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Thread: Neutral Density Filters

  1. #1
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    Neutral Density Filters

    I'm considering a back for my 6008 or a Hy6 to shoot landscapes. I'll be limited to 500 or 1000 shutter speed.

    I would like to shoot wide open in daylight. Are gray filters the only solution? Do they affect IQ?

    I'm figuring I could just get the darkest one and cover the range of exposure with shutter speed. Does this make sense. ( I won't need fast shutter speed except for wind, oh yeah, and running water.)

    Thanks for any help,

    Mitchell

  2. #2
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    I got a 3 stop neutral density one. Now you can use a polarizer but that will have a image effect but they are 2 stops
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  3. #3
    thsinar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Dear Mitchell,

    ANY (additional) optical element between the lens glass (or in front) and the capture medium (film or CCD sensor) does have an effect on IQ. The question is how much and if one can take it in account.

    I would in this case not hesitate to buy the best existing filers, to minimize the negative effect.

    Best regards,
    Thierry

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchell View Post
    I'm considering a back for my 6008 or a Hy6 to shoot landscapes. I'll be limited to 500 or 1000 shutter speed.

    I would like to shoot wide open in daylight. Are gray filters the only solution? Do they affect IQ?

    I'm figuring I could just get the darkest one and cover the range of exposure with shutter speed. Does this make sense. ( I won't need fast shutter speed except for wind, oh yeah, and running water.)

    Thanks for any help,

    Mitchell

  4. #4
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    I also carry 3-stop ND filters for when I want to use a wide aperture or have a long exposure time, however I only use them when absolutely needed. To put this in perspective, using ISO 100 at f2 in normal sun, you'll need 1/8000th second effective. If your camera is limited to 1/1000th, then you'd need all 3-stops to get to that effective, and even then still be a stop short in really bright equatorial sun. Unfortunately 4-stop filters are hard to find (and I'd avoid stacking [email protected] 2-stop due to image degradation), so a 3-stop is probably the logical choice. However, if it's really long exposure times you are after, there are some 6-stop ND filters out there.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Jack on occasion, I have used two --3 stop neutral density filters to get a slow shutter speed. Do you think one 6 ND would be better in terms of image quality.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by mark1958 View Post
    Jack on occasion, I have used two --3 stop neutral density filters to get a slow shutter speed. Do you think one 6 ND would be better in terms of image quality.
    Probably, but whether or not the difference is significant enough to warrant it is the question; usually these will be longer shutter-speed shots and thus fraught with all the other image degradation anomalies of long exposure times. OTOH, if you're carrying two ND filters anyway, why not have them different strengths for more flexibility? I could easily see a few situations when stacking a 3x and 6x for 9 stops of gain could be useful...
    Jack
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Thanks everyone,

    Jack, and Guy, especially for this great forum.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Well actually what I did was use a 3 stop ND filter and a 3 stop graduated neutral density filter to get a very slow shutter speed where the sea meets the sky kind of shot.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by mark1958 View Post
    Well actually what I did was use a 3 stop ND filter and a 3 stop graduated neutral density filter to get a very slow shutter speed where the sea meets the sky kind of shot.
    Okay, that's a little different... I usually find it much easier to take two exposures, one for the sky and one for the foreground, then blend them together in CS than I do using a Split ND on one frame.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Jack is so right on this one.
    You have much more control in ps than during the shoot, besides, who says that the image happens to need the graduation baked into the filter?
    -bob

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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Okay, that's a little different... I usually find it much easier to take two exposures, one for the sky and one for the foreground, then blend them together in CS than I do using a Split ND on one frame.

    Cheers,
    Jack,
    Some of the tools/plug-ins for post work in PS and now Aperture make doing the ND/gradients for skies and stuff nearly obsolete at this point, giving unbelievable control to things. The one huge caveat in all of this is getting a really good file to start, and that comes back to this entire exposure issue and why NDs may be needed for some shooting.

    There still is a place for ND filters with some of this gear, but I think it is more purely to control exposure settings, rather than to achieve more artistic effects, which can now be done better in post, IMHO. If the back is able to deliver a really robust file, such as some of the things David K and Thierry have shown with the Sinar backs, it is easy to push things around a lot to get outstanding results. The issue still remains as to whether the brightness levels are just too far beyond a good exposure, and then ND is really needed.

    LJ

  12. #12
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    LJ: If you read my post above, we are in agreement. I was referring specifically to Mark's use of the SND in his post immediately above. I use solid ND in two main situations: The first is so I can use a fat aperture in bright light and the second is so I can use a longer shutter speed to accentuate subject movement, as in moving water.

    FWIW, I only carry three filters now, the 3-stop ND, a polarizer (though I can't remember the last time I actually used it as a polarizer, usually adding it to the ND when I need more ND) and an 092 IR filter since my M8 and MF back are IR sensitive.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  13. #13
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Jack,
    Absolutely. I did get your points about ND use/suggestions. I was responding more to the comment about blending two exposures, which is also a viable option. My impressions from seeing more of the MF stuff lately is that files are very good with lots of DR, meaning more room to push things than many/most 35mm DSLR files....in general.

    Your point about taking shutter speeds way down for motion capture had escaped me when I was commenting, but it is critical in some situations to achieve the right effect.

    LJ

  14. #14
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Neutral Density Filters

    Ah, got it LJ. You are correct, the newest backs do have phenomenal DR and often more than enough information in a single capture to make the SND unnecessary
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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