LC-Tec Explains Concept for 4×5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter – First Look

September 18th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 3

On the show floor at IBC 2023, tech company LC-Tec is showcasing an interesting concept for a 4×5.65” electronic variable ND filter, exploiting their PolarView-eND technology. The Swedish manufacturer is currently looking for a partner who can help them bring this innovative filter system to the market.

You may not know LC-Tec, but you’ve probably used their products on set at least once. Indeed, leveraging 25+ years of experience in manufacturing liquid crystal displays and precision optics, they are the company behind one of the most praised in-camera e-ND filter systems (2-7 stops) in our industry. And while they can’t disclose the name of the camera manufacturer, I’m fairly confident we both guessed it correctly!

Now, the company is trying to apply the same ground-breaking technology to larger 4×5.65” matte box filters. At IBC 2023, we had the chance to talk to Jesper Osterman from LC-Tec to check on the status of this development.

LC-Tec 4x5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter at its minimum intensity (1.5 stops)
LC-Tec 4×5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter at its minimum intensity (1.5 stops). Image credit: CineD

LC-Tec’s concept for a 4×5.65” electronic ND filter

Electronic ND filter systems based on liquid crystal technology have been “a thing” for quite a few years now. We have seen this solution placed in front of the image sensor of popular Sony camera models, starting with the FS5 and continuing on to some of the most recent Cinema Line Cameras, such as the FX6 or the newly-introduced BURANO.

Traditional Vari-ND filters are based on two rotating polarizing filters. On the other hand, the intensity of an electronic variable ND filter changes depending on the intensity of the voltage applied to its liquid crystal cells. This solution offers several advantages, as it gets rid of mechanical moving parts, avoids any polarization artifact that may occur – especially at the highest strengths -, and doesn’t necessarily require a follow focus motor for remote control.

LC-Tec 4x5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter inside Bright Tangerine matte box
LC-Tec 4×5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter inside Bright Tangerine matte box. Image credit: CineD

This technology is absolutely fantastic because it allows you to easily nail your exposure every single time without having to swap out matte box filters or compromise on your desired f-stop value. And once you get used to this way of working, it’s very hard to live without. Indeed, this is absolutely the feature that I miss the most after leaving my good old PXW-FS5.

Back at CineGear 2018, Panavision proved that a similar concept could be extended to a larger 4×5.65” filter. However, their LCND filter (Liquid-Crystal Neutral-Density) is destined to remain a rental-only item. And here is where LC-Tec comes in.

LC-Tec 4x5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter
LC-Tec 4×5.65” Electronic Variable ND Filter. Image credit: CineD

At IBC 2023, the company is showcasing a working prototype of their 4×5.65” eND filter based on their PolarView technology. Unlike the built-in ND system found in Sony cameras, which can take away from 2 up to 7 stops of light, this matte box version is currently limited to a 1.5-5 stop range. This is such ground-breaking tech that you’re probably wondering why it hasn’t hit the market yet.

Well, that’s the point. Indeed, LC-Tec is currently looking for a partner willing to take on the development of an end-user product, including the matte box tray and electronics. According to Jesper, we might be able to see an advanced prototype at NAB 2024 and the final product might also hit the shelves before the end of next year.

For more information, please visit LC-Tec’s website here.

What do you think about this early-stage prototype for a 4×5.65” e-ND matte box filter? Who do you think would be the best partner for LC-Tec to bring this product to the market? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!


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