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Thread: Filters

  1. #1
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    Filters

    Setting up my gear bag, have a basic assortment of lenses for what I do. Need to get a flash but looking at filters. Especially at the circular polarizer for outdoor work. I was looking into B+W and could not find any negative reviews. I have seen some amazing things posted here so just looking for what is a good option to get great outdoor shots.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by CStar View Post
    Setting up my gear bag, have a basic assortment of lenses for what I do. Need to get a flash but looking at filters. Especially at the circular polarizer for outdoor work. I was looking into B+W and could not find any negative reviews. I have seen some amazing things posted here so just looking for what is a good option to get great outdoor shots.
    Hi <InsertFirstNameHere>,

    Some people swear by CP filters, but I'm completely under-whelmed by them to be honest. For wide-andle shots they'll give you uneven skies; they can help cutting down glare & reflections, but if you're shooting during the golden hour they're not usually a big issue anyway. I use filters all the time, but my 2 CPs are by far far far far the least used.

    What kinds of scenes will you be shooting?

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    Re: Filters

    Similar here, I have some CPL filters, somewhere in my kit, but I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I used one. Other than those I never use filters these days, I even sold my Lee Filters Grad set recently as I have carried it about and never put a single one on for any of the 25k shots I've taken in the last 12 months.

    As to B+W then they are excellent as are Hoya, pay a reasonable amount but don't go over the top - just not worth it.

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    Re: Filters

    Hi, no expert but I do use CPL's but not so much for the sky, whenever you see CPL mentioned it nearly always has something to with sky but I like them for what they can do while phographing water (still water) I find that if you just take a photo without the CPL you cannot see in the result what you saw with your eyes (the stones the gowth of plant life attached to the river bed) I find however if I use the CPL to get help with the reflections from the skylight on the water it makes a big differance as I say JMO. The other thing I would say is if you buy one buy a decent one, no point putting a cheap filter on a 300 lens.
    Russ

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    Re: Filters

    Interesting, I appreciate your feed back. I predominatly take landscape/architecture shots at battle fields and forts. (sorry something of history geek). I was mainly thinking of it to help with washed out skys.

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    Re: Filters

    Not sure whether CPL will help with washed out skies. I'd choose an ND grad for that purpose, or Exposure-bracket and fuse the exposures. Your landscapes and castles are not going to go anywhere while you're shooting, so the latter should work well.
    Tim

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    Re: Filters

    What is a ND grad? Sorry extremely new to DLSR photography?

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by CStar View Post
    What is a ND grad?
    Better known as a GND or Graduated Neutral Density filter, it's basically a filter you put in front of the lens that's darker at the top - just like those graduated sunglasses that were all the rage 35 years ago.

    Here's the ones I use ...

    http://www.singh-ray.com/grndgrads.html

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    Re: Filters

    Good to learn about the ND Graduated is a better fit for what I need. Never heard of the Cokin system. Pretty cool system and like that it works for various lenses, allows layered filters and easy to remove if you want a non filtered shot. (that is something I had not like about screw on types). This right here is why i am glad I signed up!. Thanks gents.

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    Re: Filters

    Before getting an ND grad filter (because, if you get the screw-in ones, you're stuck with having your horizon in the middle of the shot, and if you go for a Cokin system, it's a lot more to haul around with you), you may want to give a digital graduated filter in post-processing a try. You'll have a lot more control over the gradient and degree of darkening with digital.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by CStar View Post
    Never heard of the Cokin system.
    There are two main brands of filter holder systems - Cokin are the cheaper of the two, but their build quality is generally regarded as "not as solid" as the other, which is Lee.

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    Re: Filters

    Do those holders hold up well in the field? The post processing gradient option looks very cool. So if you have a shot that you didn't apply a filter needed it no big deal. Is lightroom the only software to offer that?
    Very cool stuff, also I found the tutorial on ND filers, very informative stuff.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by CStar View Post
    ...The post processing gradient option looks very cool. So if you have a shot that you didn't apply a filter needed it no big deal. Is lightroom the only software to offer that? ...
    Everything that's there in Lightroom's Develop module also exists in ACR (with the possible exception of non-destructive cropping by default). So, if you're using Adobe Camera RAW with Photoshop, you have access to the same tool. In ACR, it's a button in the toolbar, next to the Adjustment Brush.

