July 24, 2024
nd filter chart
Explore the ultimate ND filter chart to master light control in photography and achieve perfect exposure every time. Elevate your craft today!

The ND filter chart is an essential tool for photographers looking to master light control and achieve perfect exposure in their images. It provides a comparison of different ND filter types and their corresponding effects on shutter speed. This guide will help photographers choose the right ND filter for their specific needs, whether it’s landscape photography, long exposures, or creative effects.

Key Takeaways:

  • An ND filter chart is a valuable resource for photographers to understand the different types of ND filters and their effects on shutter speed.
  • Choosing the right ND filter is crucial for achieving the desired exposure and creative effect in various shooting conditions.
  • ND filters come in different types – solid, graduated, and variable – each suited for different purposes.
  • ND filter strengths are measured using different scales and understanding their impact on exposure is important.
  • Consider the size of your camera’s sensor when selecting an ND filter to ensure the desired effect is achieved.

Understanding ND Filters

ND filters, also known as neutral density filters, come in various types that cater to different photography needs. Understanding the different types of ND filters and how they work is essential for photographers looking to achieve precise control over exposure and capture stunning images.

Solid ND Filters

Solid ND filters provide a consistent level of light reduction across the entire frame. These filters are ideal for photographers who want to achieve a specific exposure time without affecting the color or composition of the image. Solid ND filters are commonly used in landscape photography, long exposures, and situations where a balanced exposure is desired.

Graduated ND Filters

Graduated ND filters have a gradient that allows photographers to darken specific parts of the image while maintaining normal exposure in other areas. These filters are especially useful in situations where there is a significant difference in brightness between the sky and the foreground. By carefully positioning the graduated ND filter, photographers can achieve a balanced exposure and retain detail in both the highlights and shadows of the image.

Variable ND Filters

Variable ND filters offer the flexibility of adjusting the density of the filter within a certain range. These filters consist of two polarizing layers that can be rotated against each other to control the amount of light passing through the lens. Variable ND filters are popular among videographers and photographers who require quick adjustments to the exposure without changing filters. They allow for stepless density adjustment, making them versatile tools for capturing dynamic scenes.

How Do ND Filters Work?

ND filters work by reducing the intensity of light entering the lens without affecting the color balance of the image. The filters consist of special materials that absorb or reflect a certain percentage of light. By adjusting the density of the filter, photographers can control the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor, enabling them to extend the shutter speed and capture stunning long exposures. ND filters are essential tools for achieving creative effects, such as smoothing water motion, capturing light trails, and reducing the depth of field in bright conditions.

ND Filter Strengths and Shutter Speed

Neutral Density (ND) filters come in various strengths, measured using different scales such as the NDxx number, optical density, or stops scale. Understanding the relationship between ND filter strength and exposure is crucial for achieving the desired effect in different shooting conditions. The ND filter chart provides comprehensive information on the corresponding shutter speeds for each filter strength, enabling photographers to make informed decisions.

When selecting an ND filter, it’s important to consider the desired exposure adjustment and the specific amount of light reduction required. The strength of an ND filter determines how much light is allowed to pass through the lens, affecting the resulting exposure and shutter speed. Higher filter strengths provide greater light reduction, requiring longer exposure times and slower shutter speeds to compensate for the reduced light entering the camera.

The following table showcases the common ND filter strengths and their corresponding effects on exposure and shutter speed:

ND Filter Strength Exposure Adjustment Shutter Speed Increase
ND2 1 stop Double
ND4 2 stops Quadruple
ND8 3 stops 8x
ND16 4 stops 16x
ND32 5 stops 32x

As the ND filter strength increases, the exposure is reduced by a corresponding number of stops. This reduction in exposure requires longer shutter speeds to maintain proper exposure, leading to creative effects such as smooth waterfalls, blurred motion, and capturing light trails. Conversely, using lower filter strengths allows for shorter exposure times and faster shutter speeds, ideal for freezing fast-moving subjects or maintaining shallow depth of field in bright lighting conditions.

It’s important to note that different manufacturers may use slightly different calibration methods for their ND filters, resulting in slight variations in the indicated strength. Therefore, it’s always recommended to refer to the specific manufacturer’s guidelines and ND filter chart for accurate information on the corresponding shutter speeds and exposure adjustments for each filter strength.

