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06-10-2017, 12:55 AM   #1
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ND Graduated Filter

Hello everyone,

I am planning to get a Filtersystem for ND and ND Graduated Filters.
As I don't have a lot experience with graduated Filters and I cant afford to buy a complete range of Filters, I am wondering wich one or two would be the most versatile Filters to start with?

They will be used for Landscape primarly on Lenses from 49mm to 77mm diameter on full frame.

I was thinking about an 0.9 soft and maybe a 0.6 hard.

Thank you for any opinions or recomendations.


Last edited by domisplanet; 06-10-2017 at 01:09 AM.
06-10-2017, 03:35 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by domisplanet Quote
Hello everyone,

I am planning to get a Filtersystem for ND and ND Graduated Filters.
As I don't have a lot experience with graduated Filters and I cant afford to buy a complete range of Filters, I am wondering wich one or two would be the most versatile Filters to start with?

They will be used for Landscape primarly on Lenses from 49mm to 77mm diameter on full frame.

I was thinking about an 0.9 soft and maybe a 0.6 hard.

Thank you for any opinions or recomendations.
Before spending too much and if you shoot in RAW, for graduated filters, at least, have you tried software graduated filters (if your software supports them)?
06-10-2017, 04:13 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jgnfld Quote
Before spending too much and if you shoot in RAW, for graduated filters, at least, have you tried software graduated filters (if your software supports them)?
Exposure bracketing and manual merging with some software is the alternative (not complete,, to be said) to filters but that requires RAW, skills, a capable software and some time to spend in trial/error learning curve (or a specific class for that).

If you want invest in filters (the good ones will last decades) , first you have to decide what your needs are. Do you need some motion effect with water/trees/clouds in landscape? Do you need some GD filter to filter the highlights in landscape? .....

If you decide for the best quality filters, square ones 100 mm/150 mm depending on you lenses would be the way to go. I prefer NISI glass filters. There's the v5/v5 pro adapter bundled with the polarizer, here in Italy for about 150 euros. every glass filter is about the same price. But remember that B+W round ones will cost more , and you'll need the larger diameter ( I use 82 for B+W CPL and ND ) plus adapter rings (15 euros for the good alu ones , slim type). Otherwise I suppose Haida and Lee are major brand, don't have any idea of the prices.
My suggestion is to spend the right from the beginning. Saving money on filters with low quality filters will make you unhappy in the future and , if you really need filters, will cause you to spend a lot more.

Best regards.

Matteo

Last edited by bm75; 06-10-2017 at 04:58 AM.
06-10-2017, 04:55 AM   #4
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As others have said, now days (especially with K-1), the dynamic range is so good with modest software skills, I believe, filters are irrelevant (polarizers apart). Less to carry, less to fiddle with, drop, clean, swap over between lenses, just easier. Shoot RAW. Bracket shots. Blend in software. Use graduated filters in the software, where -importantly- with localised adjustments the filters can be applied around objects, eg trees. There are even techniques to emulate the Big Stopper filters ...

The filter manufacturers and the photo press, are forever banging on/promoting filters, making some folk believe they are necessary. I recall a conversation I had with the LEE Filters owner about his offerings. Obviously he was defensive about how modern kit was making many of his products obsolete, but it got comical when he tried to persuade me that fitting his Heath Robinson contractions on a small 49mm thread Pentax prime was anything other than ridiculous ;-)

06-10-2017, 05:40 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by domisplanet Quote
Hello everyone,
I am planning to get a Filtersystem for ND and ND Graduated Filters.
As I don't have a lot experience with graduated Filters and I cant afford to buy a complete range of Filters, I am wondering wich one or two would be the most versatile Filters to start with?
They will be used for Landscape primarly on Lenses from 49mm to 77mm diameter on full frame.
I was thinking about an 0.9 soft and maybe a 0.6 hard.
Thank you for any opinions or recomendations.
There's a lot of options for ND/ND Grad filters, A good source of what's available as well as pricing is a store like B&H.

So far as filters go there are resin filters and glass filters. The filters will either screw into the front of the lens or fit into a bracket that attaches to the lens with a screw in adaptor.

Screw in filters will provide better light control and therefore probably a better option for ND filters. Screw in filters also allow the use of hoods unless you're using step-up/down rings to reduce costs whilst covering multiple lens filters sizes (eg buying a 58mm filter and attaching it to a lens with step down rings to fit a 49mm filter thread).

