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Author Topic: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?  (Read 4256 times)

Marsu42

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What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« on: January 24, 2013, 05:20:56 AM »
I'd like to buy a nd filter for nature and architecture shots, i.e. blurring water/clouds and removing people. The problem is that the 82mm filters (Tamron & Canon 24-70) at least from b+w are new releases and hilariously expensive in the mrc version, so I want to settle for one filter for the time being.

These are the choices available, at least from b+w:
Type 101 = 0.3 density +1 stop
Type 102 = 0.6 density +2 stop
Type 103 = 0.9 density +3 stop
Type 106 = 1.8 density +6 stop
Type 110 = 3.0 density +10 stop

  • Question 1:If you had to choose just one filter from your experiences, what type would it be? Is 3 stop enough for most blurring purposes and +6/+10 stop overkill? Would you advise not getting the +10 filter because later on it might be more convenient to stack +6 and +3?

  • Question 3:What are the real worlds drawbacks of using a polarizer as a 2-stop nd filter, and stacking it with a "real" nd filter?

  • Question 3:For my "always on" clear protection filters I have the mrc versions, but for an effect filter I'm really wondering if a non-multicoated b+w version or even a cheaper brand would make that much of a difference - I know there are already threads about this, but feel free to append your experience here, too :-)

Thanks for the input, I have read pages summarizing "what filter is supposed to be for what" but I'd rather get first-hand opinions of users here.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 05:25:02 AM by Marsu42 »

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What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« on: January 24, 2013, 05:20:56 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2013, 06:49:26 AM »
1.  I have 3-stop and 10-stop filters.  If I had to choose just one for nature/architecture it would be the 10-stop.  The 3-stop is great for shooting fast primes wide open for outdoor portraits, and it does 'ok' for moving water if you stop down a bit.  But for architecture shots where you want to blur out people, 10-stops is what you want - 6-stops likely would not be enough to get you to the 30-60 s exposure time. In fact, I didn't bother with an 82mm 3-stop (I have 72mm and 77mm), I just have a 10-stop in 82mm (also in 77mm).

2.  The only real-world drawback might be increased optical or even mechanical vignetting, depending on the lens.  For example, with the 16-35L II, stacking an F-Pro ND and a Slim CPL will add 2-stops of optical vignetting at 16mm f/5.6, and cause mechanical vignetting at 16mm f/2.8.  OTOH, I often stack my 82mm Slim K√§semann CPL on my 82mm 10-stop ND on a TS-E 24L II, no problems there.

3.  My 10-stop NDs are uncoated.  If there has been MRC versions available when I bought them, I'd likely have done so (in fact, when I bought my 82mm 10-stop, the only one even available as a screw-in was from Schneider Optics, B+W's parent company). But, it hasn't been an issue.  The coating makes cleaning easier, but you're not going to have to clean an ND too often.  The main benefit of a multicoated filter is to increase transmission by reducing reflection (an uncoated UV/clear filter will cost you 8-10% of the light, a multicoated one loses <1%).  But the whole point of an ND filter is to lose light...  Yes, in theory there may be some extra flare (due to reflections between the front element and the back of the filter), but the coatings on the front element minimize that, and I haven't found it to be a real-world problem.

Hope that helps...
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paul13walnut5

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2013, 08:00:08 AM »
I have the B+W ND1000 (3.0).

I don't know how strongly I'd recommend it as it is a pain to use, it's screw in, perhaps I would have been better with a square filter system and a lee big stopper.

Dark VF, dark live view. Very very long exposures possible, but I find that anything beyond a minute is progressivly less effective in anycase.

If I were buying again I might opt for an ND16 and an ND500 or similar.

Beware stacking extreme ND filters, as there can be severe colour casts.

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2013, 08:30:47 AM »
1.  Agree with Neuro that the 3-stop is better for using fast primes for portraiture.  Your question for what ND level is get is why I chose a variable ND.  I use a Schneider variable ND.  It has a little bit more stopping power than most variable NDs.  The nice thing about variable NDs is that you can set it to a low blocking setting and set your focus then turn the ring to block the light.  The bad thing about VNDs is that it's effectiveness is limited by what focal length you use and whether or not you're shooting into the sun.  With a 24mm prime, I could only get about 2 stops into the sun before x-banding appears significantly.  With the 70-200, it was closer to 7 or 8 stops.  In situations where the sun is not directly in the frame, then you'll have a lot more lattitude.

3.  I'd be more concerned about getting a quality filter that has consistent performance across the whole surface.  Better coatings would be nice, but there are fewer options for these things.

neuroanatomist

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2013, 08:57:36 AM »
Good points above.  The 'Maltese cross' artifact with variable ND's gets worse the darker you go and the wider the AoV (it's caused by uneven polarization, like you see with a CPL on a UWA lens).  Since one of my main uses for a 10-stop ND is to blur people out of city scenes, often shot with the TS-E 24 or 16-35, I've avoided a variable ND.

Although sometimes it's bright enough to use Live View with exposure simulation, normally you'd set composition and focus, meter, then screw on the ND, adjust exposure, and shoot.  A stable ballhead is a must (a little camera shake won't hurt a 30 s exposure, but you don't want to shift your composition. Probably not applicable, but a rotating front element won't work.
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mvinson1022

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2013, 09:16:38 AM »
I use the Singh Ray vari-nd filter. Gives me all the choices I need up to 8 stops of light. I have one with a built in polarizer when I want to kill the reflections on the water and leaves, one without. Get the large size and use step rings on smaller lenses. The only downside is vignetting if used on very wide lenses. But I've used it on a 21mm and just framed a little wider to crop the vignette. Yes it is expensive but there is no color change to worry about and it is so convenient.

