ND filter, follow focus & lens adapter Review of the DEC Vari-ND

The DEC Vari-ND from Aputure is a Canon EF lens adapter for MFT or Sony E-mount cameras. That means if you own Canon glass but you’re using a Sony A7 or a Panasonic GH5 which have a different lens mount you can still use these EF lenses. But the DEC is not just a lens adapter but it can also change the aperture and can be used as a follow focus too. The Vari-ND is currently priced at USD 699.

Watch our 5-minute video review below in 4K:

The DEC Vari-ND has all the features the previous versions had plus a variable neutral density filter. It reaches from ND8 up to ND2048 which makes it useable for long exposure photography as well as for filming wide open to create a shallow depth of field even in bright sunlight.

A common issue with variable ND filters is the X pattern that is visible when rotating the filter which makes shots unusable because the exposure is not the same. Another issue that ND filters can cause is a shift in color. Usually the video would get a yellow or red tint which means the footage has to be color corrected in post, whether you want it or not. The DEC’s ND filter luckily produces neutral colors which is a huge improvement compared to most other filters on the market.

To still be able to use all the DEC’s features without darkening the image, the ND filter needs to be removed and a glass filter without any special coating can be put in the DEC instead. It’s not a big issue but something you need to keep in mind when filming under changing light conditions.

Both the remote and the controller that is plugged in to the lens adapter can control aperture and ND but only the remote can be used as a follow focus. By pressing the rotating wheel the DEC switches between aperture and ND. By rotating the wheel it changes either the aperture or the ND.

The wireless remote can be mounted on a camera cage, a tripod or of course can be used hand-held and be controlled by a focus puller. By pressing the A and B button two focus points can be set and then controlled by pushing the focus switch to the left or right. Both controllers can be charged via Micro USB and the battery lasts around 4 hours.

When it comes to lenses. Original Canon glass works well in combination with the DEC but there can be focus issues when using third-party-lenses. So far we used the E-mount version of the DEC in combination with the Sony A7S II and haven’t had any issues or seen a loss or softening when it comes to image quality. The main issue for us when filming is that the aperture is not visible on the camera’s screen but only on the DEC’s displays.

For 700 US Dollar the DEC doesn’t come in cheap but other companies either offer only a follow focus, a lens adapter or an ND filter but never all in one. Of course this is not a tool for everyone but for us it’s a tool we will use on pretty much every project as long as we film with Canon glass.

There is not one reason for using this tool, it’s rather the variety of features: From pulling focus to changing the exposure without any changes in color that make the DEC Vari-ND a useful tool for video professionals who just can’t get rid of their Canon lenses.

You can order the Sony E-mount version and the MFT version of the DEC Vari-ND HERE!

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