The bracket system might be the better cost option as it enables filters to fit a broader range of lens filter thread sizes through buying adapters and/or step up/step down rings instead of actual filters. The adaptors and rings are a lot cheaper than buying screw in filters for multiple thread sizes. This might be the better approach for ND Grads. You can get ND filters for them as well however to get the same light sealing as a screw in filter you will need to purchase a hood if the bracket doesn't come with one.

Soft Grads are more forgiving and easier to use in more scenarios than Hard Grads. Hard Grads are most useful for scenes like seascapes where you have a solid horizon line. Features above the horizon line will also darken so you may need to raise shadows more in post to address this. Doing so may not suit all the subjects you're shooting, however with practice you will find what the best approach is regarding filter use in those circumstances.

Most filters will add to flaring when shooting into a light source, more so when the light enters at an angle / at the edge of the filter and lens etc. The cheaper the filter the worse this is likely to be. When shooting with an ND with the sun behind you make sure you blank the viewfinder.

Filters can scratch easily so treat them like you would a lens. A good quality pouch is the best approach.

ND filters and Grad filters are likely to add a colour cast to your images, this will need to be addressed in post to ensure colours remain natural looking. The type and amount of colour cast varies by brand.

If you're intending to use any filters (screw in or bracket) on an ultra wide angle lens you could experience the filter or bracket appearing in the shot. This is why there are low profile options in both screw in and bracket filter types designed specifically for UWA lenses. This is one I have: Cokin BPW400 Wide Angle Filter Holder for P Series CBPW400 B&H it's worked fine on my 77mm adaptor for the Sigma 10-20mm when I shot with the K5.

As you're not looking to spend too much just be aware that with filters it's usually the old adage that applies: you get what you pay for. Poor filters are likely to be a waste of money, however my first set were the Cokin P mount three filter set similar to this: Cokin P Series Hard and Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral CH3HO25 B&H For the money this will get you out there and achieve decent results. There's better out there but you will pay way more to get them. With this kit you just add the relevant adaptors to fit your lens filter size. Please note that the bracket in this kit will be visible on UWA 77mm lenses, hence I had to pick up the wide angle bracket linked above.

If you're comfortable working in PP software another alternative is to bracket images and combine them in post. With the Sony sensor in Pentax cameras it is also worth considering to expose for the sky then raising shadows in post. If you're shooting landscapes you're using low ISO so noise shouldn't be too bad unless you're pushing up more than a couple of stops. Stacking images in some circumstances might also provide better results than using an ND filter.

It's probably worth trying some of the PP options too, hope the above will be of use.

Tas
06-10-2017, 06:39 AM   #6
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I have been shooting for 15 years now and have always used filters. I can safely say that within the last few years with dynamic range sensitivity the need for graduated filters isn't essential. Actually the more you stick in for the of your lens the worse the quality will be. What you can't live without is a very very good quality polarizer and a 6-10 stop screw on density (non graduated) for slowing down shutter speed when required. Again buy only the best and if you can't afford it, you better off using nothing. Low quality filter will only degrade you Photography....trust me. For me the best brand without a doubt is Breakthough Photography. They are super neutral and have no effect on sharpness at all. They are expensive but are worth every cent. Tell them i recommended you if you happen to buy from them. They are only a small company but their results are amazing
06-10-2017, 07:19 AM   #7
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I'm not sure how accurate the histogram displays on the bodies are, but at least if you believe them, even with 2-3 stop grad NDs you routinely run out of dynamic range on up through K5 bodies, which are the only ones I have experience with. I do hope that someday the sensors can record much more dynamic range and make grad filters obsolete, because they're obviously of limited effectiveness.
06-10-2017, 07:36 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I'm not sure how accurate the histogram displays on the bodies are, but at least if you believe them, even with 2-3 stop grad NDs you routinely run out of dynamic range on up through K5 bodies, which are the only ones I have experience with. I do hope that someday the sensors can record much more dynamic range and make grad filters obsolete, because they're obviously of limited effectiveness.
Have you ever tried comparing the camera's histogram and blinkies with your post processing software ? If not, take a shot, download it to your software and look at the histogram. Then put the card back into the camera, look at the histogram and compare. Then start experimenting. It can be quite informative ...

06-10-2017, 09:12 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Thank you for all your replies.
I know that there are many good software solutions out there as it is what I am using right now. But still, if I compare the results to results with filters its not the same.
And good software solutions are not really cheap eigther.

But more then that I prefer to spend more time taking pictures then on postprocessing.

