PDA

View Full Version : Graduated ND filter preferences


PaulE
26th March 2009, 04:54 PM
I'm looking at getting a couple of graduated ND filters to help tame high contrast scenes, which up until now I've done with HDR / exposure blending etc but I can't help thinking that doing it at the time of capture might lead to a better result or at least save a little time with PP and so have been doing a little reading.

I've pretty much made up my mind to go with Hitech filters as they seem to have received good reviews both on and off this forum. I've seen Kood graduated grey filters in action before and wasn't impressed with the colour cast, whilst everyone tends to agree that the cokin filters are bad for creating a colour cast too. Lee filters are way out of my budget and so that leaves me with the hi-tech ones. A fairly cheap cokin p holder with 67mm adapter ring with a few of the 85mm hi-tech filters will likely be all I ever need.

What I'm not totally sure of just yet though is which ND grads to go for, I came across this page: http://www.formatt.co.uk/stills-filters/filters/graduated-n-d/special-nd-grad-kit.aspx which allows you to choose 3 filters from ND2 to ND12 in either soft or hard edge format. From what I have read so far it seems ND4 is probably the most commonly used / most useful one to have but do you find soft edge more useful than hard edge etc.

Anyway it struck me that a poll might be the easiest way to find out which filter combination you find yourself using the most and should therefore be the ones I should get....

crimbo
26th March 2009, 07:46 PM
Must admit I am happy with exposure blending in all its forms but before you shell out too much of the 'hard to come by' why not just get one.
You usually want to take a bight sky down by at least one stop so get something like that...
You may find that exposure blending is just as easy if you are tripod based as you are liable to be with the grad...

250swb
26th March 2009, 09:50 PM
I agree with crimbo, I'm happy with exposure blending in its simplest form, or with HDR.

Unless you get a really good system for your grad filters you will end up with the horizon across the centre of all your photo's (so simple circular grads are next to useless because they can't be adjusted 'up' or 'down', just twisted). This is why your filter system should use much larger filters than you may initially think will cover your lens diameter. They are also expensive for a good make, and can otherwise introduce colour casts, which of course exposure blending can't. Wind, rain, ergonomics, and forgetfullness are also a pain with filter systems.

I can't help but think you would need at least four of the filters you have on your list, plus a 'system' of holders and adaptors, and for the same money you could buy a nice tripod (although I assume you have one because you'll need one anyway with a filter system), or buy a bigger CF card and take more bracketed shots. And of course there are far fewer reasons you could be unhappy with an exposure bracket set to work with than getting 'the one' shot with a grad filter.

I know there are people who proclaim the 'I get it right in the camera' approach, but that was a mythical age when it had to be done like that. I'd say using a digital camera you must have moved on from older practices so why go back?

Steve

David M
27th March 2009, 11:53 AM
I voted for the two I mostly used in my film shooting days, a 2 stop hard and a 3 stop soft.

In those days Fujichrome Velvia was my standard film with Provia 100 my high speed film so you had to use ND grads a lot of the time.

But thinking about it, I don't know if I've ever used my ND grads on a digital camera despite still carrying them out of habit. Maybe it's time to start leaving them at home.

shenstone
27th March 2009, 11:56 AM
I voted for the two I mostly used in my film shooting days, a 2 stop hard and a 3 stop soft.

In those days Fujichrome Velvia was my standard film with Provia 100 my high speed film so you had to use ND grads a lot of the time.

But thinking about it, I don't know if I've ever used my ND grads on a digital camera despite still carrying them out of habit. Maybe it's time to start leaving them at home.

Very similar

I made the mistake of picking up some cheap ones when I went digital as the ones I had didn't fit, but they were appalling to so I learned how to do it in PP and don't bother with them now.

All I ever use now are UV and CPL ( and I know there are views on that)

Regards
Andy

PaulE
29th March 2009, 11:22 AM
Thankyou for all the votes + responses to my question / poll. It seems many of you prefer to do combine exposures in PP rather than use a graduated filter so maybe I have nothing to gain by gettting such a filter myself and stick to what I already know how to do. Any purchase has been put on hold for the time being anyway - an E510 turned up a little unexpectedly last night and I couldn't really say no to buying it given the price. Although I had no intentions of upgrading the E410 until it had died I can already see that the IS in the E510 alone is going to be useful in some situations.

Going back to the orginal topic I think I will try to borrow a set of ND grad filters from a friend for a few days and see how I get on with them before making a purchase myself, that way I should be able to see whether I will find such filters to be useful or realise that, as sugested, I might be better off just sticking to exposure blending as I have been doing....

Thanks again for the input
Paul.