Which ND Filter Should You Buy if You Can Only Afford One? (VIDEO)

Ask any experienced landscape photographer to identify the most important tool in his bag, and the answer is likely to be, “My ND filter.” Or more accurately, “My set of ND filters.”

These filters are indispensible on sunny days when you want to want to convey a sense of motion by using long exposures that typically are unavailable under bright conditions. Neutral Density (ND) filters make this possible by reducing the amount of light passing through your lens.

Well-equipped landscape photographers typically carry a variety of ND filters in various strengths from those that are a medium gray on one end of the spectrum to others that are almost black. It’s through the use of these filters that it’s possible to employ very slow shutter speeds to capture ethereal images with cotton-like clouds and soft, flowing water.

But here’s the rub, especially for those getting started in long exposure photography: ND filters are very costly and it can be prohibitively expensive to buy a complete set of varying strengths—in different thread sizes to fit all the lenses you use.

Thankfully, landscape pro Attilio Ruffo has developed an effective method that enables you to get started with this type of photography with just one ND filter. In the video below he suggests which filter you should buy first, and he demonstrates how you’ll be able to set different exposure lengths using just that one filter without breaking the bank.

Ruffo also provides several helpful shooting techniques and camera settings for getting the job done. We concur with his final tip: “Have fun!”

You can find more interesting instructional videos on Ruffo’s YouTube channel, so be sure and pay a visit.

And on a related topic, check out another tutorial we posted recently with several easy motion-blur techniques that bring photos to life.

grgurb's picture

I shoot long exposures every now and then but that tripod placement in the beginning was making me nervous!