For most photographer using a ND-Vario is by far the worst sin. But what are exactly the Variable ND?

Variable ND, short explanation

Long story short, variable ND are two polarizer that rotate one on top of another. This allows the photographer to rotate the filter at selected position in order to reduce the light of a certain amount. Basically, it creates a ND filter that absorb the wanted amount of light between a minimum and a maximum absorption. Today I’ll test the NiSi ND-VARIO Pro Nano 1.5-5 Stops Enhanced Variable ND.

NiSi ND-VARIO characteristics

As usual the attention for quality of NiSi is found on the ND Vario too, the glass is really high optical quality, Nano coating isn’t missing here, also the range of 1.5 to 5 stop is great for many application, photo and video. This range is not chosen randomly by NiSi, but eliminates the “x-cross effect”, a “infamous” problem of many variable ND.

NiSi ND variable

Also, the grip for rotation is great thanks to the handle (upper part of the picture above). This allow a really smooth transition perfect for videos.

Video example, testing NiSi ND-VARIO

Test 1 – Deep of field

I’ve tested the variable ND by NiSi on a typical usage for video. In this case I wanted to keep the pole in focus while the background is out of focus. But for doing that keeping the shutter speed I wanted (1/60s) I needed to adjust the light coming in thanks to the variable ND. Doing that, and testing the movement in real time didn’t show any problem with white balance, x-effect or visible loss of details. Amazing job here.

Also in this second example the variable ND did a great job helping with the balance of exposure without introducing any kind of aberration or color cast.

Test 2 – Exposure “framing”

With “exposure framing” I mean the ability to focus attention on a specific part of the frame without changing the composition. This effect can be achieved changing the f number, but if we want to keep control on deep of field the only solution is using a variable ND.

On the two example videos I’ve tried to switch focus from the foreground to the background, in the lighted area.

Also in backlight I didn’t found any flaws in the results, as you can see from the video below.


Overall the results are really great, and the Nano Coating really makes a great different when cleaning the filter. Any drop of water or grease (from fingerprints for example) are cleaned with no effort. Reflections are really well controlled and definitely there is no visible increase of internal reflections or flare. My consideration for video are of course valid for photography too, in any situation where you need to fine tune your exposure time this is the best variable filter you can get. I can’t give less than 5 stars since I didn’t find any problems using it.

Shop NiSi Variable ND filters on the official NiSi UK Store. You’ll find the Vario-ND 1.5-5 Stop and Vario-ND 5-9 Stop.

Slot-in filters have many advantages on screw-in filters, easier to stack, better control of light and, usually, outstanding quality. I had the opportunity to test many filters and holder in the last years, today I’ll test the NiSi Holder for 100mm wide filters. This review is for both NiSi V5 and V3, with a comparision between the two.

NiSi V5 kit

Filters’ holders are crucial tools for Landscape and Travel photographers, for many years there were only few holders on the market. Most of them support 3 filters, polariser included, and often have problems with wide lenses under 20mm on full frame camers. Lee Filters has introduced a new Landscape Polariser to avoid vignetting even at 16mm but it still supports 2 filters + polariser. Today I’ll test the NiSi V5 that don’t have these problems.

NiSi V5 Holder Kit

When you buy the NiSi V5 you’re actually buying much more than an holder, you have everything you need to start except for the filters, of course. The ring adaptors for 67, 72, 77 & 82 mm lenses are included, alongside with the polariser.

NiSi V5 filter holder

The new V5 holder kit by NiSi includes a rigid bag, really useful if you don’t have any filter pouch, but if you have many filters better choosing a third-party solution like the Terrascape Filters bag.

NiSi V5 Holder – build quality

The V5 and V3 are all made of aviation grade aluminium with a great precision, the V5 looks slightly sturdier and seems to screw even better than V3. The clip to put in place the holder has been moved to a more convenient side position, but the holder keeps moving a bit too much when we add and remove filters.

NiSi V5 vs V3

These movements happens too often also because is quite hard to pull the filters out. NiSi’s solution for the polariser is clever, it doesn’t rotate, it’s the ring that rotate thanks to a tiny wheel you can rotate even with all the ND & GND on.

