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Old October 23rd, 2011, 11:45 AM   #1
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Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

Hi all,
I searched this subforum for answers to a question I have regarding VND filters, but I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. Specifically, is there a significant advantage to using a calibrated VND filter like the Heliopan versus a non-calibrated filter? I own a 77mm Genus, with which I'm relatively happy, except for two things: 1) there are no stops at the ends, so I tend to overshoot and keep twirling until I come back around to the spot I want, and 2) I never know exactly how much reduction I'm dialing in, so I just eyeball it from take to take. I feel that if I knew how many stops I was dialing in, it would be easier to get a consistent exposure. Of course, I also use the in-camera meter to gauge where I need to be, but still. My rig is a T2i with 17-55mm zoom, Zacuto Z-Finder Pro, and Magic Lantern (the most useful accessory in the lot!). IQ with the Genus is very good, IMO.
So my question is: How important do you find the calibrated settings on the Heliopan? Is it worth the extra cost to switch?
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 12:14 PM   #2
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Re: Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

I own the Singh Ray thin VND and there's no stops or marks. I can see why some people might want marks (repeatable settings) but I'd rather use meters to set exposure. I could use grease pencil to mark settings but I don't have time for that. Same goes for my xf300 which tells you iris and zoom by the numbers. Rarely look at those unless I'm doing multiple takes.
So to me, I wouldn't ever use the marks on an ND filter. More important is quality. Haven't seen the genus or heliopan but heard good things about them. Love the Singh ray but my wallet feels much lighter than it should! ;)
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Old October 24th, 2011, 01:56 PM   #3
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Re: Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

Thanks for your input, Robert. I can certainly find lots of other things to buy for $450, although I may still consider switching to Heliopan at some point in the future. Another advantage of the Heliopan (so I heard) is that it's small enough for a bayonet lens hood to be used with it, whereas the Genus is too big.
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Old October 24th, 2011, 04:35 PM   #4
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Re: Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

I got mine on sale for $390...UGH!!! When I bought it, the Heliopan and Genus weren't available. It's paid for itself many time over though so I can't complain too much!

Look forward to hearing what you end up with and how it works.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 02:29 AM   #5
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Re: Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

I've got the Heliopan and I LOVE it. On the other hand, if you thought
the Singh Ray was expensive at $390.....the Heliopan is between
$400 and $500 depending on which size you want.

However, you can use the Heliopan at long focal lengths (say 200mm)
and see NO softening of your image. That's where it separates itself
from the rest in my opinion. No color cast like most good variable
ND's but also no softening. The repeatable stops and markings are
helpful, especially if you are using a non constant aperture lens
(like if you need a wide zoom range......17-250 or something and
it ramps from F3 to F6 or something) you can use the Heliopan to
EXACTLY change your light that you let in, by the number of stops
your F stop changes. So if you had a good exposure at 17mm at F3,
and then had to change to a 50mm shot at F4, you could change your
Heliopan variable ND to let in exactly one stop of light and have
the same exposure. Hope that makes sense. In any case, the Heliopan
is VERY nice, nicest variable ND I've ever used. However, it is
EXPENSIVE (as most good gear is) and also hard to get here in the US,
as they have to be imported. My understanding is that it takes some
time to make them as they are made to exacting tolerances, and most
shipments to the US are only a couple dozen filters. That's why you
will often see wait times of 6 weeks to buy a Heliopan, even from
a big retailer like B&H.

For a video comparison, I posted how the Heliopan can help a FS100 video
camera (which has no built in ND filters) get the 'shallow depth of field'
look by using the filter so you can open the F stop. However if you
watch the video, you can also see that there is no color cast or loss of
sharpness when using the Heliopan:

http://exposureroom.com/members/alas...edd0388478689/
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Old October 25th, 2011, 12:48 PM   #6
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Re: Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

Thanks, Gabe. No argument here re: the usefulness of VND filters!
I'm curious to know if you changed the VND according to the number of stops you opened up the lens aperture or did you eyeball it? If the former, how accurate do you think the calibration is? There seems to be a slight change in light level in the first pair of clips (18mm FL), but little to no difference in the other clips.

Last edited by Jon Onstot; October 25th, 2011 at 08:20 PM.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 01:34 PM   #7
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Re: Genus or Heliopan variable ND filter?

Jon,

On that particular clip I was just 'eyeballing' it.
That was done on the very first day that I got my Heliopan
and I'd only had the FS-100 for about 6 days. Nowdays,
I am a little better as I have figured out there is actually
a REASON for all those numbers on the Heliopan!
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Old December 10th, 2011, 12:51 AM   #8
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How do you hood your Heliopan

Since it doesn't have front filter threads, how are people putting hoods on it? Thanks!
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