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Author Topic: Use and selection of ND filters  (Read 1395 times)

Offline Jimmer

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Use and selection of ND filters
« on: July 24, 2013, 08:28:35 PM »
Hi all,

I would like to get into taking some longer exposure shots outside during the day.  Particularly, looking to do the traditional waterfall shot to smooth out the water, etc.  My understanding is that if I use a longer exposure time to smooth/blur the moving water, the image will be way over-exposed and basically just be white.

So - I guess the trick is to use an ND filter correct?  So my first question is...doesn't the selection of the ND filter lock you into a particular exposure time?  I mean, let's say I want to have a 3 second exposure, to get the proper exposure, don't I have to have a specific filter?  But then let's say I want to have a 10 second exposure, wouldn't I need an entirely different filter to get proper exposure?  If I'm correct in this - do any of you have recommendations as to the filter to start with?

Second question...I have a Tamron 17-50 2.8 and the Canon 55-250IS lens....which lens would you suggest I use to take such photos?  Of course these two lenses utilize different size filters....so once I understand the answer to my first question above, then I need to get the filter size for the lens I should use.

Last - any filter brands I should avoid?

Thanks all!
Canon T2i, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, Canon 55-250, Canon 50mm f/1.8

Offline armychris

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 09:42:42 PM »
I would look into the Cokin p filters. I have had great luck with them. Your time is going to depend on a majority of factors like aperture, ISO. The Cokin p filters will fit on all of your lenses just have to buy the adapter. Buy a kit and just experiment with them would be the best way. Hope this helps and hope you post pictures.

Offline Fyrblade

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2013, 12:41:05 AM »
I would look into the Cokin p filters. I have had great luck with them. Your time is going to depend on a majority of factors like aperture, ISO. The Cokin p filters will fit on all of your lenses just have to buy the adapter. Buy a kit and just experiment with them would be the best way. Hope this helps and hope you post pictures.

Agreed completely.  And if you visit your local camera shop and the subject of circular ND filter comes up, don't do it!! I've tried two and they both gave ugly unusuable results. 

The lens you use depends on what you're shooting.  You're going to use the highest aperture number you have regardless of the lens.  Go with the Cokin kit, pick up the adapter you need for each lens and you can use any lens you like :)
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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2013, 05:19:01 AM »
I have a variable ND filter and it has always given good results.
It doesn't change the color it just slows everything down.

Offline Doodle

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2013, 07:01:38 AM »
I believe that when it comes to ND filters, you get what you pay for.
It is a form of glass between your camera and your subject.  If you scrimp on it...you'll know it.
Take your camera with you dammit. You can't take your next "best photo" if your camera is sitting at home in the bag, now can you?

Offline Jimmer

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 07:56:16 AM »
Thank you everyone for the helpful advice!  I will take a look at the Cokin set you have mentioned.

Doodle - are there some that you recommend and some that you suggest I stay away from?  Is it always a case of "more expensive = better quality?"
Canon T2i, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, Canon 55-250, Canon 50mm f/1.8

Offline Doodle

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 08:29:37 AM »
Thank you everyone for the helpful advice!  I will take a look at the Cokin set you have mentioned.

Doodle - are there some that you recommend and some that you suggest I stay away from?  Is it always a case of "more expensive = better quality?"
I based my last comment mostly on reading up on ND filters before I ever bought one.  The only one I own is the LCW (light craft works) Fader ND Mark II.  It's 52mm and it adjusts from 2 to 8 stops added density.  And ya know what?  I haven't even used mine yet.  I have been hoping to find a proper setting (like you mentioned: a stream. We have none around here that have any scenery with it).    ONE of these days I will play with it since I have seen some shots taken with this filter and I love how they turned out.
I hesitate to say "more expensive ALWAYS equals better quality"  but it sure is a good rule of thumb for camera related glass.
Take your camera with you dammit. You can't take your next "best photo" if your camera is sitting at home in the bag, now can you?

Offline Skippy

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2013, 11:11:24 AM »
I am a little busy but I will chime in real quick and tell you what I have done and what works great for me on about 95% of the waterfalls that I shoot.

I use a circular 3 stop ND from Tiffen on most of the shots. I have other circular ND's and sometimes I will stack the 3 with a 2 stop for a five stop filter. Now most of the time I start off at F8 or F11. I will check my shutter speed and then if I can not get the shutter slow enough then I will will just close down the F stop a few more stops. I pretty much operate from F8 to F16 and with a 3 stop circular filter I am almost always able to do what I want to do.

Oh and I have never seen any of the strange colors that people talk about with the cheap filters. My Tiffen 3 stop was a little over 100.00 a few years back. I don't know what the $30.00 range of Tiffen will do for you but if you bought it from a place like B&H or Adorama and gave it a try then decided it sucked, well, they would take it back.

I also have the Cokin filters that we are talking about in this thread but my Cokins are graduated. I find them much harder to use and if I am hiking into to a waterfall then I am all about ease and less gear to carry. One screw on 3 stop filter is my prefered trick.
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Offline Bif

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Re: Use and selection of ND filters
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2013, 09:41:48 PM »
Oh and I have never seen any of the strange colors that people talk about with the cheap filters. My Tiffen 3 stop was a little over 100.00 a few years back. I don't know what the $30.00 range of Tiffen will do for you but if you bought it from a place like B&H or Adorama and gave it a try then decided it sucked, well, they would take it back.

Shane Hurlbut (DP on "Terminator:  Salvation"  and "Act Of Valor") prefers Tiffen filters, says they give the quality results he demands of his gear.  In "Act Of Valor" he frequently had as many as 18 5D MkII's  filming the action at once as the Seals often could only stage an exercise for filming only once.

I use Tiffen ND filters (their lower priced ones) in 0.3ND, 0.6ND, 0.9ND, and 1.2ND (1 stop reduction, 2 stops, 3 stops, and 4 stops respectively) mostly for motion picture work.  Shooting outdoors in daylight where the shutter needs to stay at 1/60th for motion blur (much faster can cause a "strobing" effect) without 3 to 4 stops of ND you're going to be shooting at minimum apertures which will both give too much depth of field and cause definition loss due to the diffraction effect.

I've been able to get by with 52mm filter size so far, going to smaller gear (micro four thirds) several of my lenses including the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 take 46mm filters, two of them take 52mm so stepup rings let me standardize on 52mm...

...Until my latest lens purchase which uses 58mm (I should have kept what I had in that size when I sold my Canon Gear).

But if Tiffen works for Shane Hurlbut (I already had Tiffen NDs when I read that on his blog) they're good enough for me and I've had good luck with the lower priced line.
Always drink upstream from the herd...