By August 2, 2013 1 Comments

Hybrid Production Tips – Using a Neutral Density Filter

The Scenario: You are shooting outdoor video clips for your hybrid project:

  • It’s a bright sunny day.
  • Your ISO is the lowest it can go.
  • You want shallow depth of field, so you want to shoot wide open (f 2.8 in my case).
  • And, you want to keep your shutter speed around 1/60 or 1/125 second.

On a bright day, at f/2.8 and 100 ISO, I get a shutter speed of 1/1600s.

That shutter speed of 1/1600 second is way too fast for my liking.

You don’t want the problems caused by using a high shutter speed. In my experience, if you use too fast a shutter speed. it can make your video look choppy if you’re shooting moving subjects. I like a little motion blurring of the frames myself. I think it looks smoother. Carol and Will have written about optimum shutter speeds here before. Here’s what hybrid sports photographer Carol Schlintz thinks is more practical.

In order to remove some of the light from the scene, you either need to darken the sun a bit – which is no easy feat, or find another way.


The easiest way to remove light is to use a neutral density filter.

My personal preference is a variable ND filter, but you can also get the stepped ones.

Have a look at the video. I show examples of changing the DOF using an ND filter. For demonstration purposes, I shot in Shutter priority mode, so the ISO also changes in this clip (that’s what happens when you use the auto exposure modes of your camera).

ND filter is great for stills too!

If you shoot landscapes, you can use your ND filter to get a super long shutter speed – 30 seconds for example – when shooting moving water. This gives the water a beautiful look. You’ve probably seen it in stock photos.

About the Author:

With over 20 years as a pro shooting editorial, sports, corporate and industrial photography, Marlene Hielema has become comfortable with the craft of digital output. As a photo and video tinkerer and troubleshooter, Marlene enjoys relaying the practical uses of photo and video hardware and software that you might not find on the manufacturer's or software publisher's websites. Thousands have seen her work on YouTube and her popular site where Marlene teaches photography and photo editing online, in the classroom, and one-to-one. Find out more about what Marlene can help you with here on discovermirrorless, as well as and

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