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Thread: Which ND Filter?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Which ND Filter?



    Hi Everyone,


    I am planning on hiking with my camera gear this spring and summer and plan to take pictures of different waterfalls. Both yesterday and earlier this month, I tried taking pictures of waterfalls in the direct sun and couldn't get adequotely slow shutterspeeds to blur the water. In searching the threads, it seems like there are a variety of variable ND filters (Sing Ray, Genus, Opteka) and then B+W 106 or 110. From what I've read, I am pretty tempted by the B+W 106.


    Any thoughts or recommendations?


    Thanks,


    Brant

  2. #2
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    Hi Brant,


    Personally, I've been happy with a B+W #103 (0.9, 3-stop). I find that's usually ample darkening for waterfalls (and if not, I can stack my CPL onto the ND - a Slim CPL to avoid vignetting; in fact, sometimes you'll want to stack a CPL on anyway, for the effect on reflections and the surrounding foliage). I also have a B+W #110 (3.0, 10-stop) - that's too dark for waterfalls, IMO. I use it for long exposures (30 s or more) of sky, etc. With the 3-stop filter, you can focus and meter with the filter in place, but with the 6-stop probably, and 10-stop certainly, you have to focus and meter before you put the filter on the lens.


    I've looked at the variable ND filters, but the problem with those is that at wide angles (24mm FF, 15mm for you) you start to get a 'Maltese cross' artifact (like a pair of dark boomerangs in your image). If you do go that route, I'd stay away from Opteka; Singh-Ray will have the best optical quality (but you'll pay for it!).


    Hope that helps...


    --John

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    Senior Member conropl's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    Waterfalls can be a lot of fun to photograph, and I hope you enjoy the adventure. My wife and I spent a week last fall in pursuit of waterfall picts... it was one of the most enjoyable vacations we have had.


    ND filters are nice, but nothing is more effective than photographing waterfalls early in the morning, late in the day, or on a dark overcast day. The problem with ND filters when you have direct sun light on the falls, is it does a good job on the the water, but then the surrounding objects are under exposed (remember, frothed up water tends to be very white and reflective).


    If you need to take pictures in the middle of the day, then over cast skys are good; or at least make sure you are not getting dirrect sun on the falls (falls in the shadows are good).


    I also do not think the ND filter would be the first I would be looking for... start with a polarize (circular). Mine gives me a 1 2/3 stop reduction of light and can get rid of some nasty reflections that can cause problems. If that is not good enough, then go to the ND filter to further reduce the light on the falls.


    Here is one where the falls is in the shadows, and the sun is coming up just above it. It is probably the smallest falls we visited, but ended up being a beautiful setting.


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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    I echo the points of CONROPL (great shot by the way) when it comes to waterfalls. for cloud movement and LONG exposures of > 30 sec, an ND filter would come into play. For waterfall shooting, i also use just a CPL and try to shoot in cloudy or shady conditions. On an overcast day, I was able to get a 2 second exposure with a CPL (circular polarizer) at the expense of f/32. I think this is too small of an aperture as sharpness takes a hit, but you live and learn i guess. McArthur-Burney Falls in Northern California.


    [img]/resized-image.ashx/__size/427x640/__key/CommunityServer-Discussions-Components-Files/9/8750.burney.jpg[/img]

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    Senior Member btaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    I have the B+W 110 and as John said it's DARK. However, if long exposures are what you're after then that's what you'll get (30 sec + exposures in mid day). Personally, I'd go with the 106, I think it's a good compromise as I don't think I would get enough benefit out of a 3 stop ND filter.


    The 110 increases the kelvin temperature of the shot significantly so be aware of that (definately shoot in RAW if using the 110), the ND6 (106) doesn't have the same effect so it's pretty neutral.


    Here's an example of the 110 at work in full daylight.


    Good luck,


    Ben



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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist


    Hope that helps...

    It does!Now I am debating between the B+W 103 and 106. I will also look into if I can focus andwith the 106 mounted.


    Conropl and Enro....great pictures. And very similar to what I hope to capture as a lot of my photo opportunities will be in tree cover. So I appreciate the tips. I have used my CPL for photographying waterfalls.It does very well up to an extent.


    Ben...another great picture, and in the direct sun like I was trying to take Saturday. Actually, that one andanother of yours from last fall (water's edge with a storm in the background) are two of the shots that have me thinking about an ND filter.


    Thanks everyone.


    Brant

  7. #7
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72
    Now I am debating between the B+W 103 and 106.

    Typical shutter speeds for waterfalls are in the 0.5 s to 3 s range. Do you have some shots of waterfalls in your collection? Look at the shutter speeds in the EXIF, and see where 3 vs. 6 stops would take you. The other thing to keep in mind is that if your ND filter is a little too dark, you can always bump your ISO up a stop or two to compensate.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    Good idea. I tried the shot a couple of ways, both at ISO 100 with CPL. If I recall correctly, f/~10 needed a shutter speed of ~1/40 for proper exposure and then down around 1/4 sec at f/29 or f/32. So, I am just barely blurring the water with a CPL at f/29 or f/32. I just played with some charts, and this would indicate to me that I needed a total of 6-10 stops of light reduction on Saturday if I wanted to have f/5.6-f/11 aperture and 1/2 to2 sec shutter speed. Granted, I was in direct sun at ~11 am. If I where to be there earlier or later in the day, it wouldn't be so extreme.


    So, and I am still looking into a few things, but what I see is:
    • B+W 103 + my current CPL would give me approximately 1.7, 3, and 4.7 stops of light reduction. That would give me a lot of flexibility in most common instances I am likely to encounter. In extreme cases, I could drop my aperture down for a couple extra stops of light reduction.
    • B+W 106 + CPL would give me approximately 1.7, 6, and 7.7 stops of light reduction options.That is ahuge gap between 1.7 and 6 stops. But the 6/7.7 stops is right in therange I needed on Saturday. Italsogets a bonus points as 6 to 7.7 stops is different enough, it probably opens the door to other possibilities (blurring waves, etc).



    Does that sound about right?


    I think either of these would be a good option. Maybe I should just get both [:P].


    Thanks again,


    Brant

  9. #9
    Member cfnz's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    If it helps in any way here are a few experimental photos taken using a B+W 103 ND filter. The weather was somewhat overcast, there had been a decent storm the previous day and there was a lot of water coming over the fall, the smudges visible in the tree areas are due to the amount of spray on the front of the lens. Histograms along with exposure information are included. The only thing I've done to the image is active the lens profile in LR3, the image itself is a screenshot not an export.


    Cheers,


    Chris


    [img]/resized-image.ashx/__size/800x0/__key/CommunityServer-Discussions-Components-Files/9/1780.ND_2D00_103.1.jpg[/img]


    [img]/resized-image.ashx/__size/800x0/__key/CommunityServer-Discussions-Components-Files/9/5518.ND_2D00_103.2.jpg[/img]


    [img]/resized-image.ashx/__size/800x0/__key/CommunityServer-Discussions-Components-Files/9/1440.ND_2D00_103.3.jpg[/img]


    [img]/resized-image.ashx/__size/800x0/__key/CommunityServer-Discussions-Components-Files/9/8372.ND_2D00_103.4.jpg[/img]

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Re: Which ND Filter?



    Thanks Chris. More examples definitely help.


    It looks like a lot of folks have good waterfall shots they aren

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