Filter brand suggestion and strength

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by OrangeCuse44, May 26, 2010.

  1. OrangeCuse44 macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #1
    With the many choices, I'm a bit overwhelmed of what filter brand to go with. I am between an ND filter and graduated ND filter for my upcoming trip to Hawaii. I'll be using the filter for long exposure waterfall shots (ND would work here) and long exposure beach/sunset beach shots (graduated ND I assume is best for these). My questions are:

    1. Can either of these filters work for both scenarios or would I really need to buy both?

    2. What strength filter is the best all around for these type of shots? I am GUESSING .9 for ND, what about GND? Are soft edge GNDs often the better choice over hard edge?

    3. What brands are the best? I dont want a cheap filter that will end up ruining my glass quality (ie Tiffen?)

    A lot of questions, I know, but I'm overwhelmed and really want to order something bc the trip is coming up fast! Thanks!
     
  2. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #2
    You may also want to bring a polarizing filter - I started using one not long ago and it can really do a lot for you!
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    1. You need both. A grad darkens only a portion of the image, toning down bright sun, sand or snow to bring the exposure range down to a manageable amount. An ND filter brings down the exposure value of the entire frame to allow for long exposures.

    2. Strength depends on what you're shooting. Personally, I like the Lee GelSnap system for 100cm square ND filters, they offer a kit with three and you can stack the filters. Soft edged ND filters tend to transition better.

    3. Depends on what you're buying.

    Paul
     
  4. OrangeCuse44 thread starter macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #4
    1. Yes, I understand the difference, I guess I was just wondering if I could "get away" with only have an ND filter for both types of shots.

    2. I really plan on using it for long exposure waterfall shots and beach shots.

    3. What do you mean? Either an ND or grad ND filter...
     
  5. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #5
    You can use an ND filter for beach shots. I wouldn't use a split grad for waterfalls, as the lighting is usually even throughout.

    I would not use the round screw type graduated ND filters. Get the square style. Perhaps a sing-ray if you can. A soft edge would be fine for sunsets on the beach.

    You can get by w/o one (split grad) and just use an ND, but you would probably have to blend an image (please no HDRi, I HATE those). Blending takes more time and knowledge, but the results are better.

    B+W are really good. I don't mess around with Tiffen anymore. I guess Hoya is good, but i haven't used them in years. I would stick with B+W and Singh-Ray. I really want a Daryl Benson reverse grad!
     
  6. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    #6
    1. If you understand the difference, obviously you can't get away with just one of the two for both shots.

    2. A polarizer can make your beach shots look better and give you 2 stops for the waterfall. It may be a good compromise. The grad ND is probably better for the beach, the ND filter is probably better for the waterfall, but if you just want one for everything, polarizer is not a bad place to start.

    3. Singhray makes highly regarded filters that have minimal color cast but they are pricey. Just search for ND reviews and you will find comments on which ones color cast. A color cast on the full ND is not a big deal as you can fix it if you shoot RAW. A color cast on the grad ND is work to fix.

    Make sure you invest in a rock solid tripod before you start trying long waterfall exposures. You may already have this, but a 3 stop ND without a good tripod will not be very helpful.

    Good luck.
     
  7. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #7
    to touch on what was said above, any ND filter is worthless w/o a tripod, as well as sunset images.

    Singh-Ray filters (cokin/Lee holder) are no more expensive than my 3 stop B+W filter. I paid $94 for mine, and the SRs are like $100, depending on which one you get. Now the vario-ND style, that is a different story ($440!)
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #8
    If you know the difference, then you should realize that you can't.

    A grad won't be good for waterfalls because the water wouldn't all be given the same treatment, you'd have different exposure values for the top/bottom of the falls and it would probably look rather odd. A straight ND filter wouldn't help for beach shots since you'd just be setting the exposure point lower, not changing the overall dynamic range of the scene.

    No, depends on if you want glass, resin or polyester, and what size.

    Paul
     
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #9
    There is one possibility to "double up" on filter usage here...

    If you buy the large size rectangular grad ND filters, for example Lee 4x6 (100x150mm) size (same as Cokin Z), it is possible to double utilize a hard stop GND as a straight ND by positioning the transition off the bottom of the frame. The large sized filters have enough "solid ND" region on one side that it completely covers the frame.

    I do this on my Hitech (4x5" or 100x125mm) filters, where I often used my 3 stop hard GND as a full ND for shooting waterfalls. I even stacked my 2 and 3 stop filters for 5 stops of damping at times, without trouble. I would imagine the slightly larger 4x6 filters would be even better for this.

    Some caveats: I did not recall having any issues with ultrawides and this method, because the filter is placed very near the lens. So long as you can get enough dark area over the front lens element there is no problem.

    I use a DX camera. I can see where maybe it might be more troublesome to do this with FX, but again I was using a UWA at 12mm (equivalent of 18mm on FX) and did not recall any issues. However some particular wide FX lenses may have difficulty with this but I can't confirm/deny.

    This ability to "double up" was one of the reasons I decided to go with larger rectangular filters vs. getting smaller Cokin P sized ones. Even though the bigger filter system is a little more expensive, I could buy one filter and double up its usage.

    Ruahrc
     

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