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 09:32:02 AM »
For blurring clouds/people I would go with the darkest you can find.  I have the Hoya ND400 (approximately 9 stops) and the Lee Big Stopper (10 stops).  Since I have the Lee system I will sometimes stack a 3 stop with the Lee Big Stopper for 13 stops.

My screw in filters are all 77mm but I have a 67mm, 77mm, and 82mm ring for the Lee system so I usually end up using my Lee filters first.

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 09:32:02 AM »

ilkersen

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2013, 09:56:27 AM »
If I had to choose only 1, I would buy +10.  But 10/3 combo really covers everything as mentioned above. I use Lee Filter system, high quality & convenient to use.

angox

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2013, 10:24:02 AM »
Q1) For your need, I'd pick 10-stop ND. Stacking is possible of course, but vignette may be an issue (depending on your focal length).

Q2) I normally use CPL too for the purpose. No drawback in general. However, depending on CPL relative position and source of light, you may have unintended effect.

Q3) No idea on this one. I use Lee Filters, which I've no idea if they're coated or not. So far I've seen no issue with them though.

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2013, 10:57:23 AM »
Q1) A 10 stop would be the best. stacking a 3+6 isn't as good as a  10 stop because you loose a bit of sharpnes and the (red in case of b+w, blue in case of lee)colorcast gets worse. not as much with lee as with b+w i have read.(don't own lee yet).

Q2)if you stack a pola and an nd make sure that the nd is closest to your lens. this s something b+w and lee both advertise, it has something to do with reflections and polarisation of the light and the way the whole light spectum passes the filter. same if you stack multiple nd's alway the strongest closesed to the lens

Q3) it doesn't have a big impact on the sharpness or contrast of the photo.

btw even a 6 and 10 stop combo isn't an overkill if you want to achieve long exposures(1-2 min) during the day.
this is handy for blurring slow cloud movement or a lot of traffic.

Marsu42

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2013, 11:19:18 AM »
Hope that helps...

Thanks all, that was exactly the information I was looking for :-) - esp. the fact that I don't need a fancy mrc version (I'll reserve that for the polarizer) will save a lot of money.

As for the filter system, I can see the hassle with the screw-on version, so I'll have to calculate the cost of  Lee/Cokin with polarizer & nd if getting the adapters and holders from eBay/China - but that's probably beyond the scope of this thread.

if you stack a pola and an nd make sure that the nd is closest to your lens

Ok, good to know it's a working combination!

I use the Singh Ray vari-nd filter. [...] The only downside is vignetting if used on very wide lenses.

I've already read about the drawbacks of vari-nd esp. for wider lenses, so it'll be a fixed density nd filter for me.

And I'll want to use it on the 17-40L on ff sooner or later - and even for "normal" sized filters I've read vignetting can occur, that's why b+w sells the slim version. But since I'll have to use a step-up adapter 77->82 for the 17-40L I might get vignetting anyway, even with a slim version?

neuroanatomist

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2013, 12:25:08 PM »
As for the filter system, I can see the hassle with the screw-on version, so I'll have to calculate the cost of  Lee/Cokin with polarizer & nd if getting the adapters and holders from eBay/China - but that's probably beyond the scope of this thread.

I've considered the Lee system, am still considering it, in fact.  But the main reason for that is to use graduated ND filters, where a screw-in filter is not optimal (no flexibility on where the gradation falls).  I like the screw-in solid NDs for portability - easy to throw into a side pocket of a bag.

And I'll want to use it on the 17-40L on ff sooner or later - and even for "normal" sized filters I've read vignetting can occur, that's why b+w sells the slim version. But since I'll have to use a step-up adapter 77->82 for the 17-40L I might get vignetting anyway, even with a slim version?

Not sure about the 17-40 and vignetting.  If you use a step-up to 82mm, vignetting is less likely.  But it's really lens-dependent.  For example, the 16-35 II on FF is very susceptible to increased vignetting with filters, but the 10-22mm on APS-C (equivalent focal length to image circle comparison) can take a couple of stacked filters with no hit on vignetting.
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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 01:12:03 PM »
I picked up the Lee System with the Big Stopper but haven't had a chance to use it yet.  I also have to get a 82mm WA adapter.  It wasn't available at the time I ordered the 77mm.
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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 01:12:03 PM »

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2013, 01:24:19 PM »
Brilliant, a thread with a particular issue I am having... I need a square filter ND, 6 stops, to stack together with the Big Stopper to get 16 stops... Neuro any idea? Lee make 3 stop NDs, but I guess stacking a 10 stop Big Stopper and two 3 stop NDs would be overkill in terms of vignetting. Hitech, Cokin or BW make a 6 stop 100 mm square filter anyone knows?

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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2013, 01:44:33 PM »
Brilliant, a thread with a particular issue I am having... I need a square filter ND, 6 stops, to stack together with the Big Stopper to get 16 stops... Neuro any idea? Lee make 3 stop NDs, but I guess stacking a 10 stop Big Stopper and two 3 stop NDs would be overkill in terms of vignetting. Hitech, Cokin or BW make a 6 stop 100 mm square filter anyone knows?

Answered in your other thread, two options there...
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Re: What nd filter density (combinations) do you use?
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2013, 01:44:33 PM »