GEAR TEST: FOTGA Slim Fader Variable ND

FOTGA Slim Fader Variable ND Filter
(< $17 @ Amazon)

Cheap, convenient, smooth control of exposure
Slight color cast, 2 stops minimum reduction

Using 4×4 filters in a matte box is a bit of a pain, even when working in a controlled environment. When trying to run ‘n’ gun, or shooting handheld, even a relatively compact rig can get pretty cumbersome pretty fast. Having to cart around several different fragile filters of different strengths just isn’t practical some times. Given all that, the appeal of one screw on filter than can completely control exposure is pretty obvious.

As usual, there are plenty of opinions about variable ND faders on the Internet, and as usual, it’s impossible to find consensus. Enough people claimed that only the most expensive models were worth using, to make me hold back. There’s a lot of other gear I needed, and since I did already have a matte box and several high quality 4×4 filters, this didn’t seem to be a worthwhile expenditure.

Eventually, though, I decided to bit the bullet and give one of the el cheapo’s a try. Since even some of the very best leave a considerable color cast, and the Chinese cheapo’s can be had for under $20, what the hell.

I went with the FOTGA Slim Fader Variable ND Filter. As is always wise, I purchased for the largest lens thread I have (72mm) and use step down rings to go to my other lenses (mostly 52mm.)

How does it perform? Sharpness seems quite good, I haven’t noticed any of the wavy “distortions” others have complained of, and the slight yellow color cast it leaves is very easy to balance in post. It’s really too bad that the minimum setting is about 2 stops of reduction. If it could go the whole way to zero density then I would probably just leave it on the lens. Check out the 1080P frame grabs below to judge for yourself.

I apologize for the glare on the chart. It was printed on semi-gloss paper.

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FOTGA Slim Fader Variable ND
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2 Replies to "GEAR TEST: FOTGA Slim Fader Variable ND"

  • Björn Sonnenschein
    July 3, 2014 (4:17 am)

    Thank you for the review!
    Is it really a valid negative point that the minimum density is 2 stops?
    Every Vari-ND works with two overlayed polarization filters which reduce the transmitting light by one stop each – so this is a physical limitation to the system 😉

    • joe12south
      August 19, 2014 (9:52 pm)

      Actually, the Syrup Variable ND filter has a minimum density of 1 stop. I actually verified this with their engineers because it’s the only one I’ve ever seen with such a feature.

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