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07-19-2018, 06:34 PM - 1 Like   #1
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HELP! Filters...

Hi all!

I'm hoping you might be able to help me out. I've spent the last 2 days reading up on filters and now my brain is starting to feel like mush.

In about a week I'm going to be venturing out to Iceland (!!) and I was looking to put a filter on my camera to help with long exposure / motion blur when taking pictures of the waterfall (cliche, I know). I've read that the best filter to use would be ND filter.. but now I don't know which one to purchase. Initially I was going to buy either the Hoya or Tiffen Variable ND Filter.. but then I read a couple of threads from this forum.. and believe getting the variable one isn't as useful. So now I'm looking at Tiffen 77mm Digital Neutral Density Filter Kit 77NDK3 B&H Photo This set.

I'll be using the filter on my Pentax 16-50 and Tamron 70-200mm since they are both 77mm... I don't mind spending up to $120ish.. but now I'm confused on what filter is the best to use.

Also, what would be a good [not too expensive] filter for everyday? I keep seeing different things as well, so 100% confused on filters.

Please help! Thank hyou in advance.

07-19-2018, 06:50 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by cindaaalynnn Quote
filter is the best to use.
"best" is subjective and needs definition. In my opinion the 'best' ND filter I have used is the x4 from Breakthrough Photography. But they are quite expensive so if cost is no object then get a set of them. 3x, 6x, and 10x should set you back maybe $500.

Best for a particular budget is a different story. There are many manufacturers and I have had good luck with Marumi, B+W and Hoya. But all brands have cheap stuff and good stuff. Just buying Hoya for example can get you some real junk or something quite good. I think they make at least 4 grades of filters.

I've no experience with the set you linked to but I have had some Tiffen filters in the past and found them to be satisfactory. But again, one cannot generalize by brand name.
QuoteOriginally posted by cindaaalynnn Quote
I've read that the best filter to use would be ND filter..
When I see a comment like that I start to think you really do not know what you need exactly. On this page at the top is a "52 page guide". You have to give them an email address but other than that it is free and well worth the time to read so you know a little more about what you really need. A trip to Iceland is on my bucket list (but highly unlikely) so I'm jealous. Have a great trip!
QuoteOriginally posted by cindaaalynnn Quote
(cliche, I know)
No way!!!
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07-19-2018, 07:41 PM - 1 Like   #3
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1. Don't buy variable ND filter. They are usually not very high quality in the first place, they are difficult to adjust precisely, and can give you the dreaded X-mark effect, especially on wide-angle shots.
2. If you want to buy only one "all-rounder", I'd suggest going for 6-stop ND, which in most conditions will give you shutter times between 0.5 and 10s, easily adjustable with minor changes in aperture and ISO.
3. Mid-tier filter of aforementioned brands (Marumi, B+W, Hoya) should give you a decent quality, IMHO. Don't be afraid even if there's slight colour-cast, because it can be fixed in post-processing, just like white-balance. What's more important, it is uniformity of a filter, lack of faults in the glass and good coatings.
07-19-2018, 07:44 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I tried a Haida ND 6 stop filter and was pleasantly surprised. Mine is 49mm and at that size it was significantly cheaper than other better known brands, larger diameters were closer in price.

Whichever filter you end up buying make sure you practice before the trip if you get something really dark: setup a stable tripod, exposure settings may need compensation in addition to just adding those stops to the shutter.

07-19-2018, 08:07 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Here's my take:

To smooth out flowing water, you probably want exposures from half a second up to several seconds. For example, here’s my 3-second shot of a waterfall: Grand Falls / Little Colorado River - PentaxForums.com at ISO 100. This shot used an ND 3.0 Tiffen filter which provides a factor of 1000 - about 10 stops - of light reduction.

To figure out how much ND filter absorption you need, consider what a normal exposure might be. Perhaps, use the “sunny 16" rule: in bright sunshine, a good exposure guess for shutter speed is 1/ISO value - i.e. for ISO 100 on a nice sunny day, a good shutter speed will be around 1/100 sec (more here: Sunny 16 rule - Wikipedia).

So, at ISO 100-200, typical exposures for your waterfalls (assuming you are there in the middle of the day - which will be much of the day in Iceland at this time of year! - and if it is sunny) will be 1/100 - 1/200 second or so at f/16. If your camera is APS-C, you probably don’t want to use f-stops above f/8 or f/11 - diffraction will start to reduce your resolution. So, shutter speeds around 1/500 are not unlikely for normal daytime shots. To achieve the same exposure if shooting at a few seconds, you need a factor of 500 or more reduction in light.

As noted above, an ND 3.0 filter provides a reduction of 1000 (a factor of 10 to the 3 - which is where the 3.0 value comes from). So, this would be just about right for your waterfalls. You should plan on experimenting a bit with your exposure times and f-stops.

Be aware of the difference in notation for ND filter values. Many filters are identified as 2X, 4X, or 8X (no decimal point, and the X might not be explicitly included). For such values, the number is the amount by which the light is attenuated. 2X = a factor of 2, or 1 stop; 4X = a factor of 4, which is 2 stops (each stop is a factor of 2); and 8X is 3 stops.

