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Author Topic: New to Landscape Photography (sort of) - Buying Filters, Need Suggestions  (Read 2588 times)

trevarthan

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I'm still looking for my place in the photographic world. I think my style tends toward landscape photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/trevarthan

So I'm planning to buy a filter system. I'll mostly be using it with my 24mm f1.4 and/or 24mm PCe (thinking I may only need one of those for landscape photos - not sure if the 1.4 actually yields any advantages during long exposures).

I'm thinking the Lee Foundations Holder looks nice: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/87108-REG/LEE_Filters_FK_Foundation_Kit_Standard_4x4.html

I figure I can get the wide angle adapter: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/87147-REG/LEE_Filters_WAR077_Adapter_Ring_77mm.html
The ND filters are glass, which I dig: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/686370-REG/LEE_Filters_10_STOP_GLASS_4X4_4_x_4_Big.html
I can toss a 105mm adapter on the front: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/218398-REG/LEE_Filters_FP105_Accessory_Front_Thread_Adapter.html
And use a giant rotating polarizer: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/216638-REG/LEE_Filters_PLC105_105mm_Circular_Polarizer_Filter.html

But... the ND Grads are plastic? http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/87380-REG/LEE_Filters_6NDG_S_4x6_Graduated_Neutral_Density.html

Call me crazy, but if I'm going to end up spending $1000 on a freaking filter system, I don't really want $100 plastic filters. Are there glass alternatives to these?
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NancyP

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I do believe that everyone else's (Hitech and Singh-Ray, the other two premium rectangular ND Grad makers) rectangular ND grads are plastic, at least until you get into the $400.00 and up cinema filters. Yep, when I handle my grads, I am VERY CAREFUL to place the grad wrapper on a clean surface before opening, and to handle grads by the edges. I can see some good things to say about resin ND grads, after having hauled my *ss up a small mountain - resin grads weigh "nothing".

I am a newbie as well. I have the Lee foundation kit, Lee 0.6 soft grad, HItech 0.9 "reverse" grad ND (for sunsets/sunrises), Big Stopper 10-stop ND, and a handful of adapters for every wide-ish angle lens I have (82 wide, 72 wide, 67 usual, 52 usual). Next up for purchase is the 105mm adapter and 105mm polarizer. For now, I am shooting either with polarizer or with grads, using my existing polarizer and step-up ring collection.
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trevarthan

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Oh well. I decided to pull the trigger. I can always look for glass if these scratch easily.
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Paul2660

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For wides, (resin) filters will work fine.  I have seen some Singh-Ray rerverse grad issues on telephoto lenses, around 150mm to 300mm, where the resin did seem to apply some blur to the files.  This may have also been due to something in the particular batch of filters.   The larger Singh-Ray 150 sized for the 14-24 have no issues. 

Lee makes great filters, you will have no issues with them.  Their grads are resin but they make a series of solid's in glass.  You can always use the method of sliding a solid over a lens which in effect will also give you a grad effect, requires a hand on the filter of course. 

Resin will scratch a bit faster also, so you have to be careful when putting them in a case.  Also you need to check the filters for a magenta cast, easy to do by placing them against a white subject, the magenta will show quickly. 

Lee's 2 slot approach is great allows you to have a CL-PL (square glass) and the resin grad or solid ND (square glass) on most lenses which have a normal outer element, like Canon 16-35, 24-70 etc.  But lenses like the Nikon 14-24 will need the SW-150 sized.  Work great also.

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
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www.photosofarkansas.com

Hans Kruse

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I'm still looking for my place in the photographic world. I think my style tends toward landscape photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/trevarthan

So I'm planning to buy a filter system. I'll mostly be using it with my 24mm f1.4 and/or 24mm PCe (thinking I may only need one of those for landscape photos - not sure if the 1.4 actually yields any advantages during long exposures).

I'm thinking the Lee Foundations Holder looks nice: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/87108-REG/LEE_Filters_FK_Foundation_Kit_Standard_4x4.html

I figure I can get the wide angle adapter: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/87147-REG/LEE_Filters_WAR077_Adapter_Ring_77mm.html
The ND filters are glass, which I dig: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/686370-REG/LEE_Filters_10_STOP_GLASS_4X4_4_x_4_Big.html
I can toss a 105mm adapter on the front: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/218398-REG/LEE_Filters_FP105_Accessory_Front_Thread_Adapter.html
And use a giant rotating polarizer: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/216638-REG/LEE_Filters_PLC105_105mm_Circular_Polarizer_Filter.html

But... the ND Grads are plastic? http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/87380-REG/LEE_Filters_6NDG_S_4x6_Graduated_Neutral_Density.html

Call me crazy, but if I'm going to end up spending $1000 on a freaking filter system, I don't really want $100 plastic filters. Are there glass alternatives to these?

