ND grad filters are one of the essential tools for landscape photographers, helping balance a bright sky with a darker foreground. In this guide, we’ll let you know what we think of some of the best ND grad filters. If you’re looking for more filters, have a look at our guide to the best filters.

Cokin Gradual ND Kit (H300-02)

Price: Around $46 / £64 (holder not included)

Cokin’s P-series filters are 84mm wide and suitable for full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with focal lengths of 28mm upwards. This is a great value kit, with three graduated filters – ND2, ND4 and ND8 – that slot into a filter holder which costs extra. A Cokin P400 P holder costs $15 / £16 and then you need an adapter ring to hold it in position on the lens; adaptor rings cost around $15 / £15.99.

The kit offers a great entry-level solution into the wonderful world of landscape photography with acceptable durability and build quality, although they don’t withstand regular heavy use well. The optical performance is impressive for the price, although stacking more than one filter in the holder gives a magenta cast.

SRB Photographic 0.6 ND Soft Grad Pro glass filter

Price: Around $45 / £34.95
Website: www.srb-photographic.co.uk

SRB’s 0.6 P Size ND Soft Grad filter is an excellent choice for the budget-conscious photographer and a nifty way to net yourself 2 extra stops of exposure in the sky. An SRB-branded pouch provides some extra protection. Note that since it is a square filter, you’ll need an appropriate holder. An SRB P size holder costs $6.50 / £4.95 and the better made Elite holder is $45 / £34.95.

This filter is also available as part of a three-filter set. There are two set options: Set 1 comprises the 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 Soft ND grad; and Set 2 is made up of 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2 versions.  Each set, including a holder wallet, is priced at around $118 / £94.95. If you’ve been hesitant about investing in filters, SRB is definitely a good place to start.

Tiffen Digital HT ND 0.6 grad

Price: Around $120/£141(72mm)
Website: www.tiffen.com

Tiffen’s filters have a solid reputation, that is well deserved. The Digital HT (High Transmission) series upholds the tradition in exemplary fashion thanks to an enviable feature set. The filter is titanium-coated, which Tiffen promises will reflect less than 1% of light that hits the front surface. Sometimes toting a slender ND filter around can feel a little like walking on eggshells, and while you wouldn’t want to toss the Tiffen filter around a park, it feels sturdier than average thanks to its titanium build. Although multi-coated filters can be risky to clean, Tiffen claims that the Digital HT grad can be cleaned worry-free, providing a little more peace of mind. The Digital HT ND 0.6 is available in a variety of sizes, from 52mm to 82mm.

Lee Filters 0.6ND Hard Grad

Price: Around $145 / £94 (100x150mm)
Website: www.leefiltersdirect.com

Lee Filters offers an extensive range of graduated ND filters, with hard, medium and soft varieties available. ND 100x150mm grads cost from $145 / £116.40. For sunsets, reverse NDs are available too, which cost $210 / £168.

As a general rule, a hard grad such as the 0.6ND 100x150mm filter is best for images containing a horizon or where there’s a hard transition between the sky and the foreground. The 0.6ND grad reduces exposure by 2 stops and is made from resin, not glass, and it is supplied in a soft pouch. For those who haven’t already invested in the Lee Filters system, a filter holder and adapter ring are required. A Lee 100 holder costs around $116 / £92.50 with adaptor rings from about $75 / £52

For those starting out, the Lee Landscape Kit is highly recommended. It costs $240 / £192 (you still have to budget for an adaptor ring) and comprises a holder that allows up to three filters to be attached at any one time and a 0.6ND Medium Grad filter that is more forgiving than a Hard Grad.

For technique advice on how to make the most of your filters in landscape photography, click here.