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08-31-2018, 07:44 AM   #1
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Thoughts on ND filters?

I've never used one...

But realized that 49mm is the magic filter size across all my lenses (aside from the DA*300 of course...)
I figured it's time to invest in something that is versatile across multiple lenses and may actually improve my landscape photography.

Plus, it's another thing to learn how to use and challenging myself is part of the fun!

Any suggestions for a total newbie?!


I heard people either love or hate the variable ND filters...
I think I'll fall towards the dislike category just based on what I've read thus far.


Any recommendation on brand?

I don't know if I'm ready to drop $150 on an X4 ND-6 stop filter. Unless that's recognized as the best of the best and there's no reason to get anything else?

Let me know if you use one, what brand, what stop level, and if you think they're really worth the fuss!

08-31-2018, 07:53 AM   #2
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I have some b&w filters. pretty good.
i'd recommend buying a 6 stop and a 3stop.
when stacked that is 9..
during day, you need that. in morning/evening 6 or 3 alone may do.
08-31-2018, 07:58 AM   #3
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My thoughts are that they are expensive enough to quench my interest. However, I am curious to seen what other users say regarding price/quality trade-offs and what pitfalls may exist.


Steve
08-31-2018, 08:06 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
My thoughts are that they are expensive enough to quench my interest. However, I am curious to seen what other users say regarding price/quality trade-offs and what pitfalls may exist.


Steve
right!
People must be buying them at $150 otherwise they wouldn't be in business...

I see that and think, "Ok, what am I missing here..."

08-31-2018, 08:07 AM   #5
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^ aside from all the glorious shots only made possible through 10-stop ND filters! ^
08-31-2018, 08:15 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
aside from all the glorious shots only made possible through 10-stop ND filters!
With digital you can simulate that easy enough by just stacking enough shorter exposures. It gets easier if you can stick an ND filter in front to start with like a 2 or 3 stop one but it is entirely doable. That is unless you are trying to take a sun picture in which case go get some real solar film.
08-31-2018, 08:18 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
I don't know if I'm ready to drop $150 on an X4 ND-6 stop filter. Unless that's recognized as the best of the best and there's no reason to get anything else?
Actually, I had no idea what these things cost. I got them for free together when buying my fa31 2ndhand..
I just checked. the B&w ones i have don't seem that expensive to me & they are really good.

Be careful on the filter size. maybe better to go for 52mm and use a step up ring, unless they all are really 49 & you have no plans to acquire lenses with bigger size..

08-31-2018, 08:20 AM   #8
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My variable ND filter covers me from 3-8 stops. Very versatile. Any variable ND runs risks of creating a large shaded X in the sky, though, because it's 2 CPL filters that you rotate. I use it for water, cityscapes to blur out people or get trails from car lights.

For skies and longer exposures I have a separate fixed 10 stop ND. No risk of the X-pattern.
08-31-2018, 08:22 AM - 1 Like   #9
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One thing to consider is whether you plan to buy any larger lenses in the future. If you do, you might plan to buy a larger filter and a step-down ring. For example, I have the Pentax DA 18-55 with 52 mm threads and the Pentax DA 21 with 49 mm threads. I will buy 52 mm filters and use a step-down ring for the 49 mm threads.

I learned this the hard way... as I could afford faster lens, the diameter went up and I wasn’t just upgrading lenses; I had to upgrade filters too! You can do the same thing using Corkin filter holders... buy one filter, then a cheap adapter ring for each thread size you have.
08-31-2018, 08:33 AM   #10
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if you're into landscapes, you might want to look into a polarizer too - just an idea!

I've had really good experience with Haida ND optical glass filter sets - they are a 'high-end' Chinese made brand, but I have found little to no colour cast and they work great.

I would especially recommend the Haida PRO-100 series with the Nano circular polarizer built into the holder itself.
08-31-2018, 08:36 AM   #11
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I have a variable ND for my 20-40 that I may be putting to use on vacation this year. I was planning to use it to make the crowd disappear when taking urban/tourist shots with long exposures. It has work well for water fall shots. I did read a post about they can artefacts to bokeh areas though.

ND Filter. Don’t go Variable! – jonasrask|photography

I read it before I bought the filter, and bought it anyway, because for my intended use, mostly urban and landscape, what he describes is not an issue for me.
08-31-2018, 08:40 AM   #12
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Here is a couple examples of a waterfall shot I had taken with my Haida 10-stop filter.
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08-31-2018, 08:47 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
I heard people either love or hate the variable ND filters...
That is probably because they are either video or photo people. Variable ND filters are mostly made for video use because it's the only way to control the amount of light that hits the sensor since shutter speed and aperture are mostly fixed at a certain value to control motion blur and depth of field. The quality of fixed NDs is better than the variable ones. So if you don't need it (for video) use fixed NDs.

Since you're new to using filters I would recommend buying something in the midrange. Don't buy the really cheap ones but also don't buy the most expensive ones (yet). Use them, see if you like them and maybe upgrade down the road if you feel the need.

Also have a look at the used market for the higher quality ones. People often replace their lenses and sell the filters because the new lens has a different filter size.

Last edited by alpheios; 08-31-2018 at 08:54 AM.
08-31-2018, 08:48 AM   #14
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I am planning on buying a graduated ND filter for landscapes so that I don't end up with skies that are blown out / areas below horizon left muddled and overly dark. This is probably more important to film shooters where combining two bracketed shots isn't so easy vs. digital photos & tools. I have already picked up a 3-stop and 6-stop filter pair for playing with.
08-31-2018, 09:05 AM   #15
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I have a 49mm 6 stop Haida filter and a 3 stop Hoya filter. Each was around $20 at the time of purchase, they're both coated and I don't notice image degradation. So yes, 49mm is the magic number, makes them much much more affordable.

Never tried variable ND, usually between these two and the graduated square filters I have all the options I need, but I don't do super long exposures
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