Since 2011, PolarPro has been known for its premium and comprehensive range of ND and polarizing filters. In fact, they appear as the choice of preference at GoPro´s official website due to the high quality and durability of their glasses.

On the other hand, if you’ve spent any time on YouTube looking at photography or videography tutorials, you’ve likely run across Peter McKinnon’s channel at some point. The Toronto-based vlogger has absolutely exploded onto the scene, amassing over 1.1 million subscribers in less than a year.

Defender 360

In 2017, both sides joined efforts together and started working on a variable ND filter that caters specifically to run and gun photographers and videographers. The product was finally released in 2019 and one year after, PolarPro decided to release the second generation.

[Related Reading: PolarPro QuartzLine Filter Review | A Polarizer and ND Filter In One]

What are the Highlights of the Peter McKinnon Edition NDs?

The filter itself has a laser-etched stop indicator that precisely aligns two fused quartz glass elements to control the amount of light entering the lens. This material is supposed to have the best optical clarity over any glass on the market.

From there, PolarPro added 16 layers of anti-reflection coatings for scratch protection and to prevent ghosting and reflection. These coatings also make for efficient cleaning and help protect against water and oil. It’s also believed to have the lowest refractive index among any other option.

E3 PP 2 5
E3 PP 2 5
E1 No Filter
E1 No Filter

The VND filters are offered in two strengths, one model providing from two to five stops of reduction (ND4 to ND32), and a second model providing six to nine stops of reduction (ND64 to ND512). They are available in 67, 77, and 82mm diameter. There are many product reviews from third parties already available.

What Are The Upgrades In The Second Generation?

In the second generation, the company integrated a haptic feedback mechanism, similar to that of an aperture ring, so you can adjust between stops without ever having to look at the filter. Besides that, there is no change in optical performance, and it promises to hold the same quality as the first version.

F1 No Filter
F1 No Filter
F5 PP 2 5
F5 PP 2 5

Additionally, PolarPro upgraded the Defender360 so you can now seamlessly move from storage to installation to use with a self-contained protection system. This will guarantee that you will never touch the glass!

Introduction of the Mist Edition

Aside from the release of the second generation of the ND Peter McKinnon edition filter, PolarPro is also introducing the industry’s first filter that features both a variable ND as well as diffusion.

PMVND EDII 2 5 1
PMVND EDII 2 5 1
PMVND MIST 2 5 1
PMVND MIST 2 5 1

The aim of this filter is to offer more creative possibilities through an image that will appeal smoother with an “angelical look”. This glass gives highlights a more even look and excels at giving human subjects a polished appearance without sacrificing image sharpness.

This will not replace the PMVND Signature Editions as your everyday filter, but it is ideal for getting creative shots for documentaries, short films, music videos, and commercial work.

The diffusion effect for the Mist filter deals more with halation than digital softness. It is not as harsh as other diffusion filters on the market and the effect is gentler. The highlight of this product is creating a particular outcome that is very difficult to reproduce, even in post-production, and without the need of having to stack more layers of glass that could create cross-polarization.

Test Performance

You need some type of moving element –usually water or clouds for landscape photographers– to get the most out of a strong ND filter. Given that I live in Germany and summer is already gone, I settled nearby artificial lakes during some cloudy days to test these new filters. I used only the ND 2-5Ev for both versions.

The particular editing of the images is a matter of personal choice and also serves to demonstrate the creative capabilities rendered by these filters. More subtle samples can be already found at PolarPro´s site.

ISO 100 24mm f11 1 sec 2 stops PMVND MISTISO 100 24mm f11 20 sec 4 stops PMVND EDITION II
ISO 100 33mm f11 03 sec 4 stops PMVND EDITION IIISO 100 36mm f11 08 sec 5 stops PMVND MIST
ISO 100 24mm f11 13 sec 4 stops PMVND EDITION IIISO 100 24mm f11 16 sec 5 stops PMVND MIST
ISO 100 31mm f11 04 sec 5 stops PMVND MISTISO 100 31mm f11 1 5 sec 2 stops PMVND EDITION II
ISO 100 36mm f11 10 sec 3 stops PMVND EDITION IIISO 100 36mm f11 53 sec 5 stops PMVND MIST

Positive Highlights

  • The integrated sensory feedback mechanism efficiently allows us to do adjustments without taking attention away from the frame
  • Overall quality doesn´t differ from the well-accepted first version
  • The Mist Edition offers an interesting effect for portraitures and landscapes

Neutral Aspects

  • I noticed that the filter warms images slightly, but not to an unpleasant or unacceptable degree

What Could be Better

  • PolarPro claims that this filter eliminates cross-polarization and vignetting down to 16mm focal lengths, but I started noticing them at 24mm in the Mist edition. Although, quite smooth, and not every time. I didn´t have this issue with the PMVND II
  • These VND filters are rather expensive, and it seems that substituting the glamorous packaging from the first version to an eco-friendlier box (which the world appreciates), didn´t influence in the reduction of the price tag
i Mist Slider Before 5
i Mist Slider Before 5
j Mist Slider After 5
j Mist Slider After 5

[Related Reading: PolarPro Collaborates with Peter McKinnon for New Variable ND Filters]

Why Launch A New Version So Close To The First Generation?

Since the release of the 1st edition in the spring of 2019, PolarPro has been collecting and listening to feedback from users to meet their needs and demands. This second generation is the result of coming back from the drawing table.

Signature Lifestyle 01

Is The Second Generation Substituting The First Version?

So far, the company claims that the 1st generation PMVND 2-5 and 6-9 Stop will remain on their site for purchase. At the moment of this post, the second generation should be already available as well.

Price between both generations will remain the same and PolarPro will offer a 4-pack combo package that will be $250 off of the retail price. Additionally, they will submit a trade-in program that will offer $40 off for those who have the Edition I and would like to upgrade to Edition II.

Mist Lifestyle 03

Who Is This Made For?

These filters are geared to meet the many different needs of wedding videographers, cinematographers, and run and gun filmmakers. For stills, these glasses are also quite efficient to control shutter speed in ever-changing lighting conditions, especially for documentary photographers who are constantly on the move. Although, perhaps not that flexible compared to square filter systems, that are the everyday workhorse of landscape photographers.

Mist Lifestyle 02

Final Thoughts

The PolarPro VNDs are _not_ a cheap option. But what I can say is that they are very high quality, and you get what you pay for. These are filters that will last you well and are a long-term investment. If you invest in high-quality lenses, you owe it to your glass to invest in high-quality filters.

In my personal opinion, I believe they are targeted more to videographers than to photographers. Although, if you tend to be on a constant move taking stills, you might see some benefit. For landscape photographers, perhaps a 100-150 square filter system could be more appealing.

Signature Lifestyle 03

The main update to PMVND Signature Edition is based on the integrated sensory feedback mechanism that works very well. Although the first generation offered great quality, time will tell whether an improvement in optics should have been necessary or not.

Regarding the Mist Edition, the effect produced is for sure quite interesting and leaves an open door for personal creativity albeit it won´t be for everyone.

As a personal opinion, I believe that these filters have an impressive performance, quality construction, attractive design, and marked filter densities that make them stand-out in the variable neutral density filter market. What´s your opinion?

Check Pricing & Availability of The Polar Pro Filters Here

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