Freewell Gear Magnetic VND Filter Kit hands-on Review
Review Manufacturer: Freewell Gear
Price when reviewed
Freewell Gear has looked at variable neutral density filters in a slightly different way from other manufacturers by enabling the base to be swapped. The upside to this is that it makes the kit more versatile by enabling two different strengths of filter to be used with the same base. Plus the base can be varied between a regular ND-type and a Mist VND base. All of that helps to keep the cost down. However, the downside is that the Versatile Magnetic VND Filter Kit is that it’s a little more fiddly to use than other magnetic variable neutral density filters.
Enables quick changes in ND strength Includes a mist filter Magnetic mount
Base ND and base mist filters are separate from variable filter elements
What is the Freewell Gear Magnetic VND Filter Kit?
Freewell Gear is widely known for its high-quality filters for drones and action cams and relatively recently branched out into making filters for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The versatile Magnetic VND is essentially a circular screw-on filter kit with a couple of magnetic variable neutral density (ND) filters and a mist filter that can be used with the ND filters.
Variable neutral density (VND) filters are more flexible than standard filters because they allow the degree of filtration, or the density of the filter, to be adjusted. This means that it’s easy to adapt to changing lighting conditions. Instead of having to unscrew a filter and mount an alternative, you just rotate the filter to change its strength.
While standard neutral density filters give the best results, VNDs make life easier and they’re especially popular for video when the lighting conditions can change quickly throughout the day.
There are two VND filters in the Freewell Gear kit, a 2-5 stop filter and a 6-9 stop filter.
Read our guide to the best variable neutral density filters.
Freewell Gear Versatile Magnetic VND price and availability
The Freewell Gear Magnetic VND Filter Kit is launching on Indiegogo. While the retail price is $399.99, there’s a Super Early Bird price of $299.99 and an Early Bird Price of $349.99. It is set to ship in September. Follow the link for more information about ordering.
Product type: Magnetic filter kit Announced: 30th June 2021 Included filters: 2-5 stop variable neutral density (VND), 6-9 stop VND, 1/8 Mist base
The Freewell Gear Magnetic VND Filter Kit comprises several parts, the magnetic mount that screws onto the lens, a base filter and two variable ND filters. Well sort of.
Variable neutral density filters are made up of two layers of polarising material and when one layer is rotated relative to the other, the amount of light that can pass through the filter is reduced. Freewell Gear has adopted a rather unusual approach by supplying the two polarising sections separately. The ‘base ND’ snaps into the mount first, followed by the ‘variable ND’ part. The Variable ND section is the bit that you can rotate to adjust the amount of light entering the lens.
In addition to the ND base, Freewell Gear supplies a Mist base with the kit. This also has polarising material in it so as well as acting as a mist filter, it can be used with the ‘Variable ND’ filters to adjust the amount of light entering the lens.
There’s a semi-rigid case included with the Magnetic VND kit, plus a magnetic cap to protect the filters when they’re not in use. There are five slots in the case so there’s plenty of room to keep everything neat, tidy and clean when the filters are not mounted on the camera.
Build and handling
The filter mount or holder screws easily onto the filter thread of a lens so it’s quickly ready to receive the filters. Next, either the ND base or Mist base needs to be snapped onto the holder. Both bases have a small tab that must be aligned with a notch in the mount so it’s held in the correct orientation and won’t rotate.
With the base in place, it’s time to mount either the 2-5EV or 6-9EV filter.
Again, these just snap into position, however, it’s important to ensure that they are correctly aligned. Each filter has an A and a filter icon on its circumference. These need to line up with the two small arrows on the filter mount. If the filter is initially miss-aligned, rotate it until you feel it snap into place. When everything is correctly matched up, the filter’s range of movement is limited and you can use the markings to set the filtration value.
So far I’ve only used the Freewell Gear Magnetic VND Filter Kits in a fairly limited set of circumstances and I want to test it further before I pass final judgement. My first impressions are that it doesn’t impart a particularly noticeable colour cast but the filtration is a little weaker than the markings indicate.
One issue that some VND’s have is the appearance of a dark cross when the filter is rotated too far. Freewell Gear has given the VND kit hard stops to prevent that from happening.