Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit Announced – First Look

Freewell is back on Indiegogo with a new kind of VND (variable ND) filter system. And I use the term system because they’re not selling individual parts of it, just the whole package. It includes a screw-on base ring, two different VND filters (which acts as a one-stop ND with or without Mist diffuser), two different filters (ND 2-5 and 6-9 stops on one side, and CPL and CPL ND32 on the other). Also, a magnetic lens cap and a protective case are included too. How does this Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit work? Read on to find out all about it!

Freewell already has a few magnetic ND filters on offer, but this new magnetic VND system is something unique. It’s a complete system that ranges from ND 2 all the way up to ND 9, but also offers the ability to add a so-called “Mist” filter to the equation. The two VND filters do double duty as circular polarizing filters when used without the base.

Perhaps the best thing about this new Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit is the fact that you only have to screw the base filter holder onto your lens once. From then on, everything works magnetically. Neat!

What’s in the kit? – Freewell VND Magnetic Filter Set. Credit: CineD

Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit

So to break it down, here’s how it works: the Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit consists of the following parts:

  • protective case for holding all the parts and filters in one place
  • a screw-on base ring
  • ND 1 (one stop) filter inside of the base ring (removable)
  • ND 1 + “Mist” filter inside the base ring (removable)
  • ND 2-5 filter, double acts as CPL (circular polarizer) filter when used without the ND 1 inlay filter
  • ND 6-9 filter, double acts as a ND32 (5 stops) + CPL filter
  • magnetic lens cap
Look for “A” – Filter and lens ring alignment for perfect hard stops. Credit CineD

That’s quite a few parts, but it really makes sense and the whole system seems well thought out. Freewell has managed to get the best of both worlds and combine all the science behind variable ND filters to make this work.

First of all, it is important to understand that variable ND filters (VND filters) are actually two circular polarizing filters that are twisted against each other. This way they create an ND effect (neutral density) and this is also the reason why you get strange vignetting and cross patterns when you twist these polarizing filters more and more. To avoid this, Freewell came up with a system to implement hard stops so you can’t twist the front filter too much against the ND 1 inlay filter.

So you have two VND filters available, one ND 2-5 filter (reduces the amount of light by two to five stops) and another ND 6-9 filter.

But what if you don’t need that much ND filtering? Simple. Just remove the front filter and you have the ND 1 insert filter that you can also remove by simply pulling it off, everything is magnetic, remember?

Freewell Magnetic ND Filters. Image credit: CineD
Rotate the ND filters and they become Circular Polorizers. Image credit: CineD

Swapping ND for CPL

Now here’s the kicker: Since VND filters are known to be “just” two circular polarizing filters, the Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit has some neat tricks up its sleeve. Once you remove the ND 1 inlay from the screw-on base ring, you’ve basically removed one half of the VND system. Now, if you flip the ND 2-5 or ND 6-9 filters over, you’ll see a little CPL or ND32 – CPL lettering on them, respectively. Once you snap them onto the base ring, you have a regular old circular polarizing filter with 360º rotation. One without added ND, and one with ND 5 added.

To round it all out, Freewell added another ND 1 inlay filter to give the image a mist effect, think Tiffen Black ProMist.

All in all, this Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit seems to be a pretty unique and well-thought-out product. VND, CPL, hard stops when working with VND to prevent vignetting and cross patterns, no constant screwing filters on and off, an extra mist filter, a protective case that holds all the parts you need. To me, this product seems really versatile.

Base ND (One Stop) and Lens Ring Attachment. Credit CineD
Freewell Magnetic ND and ND Mist Filters. Credit: CineD

VND Filter Kit – First Look

My Colleague Johnnie has spent some time working with the system and here is what he had to say:

For the last few weeks I’ve been working with the new magnetic filter kit and I have to say that I’m sold. Here’s why:

This new filter kit is very flexible and easy to work with. Top it off with good optical quality and here you have a winner. My favorite feature is actually the “Mist”. Hope it is the beginning of something. Freewell will do well if they decide to introduce additional Mist filters to their system, even without the ND functionality itself. To my personal taste, this particular “glowing Mist” is a tiny bit strong which is a pity as if its strength was reduced, it would have been even more usable. In any case, the ability to reduce the harshness that those modern mirrorless cameras create when shooting video is a welcoming thing. The other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the strengths of magnets… While this is a very welcomed feature, rotating the ND filter(s) themselves is not always easy and can cause the camera to shake if a lightweight tripod is being used. All in all, well done Freewell! You just created a system that can grow and expand according to the needs of users.

FUJIFILM X-T4 with SIRUI 50mm anamorphic lens with Freewell VND Mist. Credit: CineD
FUJIFILM X-T4 / SIRUI 50mm anamorphic lens, no filter. Credit: CineD
FFUJIFILM X-T4 / SIRUI 50mm anamorphic lens with Freewell VND Mist. Credit: CineD
FUJIFILM X-T4 with SIRUI 50mm anamorphic lens, no filter. Credit: CineD

Pricing and availability

The Freewell Magnetic VND Filter Kit is being funded by an Indiegogo campaign as we speak for $300 if you are a super “early bird”. $350 if you are an “early bird” and for $400 retail. As you might see from the above slide it will be available in different filter thread sizes. Speaking about campaigns, please be aware that this is a crowdfunding project and not a retail shop, so do your research accordingly. CineD does its best to only share projects that look legitimate, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.

Link: Indiegogo | Freewell

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