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Author Topic: Choosing/Stacking ND Filters  (Read 2754 times)

curby

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Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« on: December 21, 2012, 04:30:11 AM »
I'm considering getting the B+W 3-stop and 6-stop NDs, and just stacking if I need more light loss.  I get that you shouldn't stack filters if you can help it.  But if it's the choice between two better quality filters (say a 3-stop and a 6-stop that could approximate a 9-stop ND filter) and three poorer quality filters (say a set of 3-, 6-, and 10-stop filters) that cost about the same, could the inherent quality of the better filters make stacking less horrible? 

Also, how good are variable ND filters? "I heard on the Internet" that the interactions between the two polarizers can cause rough light gradients that should otherwise appear smooth.  Plus, you've got 4 surfaces from the two polarizers anyway, so can IQ really be any better than stacking two high quality fixed ND filters?

Any other thoughts or experiences on how you configure your ND capability would be great.  Thanks!

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Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« on: December 21, 2012, 04:30:11 AM »

Eli

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Re: Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2012, 04:56:56 AM »
I don't think stacking high quality filters will affect IQ much, but other factors will play a role in why people don't.
Example, consider the focal length of your lens too, stacking filters can cause some severe vignetting that'll leave black borders in your photo. At 24mm or below you will definitely get vignetting from stacking two filters, and especially two variable nd filters as the thickness of the filters are usually greater.

paul13walnut5

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Re: Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2012, 06:51:45 AM »
Faders have a few caveats, criss-crossing at wide angle, softness at telephoto.

They are not a one size fits all.

If you have the patience and space in your kit bag then get a choice of ND's instead.

It may be worth looking at the likes of the Lee system, if you plant to stack, although initial outlay is high you can use the system on a variety of lenses, and there is less risk of vignetting.

shutterwideshut

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Re: Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 07:31:29 AM »
I'm considering getting the B+W 3-stop and 6-stop NDs, and just stacking if I need more light loss.  I get that you shouldn't stack filters if you can help it.  But if it's the choice between two better quality filters (say a 3-stop and a 6-stop that could approximate a 9-stop ND filter) and three poorer quality filters (say a set of 3-, 6-, and 10-stop filters) that cost about the same, could the inherent quality of the better filters make stacking less horrible? 

Also, how good are variable ND filters? "I heard on the Internet" that the interactions between the two polarizers can cause rough light gradients that should otherwise appear smooth.  Plus, you've got 4 surfaces from the two polarizers anyway, so can IQ really be any better than stacking two high quality fixed ND filters?

Any other thoughts or experiences on how you configure your ND capability would be great.  Thanks!

Why not consider going to a 10 stop ND filter such as the Lee Big Stopper or the B+W ND110 instead of stacking filters? My own set-up is using the Lee Filter System. The only downside though is the vignetting especially when shooting ultrawide. Another factor to consider is the color cast. The Lee Big Stopper results in a cool color cast while the B+W ND110 results in a warm color cast. Some of my examples shot with the Lee Filter system are as follows:  :) :) :)

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM + Lee Big Stopper + Lee 1.2 ND Filter

Elation by [shutterwideshut] on Flickr

Canon EOS 7D + Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM + Lee Big Stopper

An afternoon at the Pavilion by [shutterwideshut] on Flickr

IR Modified Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM + Lee Big Stopper

Confucius by [shutterwideshut] on Flickr

« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 07:41:48 AM by shutterwideshut »
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Re: Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 07:31:29 AM »