘neutral’), and if they’re rotated too far, almost all will reveal a darkened X, which will appear on your image. Here we see how six screw-on variable ND filters perform.