Understanding how ND filter strengths affect exposure and shutter speed empowers photographers to make informed decisions while capturing their vision. By leveraging the ND filter chart and being aware of the specific characteristics of different filter strengths, photographers can confidently select the appropriate ND filter to achieve their desired creative results.

Sensor Size and ND Filters

The size of the camera’s sensor can significantly impact the effectiveness of ND filters. When selecting an ND filter, photographers should consider their camera’s sensor size to ensure the desired effect is achieved.

Smaller sensors apply a magnification factor that affects the coverage of the ND filter. This factor can soften the transition of a graduated ND filter and make it appear more like a soft grad.

For example, if you’re using a smaller sensor camera, such as a Micro Four Thirds or APS-C camera, the magnification factor will affect the coverage of a graduated ND filter. This means that the transition from clear to dark in the filter won’t be as crisp, and it may appear more gradual.

On the other hand, if you’re using a full-frame camera with a larger sensor, the coverage of the ND filter will be more accurate, and the transition will be sharper. This allows for precise control over the exposure in different parts of the image.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the impact of sensor size on ND filter coverage varies depending on the specific camera model and brand. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to test your ND filters with your camera to understand the exact effect and coverage you’ll achieve.

Comparison of ND Filter Coverage on Different Sensor Sizes

Sensor Size ND Filter Coverage
Full-Frame Accurate coverage with precise transition
APS-C Partial coverage with slightly softer transition
Micro Four Thirds Reduced coverage with softer transition

This table provides a general overview of how different sensor sizes impact the coverage and transition of ND filters. Keep in mind that this is a broad comparison, and there may be variations within specific camera models and brands. It’s always recommended to experiment and test different ND filters with your camera to determine the precise effect you can achieve.


Choosing the Right ND Filter

When it comes to selecting the right ND filter, photographers must consider the desired effect and shooting conditions. Different scenarios require different filter strengths and types. Here are some recommendations to help you choose the best ND filter:

For Landscape Photography: To capture the beauty of vast landscapes and create mesmerizing long exposures, a 6-stop ND filter is often the ideal choice. This filter offers versatility and allows you to achieve the perfect exposure times for your shots.

For Long Exposures: If you’re specifically interested in long exposure photography, a 6-stop ND filter is also a great option. This filter allows you to extend your shutter speed, resulting in stunning images with beautiful motion effects.

Recommended ND Filter Brands: When it comes to choosing the best ND filter brands, there are several reputable options to consider. Here are some of the top brands in the market:

Brand Highlights
HiTech Fine craftsmanship, excellent optical performance
Lee High-quality filters, widely used by professionals
Nisi Precision engineering, extensive range of filter options
Cokin Affordable yet reliable filters for photographers of all levels

These brands are known for their commitment to quality, durability, and exceptional performance. By choosing filters from these recommended brands, photographers can ensure optimal results and enhanced shooting experiences.

Remember, selecting the right ND filter can significantly impact your photography. Consider your shooting style, specific needs, and the recommendations provided to make an informed decision. Invest in a high-quality ND filter that suits your requirements, and you’ll unlock new creative possibilities and capture breathtaking images.

Tips for Using ND Filters

When it comes to using ND filters, following best practices can help you achieve optimal results and capture stunning images. Here are some tips to enhance your ND filter photography:

1. Use a Sturdy Tripod

For long exposure shots, it’s important to minimize camera shake. Using a sturdy tripod will provide stability and ensure sharp images. Secure your camera and compose your shot before attaching the ND filter.

2. Cable Release or Remote Trigger

When shooting in bulb mode for extended exposures, using a cable release or remote trigger will prevent any movement or shake that might occur when pressing the shutter button. This allows for precise control over the exposure time.

3. Shoot in Manual Mode

To have full control over your camera’s settings, it’s recommended to shoot in manual mode when using ND filters. This allows you to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings as necessary for the desired effect.

4. Avoid Variable ND Filters

While variable ND filters offer versatility, they can be more challenging to control exposure times accurately. It’s best to opt for fixed ND filters with specific densities to achieve consistent and predictable results.

5. Recommended Camera Settings

To achieve the best results with ND filters, consider the following camera settings:

  • Use a low ISO setting (e.g., ISO 100) to minimize noise in your images.
  • Select a small aperture (e.g., f/8 to f/16) for optimal sharpness and depth of field.
  • Adjust the shutter speed based on the desired effect and the ND filter’s strength.

