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05-05-2016, 03:06 PM   #1
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If you were to buy a single quality ND filter....

How many stops of light reduction would you select?

Going to be in the SW US and I know some of our destinations will be visited during the middle of the day. So I'm thinking a good ND filter will be needed in the kit.

Just not sure where to start as far as density is concerned.

TIA

05-05-2016, 03:20 PM   #2
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why not a ND fader??
05-05-2016, 03:31 PM   #3
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I got a B+W 10 stop (ND 3.0) in 49mm so it fits all my limited primes and a bunch of the old manual lenses.
Works great and is strong enough to overcome midday light if you stop down and shoot ISO 100 (or 80 if you have a K-5).

Don't forget to cover the viewfinder in bright light or you will see light leaks in your photos.
05-05-2016, 03:46 PM   #4
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I have a Hoya NDX400 about 9 stops in 49mm that has been fine with all the Pentax manual primes. I just got a Breakthrough Photography 10 stop in 82mm for the DFA 24-70. Not much experience with it yet except a brief test but seems fine.

05-05-2016, 03:49 PM   #5
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I also have a 77mm LightCraft VariND which is also good to use with my DA* 16-50 and most of my 645 lenses.
It's good and variable ND is handy but it's not as strong as the 10 stop and I find I most frequently use it on max so I might have done just as well with another non-variable 10 stop. I have a review of it somewhere on this site.
05-05-2016, 04:20 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by twuynh Quote
why not a ND fader??
The problem with variable ("fader") ND filters is that you tend to get an "X pattern" in the exposure which is especially noticeable at stronger settings. Just do a Google search on "ND variable X" and look at the images. My experiences are much the same, and this includes some more expensive filters. More recently, I only use specific level ND filters as a result.
05-05-2016, 05:18 PM   #7
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My choice would be a Hoya ND1000, (10 Stops) as it is useful in even the brightest daytime lighting. I have a 3 stop and a 6 stop ND and I will soon acquire a 10 stop. I found that for my night-time work the 3 and 6 stop filters are fine, but sometimes during the day I can't get the slower shutter speeds I want with the 6 stop filter.

05-05-2016, 05:19 PM   #8
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3 stops is my vote.
05-05-2016, 05:20 PM   #9
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6 stops over the 10. (if only choosing one)
The 10 usually only gets used when the Sun is very strong.
The 6 is more usable in dark/dusk situations and also easier to manage in terms of internal reflections, color casts issues, light falloff.

Later on, you can even add a 3 stop and stack the two.
05-05-2016, 05:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dhodgeh Quote
How many stops of light reduction would you select?

Going to be in the SW US and I know some of our destinations will be visited during the middle of the day. So I'm thinking a good ND filter will be needed in the kit.

Just not sure where to start as far as density is concerned.

TIA
It depends what you're trying to achieve. If you just want to bring down the shutter speed a little, or allow slightly wider apertures, at base ISO in very bright sunlight, then an ND2 should be fine, or an ND4 at most.
05-05-2016, 07:52 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
It depends what you're trying to achieve. If you just want to bring down the shutter speed a little, or allow slightly wider apertures, at base ISO in very bright sunlight, then an ND2 should be fine, or an ND4 at most.
I agree but I wonder what the application will be. At base ISO and stopped down to f/8 or better, if you're doing landscape you should be fine without any filter if you're looking to get proper exposure.

If you're looking to drag the shutter to get those artsy smooth water and clouds, go with a 10 stop filter or better.

I use one of these VU Sion 10-Stop Fixed Neutral Density 77mm Filter VSND1077 the color casting is surprisingly minimal and the image stays sharp. Nice find for sub 70 dollars.
05-06-2016, 06:12 PM   #12
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I have a round of Hoya 9-stop filters in all sizes and like the utility of that one. 10-stop is one more than I can comfortably handle, so I'm afraid to try it.
05-09-2016, 09:09 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I have a ten stop ND for 52mm and 58mm, and nine stop ND filters for 49mm and 72mm. Nine stops is usually enough, particularly if you do most of your ND work around dusk and dawn, rather than in the middle of the day.
05-14-2016, 06:07 AM   #14
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10 stop. I have a Haida ND1000 77 mm, works perfectly, no colour cast, no reduction in sharpness. Just as good as anything by Hoya, Lee or B+W, but considerably cheaper (paid €35 for mine). One of those rare exceptions to the 'You get what you pay for' rule.
05-14-2016, 06:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
I agree but I wonder what the application will be. At base ISO and stopped down to f/8 or better, if you're doing landscape you should be fine without any filter if you're looking to get proper exposure.
Yes, that's for landscapes. But many use weak NDs for portraiture. If you want to get a shallow DOF portrait at f/1.4 in bright sunlight, your camera's fastest shutter speed might not cut it, so you can use an ND2 or ND4 to bring it down a notch.

Another thing is timelapse, where you might want to achieve a shutter speed anywhere between 0.5 sec. and 2 sec. An ND1000 might already be overkill for that except for on the brightest, cloudless days.
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