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03-28-2016, 10:17 AM   #1
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Stacking images with ND filters

I am in the market for an ND filter for an upcoming long backpacking trip. I am trying to increase the usefullness of everything I bring.

I was watching Tony Northrup's video on stacking images in Photoshop to reduce noise and, if used on moving subjects, produce ND filter like results. Basically you can take 15 photos at 1/15 second shutter speed and when you stack them in Photoshop it's like taking a 1 second exposure.

My question is, can this be used with ND filters. So if I buy a 3 stop filter and take two exposures with it and stack them will I get the same effect as if I used a 6 stop ND? I think buying a 3 stop filter would be the most versatile for my application if this method works, but I don't own any to test out.


I should specify ... Another reason I would want to use a less dense filter and stack images is due to my tripod. I will be using a more or less makeshift tripod so the longer the exposure the more chance of the image not being sharp.


Last edited by bakerking31; 03-28-2016 at 10:28 AM.
03-28-2016, 10:33 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by bakerking31 Quote
I am in the market for an ND filter for an upcoming long backpacking trip. I am trying to increase the usefullness of everything I bring.

I was watching Tony Northrup's video on stacking images in Photoshop to reduce noise and, if used on moving subjects, produce ND filter like results. Basically you can take 15 photos at 1/15 second shutter speed and when you stack them in Photoshop it's like taking a 1 second exposure.

My question is, can this be used with ND filters. So if I buy a 3 stop filter and take two exposures with it and stack them will I get the same effect as if I used a 6 stop ND? I think buying a 3 stop filter would be the most versatile for my application if this method works, but I don't own any to test out.


I should specify ... Another reason I would want to use a less dense filter and stack images is due to my tripod. I will be using a more or less makeshift tripod so the longer the exposure the more chance of the image not being sharp.
I don't see why stacking would work any differently with an ND filter, but wouldn't it be much easier to just use a variable ND filter? That way you could tailor the filter to your needs at all times.

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03-28-2016, 12:04 PM   #3
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You don't say what camera you have, do you have Interval Composite mode available? That would duplicate much of what a ND filter does.
03-28-2016, 12:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wingincamera Quote
You don't say what camera you have, do you have Interval Composite mode available? That would duplicate much of what a ND filter does.
I have a k3ii and will be using it with the 15mm and 50mm lenses for this hike.

I guess I need to look into the composite mode, I haven't heard of it.

03-28-2016, 12:17 PM   #5
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I'd find running water somewhere near you (set something up with a hose if nothing else) and try the stacking technique without a filter and varying the number of shots you stack. If you like the results you can save yourself the cost of a ND filter.
03-28-2016, 02:49 PM   #6
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Interval composite mode essentially does the same thing as stacking, but in-camera, in a single image. My K-3 has it, so I expect the K-3ii has it as well.
03-28-2016, 07:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bakerking31 Quote
So if I buy a 3 stop filter and take two exposures with it and stack them will I get the same effect as if I used a 6 stop ND?
Stacking two photos this way essentially doubles the exposure time so this would be like using a 4 stop ND filter.

For example, say you're at f/16, iso100 and 1/15s. You could blend 15 shots to mimic a 1s exposure.

Add a 3 stop ND filter and you're now at f/16, iso100 and 1/2s. You now only need a 2 shot blend to mimic a 1s exposure.

Add a 4 stop ND filter and you're now at f/16, iso100 and 1s.
03-28-2016, 08:12 PM   #8
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If you plan to bring a Polarizer, you can use it on top of your Nd so you get another stop or stop and half, this might help you

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