ND Filters

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Dman77, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Dman77 macrumors member

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    #1
    Bit of help needed here please, I'm looking to buy one of these in order to get longer exposures when shooting landscapes, but it's the first time I've properly looked into them and when looking online I see all sorts of different ND filters at all different prices.

    As a beginner, what sort of thing should I be looking at to start off with, eBay is awash with them, some starting at under £10. I have no idea where to start.
     
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #2
    Not too sure why you want an ND filter for landscapes (unless it's to help blur waterfalls, etc). But an ND - or grey - graduated filter is a must-have. It 'brings down' a bright sky to the point where you can expose for the foreground and sky together (ie: foreground won't be too dark, sky won't be 'blown out'). It saturate the colours in a sunset... without introducing any new colours (which always looks more natural, IMO). I use a rectangular grad filter (so I can place the graduated effect where I want it).

    I always have one with me (though it's the only filter I ever really use). People say you get what you pay for; well, I got my last two grey grad filters off eBay, and they're nothing fancy, but they do the job OK. :)
     
  3. Dman77 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Sorry, I was a bit vague. Landscapes at sea and waterfalls are what I'm looking at, so blurring water is predominantly what I'm looking for. However, the graduated filter you mention is something I'd like as well I guess, so should be looking for one of each. I think they're easier to comprehend when buying though, don't the former have a certain amount of stops to them?
     
  4. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    All ND filters can be bought wth various intensities. I think (could be wrong here, this isn't normally my thing) that ND2 is one stop, ND4 is two stops and ND8 is 3 stops. If you are getting the graduated filter, there are different transition lengths between the ND and clear (like dithering in PS).

    I would suspect that cheap ND filters will be like other cheap filters and reduce the contrast of your image. It may be worth trying the cheap ones and see if they are good enough to keep you happy.
     
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #5
    Does your camera have a built in ND filter? I ask because I have a camera that does.

    I recently shattered my ND filter. It could have been worse ... it could have been the lens. The rectangular grad filter sounds like a good idea (thanks Doylem).
     
  6. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #6
    Not sure about an ND filter for shooting at sea, but it has its uses for blurring water. The technique really only work if you use a tripod... so you get the contrast between the blurred water and sharp everything else.

    To be honest, I shoot waterfalls on dull overcast days... which cuts out distracting highlights and shadows, and allows for a slow shutter speed... even without a ND filter (which I've never used). But the two accessories I'm never without are a grey grad filter and a tripod. Then I'm ready for anything... ;)
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #7
    If there are moving objects (people, cars) in your landscape and you don't want them in the resulting image, a good dark ND filter, or a stack of them can take care of that problem for you. Obviously, you'd not want one as it'd potentially remove the sheep ;)

    OP: I like the large square ones with a holder like the Lee holder that'll rubber-band onto your lens- that way you don't have to worry too much about which lens you're using (except they don't fit on the end of my 400/2.8, but that's a six inch front element.)
     
  8. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #8
    A "stack" of ND filters... :eek: It would be like finding my way down the cellar steps in the dark...

    You need a very long exposure to make cars and people 'disappear'. Sounds more trouble than it's worth. Plan B (copyright Doylem) is to wait for extraneous objects to vacate the composition before pressing the shutter... ;)
     
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #9
    I think stacking ND filters to remove cars and people has it merits mostly lying around photography geekery. BUT, I've been in a place where I am dying to take a shot and yet I have numerous people and cars hovering around that will never leave (busy street). I would not mind if there were a way to remove them (legally) so I can get a shot. I like seeing people in some cases to give me a sense of scale, but it's difficult because eventually a lot of them look snap-shotty (for lack of better words found in bigger dictionaries).

    Compuwar ... drop me a line and give me the details on the ND filter holder would ya? ;)
     
  10. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #10
    Depends on how much they're moving- highways need less than half a minute's exposure, city streets and sidewalks are good in a minute or two except for parked cars.

    Methinks you're just afraid of sheering a sheep out of the image ;)

    Anyway, it's really not that much trouble, though it's more useful for vacated urban street looks and things like cathedrals if they'll let you set a tripod up in front. I've got a 13 1/3 stop ND, but after I found it, I couldn't find it again, so stacking's an option for folks who can't get there in one.

    Anyway, a long exposure isn't that big a deal, and it gives you something to do while you're waiting for everyone to clear out ;)
     
  11. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #11
    But you only need one person to stop and tie his shoelaces... and he'll leave a trace in the pic. ;)
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    Lee Gelsnap- here's the usual kit:

    http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Neutral-Density-Polyester-Set/dp/B00009R7VE

    Looks like the 13 1/3 stop Kodak isn't manufactured anymore:

    Kodak Wratten Gelatin Filter 100mm/4x4", 13 1/3 Stop Neutral Density #96, ND 4.00 SKU KKWF4ND400 - if anyone finds them anywhere, I'd appreciate a note, as I'm looking to get a backup.
     
