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09-29-2011, 10:03 AM   #1
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ND Filter Dilema

My next purchase will likely be some ND filters of some sort since I like the longer exposures (water, skys, etc..) but the question is, of coarse, which one and for which lens? My primary 3 lenses naturally all have different filter sizes. Sigma 18-200 is 62mm, Sigma 105 f/2.8 Macro is 58mm, and my SMC m50 f/1.7 is 49mm... Sure, I can narrow it down the the 'versatile' zoom lens and cover the etire range but sometimes the IQ just isn't there. Maybe it won't be an issue with the filter anyway? I can't see the advantage to a shallow DOF of the faster lenses when using a filter, as speed is obviously not the issue if a ND filter is coming out of the bag anyway... or is it? I guess it could get me a portrait friendly DOF in brightly lit areas? Anyone have any good reasons for a shallow DOF of with an ND filter? Then there's the option of 2 step-up rings to use a 62mm ND filter on each of the other lenses...

Next question is how many stops, or combination of filters do I need (want) to start out with? Will primarily be used for flowing water and skies.


09-29-2011, 10:51 AM   #2
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One problem with step-up rings is that they prevent the use of the OE hood, which, IMO, is a bad thing.

If you've already got a CPL, they have some light reduction that you can add NDs to to multiply the effect. Maybe get a 3 stop ND that you can use alone or with your CPL, and then an 8-10 stop for the really long exposures.

As far as what size to get, for me that would be between your zoom and your 50. 50 is not really that wide for the type of shots that an ND is typically used for, though, so I would probably get them for your zoom, even though they will cost a bit more. You will be stopping down that lens to f/8 or smaller anyway, so the IQ should be decent enough (I just bought my wife the Tamron version of that lens). Just my opinion.

Last edited by DogLover; 09-29-2011 at 12:07 PM.
09-29-2011, 03:31 PM   #3

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I'll second DogLover's advise. I shoot long exposures frequently. I don't like step rings because of the lens hood issue but will use them if I have to. I shoot primes so I have two sets of ND filters for the lenses I typically use. I carry a 3 and 9-stop ND sets. But that is something you're going to have to decide.

A 3-stop and a 8 to 10 stop ND will cover a lot of bases. You'll find the B&W 10 stop ND filter has a color cast. And the Hoya HMC NDX400 (~9 stop) ND filter is pretty neutral. I can't say about the others though.

The 3-stop is good in lower light situations such as morning and evening twilight where you could get up to a minute or more exposure depending on time/conditions. And on a bright and sunny day at f16, a 10 stop may only get you down to 8 or 15 seconds on a digital camera. Add a CPL to that and maybe around 30 to 45 second exposure as probably the worst case. You can also stack the two ND filters if you're not shooting with a really wide lens. And they really jack the price up for thin profile filters but you might want to consider one if you plan on stacking and using a wide lens.

Last edited by tuco; 09-29-2011 at 03:43 PM.
09-29-2011, 04:20 PM   #4
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Personally i think only the ND8 and a ND400 filter is useful and i would skip the ND2 and ND4. The Hoya ones are not bad in my experience.

As for filter ring size, i think the best strategy is to get the filter size to suit your largest lens, but sometimes it does not work well. For instance, i use the DA14 which is 77mm in size. I also use the DA35 macro which is 49mm in size. So i end up with 2 filter sizes....not the best way to do it but i cant think of a better solution.

Perhaps also look to get a CPL and a grad filter too. they are useful.

09-29-2011, 07:26 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the insight. That's a good point about the hoods, I hadn't thought about that. It would only really become an issue with the 105mm though becuase the zoom is a bayonet style hood and I don't have a hood for the M50. I also already have a CPL for the 105, which I got into the bad habbit of leaving on the lens at all times... So I think maybe I'll get 62mm filters for the zoom which is probably the most likely lens to be used for this and also happens to be the largest filter diameter. The step down rings are cheap enough that I'll probably just get them, or put them on my Amazon wishlist. is it worth spending a little more for a 'name brand' filter versus some of the other generic/lesser known brands on Amazon etc?

Thanks again.
09-29-2011, 08:00 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by cbova Quote
is it worth spending a little more for a 'name brand' filter versus some of the other generic/lesser known brands on Amazon etc?
Ab-so-toot-ly! You want something that's coated to minimize flare and internal reflections. Also, if you use something made of inferior glass, you have virtually no hope of getting a good image through it. I normally recommend Marumi, but when it comes to NDs, the only one they make (AFAIK) that's coated is an ND8. I would probably go with a Hoya, as they generally offer a good cost/quality filter. Google them, though. Amazon may or may not be the best price you can find on them as there are a number of places that sell Hoya.
09-30-2011, 06:55 AM   #7
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Hood vs. no hood might be an issue, though I've never found it to be. My only round filters are 77mm & I use step-up rings. A collapsable rubber hood works nicely in those situations where a hood is required. I find 99% of the time I just hold my hat to keep the sun off the lens face if required.

My ND & ND grads are Hi-Tech rectangular filters and a hood sin't an option unless you want to spend more for the hood than you spent on the filter/filter holder etc. Again my hat works fine for me, assuming I bother putting the filter holder on the lens to start with. Mostly I just hold the filter in front of the lens.

YMMV, do what works for you.

10-01-2011, 10:13 AM   #8
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not only is it worth spending money on name brands but it's also worth getting their higher priced coated versions. They're not cheap but neither are your lenses (except the fast fifty - it's just awesome). For me a 3 stop ND and a CPL are essential and a 10 glass ND will be fun when it arrives.

And tbh Hoya 3 stop MC filters are 26 at adorama so their not too expensive. CPL's and black glass are a little pricier however. I would like to have a grad ND filter but that will have to wait until I start a square filter system. This isn't in the foreseeable future since there are a lot of little things that I want to buy.

I would also recommend at the very least a cheap hood for protection and flare. At least for screw in filters. Rectangular filter are a different story though.
10-02-2011, 01:27 AM   #9
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I use a set of Cokin-style ND filters - 2x, 4x and 8x. I can't use the lens hood with them but they can be used with any lens with the appropriate size filter ring, they can all be used with the Cokin-style CPL as well, and the set gives you plenty of flexibility to get both the right exposure and the aperture you want.

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