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Author Topic: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters  (Read 5478 times)

ereka

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A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« on: March 23, 2012, 03:56:14 PM »
I'm a beginner when it comes to landscape photography and after doing some reading thought it would be a good idea to invest in a circular polarising filter and some ND/ND grad filters. After some further research, I decided on buying into the Lee Filters system mainly to be able to use ND grads in conjunction with a circular polarising filter effectively i.e. be able to rotate the polarising filter independently of the ND grad. HOWEVER, I watched some landscape photography training videos at Kelby Training this morning and the presenter (Bill Fortney) recommended using a circular polarising filter in conjunction with an 8-stop variable Singh Ray ND filter if needed, but stated in no uncertain terms that the advent of modern post production software e.g. Lightroom 4 with its selective adjustment brushes has made ND grads more or less redundant and he doesn't use them any more - they are gathering dust somewhere. So my question is this: have I just wasted in the order of £300 buying the Lee Filters SLR starter kit and adaptor ring and would I have been better off just adding some screw-in ND filters to my screw-in circular polarising filter as needed, then using Lightroom to make any dynamic range adjustments in post processing? Are there any REAL advantages in using ND grad filters? If it's relevant, I'll be using a 5DMkIII body.

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A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« on: March 23, 2012, 03:56:14 PM »

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 06:51:50 AM »
Are there no landscape photogaphers here?

Going by replies on other forums as well as general reading on the topic it does seem that there are varying opinions regarding the use of ND grads. Some think they are an essential part of the serious landscape photographer's kit whereas others prefer to do everything in software or use multiple exposures. I guess I'll just have to make up my own mind on the issue.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 07:24:21 AM by ereka »

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2012, 06:58:54 AM »
You have certainly NOT wasted your money. The Lee system is excellent, and you should be doing as much 'in camera' as possible to capture the dynamic range of the scene. You can use PS to balance out the sky etc, but you cannot retrieve blown highlights - which the ND grad is designed for. You have got the best, most useful filters. :)

YellowJersey

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 02:20:46 PM »
I've never been all that satisfied with digital graduated ND filters, although they have been handy in a few situations. I just picked up the Lee filters too and can't wait to give them a try. You didn't make a bad buy.

wickidwombat

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 10:10:17 PM »
Are there no landscape photogaphers here?

sorry they all changed to nikon...  :'(
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ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2012, 05:28:11 AM »
Are there no landscape photogaphers here?

sorry they all changed to nikon...  :'(

Ha ha ... very droll ;D

Actually, with all the the whinging going on about 5DIII image quality I think I'm in real danger of catching a dose of buyer's remorse. What do you think would be a fair price for a second hand 5DMkIII 24-105 kit, boxed, hardly used, mint condition? Offers anyone? Oh, and three spare batteries (doubt they'd fit the other camera)! Or maybe I could return the kit for a full refund on the basis that it isn't "fit for purpose"?

There again, could it conceivably be a case of "a bad workman blames his tools"?  :-\

dr croubie

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 05:50:36 AM »
If you''re selling the Lee system, I'll take it :)
As spooky mentioned, the best (only?) thing Grad ND filters can do is to stop blowing out the highlights in your sky. Once you've overexposed too much, no amount of post processing can recover details from pure white, it's always going to be white.
Stick on a grad ND, and you'll stop yourself from blowing out the highlights in camera.

Of course, you could always take bracketed shots, create an HDR, or otherwise merge the non-blown highlights into the other image. But then you run into problems with a) some HDRs really look crap, it takes a lot of skill to make it not look fake and crappy, and b) if you're taking bracketed shots, wind moves leaves, clouds move, etc, and stuff just doesn't line up when you merge it.
Get it right in-camera and in one shot, it's a lot easier in the long run...
Too much gear, too little space.
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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 05:50:36 AM »

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2012, 05:57:41 AM »
Yikes, that's a bit drastic! Please give it a chance...
I can understand the disappointment after the high expectations and build up of the mark3's release, but people should also realise that even the crappiest camera can take stunning images. People want the best image quality (rightly so) but the photographer and the view in front of him is what counts and how he presents it in the final image.
You'd be throwing money away to sell it just now. I think we'll see improvements once the software is updated and people get used to the cameras handling. All the negativity is getting us down...

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2012, 06:00:14 AM »
Agree whole heartedly dr croubie! An HDR image should look as realistic as possible.
 :)

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2012, 06:11:56 AM »
If you''re selling the Lee system, I'll take it :)
As spooky mentioned, the best (only?) thing Grad ND filters can do is to stop blowing out the highlights in your sky. Once you've overexposed too much, no amount of post processing can recover details from pure white, it's always going to be white.
Stick on a grad ND, and you'll stop yourself from blowing out the highlights in camera.

Of course, you could always take bracketed shots, create an HDR, or otherwise merge the non-blown highlights into the other image. But then you run into problems with a) some HDRs really look crap, it takes a lot of skill to make it not look fake and crappy, and b) if you're taking bracketed shots, wind moves leaves, clouds move, etc, and stuff just doesn't line up when you merge it.
Get it right in-camera and in one shot, it's a lot easier in the long run...

Thank you for that - it's reassuring and encourages me to give it a go. Great point about stuff moving between shots too - I hadn't thought of that!
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 06:24:04 AM by ereka »

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2012, 06:21:20 AM »
Yikes, that's a bit drastic! Please give it a chance...
I can understand the disappointment after the high expectations and build up of the mark3's release, but people should also realise that even the crappiest camera can take stunning images. People want the best image quality (rightly so) but the photographer and the view in front of him is what counts and how he presents it in the final image.
You'd be throwing money away to sell it just now. I think we'll see improvements once the software is updated and people get used to the cameras handling. All the negativity is getting us down...

