The ever expanding ecosystem of Beastgrip hardware for smartphone filmmakers now includes filters! If you’ve been following my work and reading my articles you’ll know how I feel about ND filters. ND filters are the most important accessory any smartphone filmmaker can invest in. I have been testing more ND filters recently than anything else. Specifically the Freewell VND’s, the Moment VND’s and of course the PolarPro VND’s which I’ve been using for the longest period of time.
The Beastgrip Pro Series ND Filters
The range of Beastgrip Pro Series filters comprises a set of 58mm fixed density ND filters, a 1.5 – 8.5 stop variable ND filter (VND) and a circular polarizer (CPL). The fixed density ND filters and CPL are priced towards the high end, but the VND is very reasonably priced compared to competing VND filters.
All of the Beastgrip Pro Series filters are quite thick, and have a bit more weight to them compared to my other filters. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, just an observation. At 5mm thickness the Beastgrip fixed ND filters are 1mm thicker than my Tiffen ND filters and 3mm thicker than my Moondog Labs ND filters (made by Nisi). The Beastgrip VND is 1mm thicker than the PolarPro, and Freewell filters, and just less than 1mm thicker overall than the Moment VND filters.
In terms of weight the Beastgrip fixed ND filters are on par with the Tiffen filters, but the Moondog Labs (Nisi) filters are the lightest, thinnest filters I own. They remain my ND filters of choice when the phone is on a lightweight smartphone gimbal such as the Moza Mini S where any of the VND filters are a bit too heavy.
The Beastgrip filters come in round clear hard plastic protective cases that do a good job for shipping new filters, but take up a lot of space and weight in a camera bag. They are also fiddly to open. I’d recommend getting some lightweight filter pouches to keep them in.
The quality of the glass and coatings seems very good, which is to be expected for a fixed ND filter costing $69.99.
My Informal ND Filter Test Methodology
My test is far from a lab quality test, but it is a simple real world test, in lighting conditions that are common to a lot of the work I shoot. In this review you will see one indoor tungsten, and one outdoor daylight test, however, I’ve repeated these tests a few times with similar results and conclusions. The tungsten lit tests were lit by the most color accurate little LED light I have, the Relio².
Here’s my process.
Unfortunately in my tungsten light test, the iPhone tone mapping dynamics did shift recorded levels around beyond my control. This is especially problematic at lower light levels. Interestingly, it didn’t seem to affect color at all, so I believe my results are still valid. In any case, my observations with each filter were the same under outdoor natural daylight as artificial tungsten light despite Apple’s fancy but annoying AI tone mapping algorithm getting in the way.
In the tungsten frame grabs you will notice inconsistencies in overall brightness and contrast, this is the tone mapping algorithm shifting where it decides to put levels despite my best efforts to lock it down, and it does this locally for specific areas of the image, so it’s not even consistent through the whole frame. However, the important thing is the values of the chips on the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Video chart, and these at least were recorded consistently enough throughout.
Beastgrip ND Filter Color Consistency
Let’s get right to it. The Beastgrip fixed ND filters are excellent. They seem to be as close to spectrally neutral as any ND filters I’ve used and are currently the best fixed ND filters in my kit. They have a very slight yellow color cast, but not much. I recommend that you white balance through the filter, and better still, shoot a color chart so that you can balance out your shots perfectly in post.
The Beastgrip Pro Series VND filter has a stronger yellow color cast throughout the density range. This said, so do all of my VND’s, and the Beastgrip VND isn’t worse in this regard than the others, it’s just not better. More on that later.
The most important thing with any ND filter is color consistency. An ideal ND filter should reduce the amount of light passing through it uniformly for the whole visible spectrum, including near infra red extending into UV. This is called a full spectrum ND filter. However, not all filters are created equally, some cut IR, some don’t, and there can often be an inconsistent reduction across the spectrum.
Beastgrip ND Filter Tests
Beastgrip ND Filter Color Correction
You can see from the comparison frame grabs above that the fixed ND filters have very little color cast throughout the range. As long as you white balance through the filter, I don’t think you’ll need to correct for any noticeable offset to the color caused by the filter in post. If you’re taking your color seriously, you will still need to color correct just as you would if you weren’t using a ND filter.
