ND filter help

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rusty2192, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

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    Kentucky
    #1
    A few of you may recognize the following shot. I shared it in the POTD thread in August I believe after a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. I had to stop my lens down all the way to f/22 to get a slow enough shutter speed to get the look I was after. :eek:

    [​IMG]

    We are heading back to the mountains in about a week and this time I want to be more prepared so I am planning on getting an ND filter. I don't want to spend a ton of money on this as it's something I won't use all that often, so I've pretty much decided on the Cokin P series. I'm going to start off with just an ND for now and then probably pick up some GND down the road.

    Now, for the question. What strength of ND should I go with? B&H has 1, 2, and 3 stop variants available. I am leaning toward the 3 stop to get the most effect possible. I figure I can always bump up the ISO to get back a couple stops, but if the ND isn't dark enough, there is nothing I can do to drop stops, short of stopping down the aperture to dangerous levels.

    Any advice? Thanks.
     
  2. avro707 macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    8x ND filter should drop the shutter speed low enough in that kind of light to give you the effect you want.

    You can then use ISO100 or ISO50, whichever you camera has and also choose something like F/9.0 or F/11 that will also give you a pretty slow shutter speed.

    I use a 52mm 8x ND filter for the drop-in filter holder on my 200-400mm Zoom-Nikkor, that gives me around 1/60sec to 1/100sec at F/8.0 and ISO100 in strong daylight, with direct sunlit objects and no shade.

    Given you've got shaded, maybe even dark conditions I guess you'll get the low shutter speeds you are after.
     
  3. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    #3
    Personally, I use an ND10 (Lee Filter) but that might be a bit too much for you. You get everything creamy though and you can stop time.. literally :) On a sunny day I can get exposures of 1+ minutes

    I used to shoot with an ND8 though and I think that would probably be your best match for this..
     
  4. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #4
    I'd also recommend an ND8 filter (while you're at it I'd throw in an ND grad as well).

    You can find P-series compatible filter holders and screw adapters for the filters very cheaply on eBay.
    A genuine Cokin holder will cost quite a bit more and offer no real advantage over a cheaper version.
     
  5. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #5
    Of course, even cheaper that an ND filter is to shoot woodland waterfalls on cloudy - even gloomy - days. The pix often work best, IMO, with full cloud cover; 'dappled' sunlight can be a visual distraction...
     
  6. fcortese, Jan 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012

    fcortese macrumors demi-god

    fcortese

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    #6
    Agree with both of these experienced shooters. BTW, I have a Tiffen ND 0.9 which is relatively inexpensive screw-on filter, but personally sprung for the Lee soft GND filter and filter holder system after much debate between the Conklin P series and the Lee system. I don't think you can go wrong with the conklin.
     
  7. WRP macrumors 6502a

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    #7
  8. rusty2192, Jan 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012

    rusty2192 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Thank you to everyone for your help. I've quoted just a couple below to highlight what they have said, but I really do apprciate everyone's input.


    I just want to make sure I am understanding all of the terminology correctly. When you refer to ND8 here (and others have as well) do you mean 8 stop, 8X, or what? This filter at Adorama is labeled as "Cokin Series P Neutral Density Filter (ND8X) (0.9)" and is supposed to block 3 stops of light. That's 3 different numbers and there doesn't seem to be any consistency between stores and brands :eek: What is the conventional way to refer to ND filters?

    I checked out eBay and you are correct. Definitely cheaper there. Unfortunately (for my wallet) I put this off too long and time is of the essence, so I'll have to go ahead and pay a little more for the genuine ones to get faster shipping. But I will save a little money and just get the 67mm adapter ring for my Tamron 17-50 and hold off on the 58mm for my Canon 55-250. I can always just hand hold the filter for that one for the time being.

    You are entirely correct on that one. I have had many shots ruined by "dappled" sunlight as you put it. Unfortunately this park is about a 4 hour drive from home, so I won't have control of the weather when I'm there :D but for the stuff close to home, I'll take that into account.

    I found a 4 stop (or 1.2 or whatever) by Hitech that seems to strike a balance between cost, effectiveness, and good reviews, so I think that may be my front runner.
     
  9. snberk103, Jan 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012

    snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #9
    Keep in mind that changing the light by one stop is changing it by x2 or divide by 2.
    2x2x2=8 => ND8
    Three '2's above => 3 stops
    0.9 ??? => Beats the heck out of me ???

    Also keep in mind that a polarizing filter is also generally around an ND4 (i.e. 2 stops ND) so getting an ND filter with 4 stops gives you a bit more flexibility since you can easier use aperture or ISO to get to that middle spot.

    Addition: I will just add one more thing re: the dappled sunlight photos. Sometimes you drive for 4 hours, and leave the camera in the car just because the shooting conditions suck. It happens - and experienced photographers recognize this. Enjoy the hike or change your shooting plans - there may be something else you can do photographically. That said... if you recognize that the images are not going to be strong, but you just want to run through the exercise to familiarize yourself with the equipment while on location - that's different. But sometimes, you just accept that it's a non-photographic day and move on to enjoying it in other ways.
     
  10. rusty2192 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Kentucky
    #10
    Thanks for the explanation. That makes perfect sense to me now. After a little more searching I found this site that has a nice table comparing the different brands of filters and how they are labeled.

    Don't worry. I never let a bad photo day ruin the rest of the trip. Most of my shots are pretty crappy anyway, so those times when I do actually end up with a nice shot are the rare bonus :p
     
  11. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #11
    Thanks for the link to the site. I've been shooting for years now, and my shooting philosophy has changed. I am much more particular about what I shoot now. I can recognize that particular conditions are going to produce crappy images, and don't bother. It's just a waste of time. However..... I may then decide to give myself a challenge - to identify a different subject that will allow me to shoot, even if the equipment I brought is not optimal for the new scenario.