NISI V5 Review

Thanks to this solution we have many pros:

  • no vignetting even at 16mm
  • the polariser is easy to rotate at any moment
  • support for 3 filters + polariser, 4 elements in total

The downside is you can’t use the polariser you want, and in the V3 kit the polariser wasn’t so great, but in the V5 has improved a lot.

NiSi V5 Polariser vs V3

If we test the two polariser on a LCD (that emits polarised light) we can easily see how much the V5 has improved on cutting the polarised light from the older version. Big plus is the total compatibility with all 100mm wide and 2mm thick filters, that is a standard in the sector.

NiSi V5 vs V3 polariser quality

A 100% polarisation doesn’t assure a great image quality and absence of color cast. I’ve compared the two filters on the field and then matched the WB and Tint in Lightroom.

NiSi V5 test polariser

As you can see in comparision above the NiSi V3 was too cold, the polariser on NiSi V5 is virtually perfect with no color cast. Also, from the last two images, the V5 cuts the reflections better than V3.


The NiSi V5 filters holder is a great tool for landscape photography, and great value for the money. It gets a full 4 stars out of 5.

Update: The NiSi V6 is out, long story short, it’s a full 5/5 stars. The Landscape Polariser included is the BEST polariser I’ve used in years, overall this is the most performing 100mm holder on the market. Find out the official NiSi UK website.

ND, GND, polariser, filters holder, adaptor rings and maybe more; these are all the things we bring with us when using photography filters. After a bit of practice using those filters is pretty easy and useful; but having them close, safe and ready to use is really important. This is why a filters pouch is incredibly handy and useful. Today I’m reviewing the Terrascape Filter Bag CLASSIC, the bag is also available in other two models: SMALLONE and ONESIXFIVE. Both the classic and smallone can carry filters up to 100 x 150 mm, but the smallone is limited to 6 filters, the one I’ve tested has space for 11 filters. The ONESIXFIVE can carry seven filters, even the huge Lucroit 165 x 200, or Lee 150 x 170 mm  and all the 165 mm by Formatt-Hitech, SW150 from Lee Filters, 150 mm Haida Photo and 150 mm NiSi Filters. The version I’ve received for testing is the CLASSIC one, the third version available on the market, it has a lot of improvements and it was already great in first place.

Terrascape Filter Bag CLASSIC

Construction quality and materials

What I look for a filters pouch is the construction and the materials used, this bag totally satisfies my expectations. The material is waterproof with a big portion covering the top, I felt confident even under a sudden rainstorm. Another major plus is the size, with space for 11 filters, plus the holder and adaptor rings, it’s really compact. This is a major improvement from carrying every single filter inside its own pouch.

Photographic Filters Bag

The materials are all high-quality plastic, this is the right choice for a bag that will be exposed to water (even salted). The protection is good, of course this is not a bullet-proof protection case, but you can be sure the filters are protected like, or more, in the original case. Inside we found a really soft and smooth material, separating the filters. The sewing is great and all the plastic components (like the clips) come from YKK, the Japanese company famous for its zipper and assurance of high quality.

Slot-in Filters Bag

Using the Terrascape Filter Bag on the field

When I started using filters pouches I figured out it was impossible to come back. They are just really handy and useful, and I’ve found the Terrascape Filter Bag to be the best. The front pocket (bigger in the third version) can fit my Lee Filters holder and two adaptor rings. Having space for 11 filters is great, I’m using all the spaces available, but because I have different brands for the same filter for testing and sponsorship. A great feature is the possibility to turn upside down the inner pockets, so they fit tight the 85 mm filters for mirrorless cameras. With this configuration the bag can fits 20 filters (wow).

Terrascape Filter Pouch

The comfort is important when shooting, at Terrascape they added many anchor points so you can decide the best way to wear the pouch. The Terrascape Filter Bag can be worn on the belt, as a shoulder bag or even attached at the tripod. Everything is well balanced, there is no fear of tilting upside down.

Filter Pouch 100mm

Inside, on the top cover, you can find an handy pocket for the cleaning cloth – not included.


