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Accessory talk Those important extra system components.

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Old 15th September 2014
Anne Anne is offline
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Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

A question for users of the Lee Seven5 system please...

Do you use both soft and hard ND grads and if so are they both useful? I know that the softs are intended for landscape/urban and hards for seascapes/defined horizons etc but I've also heard that the hard works fine for both with the Seven5 and the soft is not worth it. Bearing in mind they are made for CSC and not cut down from the FF versions, then surely the soft would work better for less defined horizons?

I ask because I currently have the .6 hard grad and I want to get at least the .9 and possibly the .3. I'm just not sure whether to pick up the soft set, or the missing hard filters or a combination of both.

So far I've used my .6 hard grad for general landscapes, seascapes, sunrise, sunset and in London so I'm just not sure whether to add some soft grads or keep with hard ones if there is no noticeable difference.
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Old 15th September 2014
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

My argument may be flawed, but because of the relative small sensor size of 4/3 to other makes, I use Hard grads. The Soft grad would spread the graduation too wide across the sensor.
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

Thanks Stephen. This is basically what I have heard/read however as they make the system for the smaller sensor cameras, I figured that the soft grads must work ok. It is a bit too expensive to buy one just to compare the effect!
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Old 15th September 2014
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

Hi Anne. Firstly I'm not comparing like for like here as I use 86mm Hitech ND Grads on my E-5.
However, in my experience I regularly use my hard grads more than my soft - I have .45 (very useful but I think these are Hitech only), .6 and .9. Of these I find the .45 and .6 the most useful but I do use the .9 in extreme contrast situations such as sunsets. There are occasions though when a hard edge just won't do as there is too much irregularity around the horizon and in this instance my soft grads are invaluable. I have a .3,.6 and.9 but I would say the .3 is not worth having. I find that because of the inherent reduction in density of the 'softs' that I generally use a stronger filter than I would using a hard so my .9 (3 stop) is my preferred softie and I may even treat myself to a .12 at sometime. That will come after a reverse grad (.6 or .9 for sunsets) but that is another story.

I would therefore suggest not bothering with the .3 soft or hard. If you can find one get a .45 and probably a .9 hard and supplement with a .9 and possibly .6 soft.
Hope this makes some kind of sense!
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

Steve, a .3 soft grad can be useful stacked with a hard grad if you just need a little more darkening towards the top of the frame or reversed to darken reflections in the foreground.
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Old 16th September 2014
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

Hi, I use a 2 stop soft ND and a 3 stop hard grad on my em5, sometimes stacked with my big stopper. I find certain cityscapes and woodland scenes and macro scenes (depending on the light) work well with a soft grad. I use my hard grad in high contrast situations for land and sea scrapes and for buildings. I have not detected any issues that relate to matching the sensor and the filter with any of my filters.

I mostly use the Oly 12mm and 17 mm 1.8 and the PL 25mm lenses

There is a really good set of tutorial videos via the Lee site specific to the Sev5n system.

Hope this is helpful

Best wishes
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Old 16th September 2014
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

I think Stephen makes a good point about a smaller sensor spreading the transition line of a grad filter further across the frame, I certainly noticed the difference when I upgraded from 135 film to 120. I don't know if Lee are taking this into account with their Seven5 system by using a narrower transition band for the soft grads, or if it is just a smaller, more compact arrangement.

I always found it difficult to observe the transition line in the viewfinder, so I made a piece of card, black one side, white the other, the same size as a filter. The idea is to slide the card in the first notch of the holder with the black side facing the lens. Moving it up or down gives a very clear view of the transition (which is, of course, the bottom edge of the card) and the filter can then be fitted in the next notch, then carefully moved down until the transition matches the edge of the card. This is easily observed, because you are viewing the filter against the white side of the card. Once this is done, just remove the card, leaving the filter in place ready for the picture.

I found a good tutorial by Craig Roberts for the Seven5 system on the Lee site:-

http://bcove.me/6ba8yj9r
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Old 16th September 2014
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Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

Thanks for sharing a useful tip for using a card. I have no trouble seeing the hard grads in an EVF, I find the soft 2 stop less obvious for the first 50% of the graduation but have tended to look at the position of the grad over the lens as a work around and got there with experience.

Looking at the product literature Lee claim to have re calibrated their filters for mirrorless cameras to avoid issues about frame coverage. I have never noticed a problem myself and I must say given the price I would have been very upset if they were not as advertised and returned them on the basis of not being fit for purpose.

Best wishes
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Old 16th September 2014
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Lightbulb Re: Lee Seven5 ND grads - soft v hard?

On my Cokin system, I use the soft graduated filter upside down when I want a hard edge. You can only get away with it for about a third of the frame or it starts getting light again.

The only filter I can't fake in PS are the polarizers.
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