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Thread: ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

  1. #1
    PRSearls's Avatar
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    ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    I'm interested in a ND filter for blurring water in landscapes. What density do you recommend? Thanks

    Paul S

  2. #2
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Phil Page

    Re: ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    You'll hear people mentioning several options:

    screw in
    square/rectangular with filter holders

    Then for the screw in filters, you'll hear people mention variable ND and standard ND. Variable cost more (generally) and give you more creative options and potential flexibility.

    For blurred water/clouds, you'll probably be needing 8 to 10 stops. For screw in filters these are manufactured by companies including B+W, Hoya, Singh Ray to name a few. For really long exposures you may also need an additional 2-3 stop filter (in which case it is often best to stick to the same brand as the threads between different branded filters may fuse due to the differing metals used in construction. Stacking these filters may induce vignetting as well.

    I have used both the circular and rectangular filters, and currently use the Lee Big Stopper for any long exposure work. Vignetting is not an issue and I can stack with other ND filters in the same holder.

    The higher the ND level, the more likely the final image will exhibit colour cast. It is quite often a good idea to shoot in RAW, take an image without the 10 stop and then you have a base colour temperature to work with on your longer exposure. With such a dark filter, focusing with the filter attached is generally difficult to impossible, so all focusing has to be done first and the lens/camera body then locked onto manual focus.

    The advantages of rectangular/square filters (to me) are that I can use graduated ND filters (the circular variety are poor in comparison, difficult to use and inflexible on where you want the graduation to occur in your image) and the Lee Big Stopper is fantastic quality. It is far easier and quicker to recompose as well. Your (and others) opinion may vary.

    Below is a guide that I created which is useful to calculate shutter speeds when applying filters in the field. It will show you how many stops are needed from a base exposure to get the the length of shot you require. As you can see, very quickly and easily you'll get to the point where you'll be shooting over 30 second exposures, and may therefore require a remote release that you can lock down (combined with a watch to time things) or an intervalometer

    ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

  3. #3

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    Allan Short

    Re: ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    Paul I agree with phil on what he has to say, however I will add as you and I both live in somewhat similar country a lot of our flowing water will be small streams and creeks with small waterfalls and drops. For this I would suggest a 3 or a 4 stop filter, I find my self that I like and use a 4 stop more than the 3 stop. To start with I would go with a screw in type at 77mm and use a step up rings to be able to use on different lens, see how you like it than decide if you want to move up into the big leagues 8-10 stop range. As you live in Illinois you have the big lake near by, I have Lake Ontario and I like Phil love those big 10 stop shots with the blurred clouds and smoothed out big waters in the foreground. Another suggestion I will make is take a look at the following supplier they are in the US, I have and still do use them for most of my filters, excellent service and price:
    www.2filter.com
    Hope this has been of some help.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Manfred Mueller

    Re: ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    It depends on your shooting conditions and how much blurr you want; shooting small waterfall on a bright, sunny day has totally different requirements that shooting a large waterfall at the end of the day.

    As Phil has mentioned, the 10-stop will blur most things, and you can stack to increase the amount of blurring. I have the 10-stop screw in B+W filter, as well as a 5-stop screw in. I find I generally prefer the 5-stop because I tend to not want total blur, but am aiming for exposures in the 1/2 - 2 second range on a lot of shots. I'm waiting for the fall colours to start experimenting again at some local waterfalls, so will have some more ideas and thoughts in a couple of months.

    I have recently gotten the Lee kit as well and have the 2 and 3 stop filters, but have not used them for this type of work, but am looking to stack the ND with a GND for more interesting skies.

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    I would expect that the shutter speed for shooting running water or waterfalls would depend on what type of final result that you are after. And, as Manfred mentioned, the exposure (shutter speed included) also greatly depends on the amount or light in the area you are shooting.

    Although, I am not a fan of "freezing" water with a high shutter speed, neither am I a fan of the technique that completely blurs the water into a cotton candy look or smooths the surf into an abnormally smooth carpet.

    I will most often shoot exposures at several shutter speeds and decide which I like the best during the post processing. Shooting at aperture priority, I can adjust the shutter speed by adjusting the aperture or I could simply use shutter speed priority and adjust the speed directly. Or, I can easily adjust the exposure while in Programmed mode, there is also manual to choose from. Anyway, I choose, I can get images shot at several different shutter speeds and decide at my leisure which I prefer.

    Since I don't need the extremely long exposures that will "cotton candy" the water, my main ND filter is the .6 which is sometimes called an ND4 because it has a 1/4 or 25% transmittance and will provide about two stops of reduction.

    Quite often, I don't use any ND filter at all because my CPL will provide enough exposure reduction to blur the water to my likes when shooting at ISO-100.

    ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    My Canon 1.6x cameras have ISO-100 as their lowest ISO capability. It would be nice if they were able to shoot at ISO-50 or even ISO-25. However the mega-gazillion ISO capability is what sells cameras, not low ISO capability.

    Although I have and sometimes use a square GND filter (to be able to adjust the point at which the ND kicks in), my ND and CPL filters are round-screw-in types...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 1st August 2013 at 02:55 PM.

  6. #6
    PRSearls's Avatar
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    Re: ND filter recommendations for landscapes?

    Thanks for the good information and links.

    Paul S

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