The best neutral density filters use quality glass. They let less light pass through your lens but maintain correct colors and sharpness in photos. They let you use a wider aperture or a longer shutter speed. And these settings can be used for creative effects, like making moving water appear misty.
We’ve compiled a list of the best neutral density (ND) filters. And our top choice is the Cokin Nuances Extreme ND filter. Cokin has produced a spectacular ND filter for a great price. It is also durable and retains great colors.
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What Are the Best Neutral Density Filters?
Here is a quick rundown of our top choices. Read further for more information about each product. And go to our buyer’s guide at the end where we answer questions to help you decide which ND filter is best for you!
- 10-stop ND filter for long exposures
- Made of durable optical glass
- Compatible with 67mm lenses
- Includes filter pouch for storage
- Water- and oil-repellent nano coating
- 10-stop neutral density filter
- Creates a darkening effect
- Maintains sharpness and clarity
- Reduces light without altering color
- Includes protective case and cleaning cloth
- Variable ND filter from 2-5 stop, 6-9 stops
- High levels of sharpness and clarity
- Gold trim around the filter
- Lightweight design
- Peter McKinnon professional-grade filter
- Creates 10-stop exposure reduction
- Compatible with most lenses
- Includes a matte black aluminum frame
- Thin, lightweight design
- Water- and scratch-resistant coating
- 10-stop ND filter for long exposure photography
- Compatible with most lenses
- Excellent for creative effects
- Lightweight and durable resin construction
- Resistant to scratches and breakage
- Includes 3 ND filters for versatile light control
- Neutral density filters reduce light by up to 10 stops
- Multi-coated for maximum color accuracy and clarity
- 9 different lens thread sizes
- Robust aluminum filter frame for improved durability
- Reduces light between 1-5 f-stops
- Variable filter allows precise exposure control
- Multi-coated for improved clarity and color neutrality
- Compatible with 4 different lens threads
- Professional-grade optical glass construction
- Reduces light by 10 stops
- Darkens the image to give a longer exposure
- Multi-coated to prevent flare and ghosting
- Water- and oil-repellent coating
- Durable construction with slim frame
- Easy to use and attach to lens
- 1.5-10 stops of adjustable light
- Variable ND filter allows creative control
- Lightweight and portable design
- Quality construction with aluminum frame
- 11 filter styles reducing exposure 1-16 stops
- Creates a neutral density effect across all light spectrums
- Enhances colors and contrast
- Threaded ring to stack filters or attach a lens cap
- Excellent-quality optical glass
10 Best Neutral Density Filters
Here, we go into more detail with each ND filter. Make sure you buy the correct filter size for your lens.
We provide links to the various options you have for each one. And remember to buy the appropriate holder if necessary.
1. Cokin Nuances Extreme ND 10-stop Filter
|Size||84 x 100mm|
|Other Key Features||Tempered optical glass|
|Best For||Photographers who want the option of adding filters|
The Cokin Nuances Extreme ND is a beautiful filter. And it deserves a place in every photographer’s camera bag. Cokin is an established filter brand that has been around since the ’70s. They usually produce affordable filters.
But their Nuances Extreme series moves toward the professional market while keeping a great price point. The Extreme series features two different densities (6-stop and 10-stop). And it has two other sizes (100 x 100mm and 130 x 130mm).
As a neutral density filter, it should provide a neutral color cast to your frame. And it manages to do this well with no noticeable color casts. This is thanks to their new uniform coating process over the Extreme range.
You may see a slight vignetting on the denser filters. This is minimal and shouldn’t deter you from buying this amazing ND filter. You can easily compensate for this vignetting in Photoshop or Lightroom.
It uses a new tempered optical glass for Cokin filters. So it is four times stronger than the previous series.
This means these filters can handle some drops and scratches. So it is perfect for outdoor photographers who trek out to their perfect spots.
As the Extreme ND filter is square, you must get a filter holder to attach to your lens. This can be slower and more fiddly than a circular filter. But it provides more control and the ability to add more filters, like graduated filters.
