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Thread: Help with GND and ND filters

  1. #1
    smcrews's Avatar
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    Help with GND and ND filters

    Hey everyone. I am looking into buying my first GND and ND filters and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what is worth buying.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Hi Shawn,
    I'm guessing you're heading towards landscape work.
    What happens is that the sky is generally so bright compared to the foreground (the grass and trees and stuff) that the sensor can't cope with the range so you either end up with blown out skies or dark under-exposed foregrounds. The simple way to tackle this is with a Graduated Neutral Density filter and the most versatile of these is the square type that slide into a holder attached to the filter mount on your lens, and allows you to adjust the position of the graduation to maximum effect. The beauty of this system is that you only need one filter holder and one adapter ring for each lens, then the filter systems are relatively cheap thereafter.
    There are a number of manufacturers of these and they're all interchangeable. So, you can buy cheap Chinese adapters and holders and spend your money on the filters, which is where it counts. Make no mistake that when it comes to the filters you get what you pay for. You can buy incredibly cheap filters from China, but .....
    So, what's available? Probably the most common and well-known is the Cokin system made from optically flat resin. They're not the best and they're not the worst, but they sit fairly comfortably in the middle and are good enough for most of us.
    In the GND field Cokin make a G1, which is one stop graduated to zero and G2, two stops to zero. In both cases about 45% is plain ND, 45% clear and 10% graduated. The G2 is further split up into L (light), M (medium), S (soft) and F (full). L has a long band of graduation (about 20%), M about 15% and F about 5%. I have to confess I don't know what the distinction of S is.
    From this collection you should be able to pick out at least one filter that will fit your needs.
    ND Filters have a different use. If your subject is so bright you cannot expose correctly (unlikely in this day and age), you'll need to cut down the amount of light reaching your sensor with the use of a ND filter, and you can still do this with the square Cokin system. The most likely scenario is that you want a slow shutter speed for some particular effect you want but cannot get it down low enough. The principal is the same, you want to reduce the amount of light entering your camera. Cokin's system has ND2 (1 stop), ND4 (2 stops), ND8 (3 stops), ND100 (6.2 stops) and NDX (13 stops). I believe the NDX is special order only.
    Hope this helps.

  3. #3

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    Allan Short

    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Welcome to the world of ND's and GND's. Chris above is right, I have been using the Lee filter system and filters for a couple of years, now. The holder ring is metal and the filter holder is a I believe a better and strong material less likely to break. The best set to get would be the 2 stop and 3 stop filters, now Lee makes their gradated filters soft (long transformation from clear to dark), and hard (very rapid transformation). A good thing about the hard GND Filter it will double as a regular ND filter, less to carry. If you only want to use one very rarely, then a 2-stop screw in, the largest dia. and use a step up ring as you only have to get rings to fit other lens use same filter. As you are in Oregon, try the Filter Connection in Vermont, the girls are very helpful. Hope to see you first filter post soon, Oregon hads some nice country.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Good luck getting Lee's. I've been on a wait list for months.

  5. #5

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Chris are you talking about the bigger stopper, yes I have friends in the UK who have waited 8 months or better, 1st one was dropped by a friend, waiting now 3 months for new big stopper. Try the place above place, I have also one on order from CDN distr. I will take both, one store here wants over $100 more than distr. so it goes on line I guess about 30 sec's. or less. Shawn you get what you pay for.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    No, I am talking about a .3, .6, .9 set GND fromLee. You just can't get them anywhere in the states, adn for that matter, I haven't found them anywhere in the world.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    I use GND, Reverse GND & NDs from Singh-Ray (generally regarded as the premier filter manufacturer, but with prices to match) - with the GND and Reverse GNDs being used in a Lee foundation holder. If you're looking at ND filters, I'd STRONGLY recommend getting a Vari-ND from Singh-Ray - it's everything from a 2 to an 8 stop - no colour shifts - makes water / movement shots oh so much easier than a fixed ND.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    If you are in UK, you can get a variable circular ND from 7 Day Shop for about a third of the price of a Fader brand - and they are every bit as good from all accounts. Nor sure if they export elsewhere in world.

    For fixed ND and ND grad, some of the inexpensive ones you will find in eBay from HK or China are as good as Lee at 10% of the price (some users report less colour cast than Lee but I guess that is subjective). I got a set of 9 filters (3 ND and 6 grads) plus a standard holder, a wide angle holder and a 77mm adapter ring for under 50 post-free (that's about US$80) and they give excellent results with my Nikkor 24-70mm and 16-35mm lenses on my D3s.

    Certainly start with the less expensive brands and see how you get on. Whatever brand you choose, remember to take any UV or "protection" filter off your lens before fitting the adapter. Nothing degrades an image more easily than having several layers of glass in front of the lens unless you are very careful to avoid flare from extraneous light sources.

  9. #9

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Chris: just got off the phone with the Canadian supplier for Lee, he has everthing in stock but the big stopper. Phone 1-416-361-9390 they ship outside Canada (no dog sleds are used). Their web site is as follows: http://tyi.ca/tyi/SalesOrdersResin.htm Hope that helps you and anyone else who may be looking at the Lee systems.
    Last edited by Polar01; 19th December 2011 at 04:23 PM. Reason: grammar & spelling

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Well, Allan Short...Many thanks to you. Just placed my order and looks like I might get them before Christmas. I am a happy puppy!

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Just be very wary of colour shifts towards red with the cheap brands - many of them have a different response to the infra-red spectrum, which can lead to a colour cast that's almost impossible to completely null out. I'd be wary of some of the cheap variable ND filters too; Many tried to copy Singh-Rays Vari-ND by simply putting two polarisers together, but it's not quite that simple, and there are a lot of folks having problems with (some of?) the cheap brands.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 19th December 2011 at 09:35 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    Well, Allan Short...Many thanks to you. Just placed my order and looks like I might get them before Christmas. I am a happy puppy!
    There was a Hi-Tech equivalent of the Lee Big Stopper on eBay recently. Supposedly never used at a Buy It Now price of (I think) 60. I have no idea whether or not that was a good deal.

  13. #13

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    They had the Lee's in stock and that's what I got.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Thanks everyone for the advice. I think I'm going to take the plunge and go with Singh-Ray.

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    Re: Help with GND and ND filters

    Quote Originally Posted by smcrews View Post
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I think I'm going to take the plunge and go with Singh-Ray.
    Hi Shawn,

    The Singh-Ray Vari-ND in particular is an extremely high-quality product; I've got two of them, and I use them on many many landscape shoots. For GNDs, I'd suggest just starting with 3-Stop hard edge GND and Reverse GND. If you're exposing and processing correctly then these will be all you'll need on most occasions.

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