Singh-Ray Filters: Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter
Singh-Ray Filters logoSingh-Ray Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter

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Three views of the Vari-ND filter at different rotations

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New Vari-ND Filter makes "blurred-motion" a lot easier and more fun
  • Makes long exposures easier
  • Makes selective focus easier
  • Provides better close-up flash control
  • Offers 2 to 8 stops of added density
  • The only solid ND filter you'll need
  • Available now in 77mm standard and thin-mount rings, and 82mm standard ring
  • Amplify the power of your Vari-ND by adding the Mor-Slo 5-stop Solid ND Filter, specially designed to add density and reduce IR noise. Note: to stack Mor-Slo with Vari-ND, at least one filter has to be standard mount with front threads -- two thin-mount filters will not stack

NOTE: Due to the nature of the Vari-ND Filter, its "profile thickness" is significantly greater than most filters (14.2mm for standard mount, 10.5mm for thin mount). The profile thickness of either version may cause vignetting when used with wide-angle lenses, especially on cameras with full-frame sensors. Due to the vast number of combinations of cameras, lenses, and other factors, we can NOT predict under what circumstances vignetting will occur, and to what degree. We suggest simply adjusting your focal length, position, and/or composition to remove the vignetting -- use your digital camera's display for reference.

NOTE 2: The design of the Vari-ND Filter may introduce irregularities when used with very wide angle lenses, especially on full-frame cameras. Adjust your focal length and reduce the filter density setting until the irregularities disappear.

Vari-ND Filter 77mm

Add to Cart 77mm Standard Ring Mount $340 - qty:
Profile thickness: 14.1mm more info

Add to Cart77mm Thin Ring Mount $390 - qty:
Profile thickness: 10.5mm more info

Vari-ND Filter 82mm

Add to Cart82mm Standard Ring Mount $420 - qty:
Profile thickness: 14.1mm more info

An 82mm Thin Ring Mount is not available

"The Vari-ND replaces several regular ND filters in my bag. But best of all is how easily I can experiment with a wide range of exposures to achieve just the effect I visualize." George Lepp

Capturing motion blurs is much easier with the new Vari-ND filter

Singh-Ray's Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter lets you continuously control the amount of light passing through your lens by as much as 8 exposure stops--with no loss of color fidelity or sharpness.

Super-long exposures are now much easier
The Vari-ND makes it easy to achieve slow shutter speeds of one or more seconds to "blur" the motion of falling water, passing clouds, flying birds, busy people, or any other moving subject within your scene.

Vari-ND also makes selective focus easier
Separating your main subject from the background by reducing the depth of field often calls for your widest lens aperture. In bright daylight, however, this may require switching to a much slower film or a shutter speed beyond your camera's ability--that's when you go to the Vari-ND to reduce the light to your needs.

Close-up flash control
The Vari-ND enables you to position speedlights closer to your macro subjects without overexposure problems.

It's the only solid ND filter you need
One Vari-ND is not only as versatile as a full set of standard neutral density filters, it's faster and easier to use in the field.

Vari-ND equals very easy

Photo using Vari-ND taken by Tony Sweet

Click on the photo to see an enlargement

To capture the cloud movement in this New Hampshire mountainscape, I increased the density of my Vari-ND to stretch the exposure time by an additional 3 stops --from 1/2 second at f22, to 4 seconds-- which resulted in the soft, flowing cloud formation you see here. Adding my Singh-Ray Color Intensifier further enriched the sunset lighting. The Singh-Ray Vari-ND offers an important solution for me. Many times in the past, when I wanted to slow down my exposures to several seconds to capture the movement of flowing water or wind-blown clouds, I would find the natural daylight too bright. Now the Vari-ND allows me to dial in anywhere from 2 to 8 stops of neutral density and slow my exposures dramatically.
--Tony Sweet

By mounting the Vari-ND on your lens, and "dialing" it to the brightest image, you will have already added 2 f-stops more density. After framing and focusing your image, you can turn the outer filter ring to continuously reduce the light transmission and increase the density as much as six more stops.

For example, with a typical outdoor scene, the shutter speed might be slowed from 1/500 at f8 (with no Vari-ND on the lens) to 1/125 at f8 (with the Vari-ND on your lens and set at its minimum density) to as slow as 1/2 second at f8 when the Vari-ND approaches its maximum density (see chart). You could then convert the latter exposure to even slower equivalent exposures of either 1 second at f11, or 2 seconds at f16, or 4 seconds at f22. Over its full range of neutral densities, the Vari-ND maintains excellent optical clarity.

Unlike using conventional single-grade solid ND filters, you'll have no problem framing and focusing your SLR or view camera with the Vari-ND Filter mounted on your lens. Turn it to minimum density, frame and manually focus your image. Then, when you're ready to shoot, simply increase the density of the Vari-ND up to six more stops.

The Vari-ND is capable of densities of more than 8 stops. Results at these densities, however, may be unpredictable. Depending on the properties of your camera's sensor or film, using the filter at its most extreme densities may produce a noticeable "crossbar" effect or slight color shifts. For best results, always use the filter within its nominal range of 2 to 8 exposure stops.