There is also a Cokin Nuances Extreme 6-stop ND filter (84 x 84mm). There is a 100 x 100mm version used with a Cokin L (Z) holder. And there is a130 x 130mm version used with the Cokin EVO XL (X) holder.
2. Lee Filters ProGlass IRND 10-stop Filter
|Size||100 x 100 mm|
|Available Densities||4-stop, 6-stop, 10-stop|
|Other Key Features||Coating to block infrared and ultraviolet light|
|Best For||Professional photographers and videographers who can afford top-range filters|
The Lee Filters ProGlass IRND 10-stop filter comes an extremely close second on this list. The only aspect that drops it down is its price. Its price point is aimed at professionals. And it makes sense as this is one of the best neutral density filters.
Lee Filters is a well-respected filter brand known for producing high levels of optical glass construction. And it is no different when looking at their ProGlass IRND range.
The ProGlass IRND series features three different densities in its range. There is a 4-stop filter and a 6-stop filter in addition to the 10-step one. (And buy the Lee100 square filter system holder.)
The range was initially made for the movie industry. But the results were so good. It would have been a shame if they didn’t make photography-friendly filters.
One of the key features of these filters is the coating. This coating allows them to block infrared and ultraviolet light. This can give more accurate colors and detail when using neutral density filters.
I recommend this ProGlass IRND Filter for any photographer who wants the best professional option. It has exceptional performance. And you won’t find any excess vignetting or color tints.
The only stumbling block could be the price. But Lee Filters produces quality you can rely on. It’s no wonder these are used in the film industry!
3. PolarPro Peter McKinnon Variable ND Filter
|Filter Type||Circular variable|
|Size||67, 77, 82 mm|
|Available Densities||2-5 stops, 6-9 stops|
|Other Key Features||Option to change filter density|
|Best For||Landscape photographers or those who want a single filter to achieve different results|
The PolarPro Peter McKinnon variable ND filter is this list’s best-looking neutral density filter. You notice right away that it is a variable neutral density filter. This means you can change the density of the filter.
Normally, variable filters are more susceptible to color or stop-time inconsistency. But PolarPro does an amazing job of getting this circular filter accurate.
This variable neutral filter comes in three different sizes and with four different ranges in density. The four ranges are split into two editions—Signature II and Mist II.
The Signature II category is the one we, as photographers, look for. The Mist II versions add diffusion on top of the variable neutral density. These filters are used for filmmaking. We could use the latter for photos, but most like their images sharp.
The quality in either set of filters is superb. PolarPro claims there is no vignetting. But we have noticed a little at its most dense. This is easily correctable with photo editing software, though.
The PolarPro variable ND filter is expensive. But it is worth being in your bag if you are a landscape photographer. This is because you get four different densities in one filter.
4. H&Y Fixed ND 10 Stop Filter
|Size||100 x 100 mm|
|Available Densities||3-stop, 5-stop, 6-stop, 10-stop|
|Other Key Features||Magnetic filter system, water repellant|
|Best For||Photographers who don't enjoy their current filter system|
The H&Y K-Series fixed ND 10-stop filter is part of a range with four different types of densities. There is a 3-stop, 5-stop, and 6-stop version. The most notable feature of this filter range is that it is magnetic!
This has multiple advantages. But it does mean you have to buy an H&Y K-Series KH-100 holder.
One of its biggest advantages is that it is easy to put on and remove the filter. This magnetic system works with a range of their filters which can all stack on top of each other!
The filters themselves are made out of high-quality German glass. They feature double-sided nine-layer coatings. And they also have anti-fingerprint and water-repellent technology.
These features help to achieve the excellent color reproduction that the H&Y filters achieve. They also produce great image quality with no reduction in sharpness.
But there is one disadvantage of the magnetic system. The foam edges of the frames mean slight possibilities of light leaks.
The H&Y K-Series 10-stop is part of an exceptional range of neutral density filters. Even professional photographers will be happy with the results.
The magnetic mounting system may be a breath of fresh air for photographers using stacking filters. Overall, the H&Y K-Series is a great range of neutral density filters.
