Vaxis IRND Filter Review – Fixed vs Variable ND for the Tilta Mirage

Having recently purchased and reviewed the Tilta Mirage Matte Box I wanted to try out some of the 95mm Vaxis IRND fixed ND filters to see how they compare to using the Tilta VND.

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Fixed ND vs Variable ND - Vaxis IRND Filters for the Tilta Mirage Matte Box
Fixed ND vs Variable ND - Vaxis IRND Filters for the Tilta Mirage Matte Box

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Choosing the Filters

I decided to purchase three of the Vaxis IRND filters, the 0.6 at 2 Stops, the 1.2 at 4 Stops and the 1.8 at 6 Stops. The reason I chose these three is that I can normally adjust in camera to accommodate 1 stop variations so I find having ND filters at 2 stop intervals works well and keeps the number of filters I need to carry with me at a minimum.

Vaxis IRND 0.6 Filter

Each 95mm Vaxis IRND circular filter comes with a leather style pouch that features a magnetically closing lid. The inside of the pouch is lined with a soft fabric to minimise any wear on the glass. It’s nice to see that the pouches have been labelled to help keep the filters organised.

 

Handling Circular IRND 95mm Filters

Having worked with both rectangular and square filters in the past i wasn’t sure if handling these 95mm circular filters might be more tricky. In practise I found that it’s actually easier to hold these filters for fitting and cleaning than it can be with rectangular filters.

The 95mm circular filters are thinner than traditional rectangular and square filters but thats no bad thing, I’ll talk more about that in a moment.

 

Fitting the Vaxis Circular Filters

To use the Vaxis 95mm Circular filters with the Mirage Matte Box you first need to fit them to a Tilta 95mm circular filter tray. I found the best method of fitting the circular filters to the trays was to place the filter in the tray at the opposite side to the latch and then rest the filter against the latch.

Handling Vaxis 95mm Filters

You can then pull the latch back and the filter drops in to place. I found that with a bit of practise it was possible to do this by just holding the edges of the filters without having to touch the main surface of the glass.

 

Tilta Dual Filter Trays

The tray that’s supplied with the Mirage can hold a single 95mm filter however Tilta also sell Dual Filter Trays allowing you to mount a 95mm filter to each side of the tray. This is where having thinner filters comes in handy as stacking two filters in a single tray brings additional possibilities.

Tilta Mirage Dual 95mm Circular FIlter Tray

For example you can then stack two ND filters in a single tray or combine a fixed ND filter with a mist filter. I also purchased a Vaxis Black Mist 1/8 filter to test and it works really well fitted along with one of the ND filters.

Having the option to combine ND with a Mist filter in a single filter tray makes the Tilta Mirage a great alternative to something like the Polar Pro Peter McKinnon VND with Mist as it allows you to combine fixed ND and mist where required without the need to use an entirely different ND filter when mist isn’t required.

 

Testing the Vaxis 95mm Circular IRND Filters

I tested the Vaxis IRND filters with my Sony FX3 fitted with a Sony 16-35GM lens at 18mm. For comparison I also tested the Tilta VND at the same levels to show the difference between using the Vaxis fixed ND’s with the Tilta variable ND.

 

No filter Comparison

This first test is comparing both the Tilta VND at 2 Stops and the Vaxis IRND 0.6 (2 Stop) filter to having no filter fitted.

Vaxis IRND vs Tilta VND - 2 Stops

You can see that the Tilta VND makes the image a little warmer whereas the Vaxis IRND has done a good job of not changing the white balance of the image.

 

ND Filter Range Test

This test shows the results testing from 2 – 6 Stops on the Tilta VND compared to the three Vaxis IRND filters.

Vaxis IRND vs Tilta VND

At 18mm the Tilta VND is starting to show some discolouration in the centre at 4 Stops and by 6 Stops the cross pattern caused by polarisation has become very visible making the image unusable. The Vaxis IRND on the other hand retains good colour balance and image quality throughout.

Vaxis 95mm Circular VND Test Results

The image above includes additional tests using two Vaxis IRND filters fitted to the Tilta dual filter tray. Even at these extreme levels of ND the vaxis filters are doing a great job of maintaining white balance and image quality.

 

White Balance Test

To confirm the results above I tested the filters by shooting a white card with the balanced. You can see that the Vaxis IRND has maintained the red green and blue channels throughout. The Tilta VND does block part of the blue channel resulting in the warmer images.

Vaxis IRND vs Tilta VND White Balance Test

It’s worth noting that whilst the Tilta VND does reduce the blue channel, this could be corrected by white balancing the camera after fitting the filter. Having to white balance every time a filter is fitted though isn’t ideal which makes the results of the Vaxis IRND filter more desirable.

 

Advantages to using VND

So why would you choose a Variable ND? Well it really just comes down to practicality and shooting efficiency. If you’re and event or documentary filmmaker you sometimes need to be able to adapt to situations and get shots quickly. A variable ND allows you to quickly adjust ND level and get the shot versus having to swap out filters which can take time.

Tilta VND Advantages

Using a variable ND can be the better choice, you just need to bear in mind the possible side effects of cross polarisation or colour shifts. Having the option of both Variable ND and fixed ND is one of the main benefits to using the Tilta Mirage Matte Box as you can choose the best tool for the task.

 

Value for Money

I paid around £45 for each of the Vaxis 95mm Circular IRND Filters making these filters very good value for money indeed. Being able to buy a set of three fixed ND filters for under £150 is not common at all, in fact most rectangular or square filters will often cost that amount or more for a single filter!

You do need the Tilta Mirage Matte Box to use these but if you factor in the base Matte Box kit plus three Vaxis ND’s that puts the total at around £315. When you compare that to something like a Polar Pro Peter McKinnon VND which retails for around £250 just for the filter you’re getting a lot for just £65 more!

 

Summary

I’d highly recommend the Vaxis 95mm Circular IRND filters. They offer excellent value for money and perform extremely well. Choosing between Variable ND and Fixed ND is a tricky choice that needs to be based upon your requirements. My advice would be to have both options if you can. VND offers the best usability but when you cant risk having a shot ruined by a VND it’s great to be able to switch to solid ND!

 

Product Links

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