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Variable ND and GH4 (and other cameras).
  • I've been noticing that I'm getting results I'm not happy with from using my Variable ND (Tiffin) with my GH4 while shooting people - particularly faces. Peoples faces looked 'painterly' almost lacking in real tones, and somewhat 'duotone' in appearance. I've recently switched to a set of (Hoya) ND Filters for shooting people and I'm suddenly seeing a radical improvement in how faces and skin tones are rendered. The GH4 is amazingly beautiful an image, and using straight NDs I'm finding it looks ridiculously good - almost too 'real', whereas before with Variable ND it was looking somewhat 'painterly'.

    I'm guessing this has something to do with the polarising effects of Variable ND filters and the effect that has on highlights, reflective surfaces etc.

    Any thoughts on this? Are there any Variable ND filters out there which minimise the 'polarising' effect as they're certainly more convenient, but right now I just can't trust the look i'm getting from them and straight NDs give me a much more 'realistic' image (which I can apply looks to in post to take the edge off).

  • 3 Replies sorted by
  • @nobbystylus I came to this same realization when I started using Hoya Pro ND filters for my blackmagic gear. I then used them on my GH3 and GH4 and they produced great results compared to the weird shininess and color cast that can crop up with variable NDs. The GH4 has fantastic skin tones IMO, actually better than what I was seeing on my BMPCC, as they seem more consistent in different shooting conditions.

  • @Tron. Glad you've noticed this also! I've seen very little about Variable NDs having a polarising effect online. I have definitely noticed certain shots which just look like old fashioned black and white films which have been hand painted to give them colour! Now I'm using Hoya Pro NDs peoples faces look, well, like peoples faces!I've also noticed that my previous settings need tweaking as now detail level using modern glass is almost too good! I've dialled back sharpness all the way to -5.

    I think Variable NDs are great for shooting wide shots and skylines etc, but for peoples faces i'm sticking to my set of NDs!!

  • @nobbystylus -5 is definitely the way to go for sharpness. Lately I've been shooting in the standard color profile with -2 contrast and -1 saturation and that seems to be the sweet spot for me before I apply a Filmconvert profile. Cine-D has been great too, just not when I need to match GH4 footage with a GH3 in post. I'm not sure if that has contributed to the nice skin tones I'm seeing, but I'm sticking with it for now along with the Pro NDs (if it ain't broke...).