6. Recommended Equipment

In addition to ND filters, having the right equipment can enhance your ND filter photography experience:

  • Invest in a high-quality filter holder system to securely mount your ND filters and minimize light leaks.
  • Consider using a filter step-up or step-down ring to ensure compatibility with different lenses.
  • Carry a lens cleaning kit to keep your filters free from smudges, dust, and fingerprints.

By incorporating these tips into your ND filter photography workflow, you can maximize the potential of ND filters and capture breathtaking images with enhanced control over light and exposure.

ND Filters for Different Photography Styles

ND filters are versatile tools that can be used in various photography styles to achieve unique and captivating effects. Whether you’re a landscape photographer capturing the beauty of nature or a wedding photographer striving for the perfect shot, ND filters can enhance your creativity and elevate the quality of your images.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photographers often rely on ND filters to capture stunning long-exposure shots of landscapes, waterfalls, sunsets, and moving water. By using ND filters, photographers can extend their shutter speed, resulting in smooth, flowing water and dramatic cloud movements. The use of ND filters in landscape photography allows for the creation of captivating and ethereal images that capture the beauty of nature.

Wedding Photography

ND filters are a valuable asset for wedding photographers who want to control depth of field and achieve natural-looking portraits. By using ND filters, photographers can achieve a shallow depth of field, blurring the background and drawing attention to the subject. This technique creates a more intimate and romantic atmosphere in wedding photographs, capturing the emotions and essence of the special day.

Black and White Photography

Black and white photographers can use ND filters to add drama and depth to their images. By controlling the exposure and tonal range, ND filters allow photographers to create striking contrasts and emphasize the texture and details in their black and white compositions. The use of ND filters in black and white photography adds a touch of artistry and enhances the overall impact of the image.

Urban Photography

ND filters can be particularly effective in urban photography, especially when capturing long exposure shots of bustling cityscapes. By using ND filters, photographers can remove moving subjects from the frame, creating a sense of stillness and tranquility amidst the chaos of the city. This technique results in striking and surreal urban images that evoke a sense of wonder and contemplation.

Regardless of the photography style you specialize in, incorporating ND filters into your workflow can open up new creative opportunities and help you achieve stunning results. Experiment with different filter strengths and techniques to unlock the full potential of ND filters in your photography.

ND Filter Recommendations for Different Photography Styles

Photography Style Recommended ND Filter Strength Effect
Landscape Photography 6-stop ND filter Smooth flowing water, dramatic cloud movement
Wedding Photography 3-stop ND filter Controlled depth of field, natural-looking portraits
Black and White Photography 4-stop ND filter Enhanced contrast, emphasis on texture and details
Urban Photography 10-stop ND filter Removal of moving subjects, stillness in busy cityscapes

ND Filter Galleries


To showcase the capabilities of ND filters, we have curated galleries of sample images taken using different types of ND filters. These galleries demonstrate the range of creative possibilities and the enhancement that ND filters can bring to various photography genres, including landscape, wedding, and abstract photography. Get inspired by the visual showcase below:

Image Photographer Location
John Smith Yosemite National Park
Jane Doe Grand Canyon
Michael Johnson Mount Everest
Image Photographer Location
Sarah Thompson Central Park, New York
David Wilson Paris, France
Emily Davis Santorini, Greece
Image Photographer Location
Robert White Studio
abstract2 Laura Anderson Art Gallery
Christopher Moore City streets

Recommended ND Filter Brands

For photographers looking to invest in high-quality ND filters, there are several reputable brands to consider. Some of the best nd filter brands in the market include HiTech, Lee, Nisi, and Cokin. These brands have established themselves as industry leaders, known for their excellent build quality, optical performance, and wide range of filter options.

HiTech is renowned for its precision-engineered nd filters that deliver outstanding image quality and color accuracy. With a diverse selection of filters available, photographers can find the perfect filter to suit their specific needs and shooting styles.

Lee filters are highly regarded for their consistent performance and reliability. They offer a comprehensive range of nd filters, including both solid and graduated options, allowing photographers to have precise control over exposure and achieve stunning results.

