Since over 2 years now, I use the Heliopan Vari-Grau ND Fader religiously. I tried a lot of different brands before and have to send them all back, because they get ether soft on a long lens or had some crazy color shift to it – sometimes both. The Heliopan – though expensive – was the only ND Fader that was holding up to my standards.
To my surprise, the Eclipse does not only play in the same league as the Heliopan, in some situations it “outfades” the Heliopan.
GENUS jumped through some hoops to make this possible. They use a brand new laser based method which ensures superior color fidelity and sharpness.
Colorcast and sharpness
When you look at the picture below, you can see, that the Eclipse get’s a bit warmer ( providing more ND), while the Heliopan gets a bit greenish.
Both filters hold sharpness pretty well, even at max settings.
Mind that you always will get some color cast with polarizer based NDs, there is no way to totally cheat the nature of light – but GENUS did a pretty good job here, to minimize that effect as much as possible – and on the pleasing side, I must say.
What really gobsmacked me – you can see that on the 100% crops below – that the Heliopan seems to introduce some sort of moire in the roof shingles.
I have to admit, that I never saw that before, but I’m glad to see, that the Eclipse doesn’t sow that behavior.
The Eclipse has more usable ND steps than my Heliopan and you can fade it down much more, before it starts vignetting.
If you go over the max setting, the dreaded X-hatch comes in, like on every other fader that is based on two polarizers – but that’s the nature of the beats and nothing to write home about – just plain physics.
What I really like, are the markings for the stops. Oppose to other brands, they are actually useful.
Because of the nonlinear nature of the polarizers you also need non linear markings to get repeatable results, or – at least – know where you are at all.
Also the build quality of the Eclipse is better than the Heliopan, which was always a bit to flimsy (especially for the price).
The damping is just right and it turns nice and smoothly.
I must say, I’m surprised and pleased with the Eclipse.
Genus did a great job here and you get a excellent ND fader for a attractive and affordable price.
Since any ND fader consists of polarizers, they act like polarizers.
The level of polarizing and all depends on the angle, the ND sits on the lens. I use an old polarizer ring (where I took out the glass) under the NDfader to dial in the fader effect and the polarizer effect individually. This is important, when it comes to skintones, where you don’t want a polarizer effect at all, cause it kills the subtle sub-surface scattering of light in the skin.
UPDATE: You don’t need that trick on a Heliopan VarND. For some reason the Heliopan shows no polarizer effect at all. I have no idea how Heliopan does this, but it works right out of the box, just NDing and no polarizing.
Also almost every sensor is prone to near infrared pollution. The stronger ND filtration you use the more prominent that effect is.
So you really want some protection here. A filter that cuts the near-IR at about 780nm is the HELIOPAN – Digitalfilter, BLF 1x, LW -0 – if you use heavy ND filtration – fader ore not – I really recommend to get one of those.