Best neutral density filters for landscape photography

Updated: 2022-12-16

Are you a landscape photographer looking to take your photos to the next level? Investing in the right neutral density filter can make all the difference. Let us explore some of the best neutral density filters on the market, so you can find one that works for your needs.

Introduction to Neutral Density Filters

A Neutral Density Filter (ND Filter) is a type of filter which reduces the amount of light entering the camera, allowing for longer exposure times. This can be used to create creative effects such as motion blur, or to reduce overexposure when shooting in bright sunlight. ND filters come in different densities, measured in f-stops, and are available in both solid and graduated versions.

Solid ND filters reduce the amount of light evenly across the entire scene, while Graduated ND (GND) filters allow for a more specific range of light reduction; typically darker at one end and gradually fading to clear at the other end. This allows you to balance exposures between dark foregrounds and bright skies – perfect for landscape photography.

When selecting an ND filter it’s important to understand how many stops of light reduction you need. For example, if you want to extend your exposure time from 1/100th second to 2 seconds then you would need an 8-stop ND filter (1/100th x 2^8 = 256). It’s also important to consider what size filter will fit your lens; most lenses have a filter thread size printed on the front.

In conclusion, Neutral Density filters are an incredibly useful tool for any photographer looking to create professional looking images with enhanced creativity. They allow you to make adjustments that would otherwise be impossible with just your camera alone; making them an essential addition your equipment arsenal!

Benefits of Using Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density (ND) filters are an essential tool for any photographer looking to capture stunning high-quality photos and videos. ND filters work by reducing the amount of light entering the camera lens, allowing photographers to control exposure and create interesting effects that cannot be replicated in post-production. By decreasing the amount of light coming through, ND filters allow photographers to use wider apertures which result in shallow depth of field and increased control over exposure. This can be used to emphasize motion or create surreal scenes with longer shutter speeds without having to resort to crazy-high apertures.

When shooting outdoors in bright conditions, ND filters are also extremely useful. With these filters, photographers can avoid overexposed shots and produce better-looking images with accurate colors by reducing the amount of light entering the lens.

ND filters are a great option for photographers seeking enhanced control over their photos and videos. In bright conditions, they allow you to create effects that cannot be replicated in post-production, while preventing overexposure. Your photography skills will reach new heights with this versatile tool!

Different Types of Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters are a special type of filter used in photography to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. They allow photographers to capture stunning long exposures, create motion blur effects, or balance exposure between different sections of an image. Neutral density filters come in two shapes: round and square, and can be divided into two categories: fixed ND filters and graduated ND filters.

Fixed ND Filters

The most common type of ND filter is a fixed neutral density filter. These are single-piece filters that reduce the light entering your lens by a specific amount. The number following the ‘ND’ indicates how much light is blocked – for example, an ND4 filter blocks 2 f-stops of light, while an ND1000 filter blocks 10 stops of light. This makes them ideal for capturing long exposures during bright conditions when you want to capture movement or blur waterfalls and rivers. Solid ND filters come in both square and round shapes depending on your camera system.

Graduated ND Filters

The second type of ND filter is a graduated neutral density filter (GND). GNDs have a gradual transition from dark to clear across the surface and they are designed to balance exposure between different parts of your image – like when you have a bright sky but more balanced lighting on the ground. GNDs come in both hard edge and soft edge varieties, with the former having more abrupt transitions from dark to clear and the latter having smoother transitions

Things to Consider When Choosing a Filter

  1. Determine your needs: Before choosing a filter, you should determine what type of photography you plan to do and the effects you are trying to achieve. If you’re taking landscape shots, for example, you may need a Neutral Density (ND) filter for long exposure shots. For portraiture, consider a Circular Polarizer (CP) to reduce glare and reflections.
  2. Understand the different types of filters: There are numerous types of filters available, but some of the more common ones used in photography include Neutral Density (ND), Graduated Neutral Density (GND), Circular Polarizer (CP), Infrared (IR), and Light Pollution Reduction (LPR). Each filter has its own purpose and can help create different effects in your images.
  3. Consider the size of filter: Filters come in different sizes, so you will need to check which size is compatible with your lens or lens hood before purchasing one. Make sure the filter is not too large otherwise it may vignette or cause other problems with your image quality.
  4. Choose between screw-in or square/rectangular filters: There are two main types of filters that can be used with lenses – screw-in circular filters that fit directly onto the front of your lens and square/rectangular filters that fit into special holders designed for them. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages so it’s important to consider

What is a Variable ND Filter?

Variable ND filters are a type of neutral density filter used by photographers and videographers to reduce the amount of light entering a camera. Neutral density filters are useful for when a photographer wants to shoot in bright or variable lighting conditions without having to adjust the camera’s shutter speed or aperture settings. Variable ND filters allow photographers to easily adjust the darkness of the filter, allowing for greater control over the brightness of their scene. They also enable photographers to capture long exposures in daylight without having to use an ND filter with fixed levels of darkness. Variable ND filters typically consist of two rotating rings that can be adjusted separately, providing an infinite range of densities from one stop to eight stops. Hoya’s Variable Density II is one example of a popular variable ND filter available today.

What is a Graduated ND Filter?

A Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filter is a piece of glass or plastic that is placed in front of the lens to reduce the amount of light entering the camera. It has a gradient from dark to light, with the darker end at the top and gradually becoming more transparent as it moves towards the bottom. This enables photographers to have more control over exposure and contrast in their images, particularly when capturing scenes with a broad dynamic range. The filter can attach directly to the lens or be held in place by an adaptor ring. Depending on the filter, it can also help reduce reflections, create motion blur effects, and even neutralize color casts. By using graduated ND filters, photographers can achieve better-balanced exposures for images with bright skies and darker foregrounds without having to use multiple exposures or complicated editing techniques.

What are the Best Brands for Neutral Density Filters?

Neutral Density (ND) filters are a type of photographic filter that reduces the amount of light entering the lens without changing its color. They are used for a variety of reasons, including allowing for longer exposures, helping to balance exposure between different parts of a scene and allowing more creative control over the final image.

There are many brands available on the market today and choosing the right one can be tricky. Generally speaking, quality and price go hand-in-hand when it comes to ND filters. The key is finding a brand that offers good quality at an affordable price.

Some of the best brands for Neutral Density Filters include Hoya, Lee Filters, Breakthrough Photography, Cokin, K&F Concept, and Neewer.

Hoya is known for producing high-quality filters at reasonable prices. Their Pro ND range covers 1-10 stops and is ideal for both professional and amateur photographers alike. They also offer their X4 ND range which provides up to 10 stops of light reduction with minimal color cast.

Lee Filters Stopper is another great option for those looking for quality at an affordable price point. The Stopper range offers up to 10 stops of light reduction with a neutral color cast and comes with bonus extras like a filter holder system and cleaning cloths.

Breakthrough Photography’s X4 ND filter range provides up to 10 stops of light reduction with minimal color cast or vignetting.

How to Use a Neutral Density Filter for Landscape Photography

A Neutral Density Filter (ND filter) is a type of filter that blocks some of the light entering the lens of a camera, allowing for longer exposure times than would otherwise be possible. This can be extremely useful when shooting landscape photography, as it allows you to capture movement and create beautiful long exposures.

When using an ND filter, it’s important to take light readings from the brightest and darkest areas of your scene in order to determine the tonal range. Once you have determined this, you will be able to work out the correct ND filter strength that you need and set the corresponding shutter speed.

Neutral density filters are most commonly used in bright conditions or when trying to capture a sunrise or sunset in its entirety. By reducing the amount of light entering your camera’s lens with an ND filter, you can slow down your shutter speed and create unique long exposure effects such as motion blur or dream-like waterfalls.

Another great advantage of using an ND filter is that it provides landscape photographers with more creative control over their images by allowing them to adjust the exposure time much more accurately than simply relying on changing the aperture or ISO settings.

So if you’re looking for a way to enhance your landscape photography, definitely consider investing in a neutral density filter!

Tips for Selecting the Right Strength of Neutral Density Filter

  1. Understand the Types of Neutral Density Filters: Neutral Density filters come in a variety of different strengths, classified by their optical density (how much light they let in) or equivalent. This ranges from 1-stop (ND2) to 10-stops (ND1000).
  2. Choose the Right Strength for Your Needs: The right strength of ND filter will depend on your photography needs. If you want motion blur and silkiness, use the darkest ND filter (ND8). If you’re shooting urban photography, then a 5-stop ND is probably more suitable for your needs. Wedding and portrait photographers may prefer a 3-stop ND filter to give them a wider aperture option while shooting in sunlight.
  3. Consider Your Light Conditions: It is important to consider what kind of lighting conditions you’ll be shooting in when selecting an ND filter. For example, if you are shooting in bright daylight, then using a darker ND filter such as an 8 or 10 stop may be necessary to capture long exposures and blur movement. On the other hand, if you’re shooting during twilight or dusk, then a lighter ND filter such as 2 or 3 stops may be enough to achieve your desired results.
  4. Experiment with Different Strengths: Don’t be afraid to experiment. When working with Neutral Density filters, it is important to experiment with multiple strengths in order to get the desired results. Using multiple strength filters can also allow you to blend different exposures together, creating a more dynamic and interesting result. This can help you to capture more detail and depth in your images, and can even be used to create beautiful landscape shots with an even exposure throughout the entire frame. By experimenting with different strengths of Neutral Density filters, you can find the ideal combination for your photography needs and create stunning photographs!
ND Optical Density F-Stop Reduction Transmittance Rate
ND2 0.3 1 STOPS 50%
ND4 0.6 2 STOPS 25%
ND8 0.9 3 STOPS 12.5%
ND16 1.2 4 STOPS 6.25%
ND32 1.5 5 STOPS 3.12%
ND64 1.8 6 STOPS 1.56%
ND128 2.1 7 STOPS 0.78%
ND256 2.4 8 STOPS 0.39%
ND500 2.7 9 STOPS 0.2%
ND1000 3.0 10 STOPS 0.1%
ND2000 3.3 11 STOPS 0.05%
ND32000 4.5 15 STOPS 0.003%
ND100K 6.0 20 STOPS 0.0001%


Neutral Density Filters (ND Filters) are an invaluable tool for photographers of all levels and disciplines. They can help to reduce the amount of light entering a camera, allowing for longer exposure times, greater control over depth of field, and the ability to capture stunning images in challenging lighting conditions. ND filters also offer a subtle gradation that can be used to create beautiful effects in landscape photography and videography. By using ND filters, photographers can achieve professional-looking results without compromising on quality or creativity.