Nisi is another reputable nd filter brand known for its premium filters that offer exceptional light reduction with minimal color distortion. Their filters are compatible with various filter holder systems, making them versatile options for photographers looking to experiment with different setups.

Cokin has been a trusted name in the photography industry for many years. Their nd filters are known for their affordability without compromising on quality. With a wide range of filter options to choose from, Cokin provides photographers with an accessible entry point into the world of nd filters.

When photographers choose nd filters from these reputable brands, they can have confidence in their filter’s durability and performance, ensuring optimal results in their photography endeavors.


ND filters are an essential tool for photographers seeking to master light control and achieve impeccable exposure in their images. The comprehensive ND filter chart serves as a valuable resource to understand the different types of ND filters, their varying strengths, and the corresponding effects they have on shutter speed. By carefully selecting the appropriate ND filter for specific shooting conditions and considering the desired effect, photographers can elevate their craft and capture breathtaking images with enhanced creativity and control.

Whether it’s landscape photography, long exposures, or exploring creative effects, ND filters offer endless possibilities. They allow photographers to capture the beauty of landscapes with smooth and silky waterfalls, breathtaking sunsets, and serene seascapes. In wedding and portrait photography, ND filters provide greater control over depth of field, allowing for beautifully blurred backgrounds and natural-looking portraits. Black and white photographers can use ND filters to add drama and create stunning contrasts, while urban photographers can capture the energy of bustling cities in long exposure shots, emphasizing the architecture and removing distractions.

When using ND filters, it is essential to follow best practices, such as using a sturdy tripod to eliminate camera shake, shooting in fully manual mode, and utilizing cable releases or remote triggers for bulb mode shooting. Additionally, photographers should consider their camera’s sensor size when selecting ND filters to ensure optimal coverage and achieve the desired effect. Those looking to invest in high-quality filters can confidently choose from reputable brands like HiTech, Lee, Nisi, and Cokin to ensure superior build quality, excellent optical performance, and a wide range of filter options.

With the right knowledge, equipment, and artistic vision, photographers can harness the power of ND filters to create captivating and visually stunning photographs. Whether capturing the grandeur of a mountain range or the fleeting moment of a newlywed couple, ND filters provide the tools needed to transcend the ordinary and capture extraordinary moments.


What is an ND filter chart?

An ND filter chart is a comparison tool that provides information on different types of neutral density (ND) filters and their effects on shutter speed.

What are the types of ND filters?

ND filters come in three types: solid, graduated, and variable. Solid ND filters provide consistent light reduction, graduated ND filters have a gradient for darkening specific areas, and variable ND filters offer stepless density adjustment.

How do ND filters work?

ND filters work by reducing the intensity of light entering the lens, allowing photographers to extend their shutter speed and capture long exposures.

How does ND filter strength affect exposure and shutter speed?

ND filter strength affects exposure by reducing the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor. The stronger the ND filter, the longer the shutter speed needed for proper exposure.

What is the impact of sensor size on ND filters?

Sensor size can affect the coverage and transition of ND filters. Smaller sensors may apply a magnification factor that softens the transition of graduated ND filters.

How do I choose the right ND filter?

The choice of the right ND filter depends on the desired effect and shooting conditions. Landscape photography and long exposures often benefit from a 6-stop ND filter, while wedding and portrait photography may require a 3-stop ND filter.

What are some recommended ND filter brands?

HiTech, Lee, Nisi, and Cokin are reputable ND filter brands known for their quality and variety of options.

What are some tips for using ND filters?

Use a sturdy tripod, use a cable release or remote trigger, shoot in manual mode, and avoid variable ND filters for better exposure control.

How can ND filters enhance different photography styles?

ND filters can be used to capture long exposures in landscapes, control depth of field in wedding photography, create dramatic effects in black and white photography, and achieve smooth and surreal shots in urban photography.

Are there any galleries of sample images taken with ND filters?

Yes, there are galleries showcasing sample images that demonstrate the creative possibilities and versatility of ND filters in landscape, wedding, and abstract photography.

Which are some recommended ND filter brands?

HiTech, Lee, Nisi, and Cokin are reputable brands known for their high-quality ND filters.

What are the benefits of using ND filters?

ND filters allow photographers to have greater control over exposure and shutter speed, resulting in creative and properly exposed images.

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