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Author Topic: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters  (Read 5183 times)

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2012, 09:07:30 AM »
Nice! Great examples and great to know you like the mk3. You'll need to get a dog on the beach to check for sharpness though. ;)

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2012, 09:07:30 AM »

Kernuak

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2012, 09:21:10 AM »
I strongly disagree that ND grads are a waste of time, in fact a few months ago, I gave a talk to our local camera club in an attempt to persuade them that there is an alternative to spending hours in Photoshop. While the grad tool in LR is pretty good, it can't recover detail that isn't there. If areas of the sky have blown out, then that detail is lost. Typically, there are up to 5 stops difference between the sky and a roughly mid-tone area in the foreground. If you have significant shadow areas, then it is even more. There is no way that LR or any other RAW editor can cope with that. I often use a 2 and a 3 stop grad filter on the sky and sometimes two 3 stop filters and I sometimes still need to recover detail in LR. Without grads, it would simply be impossible, short of using HDR or some other blending technique. Not only do I not like HDR in general (although it can be  a useful tool sometimes), I also don't like spending hours trying to correct something I could have done in camera, with some thought and consideration. To me, that is what photography is all about, using your skill and technique to create an artistic image (or a basic record if that is what you want/need to achieve). While I have nothing against those who want to do alot of processing work, when you start to blur the lines of reality, to my mind you are crossing over into digital art, which is fine if that is what you want, but not for me. It's really a matter of whether you want to develop/demonstrate your skill using aperture and shutterspeeds (not to mention angles and composition) or in post processing. Some will want or enjoy developing their skills in editong and processing, while others will just want to enhance an image with basic processing workflows. It depends on which of those two groups you fall, as to whether ND grads are useful.
I haven't got any comparisons, but this image demonstrates the problem. Due to the wideangle, I couldn't add grad filters, so added a gradient in LR. The clouds don't really look right though and there is a big patch that is completely blown.

Tarbat Ness Rockpool by Kernuak, on Flickr
In terms of whether the 5D MkIII is a landscape camera, I think with current lenses, it is the better option, as I think 36 MP is pushing the limits of most currently available lenses. While I have one or two which would be ok, I don't really want to start replacing expensive lenses because they are now producing soft images on a 36 MP body, particularly when it would be certain areas of the image. If the image was softened all over, it would be less noticeable.
Canon 5D MkIII, 7D, 300mm L IS f/2.8 and a few other L's

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2012, 09:33:06 AM »
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!

Now, there's a challenge!  :)

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2012, 09:34:19 AM »
You'll need to get a dog on the beach to check for sharpness though. ;)

I just love your droll sense of humour, Spooky!  ;D

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2012, 09:37:55 AM »
Another good example, not too far from my stomping grounds on the Black Isle!
Excuse my ignorance but I've never understood why higher MP would cause softness in the image unless you were to zoom in and crop the image etc, i.e. highlight any deficiencies in lens / technique? At the same reproduction size from the full frame, wouldn't the sharpness remain constant, or if anything, improve?
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 09:43:49 AM by Spooky »

ereka

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2012, 09:41:11 AM »
Thank you everyone, for the encouragement - I'm glad I haven't wasted my money :)

I have to admit that I fall into the camp that doesn't really enjoy spending hours and hours post processing images - in fact, I find it a bit of a drudge, so anything that will help me achieve great images with minimal post processing is a boon!

Cali_PH

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2012, 10:12:26 AM »
I haven't played much with 'digital' ND grad effects, but I agree with those that say once you blow the highlights, you can't recover them.  If you're at that point, you're going to have to merge images or mess with HDR.  I think your investment is a good one for landscape.

One of the most popular HDR software programs is Photomatix.  There is a demo version for you to download and experiment with.  Also, know that it has a 'ghost removal' tool, so you can highlight areas of movement; it's limited as I recall, I think it chooses one of the 3 moving images for you.  I haven't investigated it much though. 

I agree, it takes a bit of effort to make HDR's natural-looking, but it can be done. 

FYI, I have the Singh-Ray Vari-ND.     It can cause vignetting at the wide side of some WA lenses, especially the wide of of my 10-22 EF-S, my most-used lens.  Also, I've found I get blotchy spots when I crank up the filter to around 8 stops, and from googling, that seems universal.  So if you get one, just know you probably will actually have around 7 usable stops, +/-  I still like it, much easier than carrying around several different ND filters and screwing them on/off.  They do make a thin ring mount version; I don't think it has threads so you can put a standard lens cap or any more filters in front of it.

You may also run into vigentting with Lees Filter holders/Cokin holders with wide angle lenses, although there are wide-angle versions of both (some take a hack-saw to the Cokin holder).

You mentioned using Vari-ND and circular polarizers.  Well, I was shooting a waterfall with the Vari-ND, and noticed a bit of a rainbow showing up.  I slapped on a Singh-Ray circular polarizer. While I was adjusting, I accidentally turned the Vari-ND to its max and got an interesting effect.  This is with no adjustment beyond resizing for upload.  :o ;D

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2012, 10:12:26 AM »

awinphoto

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2012, 10:51:51 AM »
As what was said earlier... once you blow out your highlights no amount of recovery/filters will bring back the detail.  Also with my findings, digital filters are getting good, but are probably best when used universally such as warming filters/cooling filter, etc...  ND filters not only affect highlights, but they affect the overall exposure and can in some instances effect the balance of highlights and shadows, see the beach shot on #1... sky light, foreground dark... with filter sky dark, foreground lighter.  Digital Filters can probably simulate the darkening of the skys and can be used in ways regular filters cant, but there's no way other than recreating the overall scene to simulate the new resulting effect of the change of exposure and balance there of.  Lastly, with any additional heavy alterations of digital files, you run the risk of adding noise and other artifacts in your scene... So it's good to use in oh crap moments when you get an inspiration in post production, I wouldn't get too hog wild with digital filters if you can help it.   
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

