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Author Topic: ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?  (Read 3815 times)

Aaron Burdick Photography

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« on: May 13, 2009, 06:22:20 pm »

Hi there,

I plan on purchasing a few Singh Ray ND Grads.  I plan to hand hold the 4x6 sized ones on my Nikon lenses (likely the Tokina 12-24 and the Nikon 24-70) attached to my D300 and eventually a full frame camera.

Which ones would you recommend getting as a starter set?  I am think a 2-stop hard edge, 3-stop soft edge, and a 3-stop reverse grad.

I have read somewhere that wide angles harden the grad edge such that a soft edge becomes more like a hard edge on a wide angle lens.  Is this true or greatly exaggerated?

I plan to either buy 2 or 3 to begin with and I like to shoot on the coast, in the mountains, and the desert.

Thanks!

Aaron
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joedecker

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2009, 07:08:01 pm »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
Which ones would you recommend getting as a starter set?  I am think a 2-stop hard edge, 3-stop soft edge, and a 3-stop reverse grad.

I have read somewhere that wide angles harden the grad edge such that a soft edge becomes more like a hard edge on a wide angle lens.  Is this true or greatly exaggerated?

Last question first, yes, it's very true.  Looking at it another way, the more telephoto you get the smaller and smaller a fraction of the filter actually gets involved in the shot.  

(Aperture and focus distance are also in play.  The easy way to think about that part of the equation is this--the more "out of focus" the filter is as a subject, the softer the resulting gradient.)

I use my 2-stop soft more than any other GND.  It will bring a lot of scenes to a point where they're in good shape or can easily be worked into good shape in post, it'll (more rarely than any other filter you've mentioned) leave you with an image that doesn't look artificial as a result, etc.  The usual advice I'd always heard was to start with 2 soft and 3 hard rather than the other way around.

I haven't used RGNDs, but I'd wonder if the circumstances I'd use them would overlap a fair bit with hard GND.  

--Joe


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Joe Decker
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Paul Sumi

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2009, 02:37:22 am »

Quote from: joedecker
The usual advice I'd always heard was to start with 2 soft and 3 hard rather than the other way around.

This is what I'd heard as well and what I bought.  I also have the reverse grad but haven't used it much to-date.

Paul
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summitgreen

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2009, 02:20:22 pm »

all i've seen were soft and hard edge filter descriptions but never sample photos of it side by side to see what the major differences are.

Anyone have some samples?

Thanks!
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Paul Sumi

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2009, 09:32:53 pm »

Quote from: summitgreen
all i've seen were soft and hard edge filter descriptions but never sample photos of it side by side to see what the major differences are.

Anyone have some samples?

Thanks!

I'm not clear, are you asking about the hard and soft GND's  respective effect on an image, or the visual difference between the two filters?  If the latter, here's a photo on the Singh-Ray site.  As the name implies, the hard GND has a clearly delineated border while the soft GND's border is less obvious:

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

Paul
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summitgreen

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2009, 12:02:15 pm »

Quote from: PaulS
I'm not clear, are you asking about the hard and soft GND's  respective effect on an image, or the visual difference between the two filters?  If the latter, here's a photo on the Singh-Ray site.  As the name implies, the hard GND has a clearly delineated border while the soft GND's border is less obvious:

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

Paul



Paul thank you for the link.  I see the hard is definately darker but it's a 3-stop and the soft is a 2 stop, which would be lighter.  If both of the filters were 3 stops and one was hard and one was soft.. what is the major difference.  I couldn't tell about the delineated border from the 2 =(

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Paul Sumi

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2009, 01:41:13 pm »

Quote from: summitgreen
Paul thank you for the link.  I see the hard is definately darker but it's a 3-stop and the soft is a 2 stop, which would be lighter.  If both of the filters were 3 stops and one was hard and one was soft.. what is the major difference.  I couldn't tell about the delineated border from the 2 =(

The major difference is this.  In the "hard" GND the border between the gray and the clear portions of the filter is VERY sharp and obvious.  In the "soft" GND, the boundary transitions gradually from gray to clear.

See here for more info on how GNDs are used:

http://singhray.blogspot.com/search/label/ND%20Grad

Paul
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summitgreen

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2009, 04:00:27 pm »

Quote from: PaulS
The major difference is this.  In the "hard" GND the border between the gray and the clear portions of the filter is VERY sharp and obvious.  In the "soft" GND, the boundary transitions gradually from gray to clear.

See here for more info on how GNDs are used:

http://singhray.blogspot.com/search/label/ND%20Grad

Paul



Paul,

   I see what you mean now.. thank you again for all your help. That blogspot is a great resource

Thank you again =)
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Aaron Burdick Photography

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2009, 12:26:38 am »

Quote from: PaulS
I'm not clear, are you asking about the hard and soft GND's  respective effect on an image, or the visual difference between the two filters?  If the latter, here's a photo on the Singh-Ray site.  As the name implies, the hard GND has a clearly delineated border while the soft GND's border is less obvious:

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

Paul


Paul,

Thanks for the link!  Specifically I was wondering about the "hardening" of soft edge grads on wide angle lenses.  Do you know any spots for info on this or do you know anything about this phenomenon?

Thanks!

Aaron
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Paul Sumi

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 01:26:53 am »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
Specifically I was wondering about the "hardening" of soft edge grads on wide angle lenses.  Do you know any spots for info on this or do you know anything about this phenomenon?

Aaron, I have not particularly noticed this phenomenon.  Hopefully someone else can speak to this.

But I do know that the f/stop setting does have an effect on how well defined is the boundary between gray and clear.  The way I was taught is to use the camera's DOF preview to see the effect of the boundary on the photo at various f/stops and adjust the GND's position accordingly.  

I wonder if this might be the cause of what you describe since people tend to stop down wide angle lenses to maximize DOF.

Paul
« Last Edit: May 18, 2009, 01:27:42 am by PaulS »
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summitgreen

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2009, 10:16:27 am »

Paul.. if stopping down to max DOF   ex. f22?   I heard and seen samples where the focus isn't as sharp anymore.  I do see it most sharp at F8-F11
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Paul Sumi

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ND Grads - which types (NOT brand) to get?
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2009, 11:29:04 am »

Quote from: summitgreen
Paul.. if stopping down to max DOF   ex. f22?   I heard and seen samples where the focus isn't as sharp anymore.  I do see it most sharp at F8-F11

Are you talking about lens diffraction?  It is true, generally speaking a lens' "sweet spot" in terms of sharpness is about 2-3 stops down from maximum aperture, not at say f/22.

But there may be times when you need to get maximum DOF and are willing to compromise optimum sharpness to achieve this.

Paul
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