  13. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #13
    If it takes them two minutes to tie their shoe laces, then go with a 5 minute exposure, the advantage of stacking is that you get to choose your exposure time. But I have to say, if it takes more than half a minute for them to tie their shoes, you should have noticed the short bus in the picture and waited for it to move ;)
     
  14. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #14
    And if it takes five minutes to take a pic, I think I'd rather have a beer instead... ;)
     
  15. Holgapics macrumors newbie

    Holgapics

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    #15
    Getting back to the original question, something in the way of an 8 or 9 stop ND filter should work just fine for you. Tiffen, Hoya, and others offer those in 58mm, which is probably what you need.

    For that nice ribbon effect on waterfalls you'll want at least a 2-4 second exposure. Of course much depends on lighting conditions and the how much water activity exists, be it blurring waves or waterfalls, but I would consider an 8 or 9 stop filter to be a good starting point. Also, I would go with a reliable name brand and stay away from anyone offering a brand you're not familiar with or whose price seems to good to be true. eBay is full of really cheap junk so buyer beware.
     
  16. Dman77 thread starter macrumors member

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    #16
    Thanks, that answers the question.

    From what I can see reading up, a 9 stop filter would cost a small fortune! It's £50 for a 1.2 filter, which from what I can gather is a 4 stop?
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    Ah, the SKU and stock number have changed, and it's listed as a cinema product by Kodak. Found it at B&H

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/536689-REG/Kodak_8574832_4_x_4_Neutral.html
     
  18. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #18
    i shoot a lot of waterfalls, as i live 30 minutes frm the Columbia River Gorge, and i use a 2 stop ND filter for my waterfall shots. I only use the ND filter to shoot wateralls. the 2 stop ND filter i have is a 77mm Tiffen. Not the best quality glass, but it was like $50 new.

    A graduated neutral density filter is great for landscapes, especially with mountains in the background. There are hard edge and soft edge graduated filters. There are also filters that fit the Cokin system ( i have had these, they were great, but takes a while to learn how to use them) and some that fit the Lee system, which is a bit bigger i think (4x6?), Cokin P (they have Z, and some other sizes) is 3x5...

    The best is Singh-Ray. Very expensive, but of the highest quality. SOme of their filters are almost as much as a used L lens.

    Also, when shooting waterfalls, use MLU if your camera has it. MLU stands for mirror lock up. It will lock the mirror up prior to taking the photo, as to reduce mirror vibration, and results in slightly sharper images...
     
  19. joelypolly macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Don't forget your tripod. You probably want something really stable if you are going to be taking long exposures
     
  20. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #20
    Are you sure you want ND filter? It sounds to me that water+filter => circular polarizer

    just a thought
     
  21. Dman77 thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
    Yep, definitely the ND filter. I have a CP filter and although they can take the shine off water, they don't help me when it comes to long exposure times.
     
  22. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #22
    Lee and a few others do 4x4 (100mmx100mm,) and I think 4x6 as well. Singh-Ray are one of the best, but I'd argue that the glass made by Schneider-Kreuznach for their B+W line is at least equal to it.
     
  23. Holgapics macrumors newbie

    Holgapics

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    #23
    Dman77: A few days ago I was looking at prices for 8 or 9 stop ND filters and found them in the $35-$50 (US) range for the 58mm size (Tiffen and Hoya web sites). I think that's a reasonable price for a quality filter. I've had a set of Tiffen glass filters (ND .03, .06, .09, 1-2-3 stop) that I've used for 30 years with no problems. I'm not pushing them in particular but I can't see where I would consider them inferior to any others. In my case I have filters and sets ranging from 2x2 to series 9, and up to 6x6 but those were used for motion picture work, some of which I have adapted for still use.

    Although there have been comments about other sizes or buying into a filter system I think your best bet would be to just buy one 58mm that will screw directly into your present lens system and let it go at that. As mentioned previously, an 8 or 9 stop filter should meet your present needs and accomplish what you're wishing to do.
     
  24. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    NSW, Australia.
    #24
    I'm also looking to get a ND kit, I've been looking at the holder system, and now's probably a good time in the thread to ask:

    Will those Lee holders let you slide a grad ND filter up and down for the horizon? It looks like they just clamp in from the image.

    Also when speaking of quality between what do mean? sharpness? flare? colour?…I'd like to go with Lee because they're cheapest but don't want to make large sacrifices in terms of IQ.

    Does anyone know of a good value bundle with something like a 3-6 stop filter AND a ND grad?
     
  25. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    #25
    I've been looking for my old Cokin filters for a few days.

    I haven't needed them since I started shooting digtal, but I found that my Nikon wouldn't shoot slow enough to blur a water fall the other day.

    Somewhere in all my stuff I buried a large set of Cokin filters that took years to collect.

    Funny to come across this thread at this time...

    On a side note, I use to have a roll of 36" wide ND filter for putting on windows for video shoots. If you needed it darker you jsut layer it up.
     

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