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Author Topic: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls  (Read 4734 times)

DeadPixel

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Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« on: April 03, 2012, 01:09:57 PM »
Hi all,

I have a question I'd like a little help with - I'm looking at buying an ND filter or two (wasn't planning on a variable one) for shooting some waterfalls.  I see that basically they come in at ranges from 0.3 to 13 stops.  If I wanted a couple for general waterfall use, is there 1 or 2 that would fit the need pretty well?  Since its basically a sunglass for my lens, am I better off to get a darker one where I can just set the exposure longer if the light is too dim? As simple as these seem, does brand matter at all?

I wasn't planning on any kind of system, just a simple screw in filter.

Thanks!

DeadPixel

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Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« on: April 03, 2012, 01:09:57 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 01:29:28 PM »
Yes, brand matters.  A cheap filter will degrade your IQ.  I'd recommend B+W or the higher end Hoya models (S-HMC, Pro1, HD).

Personally, I find a 3-stop filter to be ideal for most uses.  Consider that you might want to reduce reflections and enhance skies by stacking a circular polarizer on the ND filter, and the CPL adds another ~1.75 stops of density, so the total is close to 5-stops which is plenty for a long enough exposure.  I also have a 10-stop ND, too long for waterfalls, that one is great for architectural shooting - a 30s or 1 min exposure is enough to blur out pedestrians and other passers-by.
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Bob Howland

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 01:57:13 PM »
I use a Cokin P series wide angle holder and, for waterfalls, a Hitech 3-stop filter. I have 6 and 9-stop filters coming, but those will be used for other things or, at least, I think so.

BL

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 01:58:32 PM »
word of caution if you stack ND's or polarizers on top.  if you're shooting landscape, you're likely to shoot wide.  those filters can produce vignetting unless you use a step up ring to work with larger filters (e.g. 77mm lens stepping up to 82mm stacked filters
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keithfullermusic

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 01:58:46 PM »
+1 on the circular polarizer.

One thing to take note of is that ND filters will leave a color cast (usually purple) that has to be taken out in post.  I have Cokin's and I know they are the cheapest, so they are probably the worst.  The main reason i still went with them is because i have talked to people who use expensive ones like Lee and Hi-Tech and they said there is still a purple has.  They told me it has something to do with the camera's UV filter or something, i'm not sure, but I'm sure someone here could better explain it.

But, definitely get a circular polarizer.  Sometimes that might be all you need for waterfalls.  The beauty of them is that they don't leave that purple color cast and they get rid of all the reflections on the water leaving it a much richer color.  It also brings down the shot about 1 stop.  I have a Cokin circular polarizer that I got on ebay for $30 bucks.  It is really high quality, not like their square/rectangle filters and I STRONGLY recommend it.  Once again, their circular polarizer is REALLY HIGH QUALITY and way cheaper than the alternatives.
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bvukich

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 02:03:07 PM »
The 3 stop + CPL as Neuro suggested is a really good starting point.

That will get you at a good starting point, then you will have a few stops of latitude between ISO (100-400, 2 stops easily without compromising quality), and potentially another stop Av without getting too far away from your desired Tv.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 02:05:06 PM by bvukich »

docsmith

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 02:05:07 PM »
All depends on how much light in on your waterfall.  If shaded, 2-3 stops is generally sufficient.  I agree with the others here, the 1.75 stops from a good polarizer or a 3 stop ND filter work well.  However, if your waterfall is in the bright sun, I find that you need at least 6-10 stops to get good blur of the water. 

I would recommend B+W or Singh Ray filters.  And you do typically get what you pay for, so plan on spending a little on this. 

