Sony’s Electronic Variable ND Filter Explained in New Series of Videos

Sony's Electronic Variable ND Filter Explained in New Series of Videos

Sony has released a series of video guides about the Electronic Variable ND filter system, explaining how it works and its benefits. Let’s take a look at this series about this helpful feature in selected Sony camera models!

Sony released a feature in their cameras, an internal Electronic Variable ND filter. The function, available in the BURANO, PXW-FX9, PXW-FX6, PXW-Z280, and PXW-Z190 models, goes a step further in making our life easier with filming and taking photographs since we don’t need external filters, adapters, etc.

Introduction to the system

In the first video, Sony shows the definition of this Electronic Variable ND filter. With conventional internal optical ND filter wheels, the strength of each filter is fixed, producing a jump when we change from one to another. On the other hand, with variable ND filters, the image and the colors suffer as we change their intensity. 

The first video from the series introduces the system.

Sony’s system is optically based, and it can be used differently. The first option is to use the dial on the camera’s side, ranging from 1/4 to 1/128. The second option is to use ‘Auto ND’ from the menu, letting the camera adjust the filter to find the correct exposure while shooting. This option is useful for filming outdoors or during live events where light conditions change constantly. The third option is to set fixed filter levels, a method familiar to many of us using professional video cameras with conventional filter wheels. We can change the default values to the ones we find more suitable in each situation. 

We can change the intensity from 1/4 to 1/128 (2 to 7 stops). – Source: Sony

How it works

Without an ND filter, when the light intensity changes, you have three options to adjust your image: to change the iris value, the shutter speed, or the ISO/gain. The three options will mean a compromise on your side since the image character will change. If you change the iris, the depth of field will be affected. Changing the shutter speed will change the motion blur effect – it will be more noticeable if the change is drastic. Changing the ISO or the gain will affect how the sensor reacts to the image, usually by adding or reducing noise or affecting how highlights and shadows are treated, which can be a problem in keeping consistency in your scene. 

Video 2. How the system works.

To help solve these compromises, Sony’s Electronic Variable ND filter offers optical-based control over exposure without any of the problems mentioned above. Once again, the advantage over standard internal ND systems is that the Electronic Variable ND changes exposure seamlessly, without jumps, from 2 to 7 stops, thanks to the Auto ND mode. 

The system is beneficial when using third-party lenses, especially photo or manual ones without de-clicked aperture rings, where iris adjustments are usually noticeable. 

Last but not least, the Electronic Variable ND system lets us choose and stay within our preferred iris range to avoid soft images at the widest apertures or diffraction when we have to stop down drastically to compensate exposure. This ensures a sharp image in every situation.

You can watch all of those videos by clicking here.

What do you think about Sony’s Electronic Variable ND system? Would you like to see it implemented in your current camera? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


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