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Thread: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

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    Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    I have an upcoming trip. Location is coastal, very sunny, lots of stone architecture and rocks (think south of Europe, like Italy and Greece).

    I will be taking my 14/2.5, 20/1.7, 25/1.4, 45/1.8 (and maybe Contax 90/2.8).

    I need advice which filters to take. I want something high quality and don't mind spending for a quality as long as things don't become crazy expensive.

    One of things I am looking at is Singh-Ray LB Color Combo in 52 mm as I do have 46mm to 52mm step up ring so your input on using step up rings in general and this filter in particular would be appreciated.

    Also, what to do about 45/1.8? That lens has 37mm filter thread. What would be best way of using filter with it? Would there be consequences of using two step up rings 37-46-52? Is there some better way for 45/1.8?

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    The polarizer is essential. The step up rings as you described will be fine, particularly with the 45 as this really isn't that wide plus you are stepping out.

    If it were me I'd also take a couple of .6 & .9 grad neutral density filters but that's pretty much predicated on using a tripod.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    The polarizer is essential. The step up rings as you described will be fine, particularly with the 45 as this really isn't that wide plus you are stepping out.
    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    If it were me I'd also take a couple of .6 & .9 grad neutral density filters ...
    How you would hold them against these lenses? (BTW, I will be shooting handheld)

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    Member kwalsh's Avatar
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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    The LB Color Combo is a breathtakingly expensive filter with very little point in digital. The warming aspect is not useful for digital and only meant for film. The "intensifier" aspect can have a subtle effect in digital not strictly possible to achieve identically in post-processing but from a practical standpoint is again directed at film. Better color control is typically achieved in post processing rather than using "intensifiers" (there are some exceptions to this, fall foliage being a case where "intensifiers" can create color differentiation not easy to achieve in PP).

    What you really do want is a polarizer. By reducing glare you can improve the saturation of colors in daylight scenes. Something you really can't do in PP. You can get a high quality one in 52mm for about one tenth the cost of the LB Color Combo. Make sure it is a multi-coated filter. You don't need circular for m43 but I think B+W is the only one making a multi-coated linear polarizer at the moment so you may end up with a circular anyway if you go with a different manufacturer.

    Step-up rings work just fine, but can get a little frustrating if you are using a particular filter a lot and switching lenses. Some photographers prefer to use "correctly" sized filters and even dedicate filters to a given lens if they frequently use a filter. Since you'll be saving a bundle with a polarizer vs. Color Combo and are shooting primes you might consider getting more than one polarizer.

    The grad ND's would be very frustrating to use hand-held. I've even stopped using them tripod mounted - multiple exposures and exposure blending is far more flexible. You can use exposure blending even hand-held - just do an AEB series and then use auto-align layers in post processing and blend away. There are limited cases in which a grad-ND will achieve a slightly different effect than exposure blends (most common is when the sun with diffraction star-bursts is included in the scene and the star-bursts extend into the shadow regions you are blending) - most of the time the results are identical and exposure blending allows for a less objectionable transition since there is far more control.

    Enjoy your trip, sounds like it should be lots of fun!

    Ken

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by kwalsh View Post
    The LB Color Combo is a breathtakingly expensive filter with very little point in digital. The warming aspect is not useful for digital and only meant for film. The "intensifier" aspect can have a subtle effect in digital not strictly possible to achieve identically in post-processing but from a practical standpoint is again directed at film. Better color control is typically achieved in post processing rather than using "intensifiers" (there are some exceptions to this, fall foliage being a case where "intensifiers" can create color differentiation not easy to achieve in PP).

    What you really do want is a polarizer. By reducing glare you can improve the saturation of colors in daylight scenes. Something you really can't do in PP. You can get a high quality one in 52mm for about one tenth the cost of the LB Color Combo. Make sure it is a multi-coated filter. You don't need circular for m43 but I think B+W is the only one making a multi-coated linear polarizer at the moment so you may end up with a circular anyway if you go with a different manufacturer.

    Step-up rings work just fine, but can get a little frustrating if you are using a particular filter a lot and switching lenses. Some photographers prefer to use "correctly" sized filters and even dedicate filters to a given lens if they frequently use a filter. Since you'll be saving a bundle with a polarizer vs. Color Combo and are shooting primes you might consider getting more than one polarizer.

