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Understanding ND filter fractional values.


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Sony rate the ND filters in most of their cameras using a fractional value such as 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 etc.

These values represent the amount of light that can pass through the filter, so a 1/4 ND lets 1/4 of the light through.


1/4 is the equivalent to 2 stops ( 1 stop = half),  2 stops = 1/4,  3 stops = 1/8,  4 stops = 1/16,  5 stops = 1/32, 6 stops = 1/64,  7 stops = 1/128.


These fractional values are actually quite easy to work with in conjunction with the cameras ISO rating.

If you want to quickly figure out what ISO value to put into a light meter to discover the aperture/shutter needed when using the camera with the built in ND filters, simply take the cameras ISO rating and multiply it by the ND value. So, 800 ISO with 1/4 ND becomes 800 x 1/4 = 200 (or you can do the maths as 800 ÷ 4). Put 200 in the light meter and it will tell what aperture to use for your chosen shutter speed when shooting at 800 ISO with 1/4 ND.

If you want to figure out how much ND to use to get an equivalent overall ISO rating (camera ISO and ND combined and added together) you take the ISO of the camera and divide by the ISO you want and this gives you a value “x” which is the fraction in 1/x.


So, if you want 3200 ISO then take the base of 12800 and divide by 3200 which gives 4. If you set the camera to 12,800 ISO and the ND to 1/4 the sensitivity of the camera becomes in effect 3200 ISO.

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