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 02:05:07 PM »

kirispupis

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 03:06:37 PM »
I have the Singh-Ray Vari-ND and find it great for photographing waterfalls.  It will vignette on UW lenses on a FF camera, but in general it does a good job - particularly at the low end of its range.
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sanyasi

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 04:00:10 PM »
I spent a good portion of this past winter photographing Lake Michigan, trying to obtain different degrees of water movement.  I highly recommend the Sing-Ray ND filter that can be rotated to increase or decrease the degree of density.  Before I purchased that filter, I used a fixed ND filter--I think 3 stops.  I would never go back to a single density filter.  During the course of my project, I learned that there are different degrees of "frozen" water.  It can look like clouds, smoke, silk, or frozen ripples.  Having the ability to vary the gradations with one filter was worth the price in terms of my own efforts.

keithfullermusic

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2012, 05:26:50 PM »
I spent a good portion of this past winter photographing Lake Michigan, trying to obtain different degrees of water movement.  I highly recommend the Sing-Ray ND filter that can be rotated to increase or decrease the degree of density.  Before I purchased that filter, I used a fixed ND filter--I think 3 stops.  I would never go back to a single density filter.  During the course of my project, I learned that there are different degrees of "frozen" water.  It can look like clouds, smoke, silk, or frozen ripples.  Having the ability to vary the gradations with one filter was worth the price in terms of my own efforts.

The problem with those is that you need one for each lens then.  The benefit of having multiple strengths of square filters is that they work across all lenses.  if you only use them on one then your way is probably much easier/better.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2012, 06:25:51 PM »
A variable ND filter sure seems convenient.  So, why don't I have one?  Ever used a CPL on an ultrawide lens (24mm and wider on FF), and seen how a blue sky is unevenly polarized, with uneven light and dark bands?  A variable ND filter is essentially two stacked polarizers, and that same uneven polarization translates to a 'Maltese cross' artifact on UWA lenses, which gets worse as you darken the effect.
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zatomas

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2012, 04:00:25 AM »
Hi DeadPixel,
I agree with Neuro about the B+W filters. I have a the 2,3,6 & 10 stop filters and thoroughly enjoy using them.

Before I bought my filters, I came across a couple of articles in Advanced Photographer magazine (http://www.advancedphotographer.co.uk). The early editions compare 10 stop NDs, polarizers and ND grads. You can get single editions as digital PDFs for downloading. They do a decent comparison.
Tomas

DeadPixel

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2012, 12:57:46 PM »
Big thanks guys, this info is great!  Sounds like a 3 and  6 stop will be a good place to start!

I had no idea about the purple tint, great to know!   

I already have a Hoya CPL, so I have part of it covered, again never considered that it is able to fill in for a 1 to 1.5 stop ND filter.

Thanks on the vignetting warning and possibility to use an up-converting size adapter, hadn't thought of that either!

Appreciate the references zatomas!


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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2012, 12:57:46 PM »

sanyasi

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2012, 08:59:59 AM »
I spent a good portion of this past winter photographing Lake Michigan, trying to obtain different degrees of water movement.  I highly recommend the Sing-Ray ND filter that can be rotated to increase or decrease the degree of density.  Before I purchased that filter, I used a fixed ND filter--I think 3 stops.  I would never go back to a single density filter.  During the course of my project, I learned that there are different degrees of "frozen" water.  It can look like clouds, smoke, silk, or frozen ripples.  Having the ability to vary the gradations with one filter was worth the price in terms of my own efforts.

The problem with those is that you need one for each lens then.  The benefit of having multiple strengths of square filters is that they work across all lenses.  if you only use them on one then your way is probably much easier/better.

You are right.  I pretty much have stuck to two lenses for this project.  I now want to experiment with graduated neutral density filters and I am in looking into the Lee system for that very reason.  I will probably purchase their Big Stopper which is a neutral density flier with I think 10 stops of density.

As for a later comment regarding the stacking and the affect on the sky--I was not using wide angle lenses so I did not experience that problem.

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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2012, 11:06:04 AM »
As alternatives, B+W and Schneider both make good 10-stop ND filters.

FWIW, Schneider Optics is the parent company of B+W Filters, and AFAIK Schneider is only maker of optical glass grad NDs (Lee, Singh-Ray, and others are resin).  They are sold under the MPTV line (motion picture television).  Also, for screw-in filters, Schneider is the only maker of an 82mm 10-stop ND. 
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Re: Looking for an ND filter for waterfalls
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2012, 11:06:04 AM »