Unique Shots with Sony’s New Electronic Fader ND / Aperture Function – NAB 2015

At NAB 2015, Sony didn’t have any big camera news – the FS7 had their US premiere but it has already been in the market for a while since it was introduced about 6 months ago.

However, we discovered something really interesting, an easy oversight, when Sony’s Bill Drummond was giving us a walk-through at their booth: the Sony X180, a semi-shoulder camcorder similar to the dated EX3, features an extremely intriguing feature that we have never seen in another camera before:

It’s a unique kind of combination of an electronically controlled fader ND that automatically adjusts to the exposure set by the aperture that can be adjusted manually. The effect is an image that seemingly keeps the same exposure but the depth of field changes as the aperture is adjusted.


This kind of combination is something we haven’t seen before in a camera and it allows creators to make shots that we truly haven’t seen before. For now, this is only in the X180 camera but we can clearly see this being implemented into future Sony cameras down the line. How and if this can be integrated into interchangeable lens cameras remains to be seen though.

Watch it on Vimeo

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Jacob Lewis Reply
Jacob Lewis April 17, 2015

I don’t get what’s happening…

Johnnie Behiri April 17, 2015

In short, you can achieve “DSLR looking” depth of field from a small sensor camera.



Jacob Lewis Reply
Jacob Lewis April 27, 2015

Well, I got that much. How? What’s technically happening?

Jaakko Rinne April 27, 2015

Johnnie Behiri is wrong. What this allows is for you to change your iris without affecting your exposure. And while that lets you adjust your DOF, It doesn’t make it any shallower than what you would otherwise get with the same lens/sensor combo.

The technical explanation for what’s happening is that the camera can automatically adjust the strength of the electrical ND filter while the operator adjusts the iris, thus keeping exposure constant. And because the electrical ND doesn’t have steps like optical ND filters do, you can do this even in the middle of a shot.

Jurij Turnšek Reply
Jurij Turnšek April 17, 2015

This also means you could film with a fixed f stop and shutter speed the whole day, starting in bright sunlight, where ISO 100 would would warrant a strong ND filter and let the cam gradually adjust the fader as the sun sets or it suddenly gets cloudy.

Arie van Dam Reply
Arie van Dam April 17, 2015

I knew they could do this… Want one on all cameras.. NOW! Awesome.
No more fiddling with separate ND filters.
Please one on the A7s please!
No color shifts either I hope..


Edin Gacic Reply
Edin Gacic April 17, 2015

this is cool

Jaakko April 21, 2015

You can achieve the same with the RED motion mount on RED cameras. And the same variable ND is also found on the Sony PXW-X160.

Emmanuel April 22, 2015

You could do it with any camcorder with shutter priority AE. I could achieve that effect 20 years ago with VX1000

Jaakko Rinne April 22, 2015

No, you can’t and you couldn’t. Your exposure would change with any camera that lacks the variable ND.

Emmanuel Plakiotis April 28, 2015

Its very easy put on aperture priority and change the shutter speed. The exposure remains constant but the depth of field changes because the aperture changes to accomodate the light difference of the various shutter speeds.

I still have the vx1000 and can do it any time. Works with any camcorder which has shutter priority auto exposure.