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Author Topic: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?  (Read 5954 times)

rocketdesigner

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Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« on: November 28, 2011, 06:28:33 PM »
For general landscape timelapse photography, what ND Gradient filter would you recommend? This is the first purchase so need to know what would be the best one to get .... ND3, ND4? Thanks

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Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« on: November 28, 2011, 06:28:33 PM »

wickidwombat

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 06:35:04 PM »
i just got a set of those cheap rectangular polycarb ebay ones where you get six and a little pouch havent tried them much but I couldnt find anyone that sells glass or coated ones. I thought i'd get the cheap ones first to see if the technique appealed to me before dumping lots of cash on something hard to get that may be very expensive when i do find it.
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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 06:51:36 PM »
i just got a set of those cheap rectangular polycarb ebay ones where you get six and a little pouch havent tried them much but I couldnt find anyone that sells glass or coated ones. I thought i'd get the cheap ones first to see if the technique appealed to me before dumping lots of cash on something hard to get that may be very expensive when i do find it.

Great idea.  Then, after a while, you can pick the strength (ND2/3/4) and edge (hard or soft) style(s) you use the most, and invest in better quality filters. 

As you say, most are resin - even expensive brands like Lee and Singh-Ray.  FWIW, Schneider Optics (parent company of B+W filters) does make Schott glass grad NDs, sold under their MPTV (motion picture television) line.
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jaduffy007

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 07:33:11 PM »
Imo, this falls into the "do it right once" category... similar to tripods / heads.  In that spirit,  I got the Singh Ray vari ND.

wickidwombat

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 07:42:58 PM »
Imo, this falls into the "do it right once" category... similar to tripods / heads.  In that spirit,  I got the Singh Ray vari ND.

if its just to experiment and see what suits dropping $20 or so on the ebay ones works and the little filter case you get with them is not too bad even if the filters turn out to be bad ;) work out what strength suits most then hunt down the good quality ones

also they are so cheap i cut up one of the plastic mounting frames so i can use it on my 16-35 FF and not get vignette issues from the edge of the frame protruding, 2 mins and a hacksaw and job done works well
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rocketdesigner

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 07:45:18 PM »
i just got a set of those cheap rectangular polycarb ebay ones where you get six and a little pouch havent tried them much but I couldnt find anyone that sells glass or coated ones. I thought i'd get the cheap ones first to see if the technique appealed to me before dumping lots of cash on something hard to get that may be very expensive when i do find it.

I bought one 4x4 2 stop gradient / chinese made / plastic for $30 ... But found that it was a bit weak on the landscape with sky.

Singh Ray told me they normally don't make 4x4 gradients glass filters, but I got a price quote for $160 for a custom, 3 stop 4x4 gradient ... but wondering if I should get a 4 stop instead?

Probably should spring for $320 and get both...

wickidwombat

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 07:47:18 PM »
if you do get them post back i would be interested to see how they go maybe do a head to head comparison with the cheap ones :)
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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 07:47:18 PM »

branden

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2011, 02:32:07 AM »
Maybe you can try renting the nice stuff?

That's always the challenge -- the cheap stuff is cheap. This reminds me, I've got some eBay special 67mm ND filters holding down my desk for the past 10 months, if anyone wants them. Set of 3, ND2, ND4, and ND8. Cast a nice purplish tone to your image for you. :rolls my eyes:

Point is, I could have rented nice ND stuff for the same price as buying it cheap.

te4o

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2011, 01:45:54 PM »
Why not first try the software ND grad from Color Efex NIK - I bought the bundle in the low price phase and now regret buying a screw in nd grad from heliopan.
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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2011, 02:43:17 PM »
Though the Singh Ray vari-ND is one of the best ND filters to have in your bag, it is not a gradient ND.

Rectangular resin filters by Singh Ray and Lee are fairly reasonable for the quality. Rectangular glass Schneider filters are appreciably more $$$. My experience with Cokin filters is the higher ND levels leave a purplish color-cast. As Neuro pointed out, you'll want to evaluate the hard vs soft edge available at the gradient transition line. As for the level of ND, there is no one overall solution here - the level you will need will vary with the lighting conditions/ratio between the bright areas and darker areas. Having a kit of three levels is usually sufficient.

