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Author Topic: Singing Praises for ND Filters  (Read 9246 times)
swaitjd
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« on: October 14, 2002, 02:46:28 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hi David,
   I've got exactly the setup (Cokin+Hitech 2Stop ND grad) that Jeffrey described above, which I bought from Filter Connection. I adopted the Cokin system because I can use it on my different formats ... and it's signficantly cheaper than other filter holders.
   Good shooting ...
Joffre[/font]
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Gannet
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2002, 11:01:14 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hmmm.  Allow me to be the lone dissenter.

Some years back I bought several Singh-Ray ("Galen Rowell") ND grads.  Serious money (well, for pieces of flat plastic).  Tried them for some time.  Don't use them anymore.  Heck, I ought to sell them.

For one, the ND grad is now becoming a cliche.  It's easy to spot a lot of the time.  The didymium filter of the year.

For another, they're fiddly as heck to use.  Tripod use pretty much required.

For another, they often just don't "work" right.  Unless you're just doing prairie landscapes or seascapes (what I mostly bought them for), you're probably going to end up filtering some object in your scene that you'd just as soon not.  It looks funny.

But the final thing, for me, was moving to the digital darkroom.  I use color neg film and take two scans of the same neg, or transparency film and take two tripod shots at different exposures.  These are combined using masks in the image editor. I can now get the result the ND grad is intended to get, only this way it really works, on exactly the portions of the image it needs to.  No artifacts, and total control.  I find this so far superior to what I was getting with ND grads that I've given them up.

If you're not using the digital darkroom then yeah, I can see ND grads.  Still a PITA, but better than nothing.  Other than that, pass.  Just imo.[/font]
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Don Miller
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2002, 07:35:42 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']You guys made Michael write another article on exposure blending.
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorial...-blending.shtml
I don't see the point of ND's anymore with DSLR. Mine are gathering dust. Even a moderate quality set is expensive. Fred Miranda's PS DRI action is only $8.50. If you have an image without bracketed exposures you can use his shadow recovery (SR) action instead. There's plenty of more useful and fun things to spend money on than ND filters with a digital capture.

Don[/font]
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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2002, 07:40:08 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I've not had any problem aligning frames, but I use a different technique than Michael.  Basically I blend frames and only in the overlap area is alignment critical.  I believe Michael mentioned his "full frame" alignment techniques are trickier.[/font]
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Jonathan Bundick
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2002, 10:50:02 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Several folks have said that they can tell photos that use a Grad ND. I can spot the two exposure technique. The exposure you get looks too even for my taste. I would not describe one technique as better than the other, just a personal preference. It all depends on what you want to accomplish. For me, my goal is as little post production as possible. To get the final image on "one" frame of film. It leaves little room for interpretation when I plop the slide on the light table at the lab and say, "I want the print to look like the slide."

If you are doing your own post production, scans, inkjet prints, then I can see it making some sense, but it is just another technique. It doesn't make Grads obsolete.[/font]
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2002, 09:29:09 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Shooting tourists with their camera is fun!  I often grin to myself when I imagine them later, finding the shot I got for them.[/font]
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swaitjd
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2002, 01:50:28 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I'm sure you've all heard this before, you may even had this epiphany yourself, but I've just got to say it to everyone: start using ND graduated filters!

Your sky renditions will become wonderfully rich and colorful, your foregrounds will be correctly exposed ... your photographs will reach another level!

In addition, you will be happy, your spouse will never complain about the time your photography absorbs, your children will grow up healthy and industrious, and are guaranteed to never disappoint you!

Well, if you don't believe that last part, do believe the part about improving your landscapes.

Joffre
Recent ND Convert[/font]
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jeffreybehr
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2002, 01:31:59 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']David, consider the Cokin-P filter system. See http://www.mav-magazine.com/feb1999/cokin/ for one explanation (but some of his pics are dificult to understand) and http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=002Tac for lots of info.

You buy one adapter ring (and cap if you leave the rings on all lenses as I do) for each lens, one holder, and only one filter of each type you want.  I carry a Cokin-brand circ-pol plus several Hitech- and Singh Ray-brand grad-ND filters, all in a Jensen-brand pouch made for bare music CDs.  The filter holder rotates and the grad-ND filter can be slid up and down until it's positioned where you want it (something that can't be done with a screw-on grad-ND filter).  The cir-pol can still be rotated independently.

Generally, one can't use a lens shade with the Cokin holder mounted*, but you'll have your cam on a tripod if you're using a grad-ND, so you can shade the lens with your hand, cap, head, etc.  The filter holder easily slides off and on as you switch lenses.

The only screw-on filters I use are the HOYA UV(0)s on all lenses; everything else I use goes in the Cokin holder.

The Filter Connection (www.2filters.com) has a special starter deal on a Cokin ring, holder, and Hitech-brand grad-NDs; see http://www.2filters.com/; go to Product Catalog and then the bottom of the next page.

Good luck.

* Cokin makes a clip-on lens shade for the holder; I have 2 but never use them.[/font]
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dfourer
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2002, 09:17:34 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Thanks for your replies.  I'm ready to buy the Cokin/Hitech package.  Questions:

I have to choose between hard edge and soft edge.  Should I start with the soft?

My largest filter size is cirrently 58mm.  Step-up rings are very cheep at around $5.  I would like to get the largest size I might ever need, and get step-up rings as I need them.  That would be 77mm, or at least 72.  Currently my lenses are 52 and 58.  Is this a good plan?

I didn't know about the step-up rings before.  This will be a help.

