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Singh-Ray Vari-ND First Impressions

I was invited to the Project 52 2011 Meetup in Phoenix. What a wonderful time, and what a gracious and giving host Don Giannatti is.

It turns out that he had a surprise for me in that dancers from Rhythmic-Expressions were there to serve as models and, well, to dance.

I also had the opportunity, for the first time, to try the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter.

It’s interesting that Don gave a little gear speech and was questioning the value of (expensive) fast glass if you are not going to use wide apertures. Justification one.

Overall I was very happy, and it was easier to use than I at first thought. Some observations:

  • focusing was much easier than I anticipated. There were not a lot of problems there
  • exposure is best done by chimping, and with more experience should become more precise. By the end of the weekend I pretty much knew what to expect. I used a meter to get my ambient/flash exposure ratio, and then took a few frames as I chimped the exposure in camera
  • even with the thin filter some vignetting does occur, and it can be strong. This isn’t always evident in the back of camera examinations
  • there is also some loss of contrast; this can be corrected in post
  • I noticed that I tended to key shift even more than usual (my ratio between flash and ambient increased)
  • it is really cool shooting f/2.8 when the flash exposure is f/22
  • the above alone may make the investment worthwhile. I had a lot of fun shooting (and showing off)
  • I tended to over-shoot at f/2.8. For a few shots (like tight headshots) I should have been at f/4 – at 200mm DOF at f/2.8 when you are in tight is like 1/2″
  • this will change my location photography and add to the uniqueness of what I can offer

Some results:



Note that these were all shot in full sun. The alley dance image had the sun at around f/16.

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