The Terrascape Filter Bag was my choice because is one of the first filters pouch on the market. Being at the third version means a good path of improvements and I directely know great photographers using these bags for years with no issues. After testing the bag for months I can only say that it’s the perfect bag for your filters, I can only give 5 stars out of 5 to this product.

Terrascape Filter Bag pouch

The Terrascape Filter Bag CLASSIC can be bought here for 46€ (about £33), a real value for the money.


+ High quality materials and construction

+ Waterproof (also great against sea water)

+ Handy front pocket for filters Holder

+ Compact size and easy to access

+ Effective protection

To be considered

! Cleaning cloth not included


This review has been translated from my original article on (in Italian) 

Neutral density (ND) and graduated neutral density (GND) filters are among the most useful tools in landscape photography. In the last years many manufaturer entered the market in Europe, for this reason the average quality has increased and good products are manufactured and branded by chinese companies too. NiSi is one of these companies, they have 10 years experience in China and they’ve contacted me to introduce their products to the European market. I’ve received many filters, al made of Schott glass (a germany company producing glass for Zeiss’ lenses), and I’ve decided to test two of the most popular filters: the ND64 (6 stops) and the GND 0.9 hard (3 stops). This is the NiSi Italian website.

NiSi Filter Packaging

Filters are really well packed, inside they’re wrapped in soft paper and inserted in a imitation leather case with a magnetic snap. The case is well made, protective and slim, but if you have more than 3 filters is better considering a filters pouch, like the amazing Terrascape I’ll review soon.

Light leaking and real stops

The 6 stop filters from NiSi has a gasket to prevent the light to sneak in and ruin your shots, this is really well done and stop effectively the light in both the Lee Filters holder and NiSi Filters holder V3 and V5. Remember to also cover the viewfinder when taking long exposures, the light can get in from there too!

NiSi Filters Holder Lee

Tip: As you can see from the image above, the gasket isn’t symmetric, this means you have to insert it in the right direction as shown in the picture, or the guides on the sides will ruin the gasket.

Both the ND64 and the GND 0.9 can be used in other holders that support 100mm wide filters. As you can see in the image below the filters can be really useful in strong light situations, in this case I’ve managed to take a long exposure (thanks to the ND) maintaining the details in the bright area thanks to the GND.

photographic filters NiSi

If you’ve used a ND filter before you’ve maybe noticed a difference between the real reduction of light and the advertised one. Even with the best manufcaturing the outcome can have a gap as big as 1 stop from the target. For this reason I always test my ND filters in controlled light to be sure of the real value and “light-stopping” capabilities. Comparing the hystogram below I needed a correction of -0.38 EV to match a shot with an increment of 6 EV with the filter and the control shot taken without any filter on. This means my filter is a 5.62 stops filter, pretty close to the 6 advertised, this is the smallest gap I’ve ever had testing a filter this way.

NiSi slot-in filters

Glass quality and color cast

Both the ND and the GND have a nano coating to reduce flare, reflections and for an easy cleaning. There’s also an IR-cutting treatment, to avoid the infrared light reaching the sensor, quite important in really long exposure with low light.

NiSi Filters ND and GND

As we can see in the image above the NiSi filters reduce the reflections in both filters, comparing with Haida and Lee Filters. I would like to point out the Lee is a resin filter, because Lee doesn’t have GND made of glass and NiSi in resin I couldn’t compare better matching filters.

NiSi Filters Quality

In these images, that look identical at first glance, I’m comparing a detail of an image with and without the NiSi Filters ND64. It should be visible, after few seconds, the slightly red/warm cast. This isn’t a huge problem, the cast is uniform and really subtle. I’ve found a similar cast in the Haida ND64, but in that case it was non-uniform.

The GND has a similar cast, but less prominent because of the transition and fewer stops.

Generally I’ve been really impressed of the quality of these filters, I also support the choice to use a similar glass in all the range, this consistency allows to obtain good results when stacking more than one filter.

NiSi Filters review


The ND64 and GND 0.9 filters from NiSi are probably the highest quality filters I’ve tested, the price of course is alligned with the quality but they’ve just reached our market. I’m giving 4.5 out 5 to these products.


+ Outstanding optical quality

+ Same glass used across the range

+ Virtually no color cast

+ Compatibility with other Filters Holders


High price