Skip to content
Filming with ND filters and Polarisers

Filming with ND filters and Polarisers

Getting the right shot can be a challenge when you're filming outdoors, especially in bright daylight. This is where ND filters and polarizers come in. Both of these filters can help you get the perfect exposure and remove unwanted reflections, but they work in slightly different ways.

What are ND Filters?

ND filters, or Neutral Density filters, are like sunglasses for your camera. They reduce the amount of light that enters the lens, allowing you to use a wider aperture or slower shutter speed without overexposing the image. This is particularly useful in bright daylight when the sun is causing harsh shadows and highlights. ND filters come in different strengths, with higher numbers indicating a greater reduction in light. So, a 3-stop ND filter will reduce the light by three stops, while a 6-stop ND filter will reduce it by six stops.

What are Polarizing Filters?

Polarizing filters, on the other hand, reduce glare and reflections. They work by blocking certain light waves, which can help you see through water or glass, or get rid of glare on reflective surfaces like cars or buildings. Polarizing filters come in two types: linear and circular. Linear polarizers are less expensive, but they may not work well with some cameras, while circular polarizers are more expensive but more compatible with modern cameras. To use a polarizer, simply rotate the filter until you get the desired effect.

ND Filter and Polarising Filter

Using Lens Filters

Using ND filters and polarizers can be a little tricky at first, but with practice, you'll be able to achieve the desired effect. To use an ND filter, simply screw it onto the front of your lens, and adjust your exposure accordingly. To use a polarizer, rotate the filter until you get the desired effect, being careful not to overdo it.

When using ND filters and polarizers, it's important to remember that they will also affect the colour temperature of your footage, so you may need to adjust your white balance accordingly. Also, stacking filters can cause vignetting or image quality degradation, so use only one filter at a time. Finally, always make sure to use high-quality filters, as cheap filters can degrade the image quality or introduce unwanted colour casts.

Should you pay more for filters?

Yes, we said it. Price does matter, and for good reason. Lens filters range in price quite dramatically and the quality of the filter in equal measure. Cheaper filters are able to do as they claim, but often at the cost of build quality and colour reproduction.

Pricier filters use brace as opposed to aluminium and consist of thinner glass and bonded film, which produces optimal colour and contrast levels. We would recommend spending a little bit more on your filters to ensure you are getting the best quality images.

In summary, ND filters and polarizers can be essential tools for filmmakers and photographers, helping you to achieve the perfect shot even in challenging lighting conditions. With a little practice, you'll be able to use these filters to create stunning images that capture the beauty of the world around you.

Previous article How to Record Audio for Film: A Beginner's Guide

The Magic Mailbox

Subscribe for the updates on our latest rental gear and helpful guides to getting the most from your gear