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The Best Variable Neutral Density Filters for Your Camera

closeup of a neutral density filter on a camera lens on a black background

Variable neutral density filters (or ND filters) enable photographers to limit and adjust the amount of light entering a camera’s lens. This is extremely important when taking photos in extremely bright spaces and also allows photographers to use slower shutter speeds for stunning blurred effects. Unlike standard neutral density filters, variable neutral density filters allow the photographer to simply tweak the amount of light being filtered instead of replacing one filter for another. Luckily for photography lovers, there are plenty of amazing variable neutral density filters to be found. Here are some we recommend.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Neutral Density Filter

Here’s what you’ll want to look into before buying:

  • Filter Strength: Variable ND filters have a range of stops indicating how much light they will block from the camera. This will also correspond to how long your exposure will be when using an ND filter. Certain filter strengths work well in certain situations, so ensuring you have a good range geared toward your own photographic interests is important.
  • Photo Quality: While an ND filter will block light, it should not alter colors or photo quality. Thus, the best ND filters will allow for beautiful photos with true-to-life color.
  • Compatibility:  You will want to make sure the filter you buy works seamlessly with your camera. Thus, pay close attention to the lens size it is made for, as well as other important compatibility details.

Best Overall: Tiffen 77VND

black and dark gray neutral density filter

Featuring 2 to 8 stops of light control, the Tiffen 77VND is a premium variable neutral density filter with a price tag that belies its value. Made of high-quality optical glass using Tiffen’s ColorCore technology, the Tiffen 77VND allows for true-to-life colors to show beautifully while allowing the photographer to determine how much light passes through. Additionally, the wider outer optic does a wonderful job reducing distortion at wide angles, making this variable neutral density filter a top pick.

Best Overall

Tiffen 77VND 77mm Variable Neutral Density Filter for Camera Lenses, Black

This ND filter is made of high-quality optical glass and allows for 2 to 8 stops of light control while preserving color quality.

Best for Budget: K&F Concept 49mm Slim HD Multi-Coated Variable ND

semi-sheer black neutral density filter beside its black box

This K&F Concept neutral density filter is ultra-thin, quite durable, and provides for excellent light cancellation. Unlike many other budget-friendly density filters, it is made with optical glass and produces photographs with very realistic colors. It is also simple to use; just turn the filter until you have reached the desired level of light, make sure your camera is set up correctly, and you are ready to shoot.

Best for Budget

Best for Smartphone Use: Neewer 37mm Clip-on ND 2-400 Cellphone Camera Lens Filter Kit

black neutral density filter with a dark gray clip

The Neewer 37mm Clip-on neutral density filter is a real game-changer for smartphone photographers. It is compatible with most smartphones due to its unique clip-on design, and it provides over 8 stops of neutral density light cancellation. The Neewer 37-mm Clip-on is perfect for photographing streams and waterfalls during hikes that are too long or treacherous for one’s camera, and it can be set up in seconds to catch the shot.

Best for Smartphone Use

Also Consider: Hoya 72mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter

semi-sheer neutral density filter with a black rim

The Hoya 72-mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter provides 1.5 to 9 stops of exposure reduction and features a graded ring to help you find the perfect setting. Colors will come out nice and crisp in the finished product thanks to the filter’s high-quality optical glass construction. Capable of producing incredible shots in spaces that are flooded by light or movement, the Hoya neutral density filter is definitely worthy of its spot in your camera bag.

Also Consider

Hoya 72mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter

This screw-in neutral density filter works at 1.5 to 9 stops of exposure reduction and preserves the integrity of colors in the final product.

Zachary McCarthy Zachary McCarthy
Zachary McCarthy is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English from James Madison University and experience in blogging, copywriting, and WordPress design and development. In his free time, he can be found frying up Tangsuyuk or watching Korean films and MMA events. Read Full Bio »
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