As a universal guideline it’s a good idea to carry a color chart with you, and shoot a few seconds of it whenever your lighting changes significantly, or even before every shot. The chart has to be directly and evenly lit by your key (brightest) light source, and exposed so the white chip hits around 90% on your waveform for the reference to be useful in post. I’ve written and created a video tutorial so you can learn exactly how to use a chart and how to color correct perfectly in DaVinci Resolve. Apps like FiLMiC Pro give you a waveform, and other exposure analytics tools which are very helpful in ensuring correct exposure. This applies whether you are using ND filters or not.
My experiences with the iPhone 11 Pro Max (and it will be the case for all iPhone 11 devices) is that the effects of dynamic tone mapping are less of an issue than with previous generations. However, shooting a color chart, such as my favorite, the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Video, is the easiest way to know exactly how to color correct perfectly.
Beastgrip VND Filter Tests
The Beastgrip Pro Series VND has the strongest color cast of all the Beastgrip filters but so do my other variable ND’s. My one general criticism of the VND filter is the decision not to split the density range into two separate filters. The last two strongest marked positions of the range can’t be used due to the effect of cross polarization on the image. My other VND filters avoid this by splitting the overall density range into two separate filters, each covering less range.
The yellow color cast is perfectly consistent throughout the whole density range of the filter, so not difficult to deal with by setting white balance through the filter, or correcting in post. The best way to set white balance through the filter is by using a white balance target, such as the one inside the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Video and set this as a preset. However, for my tests I use the daylight preset when outdoors, and set and lock the white balance to the color temperature of my Relio tungsten LED light source for the tungsten tests.
Regardless, once the yellow cast is corrected out of the image, the hue of the color chips in the chart were close to correctly aligned on the vectorscope. It was only a global saturation reduction needed to bring them into reasonable alignment. Further minor hue vs hue and hue vs sat curve adjustments for each of the six color chips brought them into exact alignment. These adjustments did not affect the corrected white, black and grey balance. This indicates to me the Beastgrip VND filter is evenly reducing the transmission of light across the spectrum, it just also shifts everything towards yellow.
Beastgrip VND Filter Color Correction
Any VND filter is going to require some color correction, even if you’ve white balanced through the filter. This is my experience with every VND I’ve used at every price point. Granted, I’m very picky when it comes to color, and others aren’t so bothered.
I absolutely recommend shooting a color chart when using a VND filter. It’s not only a stronger overall color offset that most VND’s introduce compared to fixed density ND filters, there can be inconsistencies in the transmittance of particular wavelengths that affect color in more nuanced ways. Having the chart will let you perfectly correct for this in post.
The Beastgrip Pro Series VND filters are no exception, but they aren’t difficult to correct for. I was able to easily correct at every step, and the correction required was consistent throughout the density range.
Vectorscope and RGB Parade Below.
Beastgrip Pro Series VND Cross Polarization
Above: The effects of cross polarization are clearly noticeable at the strongest end of the density range
As with any VND filter that covers a large density range, the Beastgrip VND does suffer from cross polarization artifacts. This is noticeable from about step 11, and makes the last 3 steps unusable. I didn’t calculate exactly what level of stop reduction this is, but it’s somewhere around 7.5 stops from what I can tell. This still leaves a wide useable range.
The Beastgrip CPL (Circular Polarizer) does a great job. I don’t have too much to say about it. It doesn’t alter color at all, and works exactly as intended.
The fixed density Beastgrip Pro Series ND filters and the CPL are excellent. I can’t fault them in terms of optical performance and quality. They aren’t particularly lightweight, or inexpensive, but are a solid choice if you’re not afraid to invest some money on a set of high quality fixed density ND filters. As I mentioned previously, the Beastgrip Pro Series fixed ND filters are currently the best in my kit.
The Beastgrip Pro Series VND filter is a high quality VND. For me the performance of this single wide range VND is not quite up there with the other pairs of VND filters I use. It is however priced more affordably than any of them, especially considering you only have to buy one, and not a pair. The Beastgrip VND filter does represent the best overall value in terms of performance for the price of any of the VND’s I’ve used.
Buy the Beastgrip Pro Series Filters
Learn how to use different shots, angles and framing to make your iPhone cinematography stand out. Know the rules so you can use or break them.
Learn how to adjust and lock perfect iPhone video exposure in FiLMiC Pro without upsetting tone mapping using the PolarPro Peter McKinnon Edition Variable ND Filters.
A color managed workflow ensures correct exposure and consistent color with FiLMiC Pro LogV2 by using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Video.