    I see this as a worthwhile use of time because I am learning to use my existing equipment in challenging conditions.

    As an example.... you drive 4 hours to the park, all set to take photos of the stream with your new ND filter. And the sunlight is too dappled to take photos that are similar to the example you have in the 1st post. So.... what else can you do? The problem is the dappled sunlight - the extreme light/dark conditions. So.... find a spot that is entirely in a shadow. Probably very small, so we are talking about macro or near macro conditions. So, use the equipment you have with you - even if it doesn't include a macro lense - to work in these new conditions.

    One example might be to continue with the idea of the stream, but instead of showing the entire stream in context, concentrate on just one rock or one log that is not dappled.

    Luck.

    ps Be careful not to drop the camera in the stream!
     
  12. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    cheaper and/or darker filters will often have a magenta tint to them that will be a required fix in post. If you go too dark, you're going to have a hell of a time focusing. I have a 6 stop I use for outdoor portraits so I'm not shooting a such a large aperture and even then with plenty of light I can barely see anything.

    Anyways.

    Stops:

    1
    1.2
    2
    2.8
    4
    5.6
    8
    11
    16
    22

    An 8 stop ND will bring you from f/22 to f/1.2. If you're already shooting at 100 ISO and your lens has a max aperture of say 2.8, you're going to have to crank your ISO up to 400 to compensate. If your lens is even slower than that, you'll be at 800-1600 ISO depending on what your max aperture is. Even then, shooting a landscape type shot at a shallow DOF isn't ideal, so if you want to get back up to f/8 or so, you'll be shooting at 3200 ISO.
     
  13. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    Over there------->
    #13
    I've heard that the magenta cast so common with the use of very dark filters is actually due to the amount of IR light that reaches the sensor due to the very long exposure. That is, the magenta comes not from a tint in the filter itself but from the fact that the exposure was very long.

    Yes, it is quite difficult to focus with filters that are really dark. It's less of a problem when shooting landscapes, however, since you then have the time to compose and focus before attaching the filter and recalculating the exposure--not a luxury you can enjoy when shooting portraits, unfortunately.

    I too would recommend a 3-stop ND as a good starting filter, but only if you don't already have a polarizer. A CPL will slow you down by a couple of stops and will give you more control over reflections on wet rocks and the surface of the water, so I'd recommend getting one of those first. It may be all you need, especially if you're shooting waterfalls in 'good' conditions, which generally means low light conditions to begin with.

    [Edit: I should point out that the waterfall picture you posted is only one stop away from f/11, which is the aperture I prefer for most landscape photos. So you needed only one stop of ND in that case, and you can get that amount with a polarizer that is isn't turned all the way to its maximim effect.]
     
  14. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    It's not from a long exposure, just exposure in general and the fact that ND filters don't block IR light. This shot was made from 2 photos without the WB corrected for either and set to 5600K in camera. Everything but the screen was taken from one exposure and it was most likely at 1/160 to 1/200. The second photo was of the screen with the ND off and shot at a slow enough shutter speed to catch the screen at the right expsoure and then overlayed to the first photo in post.

    You can see the red cast to the photo.

    I normally shoot at 5600k WB and with the same Speedotron lights in other photos of mine, there is no magenta cast unless I'm using the 6 stop ND filter. There's also no reason for me to shoot at a slower shutter speed with an ND filter as I'm using it normally to either get a darker exposure with a wide open aperture paired with strobes while outside.

    [​IMG]

    I'm using 77mm B+W glass filters that cost over $100 each, so quality can't really be questioned.
     
  15. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #15
    You just made me really hungry with that photo!! ;)

    I'm not sure I'm following this last post of yours. What you do mean by saying that the magenta cast is not due to a long exposure but to the "exposure in general"? And why would you need an ND filter anyway for a shot like the one you posted, especially if you were going to montage two exposures in post?

    I've long been interested in the problem of magenta casts with ND filters, since I use them quite often. Apparently one can purchase an IR filter to use in combination with an ND, but when I last researched them I dismissed the idea of buying one because of the rather high expense and the added potential for vignetting. I just deal with the color casts in post, which is often a tedious process.
     
  16. rebby macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I have a 3 stop ND but find, in most situations, my CPL (roughly 2 stops) is sufficient. If you don't have a CPL, I'd go that route first then get a 3 stop filter down the road. That way if the CPL isn't sufficient, you can move to the 3 stop or even stack the CPL and the 3 stop.

    I find a CPL to be a very valuable asset and it's far more useful than just a straight ND filter.
     
  17. rusty2192 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Kentucky
    #17
    I do have a nice CPL. I will be sure to try that first and see how it works. I placed an order today at lunch time toile sure I got in before the shipping deadline for the day. I ended up ordering an ND16 (4 stop) but I guess I was a little premature as that was before a few of the comments. I'll try it out on this trip and if it's too dark I will return it and get something a little lighter for the next outing.

    Thank you to everyone for all of your help.
     
  18. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Shallow DOF with a 1200w/s pack.
     
  19. jabbott macrumors 6502

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    Nov 23, 2009
    #19
    Be sure to check out the Ultimate Guide to Neutral Density Filters by Peter Hill. After reading that, I picked up B+W ND0.9 (8x) and ND3 (1000x) filters... I received them recently so I haven't experimented too much with them. The few shots that I have done with them have turned out interesting though.
     

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