SANDMARC is better known for making lenses, filters & accessories for drones, action cams, and smartphones. Now they are taking on the full-sized camera market with the SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND filters with Polarizer built into the filter.
If you are a hybrid shooter, you know, it’s challenging to keep the shutter at 180-degree without adding neutral density filters to the front of the lens. In well lite areas, you might want to have a shallower depth of field. To achieve this, ND is needed. When picking ND filters, the choice is usually financial and how fast you want to work. The traditional matte box with filters is a good one but can be slow, and some require rails. A clip-on matte box is an excellent option, such as the Bright Tangerine MisFit Atom.
Then there is the variable ND filter that is faster but also adds more color shift than higher-quality ND filters alone does. The variables can also be expensive, but like I mentioned, they are a lifesaver for fast-moving productions.
The good ole neutral density filter kit with about four filters is a standard, and I prefer to use them over the variables. Color shift is generally lower, and sharpness is maintained. YMMV depending on the quality of the filter. I use Hoya Pro ND and have been happy with them as they have very little color shift.
When shooting mainly outside, it’s common to get reflections from car windows or glass windows that require the use of a Circular Polarizer. For whatever reason, I never seem to have one ready to go. Here is where SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND Filters come in.
SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND features
- Multi-coated, anti-reflective cinema glass
- Ultra-thin aluminum frame
- No vignetting up to 16mm Wide Lenses
Each Hybrid Filter set includes three filters: ND16/PL, ND32/PL, and ND64/PL, allowing you to shoot in most weather conditions, whether it be cloudy or bright conditions.
The difference between Variable ND & ND with a Polarizer Filter
Variable ND filters are very popular for filmmaking with hybrid cameras mainly because they are fast to use. With one filter, you can get around 9-stops of ND. A variable is in fact, made of two polarizers stacked together, however, it does control the amount of light when rotated it doesn’t manage reflections. In other words, variable ND filters are not a substitute for a regular Circular Polarizer.
The SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND Filter takes a different approach. It gives you both light reduction and polarization but does not have varying stops, which is why the set includes three filters with Polarized ND16-64 to provide a photographer or filmmaker versatility. The Hybrid filter is essential when you would like to use a PL & ND filter together, avoiding loss in image quality, cross-polarization or vignetting when stacking an ND & PL filter.
The filters are thin and feel very nice. Not too heavy or light. I didn’t find any vignetting when using them. The rotation of the polarizer is dampened, so when rotating, it’s smooth as butter. The thin polarizer has tiny teeth on the top that is grippy with a light touch, plus they hold in place very well when mounted. I’ve used variable NDs that are fairly loose and will rotate too easy, making it difficult to keep the exposure locked when moving the camera. With the SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND filters, this isnt the case.
I shot a color chart to check if the Hybrid Pro ND Filters have any color shift, and I was impressed with how little it does. All ND filters will have some, but it’s important that the shift isn’t an ugly color that is hard to correct. I found the filter skews a touch warm, and with a simple white balance adjustment of adding blue or taking the slider to the cooler side, it clears up very easily. It’s very slight, and I feel if you forgot to re-white balance, you won’t be screwed in post.
While this test shows, it does add warmth, you need to white balance when using neutral density filters. The good news is if you are running and gunning and need to just get the filter on, and shoot you won’t have a lot of work ahead of you in fixing it. Adding some warmth is better than cooler or off colors like green.
The difference is very slight, as you can see in the Vectorscope. With Magic Bullet Colorista IV, I pushed the Temperature cooler by -6.8 and tint to 7.2. This is a very slight adjustment.
Obviously, you should always re-white balance when adding a neutral density filter, or polarizer for that matter.
SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND Polarizer
The other half of the Hybrid Pro ND Filter is the circular polarizer.
As you can see, it does what’s it supposed to do. Remove reflections. It’s a dramatic difference, especially if you are shooting cars, windows, and water. Even leaves shimmering in the sun can be reduced.
Filter Diameter Sizes and Pricing
The SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND Filters come in four thread sizes with three filter strengths in each kit with an included soft-sided foldout carrying case. The kits are priced as follows.
- 58mm – $169.99
- 67mm – $179.99
- 77mm – $189.99
- 82mm – $199.99
For a three filter kit, the range of 4, 5 & 6 stops is versatile. I want a five filter set with 3 & 7 or 8-stops included. I wouldn’t doubt in the future if SANDMARC added a few more options.
- ND16 Filter 4-Stops (ND16/PL)
- ND32 Filter 5-Stops (ND32/PL)
- ND64 Filter 6-Stops (ND64/PL)
One Size Fits All
To get more bang from your buck, purchasing a few step-up rings with one set of filters is a good idea. Choose either a 77mm or 82mm filter, and step-up rings for the different lenses you have. I tend to go with 77mm filters since I rarely use 82mm and they are huge on smaller lenses like a 52mm front diameter thread. For me, the 77mm size is a nice compromise.
The Best Step-Up Ring I’ve Ever Used
I recently ordered a new 72mm to 77mm step-up ring from Breakthrough Photography. It wasn’t cheap at $30. Yes, that is expensive since most are around $5 to $10. The issue I have with the majority of step-up rings are they tend to get stuck on the filter. It’s due to the small nature of them, and getting a good grip isnt easy. These Breakthrough Photography models have nice big notches that I can get a solid grip on. They are also heavy and won’t bend. I’ve had that problem as well.
The idea of having an ND filter with a circular polarizer is not unique to SANDMARC. I found a few other options to also consider.
- Genustech Polarizer ND Variable Filter 77mm (single filter) – $179.00
- PolarPro 77mm ND64 QuartzLine Solid Neutral Density 1.8 and Circular Polarizer Filter (6-Stop single filter) – $129.99
- H&Y Filters Drop-In K-Series Neutral Density 1.5 and Circular Polarizer Filter 77mm – $159
- NiSi 77mm Solid Neutral Density 1.8 and Circular Polarizer Filter (6-Stop single filter) – $97.75
- Schneider 138mm Mounted Neutral Density 1.2 Circular Polarizer Filter (4-Stop single filter – $396.00
- Breakthrough Photography 77mm X4 Dark CPL 6-stop (single filter) – $209
I like these filters. The advantage of having the polarizer included with the Neutral Density is a clever idea. I have to use ND filters outside, so having the polarizer just adds more control and gives you the benefits of less contrast and reflections on glass and all shiny reflective surfaces. It’s quite amazing when you see the shadows come back due to the Circular Polarizer.
It’s kind of funny as I seem to forget to pack a polarizer in my lens kit. Living and shooting mostly in sunny Southern California, makes them an excellent filter for controlling those pesky reflections. With a set of the SANDMARC Hybrid Pro ND Filters, I’m covered. The pricing is also fair. At $189 for the 77mm kit, I’m getting six filters. Add a few step-up rings for even more compatibility.
Like what we do and want to support Newsshooter? Consider becoming a Patreon supporter and help us to continue being the best source of news and reviews for professional tools for the independent filmmaker.