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Thread: LightCraft Workshop Fader ND - Variable ND Filter...

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    Member Remorhaz's Avatar
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    LightCraft Workshop Fader ND - Variable ND Filter...

    I recently ordered the LightCraft Workshop Fader ND Mark II from their Australian eBay shop for AUD$129 delivered.

    This is one of the class of variable Neutral Density filters and is adjustable between 2 to 8 stops of added density. Density changes when the front filter is rotated (similar mechanism to a CPL filter). I'd been considering a neutral density filter (something like an ND8 - 3 stops) to use during those times I wanted a longer shutter speed during brighter conditions (to smooth out flowing water for instance).

    As I was out in the Blue Mountains last weekend taking photos of waterfalls it was an ideal time to try the filter out - although as it happens the very dull overcast conditions (perfect) we had meant that using the filter wasn't actually necessary to get a slow enough shutter speed to smooth the waterfalls so I didn't end up using this filter for most of my shots.

    I did however take a sequence of test shots to show how it works.

    First the baseline shot with no filters at all:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm, 1/3 sec at f / 16, ISO 200

    At the minimum setting - supposed to be around two stops but it looks to be more in the one and a half to two stops range:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, 1 sec at f / 16, ISO 200, Fader ND

    Approx 3 stops:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, 2 sec at f / 16, ISO 200, Fader ND

    Approx 4 stops:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, 4 sec at f / 16, ISO 200, Fader ND

    Approx 5 stops:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, 8 sec at f / 16, ISO 200, Fader ND

    Approx 6 stops:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, 15 sec at f / 16, ISO 200, Fader ND

    There was more turn in the ring to go before reaching the maximum setting however there is a known weird cross polarisation effect which occurs at very high density settings and the wider the lens the more pronounced/noticable this becomes. This appears as a dark cross which starts to form over the image.

    Below is a test shot showing this in effect at 17mm - I took this the day before down on the harbour in VERY bright conditions - the ambient scene had a shutter speed of 1/60th even at f/22 and the last shot below was taken at the maximum setting (actually a little beyond the max marking which accentuates the effect) with around 8 stops of light reduction (3 sec shutter) where the dark cross over the middle is evident.

    Approx 8 stops:


    NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm, 3 sec at f / 22, ISO 200, Fader ND

    So the pro's:
    - given that it is a fixed filter it makes composing and focusing shots much easier without having to remove the filter - just dial the effect down to min to compose and focus (incl auto focus) and then dial it up
    - basically appears to work fine between 2 and 6 stops for my reasonably wide 17mm lens
    - mine has a 77mm rear thread for attaching and an 82mm front thread (to assist with not vignetting) - it also comes with an 82mm lens cap

    The con's:
    - if you use wide angle you can't really use it all the way to max (8 stops) otherwise you get weird effects on your image
    - it appears to affect both the auto white balance and auto metering the stronger the settings - with my camera I found it tends to AutoWB to cooler and also starts to underexpose the higher you go - this may be normal with strong ND filters (I've never used any before) - this probably wouldn't be an issue for real world use where you aren't trying to take test shots at specific exposure combinations - you just set the WB (on camera or in post) and set the filter for the actual desired result for the scene you're shooting
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    keen learner of new tricks.
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    a pretty good run down of the fader nd Rodney. I have considered getting one but have been unable to get a review of it. So thanks for this. I am becoming more agin it though. Pity because it would be very handy.
    Graeme
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    Remorhaz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by old dog View Post
    a pretty good run down of the fader nd Rodney. I have considered getting one but have been unable to get a review of it. So thanks for this. I am becoming more agin it though. Pity because it would be very handy.
    Yep - I'm still not entirely sure myself - I'll have to use it a few more times before I can get comfortable with it I guess and get used to how to make best use of it. I think for those situations where you just want to leave it on for a while and have up to 5 or 6 stops of reduction it will be perfect.

    I've also just ordered the B+W 10 Stop ND filter (for even more stopping power ).

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    keen learner of new tricks.
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    that sure will be a lot of fun and you can be really creative with the 10 stop. I`m just going for the Hoya nd400.

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    Shore Crawler Dylan & Marianne's Avatar
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    yea that was my experience with it as well.
    as a result, I've more or less ditched it in favour of just the fader ND500 alone for the 77mm thread.
    not as convenient but there's certainly less distortion with wideangle images.
    The cross polarisation thing really looks like twilight zone stuff lol - I thought something had eaten my camera when I First saw the result
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    Thanks for the demo ... regards

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    Hi all, I was about to start a thread about this filter but luckily found this one. I purchased one of these before going to the USA in May this year. I got it to use on my Sigma 10-20mm lens. As my camera was in the repair shop I didnt get to us it before the trip. I too have had a lot of problems with the wide angle lens and got the strange colors as well. I was in Monument Valley in the middle of the day and used the filter to cut some of the glare.I ended up with dirty sepia looking photos. I also found that if the setting on the filter wasnt spot on the mark it ended up more like a graduating filter and half clear and half dirty color. I have now ditched it as far as wide angle goes so I will iether sell it of use it on the 80-200mm and see how it goes. As I had 2 cameras on the go I was lucky to double on most locations and manged a few keepers even though they were less MP.
    Being on the move every day I was just backing up daily and not looking at each shot on the computer at night. On the camera they looked OK. My mistake so I learnt a valuable lesson about trying a filter first.

    John
    Last edited by campdog; 19-08-2011 at 7:46am.
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    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
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    I looked at this too but wasn't sure about the cross ting. In the end I got 2x their ND500 which is nice and thin. I've only used it once tho, it's really hard to see anything even on a bright noon, so I duno what I was thinking buying 2... I'll probably get rid of one

    With the fader, did you see a difference depending on what focal length your lens was? I read wides don't get the full ND effect.

    Also I note your pics have a slight yellow cast from the fader. I noted the ND500 has a bluish cast.

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    I just bought a ND2-ND400 Fader Filter from ebay.

    I find this thread very interesting... particularly the last shot. Without having seen it yet, not sure I grasp the entire concept just yet, but do you guys often use the ND400 setting, or close to it? And can I ask what ND setting the last shot was taken with? If memory serves, of course. This is quite an old thread.

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    Shore Crawler Dylan & Marianne's Avatar
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    Geoff, I reckon you're better off going for the ND400 alone ! I think with the vari-ND type filters, at the far end of the spectrum , you end up with cross polarisation effects - interesting to see if yours survives it at wide angle at ND400 setting!

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    Not sure I understand all the technical stuff but I was also considering buying this filter but after reading this very good review I will ponder a little more.
    Thanks for the review - by the way I do like the last waterfall image.
    Cheers
    JudiN

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