Has anyone noticed any slight coloring with the Hitech ND?  Not that it will deter me.  

Thanks,
David[/font]
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David Fourer, Chicago
b.e.wilson
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2002, 10:40:20 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I've found that here in the West that the #3 hard-edged ND grad comes in the handiest. I also use the #4 hard occasionally (there is about a 10 minute span during the sunrise or sunset that has the sky four stops brighter than the ground; before and after that time the three-stop grad is better). I use the HiTech filters. They seem just a mm or two wider than the Cokin P-size holder, so I insert them at a slight angle, which maybe helps a bit to reduce internal reflections. I cut the outer two slots off, so my holder only has the thin polarizer slot and one regular slot left. Less chance of the tall tabs getting in my wide-angle shots when I need to rotate the holder a bit.

And for those who haven't figured out the nomenclature:
1 stop = 0.3 density
2 stop = 0.6
3 stop = 0.9
4 stop = 1.2[/font]
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swaitjd
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2002, 03:45:27 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Gannet,

You've got some good points ... my very positive experience with the graduated ND was in Florida (flat city!), on the coast. According to you, an optimal situation.

I could see that the ND would have been somewhat problematic in shooting I did this year in the Canadian Rockies, particularly if I had only hard-edged ND's.

I suppose part of the attraction of making the perfect photograph "in camera" is a holdover from non-digital photography thinking ... we try to get the "optimal" image in camera, as opposed to doing things post-camera, like the image combo's such as you suggested.

As time goes by we may find that both in-camera and post-camera processes have their place and attraction ...[/font]
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dfourer
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2002, 08:58:51 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I'm instantly attracted to Gannet's method--two exposures two stops apart and digital mixing.  Ironically, the result is probably more realistic than the the ND filter.  I have none of the equipment due to cost--camera or scanner, new computer, printer--it's a big investment.  Meanwhile, I'm reading everything I can find about digital.

-----David[/font]
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David Fourer, Chicago
Tim
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2002, 05:33:39 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I agree with Jonathan, and while I'm ready to give up some analog things (like camera's) I still think in most cases it is better to get the picture right as early in the process as possible. That means if you can create your photo effectively with a ND it is probably best to do it with an ND rather than trying to fix it with post processing. This doesn't mean I wouldn't combine two photo's, I do that too, but have found getting the desired result can sometimes take longer than just shooting it with ND to begin with.

   :angry:  :p[/font]
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Lee Rothman
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2002, 11:05:18 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Like ALL of photography the use of filters requires a great deal of technique in the application of them. I LOVE the several Singh-Ray GND's I have and couldn't do without them. Photoshop can fix some things, but it is ALWAYS better to get the best exposure possible up front rather than trying to make it something is isn't latter. So for me the SR's are the best solution. Lee's and even HiTech's can be wonderful as well. Once you master the use of them they ARE an essential tool, so I am in complete agreement with the author of this post.  :cool:[/font]
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dfourer
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2002, 12:16:56 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']This has been a good topic. I will take two exposures even though I don't have any of the digital/computer equipment yet. I'll save them until I can make prints later.

If the camera moves a very tiny amount between exposures, how do you align them after?  Is it difficult?[/font]
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David Fourer, Chicago
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« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2002, 05:33:48 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I've been wondering when digital nd grad filters will be available.  The (digital) camera could adjust the exposure on a pixel by pixel basis based on the total dynamic range. Bring the bright sky down and in the dark areas increase the sensitivity.

Maybe it is just a matter of waiting for enough in camera processing power.[/font]
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Buddy
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2002, 01:40:14 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hi Jeffrey: Allow me to join Garnnet in his defense of the double image. Having learned the paralell technique of the half silvered image in the days of dye transfer printing I slipped easily into the concept of bracketing and fusing the two images.
Filters have always been the bane of my existance .I once undertook to make up a complete series of colour correction filters using gelatine squares, michroscope slide glass and balsam pich as the adhesive since in permanent slides it has a refractive factor close to 1 . Unfortunately I overdiluted the pitch with solvent and had to leave the filters many days to harden .The smell was outstanding and stunk out the entire UofT Forestry building. Never again.
Buddy [/font]
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Dan Sroka
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« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2002, 12:07:42 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']$5 a shot -- I know, I've thought of doing that as well!  I'm suprised it's not a bigger business in tourist spots. I suppose you'd have to market yourself well, to convince people to pay you instead of using their fellow-tourists for free. Maybe bring a portfolio of portraits, and a big sign "Get your photo taken by a pro".  :laugh: What a hoot![/font]
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dfourer
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« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2002, 12:33:41 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I've been thinking about this.  Could you give me some tips on buying one?  My main lense is a 28-80mm with 58mm filter.  Also have an 80-200 with 52mm filter.  Do you know if there is a ring for putting 58mm filters on a lense that accepts 52mm?  That would save me buying two.

-----David[/font]
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David Fourer, Chicago
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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2002, 11:48:08 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']David:
1. Buy the 2-stop hard AND the 2-stop soft. You'll use them both and they're not expensive.
2. I'm confused about what you want to do with step-up rings. Why bother? Buy a Cokin adapter ring and slide-on cap for each lens you have and you won't need ANY step-up or -down rings.
3. The Hitech ND filters are very neutral; the Cokin-brand grad grays not so.
4. The only other Cokin graduated filter I use is the #123 graduated blue. When the sky is in the frame and ugly gray, it can add a little color. The Cokin circ-pol is #164.

Enjoy.[/font]
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