5. Lee Filters Elements Big Stopper Circular Filter
|Size||67, 72, 77, 82mm|
|Other Key Features||Multi-layer coatings|
|Best For||Photographers who want a great big stop ND filter|
The Lee Filters Elements Big Stopper circular filter is the neutral density filter photographers have been waiting for. Before, you had to buy one of Lee Filters square filters if you wanted a Lee ND filter.
Now Lee lets you get a big stop filter in a circular form. This is perfect for photographers who want a strong ND filter without buying the whole filter setup.
This line of filters features the same technology found in their other filters. This means you will find multi-layer optical coatings. These provide antireflective, water- and oil-repellent, and scratch-proof qualities.
The Big Stopper circular filter is available in four different sizes. And the edges are knurled, giving you a reassuring grip when handling these delicate pieces of glass.
If you want a singular big-stop ND filter, this circular filter is the one to invest in. The convenience and size of the filter mean it is no trouble at all to add to your camera bag.
It has a big price tag. But it performs its task exceptionally well. And with Lee Filters, you can ensure it handles sharpness and color reproduction at a high level.
6. Hoya Pro ND Kit
|Size||49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77, 82 mm|
|Available Densities||3-stop, 6-stop, 10-stop|
|Other Key Features||3-filter ND kit|
|Best For||Photographers who want to experiment with different densities|
The Hoya Pro ND Kit (77mm) is an affordable set of neutral density filters perfect for experimentation. Hoya is known for producing good filters for a good price. It also comes in 49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, and 82 mm.
Their filters have transparent optical glass. And there is a metal coating on their front and rear. This reduces almost all spectrum ranges, even in the infrared area! This means you will get a more neutral color balance in your images.
In this kit, you will find three different ND filters; a 3-stop, a 6-stop, and a 10-stop. Unless you want a graduated neutral density filter, these are the only ND filters you need.
The 6-stop ND filter is perfect for blurring water and making it look misty. The 10-stop pushes this motion blur to the max. You can make busy city scenes look empty in the daytime. Or it allows you to turn water into a misty mirror.
The Hoya Pro ND Kit (77mm) is the one to buy if you want a range of ND filters. The circular mounting system ensures no light leaks.
Some people don’t like this system as it can be fiddly to get on securely. But I prefer them as you can keep them on your camera all day!
7. B+W XS-Pro Digital Vario ND Filter
|Filter Type||Circular Variable|
|Size||52, 72, 77 mm, 82 mm|
|Available Densities||1-5 stops|
|Other Key Features||Multi-resistant coating|
|Best For||Photographers who want a variable ND filter with less density|
Next, we examine the B+W XS-Pro Digital Vario ND filter (77mm). This is another variable neutral density filter with four different density options. It has three other lens sizes (52, 72, and 82 mm). So you can find one that will fit your favorite lens.
The filters feature a multi-resistant coating. They help guard your filter against dirt, dust, and water. And the filters do a great job of keeping accurate color and sharpness at the less dense options.
You start to see a gradual decline in the filter quality when pushing to the higher densities. This results in less accurate color reproduction. And it relies on
The sharpness of the filter in the middle and edges also reduces in the higher-density filters. But overall, the S-Pro Vario ND (77mm) is perfect for people looking for a variable neutral density filter.
It’s a shame this filter has such a heft price tag, as better ND filters are available. It would have been perfect for an entry-level ND filter. But its price tag takes it out of this category.
8. Marumi DHG Super ND Filter
|Size||48, 52, 55, 58, 62, 72, 82 mm|
|Available Densities||9-stop, 10-stop|
|Other Key Features||Low-reflection and multi-resistant coating|
|Best For||Photographers on a budget|
The Marumi DHG Super ND filter (72mm) is a great option if you’re looking to cut costs. This circular filter comes in seven different sizes.
This particular version is the big stopper ND 1000. But there is also a smaller density ND 500 filter. At a glance, it is an ideal circular filter with little color casting and minimal vignetting.
Marumi has adopted a few features to make this a successful ND filter. They use a low-reflection coating to prevent ghosting and flares. They also blackened the glass’s outer rim and used a satin finish to prevent internal reflections.
