Variable ND-filters are amazing tools for video shooters and still photographers alike. But sometimes the results can be quite surprising, or psychedelic, to say the least.
I’ll cut to the chase and make this review fairly short. If you are looking to buy this filter series I urge you to rethink, unless you like the strange optical phenomenons they introduce, or if you love that hazy 70s vibe in your out of focus areas.
Through the years I’ve used a lot of different filters and I’ve always complained about the pricing. So with my vast (and growing) collection of MFT lenses and the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K freshly unboxed I felt I needed to complete the new film kit with some affordable filters. I was actually just randomly browsing Amazon on Christmas eve when I came across the Polaroid HD Multi-Coated Variable Range Neutral Density Camera Filters (yeah, that’s the product name). The seller had a bunch of different sizes and even the tiny version for my Olympus 45mm f/1.8 37mm filter thread. At $20 a piece regardless of size it sounded like a pretty sweet deal so I bagges four filters.
Usage and image quality (or the lack thereof)
The filters feel solid and high quality but that positive feeling is short-lived when you realise that you can’t use your lens hood with the filter attached since it’s too wide. Not a biggie if your glass is stellar, but that’s rarely the case. And though I’m a big fan of lens flares and faded flat contrast, which can be the result of shooting hoodless, it’s something I prefer adding in post.
I do favour a less pixel-perfect look on my videos to keep them natural so a slight drop in sharpness I’m ok with and is to be expected. What’s worse is the out-of-focus blur – the bokeh. Frankly I wonder what the actual hell Polaroid was thinking when releasing these. They introduce a very strange crystal-like artefact in the bokeh, which of course affect every out of focus area in your shot.
I wont bother posting a lot of sharpness shots but I will show show the horribly broken bokeh. That alone is reason enough to stay away from these filters.
Not much to say here except stay away from this filter series. DO NOT BUY! If you do however like strange artefacts and optical errors for the sake of effects, by all means, go ahead. I will break mine to create cool effects so it’s not a complete waste of money. This though, was truly a case of “you get what you pay for” so now I’m once again browsing for proper variable ND filters. Got any suggestion, let me know!
– Cost efficient
– Functions very well as a door stopper
– Great for psychedelic visual experiments
– Filter prevents usage of lens hood
– Devastating introduction of bokeh artefacts