@BarryE - to be honest no I never tried but it's an interessting thing to try.
06-10-2017, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by domisplanet Quote
But more then that I prefer to spend more time taking pictures then on postprocessing.
I feel the same way, I'd rather spend a few bucks to get a filter and a minute behind the camera to get the shot I need on the spot than to spend 5 minutes (or more) to try and get the effect I want for every single photo.

As for which filter, it depends on what your shooting (and how much). If there's nothing interrupting the horizon (foreground & background), then go for the hard grad., if there's something interrupting the horizon (trees, buildings, etc.), then go with the soft grad. I'd suggest going with glass filters over geliten kind.
06-10-2017, 02:23 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by domisplanet Quote
But more then that I prefer to spend more time taking pictures then on postprocessing.
+1 I've always thought that exposure has to be near perfect from the beginning , esp. in landscape with filters (and tripod) where you have the time to set up all correctly. PP is always needed shooting RAW but you know you'll miss very few datas starting from a good exposure.
06-11-2017, 08:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
Have you ever tried comparing the camera's histogram and blinkies with your post processing software ? If not, take a shot, download it to your software and look at the histogram. Then put the card back into the camera, look at the histogram and compare. Then start experimenting. It can be quite informative ...
Actually I haven't, but what should I expect to find? I guess the problem is that if they're not the same, then that doesn't really help because in the field all you have is the histogram to go by, so even if you can recover some data outside the histogram, you don't have a way to know how far outside the histogram your image might be, correct?
07-09-2017, 09:13 AM   #13
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ND filters/ garduated ND filters will at least offer additional exposure leverage. Go for a holder system. Lee filters is the prime source for filters AS WELL AS information about applications. I can recommend Lee (costly) and Haida (less pricy, but very good quality). Try to fnd someone with the graduated ND filter before you buy your own. 2-stops is not a lot - it is hard to find the right solution unless you want to get a lot of filters.
07-09-2017, 10:21 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by domisplanet Quote
Hello everyone,

I am planning to get a Filtersystem for ND and ND Graduated Filters.
As I don't have a lot experience with graduated Filters and I cant afford to buy a complete range of Filters, I am wondering wich one or two would be the most versatile Filters to start with?

They will be used for Landscape primarly on Lenses from 49mm to 77mm diameter on full frame.

I was thinking about an 0.9 soft and maybe a 0.6 hard.

Thank you for any opinions or recomendations.
I would start with at the very least 2 stop hard and 2 stop soft, If you are need only 1 stop then software can easily take care of your needs.

As a rule of thumb if you need to lift the dark areas depending on how much you lift those area will influence how much noise you will see. If you lift those shadows by 1 stop then those shadow will have the appearance as if they are taken at iso 200, if you need to lift 3 stops then those shadows will look as if they are taken at iso 400 and so on.

One important thing I would consider before going with filters would be software that would allow you to see your raw data, this will help you in managing your exposure for high DR scenes, With HDR scenes you really need to preserve data from clipping in the raw, most cameras have a built in buffer to help reduce this clipped data in the highlights. what this means to you is that often times if you are using the cameras metering system or the histogram found on the back of the camera you can be under exposing for a scene between 1-2 stops. This means you can store about twice as much data in your raw file than what your cameras meter or histogram is telling you. The main problem with using the histogram and cameras meter is that its setup for the jepg rendering and not what data is collected in the raw file.

To demonstrate this take a static scene, set your camera to raw and cycle thru the different camera jpeg renderings and see how much the histogram changes, if you are trying to base your maximum exposure based on this you can see how untrustworthy it can be.

This is why you need to look at some kind of software to view what data is contained in the raw file, here is a good place to start How to Use the Full Photographical Dynamic Range of Your Camera | FastRawViewer even if you are not interested in needed more DR it is helpful for you to maximise how large of an exposure you can place into a raw file without clipping the data you want to keep. This can aid in reducing noise in most areas of your photograph.

Here is test I done


Looking at the jpeg histogram you would think this was a good use of maximising the exposure

but here is what the raw file captured and as you can see how much more room I have in the raw file.

here I have increased my exposure by 1 1/3 stops and just out of curiosity this is what the jpg histogram looks like, looks like I have over done it or have I

here is what is contained in the raw file
So here is a side by side comparison, one using the cameras meter that produced a very nice looking histogram to that of capturing as much DR the sensor can store

So you may ask why go through all of this trouble


Here is a close up of the shadows and you can see a decrease in the shot noise, this was done utilising as much of the scenes DR with that of what the raw file from the camera can store.
Just by optimising this we can see a 1 stop decrease in the noise found throughout the image and the ability to decrease any noise found from lifting shadows
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