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    Re: Filters

    Can these gradients be applied to RAW files or to other formats? So essentially get photoshop?

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by CStar View Post
    Do those holders hold up well in the field? The post processing gradient option looks very cool. So if you have a shot that you didn't apply a filter needed it no big deal.
    Hi CStar (What's your first name?),

    Short answer is "not quite that easy I'm afraid".

    We normally use physical GND filters in situations where the dynamic range of the scene is too much for the camera sensor to handle in a single exposure - so in essence if you're not going to use one when shooting a scene where you're perhaps shooting into the light, but still want to preserve shadow detail, then you'll have to expose the scene 2 to 3 stops than you would have (compared to using a GND filter) so you don't get blown highlights - and that means you'll probably get quite noisy shadows.

    Or put another way, with a filter in place to protect the highlights you can then expose the shot 2 or 3 stops brigher, thus increasing the exposure of shadow detail.

    It's a valid technique, but like many things, there are situations when it works well, and other situations where it doesn't work so well. For darkening over-exposed (and thus bright with washed out colour) sky, it's OK. Just as easy to under-expose the shot slightly (thus increasing sky saturation anyway), and then lift the shadow and midtone areas using fill light and brightness controls (assuming you're shooting RAW).

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Everything that's there in Lightroom's Develop module also exists in ACR (with the possible exception of non-destructive cropping by default).
    It's non-destructive in ACR too, but you can't alter the crop once you pass it through to Photoshop (unless you open it as a smart object I presume -- haven't tried it).

    In fact in ACR it's quite smart - you can make it conform to preset aspect ratios - use grid lines - and by default it's constrains the crop to the bounding box, making it a 1 movement operation when rotating / levelling, rather than a level and then crop that you have to do in Ps.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by CStar View Post
    Can these gradients be applied to RAW files or to other formats?
    ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) handles both RAW and JPEG files, and ACR has the gradient tools (plus many more). Basically ACR is the most powerful RAW conversion program available - but it costs.

    So essentially get photoshop?
    In my opinion, yes.

  18. #18
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    Re: Filters

    My apologies Colin, my name is Christopher. So GND is needed physically and digitally on the back end. If there is to much light or washed out. The computer may have a time getting it correct. Interesting.

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    Re: Filters

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for updating your profile - makes it easier to address people correctly.

    To be honest, it's not an easy question to give a definitive answer to be cause the correct answer is really "it depends".

    If you have a scene where the foreground and mid-ground looks OK, and the sky is washed out - but not blown - then digitally applying a gradient filter should work well. If the sky is blown though, then there's no detail left to recover, and the results are likely to be what we optimistically call "sub-optimal".

    If you have a scene where there is a big difference between the bright sky and, say, a foreground object that's in shadow then that presents a challenge to the camera and photographer ... if you reduce the exposure so as to not blow the sky (with the intention of reducing it even more with a digital GND) then you're also reducing the exposure on the already much darker foreground objects - if you're shooting RAW then this dark shadow detail will probably still be captured, but it'll probably be very close to the noise floor - and when you raise the levels of these shadow areas in post-processing, you also raise the noise -- giving you noisy shadows.

    In technical terms, a physical GND filter compresses the dynamic range of the scene being captured by the camera (so you can capture a wider dynamic range) whereas a digital GND simply adjusts the dynamic range of the image you've already captured. The latter only works if you're able to capture the required dynamic range to start with; the former gives you a way to increase that range.

    There is a 3rd option that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet, and that's to take 2 shots -- one exposed for the ideal sky, and one for the ideal foreground / mid-ground - and then combine the two in post-processing. Again, no "right or wrong" - just different tools that incidentally, also require different skill sets to execute well. Personally, I prefer to get it right in-camera whenever possible as it's less work, and gives the highest possible image to work with in post-processing.

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    Re: Filters

    Thanks so much guys on the ins and outs of GND, I'm sure the surface has not been scratched. I think a Cokin (good buy at BH) with a filter is going to be a good option as opposed to screw in. Glad I asked first instead of running down and getting a polarizer.

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