Swedish company LC-Tec has shown the latest iteration of its PolarView-eND filter system that offers electronic ND in front of the lens at IBC 2023. Up until now, the practical choices for front-mounted ND have been either fixed strength filters or variable ND using twin rotating polarisers. Panavision does make a similar product, but it is rental only.
LC-Tec has further reduced the size and complexity of the system since we last saw it at CineGear 2023. The 4 x 5.65″ size filter now has built-in controls and a built-in battery that the company claims will allow it to be used for a whole day.
LC-Tec is now in the process of talking to various companies that make filter trays and matte boxes so they will be able to place the eND into their own filter systems.
At IBC, LC-Tec was showing the system in a Bright Tangerine matte box.
The latest version of the LC-Tec PolarView-eND filter system offers electronic ND in front of the lens and it offers instant, continuously adjustable ND filtration allowing for previously unattainable levels of control during a shot. Traditional ND filters have fixed transmittance, so the user is forced to carry a set of filters with different densities and choose the one that matches (unless you are using a camera with built-in ND) prevailing light conditions. Variable ND filters are based on two polarizers. The setting is adjusted by physically rotating one of the polarizers.
With tuneable ND filtration over a 2 to 7-stop range (or 1.5 to 5-stop range), it has negligible vignetting across the frame and according to the company, consistent color. The PolarView-eND filter system can also be used in combination with fixed-type internal ND filters on cinema cameras like the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF, ALEXA 35, and Sony Venice 2 if you need to achieve higher levels of filtration. It would be interesting to see how well it works when combined with internal ND on cameras and whether there would be any color shifts. Sony didn’t put e-ND in the VENICE or VENICE 2 because it can be susceptible to color shifts.
The PolarView-eND uses LC-Tec’s patented liquid crystal panel technology, it is designed to work in a conventional matte box or lens adapter mount. According to the company, there is negligible vignetting across the frame and color is amazingly consistent. One of the main advantages of eND is that instant changes can be made in real-time even during a shot. This opens up all sorts of creative options.
The ND can also be adjusted to preset values similar to how you would use conventional filters.
The larger size of the front-mounted filters presents a far greater technical challenge when it comes to color accuracy and consistency, as opposed to smaller-sized eND systems that sit in front of the camera sensor. LC-Tec claims that they have now overcome these issues with the latest version of the PolarView eND filter.
Who is LC-Tec?
LC-Tec is a technology company specializing in optical components based on liquid crystal (LC) technology. It was founded in 1988 and is located in Borlänge, Sweden. They have over 25 years’ of experience in designing and manufacturing a wide range of LC-based products, including optical shutters, variable ND filters, polarization modulators, variable retarders, and information displays.