By site editor Dan Chung:
Ever since the beginning of the DSLR revolution camera operators have complained about having to use screw-in neutral density (ND) filters or matteboxes – countless shots have been missed as shooters fiddle around changing filters. Variable NDs can be a useful option but they need to be swapped between lenses and can introduce colour shifts and polarisation effects.
Small cameras like the A7 series that have high base ISOs when shooting in Log gammas require a great deal of ND filtration to use outdoors even when stopped down. The lack of simple ND solutions for cameras like the Sony a7S and Panasonic GH4 is one of the main reasons for the popularity of cameras like the Canon C100 and Sony FS7.
At IBC Genus showed a working prototype of a product that might be about to change all that.
Their lens adapter with built-in electronic ND is designed specifically for mirrorless cameras and will look similar to adapters from Metabones, Novoflex, Aputure, MTF and others. The one we were shown was a Canon EF to Sony E-mount version.
A dial on the adapter allows you to control the amount of ND filtration electronically – this system is similar to the one that Sony introduced on the new FS5 camera.
The fine control means you’re able to tune your exposure by adding or subtracting ND – this allows you shoot everything at a preset aperture and adjust your exposure just by using the neutral density.
The Genus device is a really practical idea as when it’s integrated into a camera it will mean you won’t have to swap variable ND filters between lenses or use a bulky mattebox with a rig and rod support – you’ll just be able to dial in the exposure you want. You’ll also be less likely to knock filters out of alignment and won’t have to handle delicate, expensive glass elements when out in the field.
Genus don’t have a release date for this technology yet but hope to be able to make it available at a price that appeals to users of cameras like the A7 series.