We have noticed a steady increase in the popularity of ND filters over the last few years and it would appear that the various filter brands have also noticed this trend as more and more companies have taken to releasing their own lens filter range. Due to this, there are a ton of options for photographers these days who are looking to add some ND filters to their collection of camera accessories and the increase in competition in the space has helped to increase quality. Gone are the days when the old guard brands such as Hoya and Tiffen pretty much control the lens filter market, you are not spoiled for choice with some great budget-friendly options available too.
One brand that is expanding into more and more camera accessory niches is Zomei and their lens filter range has received a ton of attention over the last year or so due to their low price tag and great performance. The reputation of the Zomei lens filters just keeps on getting better and better amongst the community as time goes on and their customer base just keeps on increasing. That said though, although the Zomei ND Filter range is a great budget-friendly set of filters, we would highly recommend that our readers check out the Gobe ND Filter range as in our opinion, they are the best option by far at this price point in the market.
Although we absolutely love the Zomei tripod range and often recommend it to our readers, when it comes to entry-level lens filters, at the time of writing at least, nothing beats the Gobe range in our opinion. Unlike Zomei, Gobe is focused on nothing but producting the best quality lens filters for the lowest possible price point possible. This has resulted in their filters earning one of the best reputations going due to their entry-level price tag but intermediate-level performance.
That said though, we will still be going over our full Zomei ND filter review to help any of our readers who are dead set on going with the Zomei filter range. Their variable ND filters are still solid and probably come in second place at the time of writing with only the Gobe range beating them in our opinion. They offer some great performance and allow you to merge motion and time with ease to capture blurred water, control your depth of field, reduce the visibility of any moving objects in the frame or to extend the time of exposures.
Performance And Functionality
Although Zomei does offer some fixed neutral density filters in their range, we would always recommend their variable ND Filters over their fixed filters. This offers the advantage of being able to use one single variable filter to get the performance of multiple fixed filters. This helps to keep your costs down as well as the overall size and weight of your lens filter kit too. If you are working in a photography niche where you are required to travel around on a regular basis, this can help make your life so much easier and you just have to check for one filter rather than three to five additional filters.
The majority of the filters in the Zomei variable ND filter range are ND2-ND400 allowing for quick and easy light reduction between two and eight stops. When used at the minimum setting, the filter passes around on third of the regular light available that is equal to 1.5 stops on your aperture. As you rotate up through the range this increases to its maximum of allowing just 1/400th of the light in a scene to pass. This is the same as eight full stops on your aperture and offers some great control over the light allowing you to use super slow shutter speeds for those longer exposures.
The Zomei variable ND filter range is currently available in the following thread sizes that cover some of the more popular lens threads as well as a few of the rarer thread sizes too:-
If the required thread size for your lens of choice is not listed then we would highly recommend that you check out the Gobe ND Filter range as they offer a larger number of thread sizes with better overall performance than the Zomei range in our opinion.
Considering the low price tag of the Zomei ND filter range as well as the solid performance and build quality their filters offer, it is easy to see how they have taken such a large market share from the traditional lens filter brands in such a short time. On top of this, many of the photographers who use the Zomei ND filter range have also published their own independent reviews sharing their experiences with the filters. In our opinion, if you have a couple of minutes spare some of those reviews are well worth skimming over as they offer a solid insight into the performance of the range from photographers who have used them in pretty much every situation you can think of.
User Interface And Control System
Simply rotate the edge of the lens filter to control the light that is able to pass through towards your camera sensor. The markings on the edge of the filter clearly mark off everything from +1 to +8 stop values allowing you to accurately adjust the filter as required. Even if you have never used a variable ND filter before you should easily be able to adjust the Zomei range to meet the needs of your situation. For example, switching from something like f/4 from f/8 when you need a sharper image takes seconds. This lets you constantly tweak the performance of the filter as needed without having to waste time.
Now, there is a common issue with all ND filters, even those up at the premium price points where every now and then, the color of the image may appear to be either too warm or too cold. To our knowledge, the exact cause of this phenomenon is not known and as we said, it plagues even the higher price point filters as well as these cheaper Zomei ones. Although rare, if this does happen to you simply adjust the white balance as needed and the issue should correct within seconds allowing you to go back to capture your photographs.
Build Quality And Design
In addition to this, the filters are very lightweight allowing you to easily add them to your camera accessory bag without having to add much weight. This not only helps you keep your accessory bag under any weight restrictions if you have to travel via plane on a regular basis but also minimized the effect that they have when mounted to your lens. Time was that even just a few years back that the entry-level price point filters were pretty heavy and you could feel the additional weight when in use. If you were doing a bunch of run and gun handheld photography this could add to the fatigue on your arms due to the additional weight but in this day and age, it is not an issue due to the lighter filters.
Zomei has also put its ND filter range through a double coating process to help increase the image quality that you are able to capture when you have the filter mounted to your lens. This is one area where the compeating Gobe ND Filter range absolutely blows the Zomei filters out of the water. Gobe uses a sixteen layering process to not only increase the performance and image quality provided but also increase the toughness of the filter too.
Although not the primary purpose of the Zomei ND filter range, they can also serve as a pseudo-UV filter to add an additional layer of protection to your front lens element. The image above shows how effective a decent UV filter can be if you drop your lens by accident. As you can see in the image, the lens filter is destroyed but the actual lens element under it is fine. The Zomei filters offer additional protection and depending on how much punishment the filter takes, it may help to protect your lens elements if involved in an accident.
Zomei has also used metal threads on their filter range too and although the vast majority of lens filter brands, even in the entry-level price bracket do this now, we do still see the odd brand trying to sneak plastic threads onto their products. The metal threads like the ones on the Zomei ND range not only make it easier to mount and unmount the filter from your lens as required but also helps to prevent cross-threading. Depending on the issue, cross-threading can not only damage the threads on your lens but potentially jam your filter in place while mounted and it a common issue with filters with plastic threads.
The final point that we want to make is that the Zomei filter range also have an outer set of metal threads too. Depending on what you are doing this can allow you to mount your lens cap to your lens without having to take your lens filter off to save your time. Additionally, the outer threads can also be used to mount a UV or CPL filter to your lens in addition to your ND filter too. All in all, we feel that Zomei has done an excellent job of building such a great variable ND filter that offers this level of performance with this build quality without having to hike the price tag up.
That concludes our Zomei ND filter review and as we mentioned earlier in the article, we feel that the Gobe ND Filter range is better than the Zomei ND Filter range while coming in at a very similar price point. We would highly recommend that our readers consider going with the Gobe range due to their better performance and build quality for a few extra dollars. That said though, if you are set on going with the Zomei range then their ND filters can still make a solid addition to your collection of camera accessories and help to improve the image quality that you can capture.