AUGS

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2012, 10:03:07 PM »
Nice! Great examples and great to know you like the mk3. You'll need to get a dog on the beach to check for sharpness though. ;)
I agree they need some foreground interest.  Problem is I'm having trouble finding a dog big enough to challenge f11 DoF!   ;)

Now, there's a challenge!  :)
Not really a challenge, I just don't like seeing expensive paper-weights, when it is a great camera.  :)

manoque

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2012, 04:54:05 AM »
Hi, i just got my 5dmk3 last Wednesday and haven't try it serious but from casual shots i took, i really have to say it is a good camera and excellent at high iso. I am from Malaysia and have a photo forum i tend to view from time to time and some of the landscape images are great and sharp. I am heading off to snap proper picture on the 5dmk3.

http://www.photomalaysia.com/forums/showthread.php?184144-5D-Mark-III-Owner-Club

Got a few nice shots there.

As for is filtes as ND good? For me, yes, since it does reduce the work needed to be done in post processing. But if everything is within the dynamic range (no over or under expose), you could effectively work without a filter... but as i mentioned, more post processing.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 04:56:45 AM by manoque »

Kernuak

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2012, 05:50:17 AM »
Another good example, not too far from my stomping grounds on the Black Isle!
Excuse my ignorance but I've never understood why higher MP would cause softness in the image unless you were to zoom in and crop the image etc, i.e. highlight any deficiencies in lens / technique? At the same reproduction size from the full frame, wouldn't the sharpness remain constant, or if anything, improve?
There are a number of factors. The obvious is increased diffraction, but also, higher resolution will increase detail, which will have the side effect of magnifying any lens deficiencies. I usually look at an image at 50% magnification to check whether it is sharp enough; this is a fairly close representation of how it will look in print. Obviously with a 36 MP sensor, you are looking at a larger magnification doing this and for smaller prints (I don't print larger than A3 normally) increased diffraction would matter less. For fairness, I looked at the D800 and D800E sample images at 25% and they still looked soft in the corners. It was probably emphasised more, because of the high level of detail in the centre. It also didn't help because they were taken at f/8, so there was insufficient depth of field. However, if you need to print large (which realistically is the only reason you would need 36 MP), then looking at 50% becomes more relevant again. With the 17-40, the corners already look soft on the 5D MkII, so if Canon produced a 36+ MP sensor, then that lens would be useless, as would the 24-105.
Canon 5D MkIII, 7D, 300mm L IS f/2.8 and a few other L's

Stu_bert

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2012, 05:53:03 AM »
ND Grad Filters are just another tool in the bag for making the photograph as close as you saw it. As others have said, ND Grads are good to bring the DR within the capabilities of the camera when the scene allows you to. I have the Lee system, but there are times where I will favour a 2 shot bracketed picture - typically when the part of the scene I wish to control is too irregular in shape.

Sometimes when I have used them, I will still correct the dark banding that you can often have on the scene as a result of the Grad overlapping with other elements of the scene. I will also use a Grad in LR to either lighten or darken a scene further (Lee grads only work in stop increments, sometimes I want finer control)

Bracketing, as people have pointed out, is more difficult with moving elements in scenes, but i find most of the time I'm either blending sky or water with the land, and therefore the moving elements (grass, water, trees), are limited to only one part of the scene and not impacted by the blend.

Bear in mind also, that if you can avoid a filter, even a Lee, that you will get sharper pictures so always check before you reach into your bag. How much does it blur? Put your camera on live view, 10x zoom, and put the filter in front and then away from a scene and see. It's not massive, and it can easily be corrected in PP. But if you don't need it, don't use it :-)

Your Lee circ pola will also be a good investment once you need to use it across a few lenses. And of course there are things a Circ Pola can do which you can't do digitally.

Finally, the other thing I like about the Lee system which I've used on occasion is their 2 rotation filter holder which allows you to independently rotate 2 filters. So you could use one Grad for the Sky and perhaps a 2nd for some water.

Like I said, filters - both real and digital are just tools in your bag to help create the scene you envisaged. Happy photography...

Oh ps. if you have not ordered them, get the £3 white plastic caps. I leave the adapters on all the time and therefore these are great protection...
If life is all about what you do in the time that you have, then photography is about the pictures you take not the kit that took it. Still it's fun to talk about the kit, present or future :)

Spooky

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2012, 06:42:49 AM »
Good post Stu_bert, agree that if you don't need to, don't use them. One other point is that the grads can only split the scene in a straight line (obviously!) and care needs to be taken, with regard to f stop, as to the hardness of the split and where it may land on details in the shot. This is where the digital blending excels.

Kernuak - Thanks for the reply. Still not sure about this. Is the diffraction caused by the sensor pixel spacing / microlens design? and if so, why would the lens have an effect?
Also, if the higher resolution increases detail, at the same magnification of output, why would this cause softness? I understand that the perceived sharpness, especially at the centre, can be observed causing other areas to appear softer. I can see that the lens quality becomes more important if you start blowing the image up to take advantage of the higher resolution, but I can't see why the image would worsen at the same output size.

Sorry that this is going off topic...
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 07:07:46 AM by Spooky »

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Re: A Q? for landscape photographers about filters
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2012, 06:42:49 AM »