The filter also uses a small frame, which helps avoid vignetting. And, of course, you will find a water and oil-repellent coating.
I like the look of the DHG Super neutral density filter. I suggest it to photographers who want to buy a great-value filter. The price point isn’t beginner friendly. But it is worth paying a bit extra to avoid outgrowing a cheap filter.
9. H&Y RevoRing Variable ND Filter
|Filter Type||Circular variable|
|Size||37-49 mm, 42-62 mm, 67-82 mm|
|Available Densities||1.5-10 stops|
|Other Key Features||Variable filter thread size and variable density|
|Best For||Photographers who want an all-in-one ND filter|
Now we’ll look at a different style of ND filter, the H&Y RevoRing variable ND filter (42-62mm). We are familiar with seeing a variable neutral density filter that adjusts the filter’s density. Now we have one that adjusts the filter thread size!
Square filters have always been a method to only carry one filter for a range of lenses. But it always involved having the right filter mount for your lens.
Having a circular filter that lets you adjust the thread size allows you to lighten your kit even more. This particular model can fit on any lens between 42 and 62mm.
But H&Y also makes other filters that range from 67-82mm or 37-49mm. This is particularly helpful if you have lenses with the same diameter. Or perhaps you have a lens for which a circular filter is hard to find.
The RevoRing variable ND filter is also a circular polarizing filter. This adds another element to the ND filter and can be used together to create stunning photographs
This filter is great as an all-in-one filter. But it does fall short when on the higher stops with a wide-angle lens. You will find some cross polarisation which will ruin your photograph.
10. Formatt-Hitech Firecrest ND Filter
|Size||39, 46, 49, 52, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77, 82, 105, 127 mm|
|Available Densities||1-stop, 2-stop, 3-stop, 4-stop, 5-stop, 6-stop, 7-stop, 8-stop, 9-stop, 10-stop, 16-stop|
|Other Key Features||Multi-resistant coating, threaded rings for stacking|
|Best For||Photographers who need a wide variety of ND filter sizes and densities|
Last but not least, we have the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest ND filter. Photographers might choose this lens filter because of its wide range of sizes and densities.
It is available in 12 different sizes, each with 11 different densities. This is helpful for photographers who know what they want. And this ND filter doesn’t use a dyed resin or the coating. Instead, it uses a carbon metallic coating to create neutral NDs.
They also include water-repellent, antireflective, and flare-resistant properties. These properties also help increase contrast and give accurate results in challenging conditions.
But even though the Firecrest ND filter has all these features, there is still a noticeable color shift. It’s always better not to have them. But these are easy to adjust in post-production.
I suggest this range of filters for photographers who don’t want super-dense ND filters. And they have threaded rings so you can stack filters for a greater ND filter factor.
Buyer’s Guide for ND Filters (FAQs)
We answer these top three questions about neutral density filters to help you buy the best one.
What Filter Types Are Best? Circular Filters or Square Filters?
You should pick the filter type based on your preferred shooting style. A circular filter is simpler to shoot with. You simply screw it onto the end of your lens. These filters tend to be harder to make with higher accuracy.
Square filters are seen as more professional as they offer more control. You can also stack a few filters in front of the lens. Square filters also tend to have better qualities. But you do have to buy a filter holder or them.
How Do I Determine Which Filter Strength Is Right for Me?
The best way to determine the best density for you is to look at photos! Use Google to see what other photographers have achieved with the different filter types. If you want to make water misty, choose any density over six stops.
How Do I Clean and Care for My Neutral Density Filter?
The best way to take care of your filters is to keep them in a secure pouch. And it is best to always keep a microfiber cloth on hand. You want to ensure the filters are as clean as possible. A clean filter will produce sharper results.
Conclusion: The Best Neutral Density Filters
The best neutral density filters offer you a variety of creative options. They help photographers take their photos to the next level.
For those looking for a top-quality filter, the Cokin Nuances Extreme ND filter is an excellent choice. It provides a great balance between quality and affordability. So it is an ideal choice for any photographer.