These 2X, 4X, 8X values by themselves are not enough for your waterfalls! If you have multiple filters, you can stack them on top of each other, and the factors multiply. A set of 2X, 4X, and 8X would give you a total value of 2x4x8 = 64, or 6 stops total. This is almost enough for the waterfalls, but I don’t like the idea of putting this many filters on the front of a lens. You are sort of asking for multiple reflections, IMHO.

Note that these “X” values are different from those when a decimal point is part of the filter value, like my 3.0 example. Other decimal values you might see are 4.0 and 5.0. These have attenuations of factors of 10,000 (10 to the fourth power) and 100,000 (10 to the fifth power). These are way more than you need, and used mostly for taking pictures of the sun.

I’m not sure what you’ve read about variable ND filters. I am not as negative on them as some comments above. I have a Vivitar variable filter (only $50 or so from B&H a few years ago), and I like it for its flexibility. At the biggest values, it does cause somewhat of a color cast, though.

So, I would suggest an ND 3.0 filter for your trip and the waterfalls. Any of the name brands should be OK. And, given what I suspect is the cost of your trip, adding a variable filter sounds like a reasonable investment. Make sure you get the right size! If you are thinking of using it with multiple lenses, get a size that matches your biggest lens opening. You can use step-up rings to adapt it to other lenses that take smaller filter sizes. I recently got a nice set of K&F Concept rings from Ebay for just $17.
07-19-2018, 09:05 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I would recommend Hoya ND filters. The 3 stop, 6 stop, and 9 stop would most likely be the ones you would want to choose from. The 6 stop would most likely cover a lot in reference to most landscape, but if you want the 2 others for other extreme conditions, you may want them also. They are not ridiculously expensive. I use the 3, 6, and 9 stop Hoya ND filters, and they do a great job. Three Hoya nd filter shortcuts are listed below. They may also be listed elsewhere on the web, such as Amazon, at differing prices, but B and H has been good to me about sending "brand new" filters. Also, whenever using an ND filter more than 3 stops, I would recommend using the live view mode due to it providing view of your subject through the filter that you would not get through the optical viewfinder. Have a great trip.

Hoya 77mm Neutral Density (NDX8) 0.9 Filter A-77ND8X-GB B&H

Hoya 77mm ProND100 Filter XPD-77ND100 B&H Photo Video

Hoya 77mm ProND500 Filter XPD-77ND500 B&H Photo Video

Last edited by C_Jones; 07-22-2018 at 03:00 PM.
07-19-2018, 11:02 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by cindaaalynnn Quote
Hi all!

I'm hoping you might be able to help me out. I've spent the last 2 days reading up on filters and now my brain is starting to feel like mush.

In about a week I'm going to be venturing out to Iceland (!!) and I was looking to put a filter on my camera to help with long exposure / motion blur when taking pictures of the waterfall (cliche, I know). I've read that the best filter to use would be ND filter.. but now I don't know which one to purchase. Initially I was going to buy either the Hoya or Tiffen Variable ND Filter.. but then I read a couple of threads from this forum.. and believe getting the variable one isn't as useful. So now I'm looking at Tiffen 77mm Digital Neutral Density Filter Kit 77NDK3 B&H Photo This set.

I'll be using the filter on my Pentax 16-50 and Tamron 70-200mm since they are both 77mm... I don't mind spending up to $120ish.. but now I'm confused on what filter is the best to use.

Also, what would be a good [not too expensive] filter for everyday? I keep seeing different things as well, so 100% confused on filters.

Please help! Thank hyou in advance.
The Tiffen ND set is okay. You get a 2, 3 and 4 stop ND. And you can stack them. I've had the 67 mm version for years. Mostly for shooting portraits wide open at 2.8 in bright sun. Don't sweat Live View focusing, your AF is good for really low light levels.
07-26-2018, 05:38 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by cindaaalynnn Quote
Hi all!

I'm hoping you might be able to help me out. I've spent the last 2 days reading up on filters and now my brain is starting to feel like mush.

In about a week I'm going to be venturing out to Iceland (!!) and I was looking to put a filter on my camera to help with long exposure / motion blur when taking pictures of the waterfall (cliche, I know). I've read that the best filter to use would be ND filter.. but now I don't know which one to purchase. Initially I was going to buy either the Hoya or Tiffen Variable ND Filter.. but then I read a couple of threads from this forum.. and believe getting the variable one isn't as useful. So now I'm looking at Tiffen 77mm Digital Neutral Density Filter Kit 77NDK3 B&H Photo This set.

I'll be using the filter on my Pentax 16-50 and Tamron 70-200mm since they are both 77mm... I don't mind spending up to $120ish.. but now I'm confused on what filter is the best to use.

Also, what would be a good [not too expensive] filter for everyday? I keep seeing different things as well, so 100% confused on filters.

Please help! Thank hyou in advance.
Are you referring to screw in filters or 100mm square filters?
Terry

07-26-2018, 07:00 PM   #9
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I would recommend using the Tiffen ND set, not the very best quality but good enough to get a sense if you like it or not. If you do, then maybe it's worth in future getting the square filter systems. Another trick is shooting at night- no need to use filters
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