Sunday, February 17, 2013

COMPARISON: Hoya Variable Density vs Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filters (77mm) UPDATED: Jan 23, 2015


This article has been replaced by this one:

COMPARISON: Variable Neutral Density Filters (Singh-Ray, B+W, Hoya, Tiffen & Bower)

Due to the condition of the Singh-Ray filter I tested for this review, I’ve removed the original article. The new article features FIVE brand new filters and more in-depth testing for more accurate results.

The net result is similar to this article in that the Singh-Ray is the Ferrari of VND’s and the Hoya is like the Corvette (great performer and great value, but not the same quality as the Singh-Ray). Due to a loose element in this original round of testing the Singh-Ray didn’t perform as well as a properly working copy.


Variable Density vs Singh-Ray Vari-ND 77mm
Hoya Variable Density vs Singh-Ray Vari-ND 77mm Cases

Singh-Ray 77mm Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter is the standard by which many judge other variable neutral density filters. With the ability to reduce the light into your lens from 2 to 8 stops, it offers a compelling choice for doing long exposures of moving objects like streams, waterfalls, etc… However, some say the $340 Singh-Ray is overpriced and old technology, so I thought I’d do a little research and find out if that was true.


Variable Density vs Singh-Ray Vari-ND 

Hoya Variable Density vs Singh-Ray Vari-ND Thickness

Content Removed –  see the top of the page

Where to order

Click here to order the Hoya 77mm Variable Density Filter or click here to see other sizes on the B&H web site.

Click here to order the Singh-Ray 77mm Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter or click here to see other sizes on the B&H web site.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:


If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. I also borrowed a Hoya filter for this article, but the Singh-Ray was my own personal property.

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Nicolas said...

Have you seen any of the dreaded cross problem when using these filters. I have avoided vari-ND because of this issue at the dark end. I had tried a Singh-ray and it too had the problem. See for an example.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to post this.

The following sentence has a neutral tone Hoya and a warm tone Hoya.

"It also seems that the Hoya has a more neutral tone whereas the Hoya seems on the warm side despite being advertised as a neutral density filter."

Which filter is more neutral?

Gentle proofreading to help a great Blog! said...


Ugh, sorry for the typo - my fingers were out of sync with my brain. I've corrected the article.

I felt that the Singh-Ray had a warm cast to it that I didn't care for much.

Still no response from Singh-Ray.

Ron said...

I'm not concerned about the cross problem because each manufacturer clearly marks the min and max range for their filters. These products are not designed for you go outside of those ranges, so you are not using the product in a manner in which is was designed. Given the nature of a product like this, it’s going to have limitations so why worry about using a range that isn’t supported.

Now, if you were having the cross problem within the min and max area then I’d be more concerned. Your examples shows a slight cross problem when stopped down all of the way, but you could dial back a hair to avoid it. Going beyond the limit though isn’t something I’d knock any maker for.

That said, I didn't observe the cross problem but I didn't specifically test outside of the supported ranges either.


Anonymous said...

You don't know which filter produced the more neutral tone because you had your white balance set to auto, which means it could have changed between shots. Would great to see the results if you set the white balance to one of the fixed settings for all the shots.

ActionGadgetNerd said...

Thanks for comparing these Ron! Those are the exact vari-nd filters I am looking at. For one reason or another I am biased agaist Tiffen and just too unsure of Fader Mark II

ActionGadgetNerd said...

Thanks for doing this Ron! Those are the exact vari-nd filters I am looking at. For one reason or another I am biased towards Tiffen and just too unsure of Fader Mark II

audimackid said...

Thanks Ron for an excellent review. As another person commented, those are the exact Vari-ND filters I was looking at and was wondering if the Singh-ray was worth the extra money. said...

Based on feedback I tried my best to fix my VariND and did a little more experimenting yesterday. I've updated my article to reflect my findings including a head-to-head comparison at 6500k WB.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron

Need your quick help as i am travelling to australia/new zealand and have to get nd filters or a variable ND.

I have been using the hoya ndx400 and have been very happy with hoya quality.

i was planning to get the varibale density from hoya instead of buying a 3 stop and a 6 stop nd.

Mostly i will be shooting landscape so vignetting is a very important concern.

could you test and let me know at what focal length does the hoya variable nd 77mm start to vignette.

planing to use it mostly on 16-35mm. i am also using full format sensor.

your quick help will be truly appreciated.

Rohitsinghphotography said...


I didn't notice any significant vignetting when I stayed within the min and max values as this product is designed to be used. Outside of that range all bets are off.

Here's information which includes my fees for private on demand review work:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Ron, this was just what I needed. Much appreciated!

Gav said...

Hi Ron,
did you end up buying the Hoya filter, and if so what are your impressions, particularly sharpness? My intention is to use it with travel photos to remove tourists where possible, and to have my f2.8 keep shallow DOF. So I want sharpness and can't decide if I should go with the lower risk but higher mucking around fixed ND filters. said...


Yes, I did get the Hoya and the sharpness has been fine. The sharpness was fine with the Singh-Ray too as they are both using very high quality glass.

I prefer the screw on vari-ND for my long exposure needs. I do use the Cokin ZPro system with a graduated ND filter on occasion, but it's more of a hassle so when I'm lazy I just do a bracketed exposure and bring in the darker sky in Photoshop.