Also, some photographers have success simply holding a solid (non-gradient) ND filter out in front of the lens and only covering half of the lens opening/front. By holding it out a centimeter or so and varying that distance, they can simulate hard or soft edged transitions. This is something you can try with your eBay kit you bought.

TexPhoto

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2011, 02:56:00 PM »
The cheap set of eBay filters is a good idea.  I did the same and then eventually bought a few Sing-Ray.  I have a 2, 3 , and 4 stop, and have to say the 3 is my favorite, and the rest may go back to ebay.  The cheap ones I paid < $20 for and gave to a friend.

seacritter

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2011, 04:02:19 PM »
Okay...  I shoot mainly landscape.  I've been experimenting for a while with these.  My views so far:

My most used ND Grad filter is the soft ND Grad 0.6 (2 stops of light).  I use it so much, that I keep a backup.  This is the only grad that I have a backup of.  After that, this is the order that I would buy them in...

1.  Soft ND Grad 0.6 (2 stops)
2.  Hard ND Grad 0.6 (2 stops)
3.  Reverse ND Grad 0.9 (3 stops)
4.  Soft ND Grad 0.9 (3 stops)
5.  Hard ND Grad 0.9 (3 stops)

As to brand...  I have both the Hitech and Singh-Ray.  The Singh-Ray is a better filter hands down.  The Hitech does the job for 1/3 the price, with no color change.  I like the Singh-Ray better because it is a longer filter, making it easier to handle and hand-hold when necessary.  Also, Singh-Ray is local in Florida and it is impossible to beat their service!!!

Unfortunately, you will pay a much higher price for the Singh-Ray.  If I were wealthier, I wouldn't even look at the Hitech, but I am slowly replacing them filter by filter with the Singh-Ray.  You can find the Hitech on Amazon, and just go direct for the Singh-Ray...
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 04:05:50 PM by seacritter »

Righteye

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2011, 05:51:25 PM »
In the UK Lee filters are very popular with amateurs and Pros.

Don't buy cheap you will end buying a quality filter in the end ( i made this mistake)

I use the 0.60 and 0.45 most of the time i have others but rarely use them.

Price example    http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/shop-by-brand/lee-filters/lee-0-45-neutral-density-grad-hard-filter.html

Lee filters          http://www.leefilters.com/camera/products/finder/ref:C475674155E58E/

   NOTE, that due to the fact that there is a high demand  for these filters you may have to wait a while.
       
                       http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/lee-product-order-updates/

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2011, 05:51:25 PM »

RobertG.

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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 06:58:24 PM »
Hi,
for a first try I can recommend the Hitech resin filters by Formatt. The price is OK for what they offer. I have from Hitech the soft and hard Grad ND filters with 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 as well as the reverse Grad ND in 0.6 and 0.9. Like seacritter the most used one is the soft ND Grad 0.6 followed by the hard 0.6 Grad ND filter. The effect of the 0.9 is often too strong, so for a start I would recommend the soft ND Grad 0.6.

Color cast is no issue for me with the Hitech filters. But you might loose a little bit of sharpness.
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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 08:34:59 PM »
If you're not too concerned with IQ, then the $20 ebay set will do perfectly to see what strength ND you need.
But then once you decide and buy a 'good' brand version, you've definitely spent $20 more than otherwise. (still, it's better than spending $100 on one that is the wrong strength).
I'd say somewhere in the 6 to 10-stop range is a good start for slowing an f/8 landscape down to 1-2 seconds to get waterfall blur. 20 stops might be needed to get any sort of motion blur in an f/2 or wider low-DOF shot.
I actually bought a Canon-brand 72mm ND8 off ebay second-hand for $30 shipped, it's not too bad quality, but for an f/6 or so landscape on a bright sunny beach i'm still getting 1/100s, I need maybe 20-stops to get to 2 seconds to blur waves.

What i'd recommend, if you don't know what strength to get, and do want quality, just get a good-brand Variable-ND (have to ask others which are the better brands, some make weird cross-hatch patterns at certain settings).
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Re: Best "first buy" Gradient Filter?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 08:34:59 PM »