By technical editor Matt Allard:
If you routinely shoot in a country with grey skies then you’ll be familiar with the problem. You can use a graduated neutral density filter to put some life back into the sky by simply lining up your horizon with the point where the filter darkens, which is usually quite distinct. This is fine for static shots, but the moment you start to move the camera by hand, on a Steadicam, or on a brushless gimbal, it becomes too obvious that you are using one. The solution is a filter known as a ND Blender, essentially a graduated filter that, instead of having a distinct hard edge, is smoothly graduated from top to bottom. You don’t have to line the filter up with a horizon and the transition isn’t as noticeable when your camera is in motion.
These have been available for some time as larger filters for matteboxes, but until now they haven’t been made to screw directly onto photo lenses. At IBC, Tiffen were showing off a new circular screw-in range of blender filters for photo lenses and smaller cine lenses with filter threads. The ND Blender filters rotate in the filter ring in the same way as polarisers, allowing you to align the direction of the effect after screwing the filter onto the lens.
These should be a real help for brushless gimbal users in particular. Many of the newer lightweight gimbals struggle to carry a camera with a mattebox attached. The simple screw-in filter solution is much better.
The filters come in circular sizes from 40.5mm up to 82mm and are available in ND .6 & ND 1.2 densities. The ND Blenders are available now and the price depends on the size of the filter. For more information head over to Tiffen’s website.