Make 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter

1st May 2016

What is this 10 Stop ND Filter we speak of? Its yet another filter placed / screwed on over the front of our lens allowing us to create those dreamy silk-like photos. It does so by allowing us to slow the shutter speed for an extended period of time, so much so that the water, clouds, and other moving features in our photo become blurred. As pictures speak louder than words, lets have a look at the photos below created using a 10 stop neutral density filter:

Image by Hans Iuul Hansen via Flickr

Image by Bill Richards via Flickr

Image by Bill Richards via Flickr

As 10 stop ND filters are expensive and perhaps a purchase that we may not be able to justify, here’s what we can use to build one:

1. A shade 8 strength welding (welder’s) glass filter ($10-$15)
2. Rubber bands / Electrical Tape
3. Drain fixture (if there is a permanent un-removable lens hood attached)

The end goal is to affix the welding glass filter to the front of the lens and there are a multitude of ways to do it. The most popular is to use rubber bands to create enough tension between the welding glass and the lens hood (reverse position), holding the welding glass filter to the front of the lens like so:

If there’s a permanent lens hood attached like in the 16-28mm f2.8 Tokina and Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 wide angle lens, electrical tape can be used to attach the welding glass filter to a drain pipe to create the 10 stop ND filter.
I bought this plastic drain pipe for $7 at Bunnings (any hardware store should have it) and was lucky the filter fit over the square part of the pipe whilst the circular diameter of 100mm fits over my Tokina 16-28mm lens. This setup saved me many hundreds of dollars in purchasing a Cokin / Lee ND filter system.

We’ll then need to take the photo using the bulb mode setting on our camera with the shutter speed in the 10 stop filter column of table below:

No Filter

With 10 Stop Filter

No Filter

With 10 Stop Filter

30s

8h 32m

1/13s

1m 19s

25s

7h 6m 40s

1/15s

1m 9s

20s

5h 41m 20s

1/20s

52s

15s

4h 16m

1/25s

41s

13s

3h 41m 52s

1/30s

34s

10s

2h 50m 40s

1/40s

26s

8s

2h 16m 32s

1/50s

21s

6s

1h 42m 24s

1/60s

17s

5s

1h 25m 20s

1/80s

13s

4s

1h 8m 16s

1/100s

11s

3s

51m 12m

1/125s

9s

2.5s

42m 40s

1/160s

6.4s

2s

34m 8s

1/200s

5.1s

1.6s

27m 19s

1/250s

4s

1.3s

22m 12s

1/320s

3.2s

1s

17m 4s

1/400s

2.5s

1/1.3s

13m 8s

1/500s

2s

1/1.6s

10m 40s

1/640s

1.6s

1/2s

8m 32s

1/800s

1.3s

1/2.5s

6m 50s

1/1000s

1s

1/3s

5m 42s

1/1250s

0.82s

1/4s

4m 16s

1/1600s

0.64s

1/5s

3m 25s

1/2000s

0.51s