Circular filters or square?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by sprtnbsblplya, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. sprtnbsblplya macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    #1
    I'm looking at getting some ND filters this fall or winter and am curious what style others use.
    Do you guys use circular filters that thread onto your lens?
    Or a square mount kit with drop in filters (like Cokin)?
    The Cokin kits seem pretty versatile with a good price point.
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #2
    I've just started using Cokin ones (grads and I have some non-grad NDs coming). The whole system works really well.
     
  3. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    NSW, Australia.
    #3
    The advantage of using a filter holder system is that when you're using ND grads, you can adjust the position of the gradient to match the horizon.

    I've got some Cokin P series square filters.
    They're not too bad, they aren't terribly "neutral", sometimes they produce a colour cast, but shooting in raw and fixing later in PP works fine.
    They can give you some great results for the price.
    They vignette @12mm on my ultra wide angle lens, but that's just my fault for being cheap and not going with the larger Z-pro series. :eek:
     
  4. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #4
    Yeah, but the Z-pro ones are really expensive! Are you using the standard 3-filter holder or the slimmer, wide-angle, single filter holder?
     
  5. viggen61 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #5
    The BIG advantage with the Cokin, or other square filter system, is that you only need to buy them once. Maybe twice, in some cases.

    I'd get (and I did) the "P" holder and filters. That should hold you for all but the widest angle lenses, and largest fast telephotos. You can mount them on lenses that take up to 82mm filters.

    Each lens gets its own adapter, a disc that threads into the filter threads. You don't have to buy one for each filter, but at least one in each filter diameter your lenses use. The holder clips on the adapter disc, then you install the filters.

    One place it really helps, in addition to graduated filters, is for the circular polarizer. Cokin's is about US$75 in "P" series. That would add up fast, if you had several lenses with different filter diameters and were buying round filters!

    The disadvantages include: won't work with lens-specific hoods; they can be bulky, if you have a lot, and use the plastic "cases" for them; and they're not glass, which makes them not quite perfect for some.

    For me, they work great, and even though they are a bit bulky, they get the job done.

    :apple::apple:
     
  6. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    NSW, Australia.
    #6
    I'm using the 3 slot version.
    I'm going to saw the 3rd slot off as I never use it, hopefully that'll improve things somewhat.
    You can rotate the holder 90° which reduces the vignetting, only useful if you're not using a Grad.
     
  7. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #7
    The wide-angle one helps a lot but you can't use a polariser and a grad with it. I intend doing the same as you at some point...
     
  8. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #8
    These are all good things to consider when deciding how you want to build out your filter collection.

    It's a little unclear from your post whether or not you are looking for NDs, GNDs, or both.

    For just NDs, I don't think it is necessary to buy a filter system that Cokin or Lee make. Just look at your lens collection, pick the greatest lens diameter (it should be printed on your lens as a number with a circle with a line through it before it) and buy a screw-in filter. Grab some step-up rings to go with your other lenses and you are good to go. If you feel like you may upgrade to f2.8 lenses some day, save yourself some trouble and just get 77mm filters if you can afford them. Everybody has an opinion on who makes the best screw-in filters. I prefer B+W, others like Hoya, etc.

    Regarding GNDs, DO NOT get screw-in grads. As TheReef said, you won't be able to adjust them to make the horizon. I use the Lee system with 4'x6' filters - I don't have any vignetting (with SWA adapters) and since the filters are 2' longer than the square filters they are much easier to adjust (or even handhold if that's your thing). The downside to Lee is that they are pricey and very difficult to find.

    You can use screw in NDs combined with drop-in GNDs, but it will require another few minutes of preparation before you shoot.

    As viggen61 said, if you're careful, you will only need to buy filters once in your lifetime, so don't skimp on quality if you can help it. They are a lot of fun to use once you get the hang of it!
     
  9. sprtnbsblplya thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    #9
    Thanks for the tips so far guys.

    Manhattan, I'm already using f/1.8 and f/2.8 lenses. The more light the better :D.
    I have some 77mm with a 72 to 77mm step up.
    However, I'm looking at a filter system that is going to last and be able to adapt to future needs. Thats why I'm considering the Cokin system over the screw in filters. One set of filters that can drop into the filter holder for any lens. Probably going to add both types of filters in the future once I'm out of school. One at a time...
     
  10. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #10
    If you're looking for a system that will last, I highly recommend the Z-size (also the same as Singh-ray, hitech, or Lee).

    1. They are larger and will be easier to use on a full frame system and wide lenses

    2. Bigger filters are easier to handhold and thus many times you can dispense with the holder for faster operation. Also if you get a screw-in polarizer you can handhold a GND on top of it and get no vignetting.

    3. For DX systems, a hard edge GND can usually be doubled up as a full ND due to it's larger size. This reduces the number of filters you need to buy at the outset and also reduced the number of filters you need to carry with you in the field (at least until you go FX)
     
  11. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #11
    Just make sure your wallet is prepared!
     

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