Filters are old school, really. I have a few Lee filters but hardly ever use them. In the digital age they are not really needed. A polarizer is useful.

chez

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I use filters all the time, polarizers, ND and GND. You cannot duplicate the effects if the polarizer or ND filter in post processing. Since I use these two filters extensively, I decided to also use GND filters which work well in many situations, but can be a challenge when the transition point has dark parts like mountain peaks intruding.

Overall, I am very happy using my filters and no the results cannot be recreated in photoshop.

Filters are old school, really. I have a few Lee filters but hardly ever use them. In the digital age they are not really needed. A polarizer is useful.
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Hans Kruse

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I use filters all the time, polarizers, ND and GND. You cannot duplicate the effects if the polarizer or ND filter in post processing. Since I use these two filters extensively, I decided to also use GND filters which work well in many situations, but can be a challenge when the transition point has dark parts like mountain peaks intruding.

Overall, I am very happy using my filters and no the results cannot be recreated in photoshop.


A polarizer you cannot duplicate in post processing (at least only partially), but a GND you certainly can I do this all the time using Lightroom. In fact you have many more options doing this in pp.

You can browse my websites and find landscape photos that are all done without any physical filter. I use an ND filter sometimes for watershots to make the shutter speed longer, however usually in the light I prefer I can do it without.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2014, 05:28:26 am by Hans Kruse »
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trevarthan

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A polarizer you cannot duplicate in post processing (at least only partially), but a GND you certainly can I do this all the time using Lightroom. In fact you have many more options doing this in pp.

You can browse my websites and find landscape photos that are all done without any physical filter. I use an ND filter sometimes for watershots to make the shutter speed longer, however usually in the light I prefer I can do it without.

You're saying a number of things there.

1.) Polarizers are handy.

Fair enough. I bought a 105mm CPL for the front of my Lee Foundation Kit. I suspect I'll want to buy a regular 77mm CPL too at some point, once I figure out how often I use the Lee Foundation Kit.

2.) You don't like to shoot in light that requires either exposure blending or ND Grads.

I've looked at your work. It's fantastic, at least to my untrained eye. So, I will certainly keep that in mind as I explore the capabilities of ND Grads and exposure blending software. I may land where you landed, eventually, but I have to figure it out for myself. I just can't take your word for it at this point. I don't know what I don't know yet. I hope that makes sense.

3.) You do use ND filters sometimes to get long exposures of water in scenes where this would otherwise be impossible.

From that, I think your original statement was a bit harsh: "Filters are old school, really. I have a few Lee filters but hardly ever use them. In the digital age they are not really needed."

Seems like you really meant: "ND Grad Filters are old school, really. I have a few Lee ND Grad filters but hardly ever use them. In the digital age they are not really needed, but I still find ND Filters useful sometimes."

I'll probably end up right where you are eventually, but I'd like to try ND Grads out before I rule them out. Generally, I really prefer to do as much as possible in camera. I *hate* editing. Sometimes I think I'm the only photographer on the planet with a genuine distaste for editing. I suspect ND Grads will only be useful in a limited subset of situations, however, and I'll have to do the rest with automated exposure blending software: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=91800.0
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Hans Kruse

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You're saying a number of things there.

1.) Polarizers are handy.

Fair enough. I bought a 105mm CPL for the front of my Lee Foundation Kit. I suspect I'll want to buy a regular 77mm CPL too at some point, once I figure out how often I use the Lee Foundation Kit.

2.) You don't like to shoot in light that requires either exposure blending or ND Grads.

I've looked at your work. It's fantastic, at least to my untrained eye. So, I will certainly keep that in mind as I explore the capabilities of ND Grads and exposure blending software. I may land where you landed, eventually, but I have to figure it out for myself. I just can't take your word for it at this point. I don't know what I don't know yet. I hope that makes sense.

3.) You do use ND filters sometimes to get long exposures of water in scenes where this would otherwise be impossible.

From that, I think your original statement was a bit harsh: "Filters are old school, really. I have a few Lee filters but hardly ever use them. In the digital age they are not really needed."

Seems like you really meant: "ND Grad Filters are old school, really. I have a few Lee ND Grad filters but hardly ever use them. In the digital age they are not really needed, but I still find ND Filters useful sometimes."

