Gear

Manfrotto’s New ND Filters Are Comfortably Reliable – But Not Exceptional

Manfrotto, traditionally a name associated with tripods and grips, have recently moved into manufacturing ND filters. We took a look to see how these newcomers perform.

The Manfrotto ND filters are circular, and each density comes in standard diameters such as 52mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm. While this ensures a good fit, it can be an expensive issue for photographers who want to use the same filter for all their lenses.

Many landscape photographers prefer square filters, which have cheaper adapter rings, but screw-in filters like the Manfrotto ND ones have their advantages. Namely, that are thin enough around the edges to work with ultra-wide angle lenses without creating a vignette. Since nowadays many ultra-wides are getting close to fisheye territory, this is something worth considering. The 52mm 6-stop ND filter is 4.1mm when screwed in, while the 67mm 3-stop ND filter is only marginally larger at 4.3mm.

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The filters are all made in Japan, and come with a 3 year warranty. They are well-built, and the filter screws are smooth when stacked on both other filters like circular polarisers, or just directly on the lens.

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One of the main differences between ND filters – which are made by many other brands such as B+W, Hoya, Tiffen, Singh-Ray, Heliopan, and Breakthrough Photography – is the colour cast left from the filter glass. While this isn’t a comparison between Manfrotto and other brands, we did test out how images looked with and without the Manfrotto ND filters.

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It’s clear from our sample images that there is a slight colour cast in the Manfrotto ND filters, lending a cooler tone to the final photograph. We performed the test using a custom white balance, and noted the same results with multiple filters from the series. Complete colour neutrality is rare in ND filters, and the Manfrotto set performs admirably well.

When I used it on my travels, the colour cast wasn’t noticeable at all, especially after post processing. However, it’s best to know what the colour cast of each filter is before a purchase, so photographers know how to account and adjust for the cooler tones.

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Many other filters also have a lot of light fall-off, but Manfrotto’s filters are impressively good at preventing vignetting. The little fall-off there is can be easily corrected in post-processing, and shouldn’t affect the final quality of the image.

They are also competitively priced, and cost around the same as B+W and premium Hoya offerings. So while they aren’t particularly cheap (especially considering Manfrotto are entirely new to the filter game), you’ll get what you pay for with these filters, similarly to Manfrotto’s excellent tripods.

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Arguably this is the only issue with the filters – they aren’t any cheaper than the best Hoya or B+W ND filters, yet don’t command the same reputation as those two companies in the filter market.

So while the quality of the Manfrotto filters are quite good, they have nothing that distinguishes them out from the competition. When all three companies have similar products, and one is a newcomer – the prices better be more than just competitive.

62mm ND500 9f Stop Reduction: US$79.99

52mm ND64 6f Stop Reduction: US$49.99

67mm ND8 3f Stop Reduction: US$79.99