Fotga Variable ND filter review - March 2016 - Mike Campbell

A few months ago my wife bought me a HAMA 62mm variable ND filter which is a great bit of kit costing around £45. I used it for this shot of Sandown Pier.

However as this was 62mm thread (for use with my old tamron 18-200mm lens) when i bought the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 which has a 77mm thread the HAMA became redundant.

As is usual in the modern age, whenever you look for pretty much anything there is usually a raft of cheap equivalent and/or knock-off brands so while browsing through seemingly endless amounts of cheap variable ND’s from the usual cheap brands when one caught my eye, the Fotga Slim fader adjustable ND. Something about the listing appeared more professional than the rest and the reviews weren’t too bad either, So as it was under £10.00 i decided to take a chance on it.

Fast forward a couple of days to the items arrival in the post first impressions were pretty good. When held up against the HAMA filter they appear equally as well built, both claim to be ND2-ND400, Both have markings on the side and they both work smoothly with no notchiness.

I haven’t had much time recently to concentrate on photography, owing to work and the fact that we have got a new puppy, however i stopped at Pitsford Reservoir in Northamptonshire on the way home from work on evening to have a play with the filter.

Ok so it’s not the greatest photo in the world and it’s certainly not a portfolio piece, however as a test image it will do.

So what’s the verdict…

After taking some test shots i found that the usual black X appears on its darkest setting. Although in reviews people do like to have a moan about this, as far as i am concerned it’s a characteristic of these filters, it happens on my more expensive one and it’s neither better or worse on this one.and frankly if you do not want to carry multiple filters and a filter holder then this is a worthwhile compromise.

After taking a few test shots i soon worked out that setting it to 2 marks before “Max” was about the sweet spot where it blocked the most light without revealing the black X, this is roughly where it was to take the above test shot.

I have to say to I am quite impressed with this one, sure there’s a slight loss of image quality but it is negligible (Putting more glass in front of a lens will almost always sacrifice quality) but overall it does exactly as it says on the tin.

My goal with photography is that it’s a hobby which must pay for itself, Ad i want to prove that a great image doesnt always require expensive gear, so i am always on the lookout for bargain products, whether that be eBay deals on pre-owned gear or cheap gear from smaller companies. Ok granted sometimes this can backfire (i.e a set of wireless triggers that were great for all of a week!) but i’ve found that a lot of the time these bargains are fit for purpose. This filter is definitely one of those, For under £10.00 as something to keep in the camera bag it’s a great bit of kit.

I’m not saying here that you shouldn’t buy something like the Lee Big Stopper if you are able too as i would if i could, but if like me you just want something cheap to sit in your bag without taking up much space then this might just be the thing you need…. Now i just need to find a good polarizing filter, any recommendations?

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