I'll probably end up right where you are eventually, but I'd like to try ND Grads out before I rule them out. Generally, I really prefer to do as much as possible in camera. I *hate* editing. Sometimes I think I'm the only photographer on the planet with a genuine distaste for editing. I suspect ND Grads will only be useful in a limited subset of situations, however, and I'll have to do the rest with automated exposure blending software: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=91800.0

No that's not what I said:

on 2) I did say that are not situations that require ND Grad filters. I do on very few cases do HDR blending and I use the Photomatix 32 bit plugin for Lightroom and do the tone mapping in Lightroom.

3) I very seldomly use an ND filter for water shots, but as I said normally in the light I prefer for water shots I don't need an ND filter.

So I really meant what I said. You say that you hate editing. But you really need to do the editing to finalize your picture. There is no such thing as making the final picture in the camera when you shoot RAW at least. The path of trying to use filters to make it final in the camera will not work.

trevarthan

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So, you prefer HDR over filters?
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Hans Kruse

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So, you prefer HDR over filters?

They are not alternatives. As I said ND Grad filters I never use and do not need, but there are cases when HDR merge is needed. I use HDR in perhaps 0,5% of cases. Very few of these could have been done using filters.

luxborealis

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I'm with Hans on this one. GradNDs and not particularly helpful to me, either.

Only about 1/1000 landscapes have a flat enough horizon to make a GradND useful to me. There are enough tops of trees sticking up that would make use of a GradND too obvious in the final photo (you see it frequently online from people who don't know what they are doing, even with small photos - it becomes even more obvious on prints) . Go minimal - CPOL, ND0.9 (3 stops) and, when you're ready for it or if you think you need it, perhaps an ND3.0 (about 10 stops).
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NancyP

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Soft-transition grads can be used on gently irregular skylines without being blatantly obvious. Hard grads are for seascapes.
I wonder if some people use ND grads in order to have their photos qualify for competitions that forbid selective post-processing. Personally, I think that such limits are ridiculous, but I don't write the rules. I don't send in images for the competitions, either, unless it's a local competition serving as a fund-raiser for a photo club.
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chez

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I handhold my GND filters which allows me to jiggle the filter slightly improving that transition zone. With soft GND filters and a slight jiggle, you can shoot sunsets in the Rockies without issues with the peaks being overly dark.

Soft-transition grads can be used on gently irregular skylines without being blatantly obvious. Hard grads are for seascapes.
I wonder if some people use ND grads in order to have their photos qualify for competitions that forbid selective post-processing. Personally, I think that such limits are ridiculous, but I don't write the rules. I don't send in images for the competitions, either, unless it's a local competition serving as a fund-raiser for a photo club.
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luxborealis

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I handhold my GND filters which allows me to jiggle the filter slightly improving that transition zone. With soft GND filters and a slight jiggle, you can shoot sunsets in the Rockies without issues with the peaks being overly dark.


Good, practical advice. I've seen it done and often wondered about problems with glare off such a large surface that, being hand-held, would be difficult (impossible?) to keep exactly parallel to the lens/sensor. And, without a lens hood, what of the loss in contrast or the gain of ôsunspots"?
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trevarthan

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I used a grad ND this past weekend. I was shooting from a mountain out over a view of other small mountains. There was a lot of haze in the air, and a river below with docks and such. It was so bright, I ended up using both grad NDs (6 and 9) and a little stopper.

The result wasn't very good. It was windy. All of the plants in my foreground blurred with movement. I wasn't happy. I think an exposure blend with the foreground shot at 1/250 of a second, the mid ground as a long exposure (smooth out the water), and the background sky properly exposed would have been better. I suppose I could have even used focus stacking in a situation like that.

This was at about 4pm. I could have waited till sunset or come back at sunset too. The light would have improved. The point is, I wasn't at that location to shoot that scene. I was there to shoot something else. So I was experimenting and learning the limitations of the gear I had, and I think I see what you're all saying now. Grad NDs aren't that useful.
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NancyP

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I am not all that sophisticated about post-processing, I do everything in LR (LR4 for now), with an occasional foray into Nik HDR Pro. I may buy a copy of Enfuse for Mac (donationware) and play with it, as an alternative to automated HDR. I am continuing to experiment with graduated ND filters in addition to the "Gradient" command in LR. BTW, the LR "Gradient" command can be used for all sorts of stuff, not just exposure. I have used "gradient" to tinker with white balance in night landscapes with high ambient sodium (orange) or other lighting forming a light dome on the horizon. I am trying the grad ND filters on my different cameras with different sensor characteristics - I have worked with the 6D, now to apply grads to the DP1M Foveon sensor, which seems to have more issues with dynamic range than the Canon Bayer sensor (which itself is no great champ at DR, being outclassed by the Sony-made Bayer sensors). At any rate, there are many ways of approaching the problem, I have seen great stuff from "always uses grads" and from "never uses grads" photographers.
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