    The grad ND's would be very frustrating to use hand-held. I've even stopped using them tripod mounted - multiple exposures and exposure blending is far more flexible. You can use exposure blending even hand-held - just do an AEB series and then use auto-align layers in post processing and blend away. There are limited cases in which a grad-ND will achieve a slightly different effect than exposure blends (most common is when the sun with diffraction star-bursts is included in the scene and the star-bursts extend into the shadow regions you are blending) - most of the time the results are identical and exposure blending allows for a less objectionable transition since there is far more control.

    Enjoy your trip, sounds like it should be lots of fun!

    Ken
    Thank you! Could you please educate me a little bit on your linear vs. circular preference? I thought circular would be prefferable as linear would impact AF and metering?

    Also, if I was to stack polarizer and ND which order I should be stacking them in?

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    You need a circular polarizer for most DSLRs with mirrors in them. As you mention a linear will give you problems with AF and/or metering in a DSLR. This is because the partially transmissive mirrors that are used to split the optical path for the AF sensor and the OVF/metering are effectively polarizers in themselves. So with just the right linear polarizer orientation you could block the optical path to one or the other.

    A circular polarizer is really just a linear polarizer with an extra layer called a quarter wave plate on the lens/camera side that converts the linear polarized light to circularly polarized light. That circularly polarized light can now be properly split by the mirrors in the camera.

    As a side note a quick way to tell the difference between linear and circular polarizers is to look through them "backwards" - the linear polarizer will still have a polarizing effect (darken sky, reduce reflections) but the circular polarizer will do nothing because light passed through the quarter wave plate before hitting the polarizer.

    Mirrorless cameras (including all compact point and shoots) don't have the partially transmissive mirrors in them that cause problems with linear polarizers. So it is safe to use a linear polarizer with them. In "theory" a linear polarizer could be of higher optical quality than a circular because it doesn't need to have the extra quarter wave plate in it. I have no idea if in "practice" there would be any noticeable difference. Linears are also typically a bit less expensive, again because of no quarter wave plate.

    What usually does have a pretty obvious impact on image quality is multi-coatings on your filters - greatly reduce flare and contrast loss. Especially noticeable if the sun or a bright light source is in the image or just off axis. So if I were to worry about spending more money on a filter I'd go with a multi-coated one. There aren't a lot of multi-coated linears (B+W has one I know, and I think one or two of the "high end" filter manufacturers) but lots of people make multi-coated circulars so you'll have more to chose from if you look at circulars even though you really could use a linear.

    As for stacking, most non-polarizing filters like NDs or color correcting filters are multi-coated on both sides (assuming they are multi-coated filters to begin with) since it is assumed they might be stacked. Polarizers, however, are difficult to manufacture with multi-coatings (the polarizing film doesn't handle heat well) and so they are often not coated on the "outside" (away from the lens/camera) which is fine if they are the topmost filter (reflections are only a problem if they have a way to reflect back into the camera). So for that reason you would typically want to put the polarizer on the "top" of the stack.

    Hope that helps!

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    Thank you again! For which situations one would prefer linear over circular polarizer?

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by ZoranC View Post
    Thank you again! For which situations one would prefer linear over circular polarizer?
    As far as scenes and photographs go they are identical in their effect. So you wouldn't choose one over another for any creative reason. You just need to use a circular for a DSLR and you could use either with mirrorless.

    Ken

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    My recommendation - get a circular polarizer because ultimately you'll keep it for a long time and no doubt use it on other cameras.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by kwalsh View Post
    As far as scenes and photographs go they are identical in their effect. So you wouldn't choose one over another for any creative reason. You just need to use a circular for a DSLR and you could use either with mirrorless.
    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    My recommendation - get a circular polarizer because ultimately you'll keep it for a long time and no doubt use it on other cameras.
    Thank you both! As I do shoot DSLR too circular it is then.

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    Re: Filters, Filters, Filters! Advice needed

    CPL,
    ND4
    GND4 or 8

    I buy oversized filters at 77 to 86 and just hold them in front of the camera so that will address the 45/1.8. If that's not for you I suppose you could get a set of step up filter rings. The reason why I do this is because all filters degrade the image - even expensive pro grade ones. Polarizers are notoriously bad. And the difference is noticeable. Yet sometimes I need the filter's affect to actually get the shot at all. This is when I whip it out - just for that shot and then put it away right after.

    I think I would also bring a set of extension tubes. You may find some tiny critters there that made you wish you had.

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