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03-17-2013, 11:48 AM   #1
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Neutral Density Graduated Neutral Density Filter questions

I have read many magazine articles that recommend Neutral Density and Graduated Neutral Density filters. I have also seen some amazing before and after shots. I would like to invest in a set of filters but just found a HUGE price swing.

Lee Filter system Starter Kit is about 500.00 dollars and the Cokin starter system is about 130.00.


I do not know anything at all about these filters, only that I want to use them for the results I have seen. I will assume because of price the Lee Filters are better made, but are the results dramatically different?


I would seriously love to hear any opinions and suggestions. Guidance from those who use these filters and systems will be very valuable to my decision.

thank you!

03-17-2013, 12:21 PM   #2
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I've had a set of these soft edge gradual ND filters from 'Format - HiTech' for a few years and like them. They are resin, but very high quality and scratch resistant in normal use, but "normal use" has to mean "handle carefully". I got my wife to make some envelopes from microfibre cloths for mine, I handle them by the edges, and they are still perfect after about 3 years of frequent use.
Having got some Cokin filters in a kit of cameras I bought a while ago I can say these HiTech filters are a lot higher quality.

http://www.formatt.co.uk/stills-filters/filters/graduated-n-d/nd-master-kit-...hard-edge.aspx

I'm sure HiTech are on sale in the USA and probably Canada as well.
03-17-2013, 12:24 PM   #3
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Lee is very good, and very expensive, really top of the line IMHO. But Cokin is good too and that's what I use. Build quality is not as high perhaps.

But you also have to compare apples to apples price wise. I use Cokin 'A' filters which are 70mm I believe Lee is 100mm x 150mm and the larger the filter the more expensive. The lenses I use for landscape or waterfalls have 49mm or 58mm filter rings so Cokin 'A' works just fine. I bought all of mine used with other bits of camera gear. Cokin also makes a 'P' line which is larger, not sure of the size.

You also might consider getting just the holder and the filters you need instead of the set, might cost you less.

What do you want to do with these filters? ND grads are useful for landscapes or shots that have dramatic contrast differences but to be honest much of what they do can be duplicated in software now. Not all, but a lot of it. ND filters basically cut down the light letting you use a slower shutter speed, like for taking dreamy waterfall pictures. These are usually in 1, 2 and 4 stop increments. They also make a 10 stop 'Big Stopper' which is all the rage right now. Much of what they do cannot be done in software so I find them more useful.

If you just want to try it out you might also check ebay, there are lots of knockoffs that use the Cokin holder system and full sets are very inexpensive. I have heard that on some the quality is not top notch and sometimes they can give a slight color cast which needs corrected, but it might be worth a look until you see what you need.
03-17-2013, 12:30 PM   #4
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Cokin ND's have a reputation for colour cast, they are apparently just grey filters and not whatever the better ND's are ? I'm sure someone knows the technicalities and will be along shortly.

03-17-2013, 01:13 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies so far. Great info and direction for homework. I want to use the filters for landscapes, especially grand visits and interesting cloud. I would like to be able to capture the movement of clouds. This winter I had some gorgeous sky above tall looming pine trees, but the shadows in the trees or the over exposure of the sky could not be recovered enough to make me happy. I have a bit of fast water experience and I would like to try out some ND filters on falls and rapids.

I want to make an educated decision on which filters to purchase. This thread is really helping. Thanks...

Last edited by tessfully; 03-17-2013 at 01:20 PM. Reason: spelling
03-17-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
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I think that there's a whole lot more science behind the more expensive brands, or so they would like you to believe, like optically perfectly flat glass, multi coatings and the like. Whether these can justify the enormous price differences you will find between the various brands, only you can really decide.

That having been said, when you consider how much money you have already got tied up in your system, I guess if it were me I would buy the best.

Remember you can also add ND in PP now with most brands of software, or you bracket exposes and stack later to give the desired look.
03-17-2013, 02:44 PM   #7
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I've got the Lee system and used it exactly once in 2 years, lol, what a waste of money. I don't think the extra cost is worth it, the Lee filters flared like crazy for me when the sun was in the frame, so much so I haven't bothered to use it again.
03-17-2013, 03:02 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
I've got the Lee system and used it exactly once in 2 years, lol, what a waste of money. I don't think the extra cost is worth it, the Lee filters flared like crazy for me when the sun was in the frame, so much so I haven't bothered to use it again.
What ND filters do you like? Your photos suggest that you use them regularly.

03-17-2013, 03:14 PM   #9
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I have used the Lee filter system for years, and there are certain circumstances where a multi-coated screw-in filter will be a better choice. Square filter systems exist because there are photographers who want to use filters with a wide variety of lenses with significant variation in filter threads - and don't want vignetting to be an issue. I use the Lee system also because of the consistent quality and colour neutrality of the filters as well as their generous size, which allows me to use them with just about any lens on 8x10 format cameras to APS-C digital SLRs.

QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
What ND filters do you like? Your photos suggest that you use them regularly.
To the best of my knowledge Twitch uses a B+W ND10 filter - which is equally as good as the Lee "Big stopper" - ND10 filter.
03-17-2013, 03:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
What ND filters do you like? Your photos suggest that you use them regularly.
Yes I do, I use screw in B+W ND fitlers. I bought the Lee system so I could use graduated filters but it hasn't worked out so far.... maybe one day I'll get more inspired to do landscapes (keeping the sun out of the frame )
03-17-2013, 03:49 PM   #11
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I have screw in ND and split ND in 49mm which fits most of my primes and have the advantage of being small and easy to carry. They do a good job. I used to have a Cokin system in the film days and it was OK but a pain to carry and most of the time stayed at home. I tend to use the split ND on my 15 and 21 limiteds most of the time anyway, so the 49mm is great.
03-17-2013, 04:20 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I have used the Lee filter system for years, and there are certain circumstances where a multi-coated screw-in filter will be a better choice. Square filter systems exist because there are photographers who want to use filters with a wide variety of lenses with significant variation in filter threads - and don't want vignetting to be an issue. I use the Lee system also because of the consistent quality and colour neutrality of the filters as well as their generous size, which allows me to use them with just about any lens on 8x10 format cameras to APS-C digital SLRs.
.
The HiTech filters are Cokin P size, and I use the Cokin mount system as it is perfectly good, and it covers all the filter ring sizes I use from 39 to 77.
I think it is more economical to go this way if you have a variety of lenses, or are planning to get more. I have some screw in ND's and I can't notice any better quality out of them. Which is easier to use ? I think if using grad's then Cokin P series size is the way to go.
03-17-2013, 05:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Yes I do, I use screw in B+W ND fitlers. I bought the Lee system so I could use graduated filters but it hasn't worked out so far.... maybe one day I'll get more inspired to do landscapes (keeping the sun out of the frame )
Thanks. I'm a complete klutz with ND filters but I keep trying. Appreciate your style with them.
03-17-2013, 05:37 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lloydy Quote
I think if using grad's then Cokin P series size is the way to go.
Agree, I use Cokin 'A' but but the same idea. For grads I just don't get the utility of a screw-in filter. I like the ability to position the grad line where I want it. For ND's though I use screw-ins. Nearly all of the lenses I would use in that situation are 49mm so I don't need different sizes.
03-18-2013, 05:03 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the advice. I did some more reading and following leads and came across this review as well as a starter kit on ebay. Does anyone know if the set on ebay will fit my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens?


New Hitech Pro Stop ND Filter Review

Hitech 85 Starter Kitc w Holder ND Grad He 3 Filter Set ADT Ring Fits Cokin P | eBay
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