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Author Topic: ND filter purchase... Lee, Singh-Ray, Cokin?  (Read 10349 times)
eatstickyrice
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« on: August 13, 2007, 11:25:18 AM »
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To all of you who are experienced with graduated neutral density filters, I wonder if you could give a first time buyer of ND filters some advice. Here are my questions:

1. When you purchase, do you usually purchase all three (i.e. 0.3/0.6/0.9), or can you cut some costs with equal results combining a 0.3 with a 0.6, and then not purchase the 0.9?

2. For shooting nature scenes like rice fields and beautiful blue skies, do you find yourself using hard steps or soft steps? I'm asking because I might not be able to afford a set of each, and therefore want to choose what I'll get most use out of.

3. Next, do you ever find a time for using ND filters with people?

4. Setup wise, am I wise to go with a Cokin P system, and then combining Singh-Ray or Lee with that? Or, am I just  better to go with Cokin all around? I've heard from a friend that he gets more clarity in images by using Singh-Ray over Cokin. I guess he ought to for the price difference!

5. Lastly, will Cokin P work with my Canon 16-35 2.8L and my 24-70 2.8L? I noticed on Cokin's site that they rate Cokin P for 28mm and up, but X-Pro for 15mm and up.

Thanks for the input.

Rick
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2007, 04:05:27 PM »
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A basic kit that has worked for me is a 2-stop soft GND and a 3-stop hard GND.  I'm using Singh-Ray GNDs with the Cokin P filter holder (77mm) and the filters work fine on the Canon 24-70 with EOS 1D Mk2.

It also works with the Canon 17-40 and this camera as long as you're not stacking filters - otherwise it vignettes.  I'm not sure how much difference the extra 1 millimeter will make.

Paul
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2007, 08:59:47 PM »
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To all of you who are experienced with graduated neutral density filters, I wonder if you could give a first time buyer of ND filters some advice. Here are my questions:

1. When you purchase, do you usually purchase all three (i.e. 0.3/0.6/0.9), or can you cut some costs with equal results combining a 0.3 with a 0.6, and then not purchase the 0.9?

2. For shooting nature scenes like rice fields and beautiful blue skies, do you find yourself using hard steps or soft steps? I'm asking because I might not be able to afford a set of each, and therefore want to choose what I'll get most use out of.

3. Next, do you ever find a time for using ND filters with people?

4. Setup wise, am I wise to go with a Cokin P system, and then combining Singh-Ray or Lee with that? Or, am I just  better to go with Cokin all around? I've heard from a friend that he gets more clarity in images by using Singh-Ray over Cokin. I guess he ought to for the price difference!

5. Lastly, will Cokin P work with my Canon 16-35 2.8L and my 24-70 2.8L? I noticed on Cokin's site that they rate Cokin P for 28mm and up, but X-Pro for 15mm and up.

Thanks for the input.

Rick
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For what it's worth, I found the Cokin "P" holder quite good, as it doesn't vignette if you slice off the outer slot on each side. My reasoning was that I would never stack another filter with the grad filter, so the extra slots are redundant.

I did fine with the two stop and three stop soft edge filters alone. As John Shaw noted, when you need a grad filter, you really need it, so a single stop just isn't that useful. The Cokin grey grad isn't very neutral, nor is it optically very good. I had good results with the Singh-Ray grad filters, but they certainly are very expensive for a piece of plastic.

Once I went digital, I stopped using the Singh-Ray filters. I found it far easier to take two or three bracketed exposures and blend them later in Photoshop, either manually or using the HDR function. This also avoids the tell-tale dark mountain-tops and trees you get with grad filters.
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lightstand
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2007, 10:05:24 PM »
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I always liked Lee with my 4x5 film cameras. I would suggest that you start with the .6 I always felt the soft gradation was too gradual for the size of lenses and would recommend the hard to start with. I think it's better to slowing build up your kit with what you find to work for yourself rather than buying all in the beginning.

If you are shooting digital I would be interested to hear why you would even consider going this route?
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eatstickyrice
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2007, 12:40:41 AM »
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I'm shooting with a 1D Mark II right now, and will eventually upgrade to a full frame camera. My reason for wanting to use ND filters is that I'd like to capture the best possible images to begin with, and then only have to make minor alterations in Photoshop later on. I know much can be done in Photoshop, and I enjoy working in Photoshop, but I also enjoy shooting good source files. To me there is greater enjoyment in being out shooting than in front of a computer. I don't mind taking my time to setup a shot, and find it greatly reduces my stress levels to enjoy what I do.

So, it sounds like the general vote is for a Cokin P system with Singh Ray 0.6 and 0.9 with some preference toward hard transitions instead of the soft ones, though there is value in the soft ones. I'll see what other responses come in the next few days.

Thanks for the input!

Rick
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lightstand
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2007, 08:31:25 PM »
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A couple of thoughts make sure you can attach two filter holders together so you can stack filters at different angles not used a lot but can be very helpful. Also I know on the Lee I could attach the holder via a friction ring to the outside of the lens instead of screwing into the filter threads again not always used but could be handy at times - of course more things to buy.

I'll be the first to agree that I will choose shooting any day over photoshop work, but shooting a second or third exposure and layering it has many advantages; speed shooting when light is moving, gadgets I don't have to carry, never ever having to clean a ND filter again, and not messing up a view with the filter placed slight wrong. I would sell my Lee system, but they can be very valuable shooting I understand you need for them.

Have fun shootin. Jeff
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eatstickyrice
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2007, 09:02:09 PM »
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So, do you still get the same richness of color (e.g. rich blue skies) with the multiple exposure approach? And how does it work out on waterfalls when there's lots of mist and bright light on super white water?

Rick
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lightstand
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2007, 09:42:45 PM »
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And how does it work out on waterfalls when there's lots of mist and bright light on super white water?

Rick
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I'll let others answer the first part of your question, for me yes, but more importantly shooting around waterfall's mist I would say that the big 4" ND filters can only attract water droplets, not that your lens wouldn't as well.
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cymline
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2007, 12:17:36 AM »
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I agree with trying to get the best image possible before any photoshop or darkroom (in my case w/black and white) process takes place.  To my eye, one exposure usually has a better, sharper look than a blended one. Although one can't always tell the difference. I recently bought the Singh-Ray 2&3 stop hard and 2&3 stop soft GND filters. So far I like them. I never skimp when buying filters. I use the best lenses I can find so why would I want to make photographs with less than the best filters. It would make no sense. Also, I like the movement/adjustment of the horizon that is possible with the SR filters as opposed to round filters. Last, if you can't afford all of the filters you want, don't bother with a one stop gnd. Chances are you will usually need the three stop or the two stop.
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