Vari-ND filters have reference markings
The small evenly spaced "benchmark" dots you see on the Vari-ND filter ring between the "Min." and "Max." density settings are intended only as reference markings. They are NOT indexed to any specific density ratings nor do they represent calibrated exposure stops. They are useful to help you reset your Vari-ND Filter to a certain density setting you've previously selected.

A versatile creative tool

Just as you can use ultra-short exposure times to "freeze" the motion of a subject, you can use the Vari-ND to achieve extra-long exposures to convey a visual sense of flowing motion--and passing time--in your image.

When blurred-motion images are done well, the term "time exposure" takes on special meaning.

The visual effect of a blurred-motion image is much different than that of either an out-of-focus or selective-focus photo. Blurring is also different from panning effects created by moving the camera, rather than allowing the action to do the moving. Blurring the motion can help the photo "come alive" in a way not usually seen.

At the same time the Vari-ND enables you to blur the motion of flowing streams, passing animals, flying birds, and wind-blown flowers, it's able to keep the non-moving elements of your image sharp and clear--even when exposure times reach 10 seconds or longer.

Vari-ND helps you "try stuff"

If you're not yet familiar with blurred-motion techniques, it will help to consider these important points:

  • The Vari-ND is especially suited for use with digital SLR cameras that allow you to immediately review and learn from each shot. Setting the Vari-ND at minimum density allows you to focus and compose your shot accurately in the viewfinder. Then, just by rotating the outer ring, the Vari-ND reduces light transmission through your lens dramatically--to the point where the camera's built-in meter may no longer read the correct shutter speed. If and when this happens, you'll appreciate the instant LCD review and histogram features of your digital camera.
  • One or more test shots--taken with the camera's exposure mode set on "manual" should soon lead you to the correct exposure as well as some indication of how the motion is being blurred. It's often possible to position your tripod-mounted camera, compose your image, and determine the exposure you want to use before the action takes place.
  • If you are using a film camera, your camera's meter may or may not read correctly at greater density settings. You'll want to start out bracketing and carefully recording your exposures until you become more familiar and confident. Here's where the benchmarks on the outer ring of the Vari-ND may prove useful. These evenly spaced index markings between the minimum and maximum points, however, do not correlate in any way to specific degrees of neutral density.
  • Your camera's meter may not be able to automatically set the right exposure. If you're using a digital SLR that provides a histogram of each exposure, the "manual" exposure mode on your camera will allow you to fully control each exposure as you proceed through several test shots to arrive at your optimum Vari-ND setting, shutter speed, and/or lens opening.
  • Using the Vari-ND to slow your exposure times can often prove helpful when you "pan" your camera to follow the movement of the subject across space as well as time.
  • As you become familiar with using your Vari-ND Filter, you'll find the visual effects you create will vary with the focal length of each lens you're using, the direction in which your subjects move, the speed of their motion and, of course, the duration of the exposures. With so many variables, it's no wonder you'll often find the results of your initial experiments and testing to be not only surprising but visually exciting.
side-by-side photos taken with Vari-ND
For our test photo on the left, the Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter was used at its lightest density for an exposure of 1 second at f13. A few minutes later, after turning the Vari-ND to a much darker density, the second photo was exposed for 10 seconds at f13. Although the motion blur changes, there's no change or sacrifice in the overall color fidelity or image sharpness of the longer exposure. The Vari-ND is the only ND filter you need to easily extend and control exposure times over a wide range of outdoor lighting conditions.

Please Note

The Vari-ND filter is offered in a 77mm standard and wide-angle ring mounts, as well as an 82mm standard (front thread) filter mount. It is not available in either a Cokin "P" rotating model or as a rectangular filter. You can purchase a step-up adapter ring here or at your local camera store to use the Vari-ND on a lens of less than 77mm.

The outer rotating ring of the standard Vari-ND Filter is threaded to accept other ring filters or a Cokin "P" filter holder. Keep in mind, however, that filters or holders threaded onto this outer ring will rotate whenever you change your Vari-ND density, and stacking filters may result in vignetting.

The wide-angle or "thin mount" version of the filter does NOT have front threads, so no additional filters can be mounted to the front of the wide-angle version, and most "clip" style lens caps can not be attached to the wide-angle version. A plastic push-on style cap is recommended and comes included with every 72, 77, and 82mm thin mount filter ordered.

You can still order 84 x 120mm rectangular Singh-Ray Solid Neutral Density Filters in calibrated densities from 1 to 3 f-stops for only $99 with protective case. Other densities are also available on special order.

How Vari-ND slows down your shutter speed for a "typical" daylight scene the effective exposure always remains the same:

Without any filter on your lens

Exposure = 1/500 sec. at f8

Vari-ND on lens set to Min. density (2 stops)

Exposure = 1/125 sec. at f8

Vari-ND on lens set to middle density (5 stops)

Exposure = 1/15 sec. at f8

Vari-ND on lens set to Max. density (8 stops)

Exposure = 1/2 sec. at f8

...For even slower shutter speeds that will produce the same exposure, simply reduce your lens opening as you slow your shutter speed correspondingly.

Exposure = 1 sec. at f11

Exposure = 2 sec. at f16

Exposure = 4 sec. at f22

Step-up Rings  |  Replacement Filter Pouches  |  Push-On Lens Caps for Thin-Mount Filters

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Singh-Ray Filters
2721 SE Highway 31, Arcadia, FL 34266-7974 USA

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