Fader ND Shootout. Genus, Heliopan, LCW, Schneider and Tiffen.
Fader ND filters are great for run and gun shots and quick set ups. Recently a new batch of professional faders have hit the street. We got our hands on five of the best filters on the market. We tested the new Genus Eclipse ND, Heliopan Variable ND, LCW Reengineered MKII Fader ND, Schneider Variable ND and Tiffen’s Variable ND filters for color shift and sharpness. We recommend using straight ND filters when possible.
Here are my thoughts in alphabetical order.
The Genus Eclipse ND filter is a big improvement over the first generation fader from Genus. It is quite sharp and shows little or no color shift. It also has a front thread that will let you stack filters or add a rubber sunshade. This is an important quality for still photography. The Genus Eclipse is resonably priced at around $165 for the 77mm size. They also offer a nifty wide rubber sunshade for around $25.
Bottom line. Great value for the money!
The Heliopan Variable ND filter is the only fader I have seen with hard stops built in. This was a nice touch. It also added to the overall weight to the filter. This puppy is heavy! The Heliopan was sharp and showed very little color shift. It is not cheap at around $450, this was the most expensive fader filter that we tested.
Bottom line: Too Much Moola!
The Light Craft Workshop Reengineered MKII fader ND shows improvement over the older MKII filter. The LCW was sharp and showed very slight color shift. It also has a front thread to stack filters or add a sunshade. It is the least expensive filter at around $119 for the 77mm size.
Bottom Line: Best Bang For the Buck.
The Schneider Optics fader was the sharpest filter that we tested. It also showed little or no sign of color shift. The Schneider has The Schneider is not cheap. It will set you back around $450.
Bottom Line: Pro filter and Pro prices.
The Tiffen variable ND was very similar in sharpness and color to the LCW Reengineered filter. Notice the first wide master and direct sun shot. The Tiffen showed slight loss of sharpness and very little color shift. The Tiffen will set you back around $150.
Bottom Line: Get the LCW and save a few pennies.