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 The gray graduated filter and how it works

Graduated gray filters (GND filters) are a special type of graduated filter that are transparent at one end and darkened at the other end. The two surfaces converge in the middle of the filter, from clear to dark. This transition differs depending on the type of GND filter. The different types are described below for you.

These filters are primarily used to balance the exposure of a scene, which in landscape photography naturally consists of a dark section (foreground) and a light section (sky). A human eye is able to visualize a much larger range of light and shadow than a camera sensor. This is referred to as the "dynamic range" of a scene. Because the camera covers a smaller dynamic range, using GNDs helps capture the dynamic range of a scene with one exposure, rather than stitching together multiple shots with different exposure times in post-processing.

How do I take photos with a gray filter?

  • Screw/clamp the gray filter onto the camera lens
  • Mount the camera on a stable tripod
  • Select the image section and focus
  • In the best case, the camera should be level
  • If available, turn off the image stabilizer

Use the autofocus to sharpen the image section and then switch to "manual".
To avoid blurring of the picture, always work with a remote shutter release or timer shutter
Basically, this guide shows the typical steps that should be followed with a long exposure.


Of course, these instructions are not to be regarded as rigid, but they are a good approach for beginners as well as for professionals. If a specific motif is to be captured, it is advisable to use the table above to calculate the exposure time values ​​so that the motif is not gone again when the setting is made. This is especially useful if the exposure is longer than 30 seconds, because then the bulb mode has to be activated.