Please see my new post  "a bad workman blames his tools?". I've set up a poll there and will be interested to see the spread of opinions. You're absolutely right ... the negativity is getting me down too and it's catching! I'm trying to look at it objectively, though. Hence the poll. I've already voted (hint: I'll be keeping the MkIII for now).

PS - as a counterpoint to your statement "even the crappiest camera can take stunning images" it's also a well known fact that even the best camera can take crappy images. As Ansell Adams is alleged to have said: "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it."

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2012, 06:47:19 AM »
Absolutely!
I wonder if we didn't see the others posts, but looked at this camera in isolation, would we be happier - Ok, there are softness issues with both software and focussing, but these will be overcome. When I bought my 7D when first released, my focussing was always out, focussing on the nearest object in frame, until I selected single point plus point expansion and also micro adjusting the lens. Since then it has been faultless.
I'm also looking to buy the mark 3, have been impressed with images I have seen from the mk2, and see the mk3 as an improvement (not so much in IQ, but in many other areas). I'm mainly into landscapes and would like to regain the wide end of my lenses hence the FF. I am also happy with many of my older shots which are grainy, low resolution etc. ;)
Dare I say that I don't think that there are so many artists here as there are people that want the pleasure of owning a technically good camera (not that that is a bad thing). ::)

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2012, 07:37:25 AM »
Absolutely!
I wonder if we didn't see the others posts, but looked at this camera in isolation, would we be happier - Ok, there are softness issues with both software and focussing, but these will be overcome. When I bought my 7D when first released, my focussing was always out, focussing on the nearest object in frame, until I selected single point plus point expansion and also micro adjusting the lens. Since then it has been faultless.
I'm also looking to buy the mark 3, have been impressed with images I have seen from the mk2, and see the mk3 as an improvement (not so much in IQ, but in many other areas). I'm mainly into landscapes and would like to regain the wide end of my lenses hence the FF. I am also happy with many of my older shots which are grainy, low resolution etc. ;)
Dare I say that I don't think that there are so many artists here as there are people that want the pleasure of owning a technically good camera (not that that is a bad thing). ::)

I guess that's the nature of a rumors forum! Philosophically, I know I'd be better off just going out shooting with my new "toy" and not even looking in the forums, at least for now. Forums can be quite addictive and all the negativity can have something of a paralysing effect I think. The first couple of shots I took with the 5DMkIII made me say "wow" and "amazing" aloud, just looking at the preview on the back of the camera. Then I started reading reviews and forums and stopped shooting! I did transfer the images to my computer to take a closer look, but found that LR3 and CS5.5 don't yet recognise the raw files. As I'd only shot the smallest available jpegs along with RAW, they didn't really enlighten me much, although they looked OK at that size. I've now set the camera to shoot RAW to the CF card and simultaneous large fine jpegs to the SD card, but I haven't actually shot any more images yet. I think I need a kick up the backside to get me out in the real world shooting and making up my own mind. Back on topic, I guess I should really get out and try the 5DMkIII with my Lee filters - so many new toys to play with!  ::)

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2012, 07:37:25 AM »

sanyasi

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2012, 07:50:20 AM »
I have the Singh Ray ND filter.  It's expensive, but one of the best tools in my bag.  I have used it to capture speeding taxi cab blurs in daylight, water and waves for landscape, and people walking, running, and biking.  It is great.

I am in the process of buying a Lee Filter system because I am tired of buying separate filters for each size lens. 

As for selling your brand new 5D, Mark III--Stop reading this forum.  Except for a select few, nobody has extensive experience with this camera yet.  Somebody was complaining about a photo of their dog not being sharp yesterday.  If I read the post correctly, it was heavily cropped, shot with a long telephoto zoom at a relatively close distance, at a F5 (relatively wide open), and the dog was a large one standing at an angle.  In short, you have a narrow depth of field, an animal that probably isn't perfectly still, not prime lens, and an object that is not flat against the sensor plane.  The photo looked fine on the web (admittedly not the place to be looking). 

All of this complaining about the camera is ridiculous.  Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc all make fine tools.  I see images taken with all of them that I wish I had taken.  You can spend all the money you want, it still comes down to the photographer.  On top of that, people who are complaining should go see some photo exhibits at art museums.  Sharpness isn't everything.

Jack Siegel

AUGS

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2012, 08:47:10 AM »
Lets start by saying, I've been using a 7D and 10-22 lens with HiTech filters for my landscapes and done 3 foot wide prints from a single image and they are really clean.  That was until last week when I got my 5D3 and the 16-35.  With all the paranoia around the 5D3, I checked my 7D/10-22 against the 5D3/16-35 with a test chart and they are chalk and cheese.  The 5D3 just blows it away, so now I can't wait to go out and do more landscapes with the new camera - just waiting for my adapter rings to arrive.  But I digress...

I don't do any proper landscapes without my filters.  As has already been said, once you've blown your highlights, they are gone.  But also, if you clip your shadows, they can be very hard to recover too.  By using filters (soft or hard edge Grad NDs) you can suppress the highlights while still pulling up the shadow detail.  The images below are probably not the best examples and were taken with my 7D and the 10-22 at 10mm, but all I could readily find for with and without and it gives you the idea.  Notice the vertical rock face detail is brought up, while some cloud detail is revealed.  With the foundation set, you can then tune slightly as you need.

So I see no reason not to get out there and take some awesome landscapes with your new 5D3 and Lee filters.  I look forward to seeing some shots soon!
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 08:51:04 AM by AUGS »

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2012, 08:47:10 AM »