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Thread: ND Filter Advice wanted

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    ND Filter Advice wanted



    On my upcoming trip to Yellowstone I want to try a few waterfall pictures. I have already searched the forums and read most of the past threads about this.


    I have been looking at the B+W filters and B+W will be the filters I buy so the advice I need relates to those filters.


    I always buy the MRC coated lenses. The price is about double. For this particular application, the filter really will not be used occasionally. Not like a filter that stays on the lens.


    The questions:
    1. Do the MRC filters have better IQ? Other than cleaning and protection of the lens do I really need the MRC coating since at most the lens will only be used occasionally?
    2. There are somefilters with the "Wide" designation, on the 24mm or if I go to a 21mm do I really need this? Is vignetting a problem?
    3. With ND .3, .6 or .9 would this cover the typical situations. Going darker for a novice such as myself is probably not necessary?



    I am also thinking getting either the TS-E24mm L or the Zeiss 21mm F2.8 Distagon but that's another thread completely.

  2. #2
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk
    Do the MRC filters have better IQ? Other than cleaning and protection of the lens do I really need the MRC coating since at most the lens will only be used occasionally?

    B+W filters now come in 5 'flavors' with regard to coatings:
    • uncoated
    • single coated
    • multi-coated (MC)
    • multiresistant coated (MRC)
    • nano coated



    A single coating is primarily to reduce reflections and ghosting. MC does the same, but additionally allows higher light transmission. MRC is like MC, but with a dust- and water-repellant layer (similar to the fluorine coating on the front and rear the newest Canon lenses). Nano is their newest coating, and is like MRC but with slightly higher light transmission.


    In the case of ND filters, the goal is to block light, so the increased light transmission that MRC offers is no benefot - the only reason to go with MRC for an ND filter is for easier cleaning (not a big deal for an occasionally-used filter, IMO). Also worth noting is that MRC is only available in 1- to 2-stop filters; the 1- to 3- stop filters are available with a single layer coating, and 6-stop and darker only come uncoated.


    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk
    There are somefilters with the "Wide" designation, on the 24mm or if I go to a 21mm do I really need this? Is vignetting a problem?

    Probably not necessary. The 'wide' designation means a larger filter than the threads (e.g. it's like a one-piece combination of a filter and a step up ring). The 24L already suffers from pretty bad vignetting wide open, but it doesn't get any worse with a UV filter (see Bryan's vignetting tests). Plus, you're unlikely to be shooting a landscape shot wide open, and vignetting improves when you stop down. So, a normal F-Pro mount should be fine.


    Also, stay tuned...I recently did a whole set of test shots (>500 shots) to look at the effects of stacking multiple filters on vignetting. I don't have a 24L, but I used a 16-35mm, 24-105mm, 35L, 85L, and 17-55mm, each with various combinations of filters, to simulate stacking a standard ND onto an XS-Pro UV, a standard CPL onto a standard or XS-Pro UV filter, etc. The tests shots are done, I'm just in the process of doing the quantitative analysis - I'll post results next week.


    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk
    With ND .3, .6 or .9 would this cover the typical situations. Going darker for a novice such as myself is probably not necessary?

    Honestly, I'd skip the 0.3 and 0.6 (1- and 2-stop) filters all together. Get a 3-stop and probably a 6-stop (#106). In cases where you need one or two stops worth of slower shutter speed, you can use the 3 stop and bump the ISO from 100 to 200 or 400, with no real penalty on the bodies you're using.


    Hope that helps...


    --John

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    I can

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Setters
    look very closely at the variable ND filters out there.

    One big issue I have with the variable ND filters is that for wide angle use, they suffer from a 'maltese cross' effect. VariND's are basically a stacked pair of polarizers (one linear, one circular). In a situation where a CPL would give uneven polarization (e.g. 24mm on a FF body), a variable ND filter will result in a cross-shaped darkening through the image (see an example here).

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist
    <p sizset="40" sizcache="7"]One big issue I have with the variable ND filters is that for wide angle use, they suffer from a 'maltese cross' effect. VariND's are basically a stacked pair of polarizers (one linear, one circular). In a situation where a CPL would give uneven polarization (e.g. 24mm on a FF body), a variable ND filter will result in a cross-shaped darkening through the image (see an example here).

    That is true, indeed. However, I thought that issue was primarily caused when the ND was used very close to its maximum opacity. I could be wrong, though...

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Forgot to add, but if you

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Sean, as I understand it, the effect is there even at lower density settings at wide/ultrawide angles. The wider the angle and/or the darker the setting, the worse the effect. If you turn the variND beyond 'max' you can see the effect even at non-wide angles. On your 7D, you'd need something wider than 17mm (27mm FF-equivalent) to see the effect due to wide angle.

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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    I wish they had a stop set for minimum and maximum points on the genus. I get lost a lot unless I start the filter the same way so the reference dots point up. All in all I
    Words get in the way of what I meant to say.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Hi Rick.....


    That should be a great trip....I love Yellowstone.


    I think John covered your questions, but I just wanted to add a little based on my brief waterfall experience:
    • No filter: I've been able to get down to the 1/4 to 0.5 sec shutter speeds for smaller waterfalls, typically under tree cover and low overall light (early late in the day, heavy cloud cover)
    • CPL (~1.7 stops).Thus far I've only been able to use a CPL to get in the necessary shutter speed range for smaller waterfalls that are under tree cover.
    • B+W 106 (6 stops)---it was worked well for overcast days (ISO 100 and f/~5.6 to f/8)for exposed waterfals (so larger waterfalls, no tree cover). A couple of observations about this filter:
      • Itdefinitely "warms" the shot. AWB on my 7D does a great job in compensating for this, but if I use a preset such as cloudy or sunny, there is very obvious effects on WB. In post, I've compensated by adjusting color tempto 4400K to 4700K.
      • AE and AF still work with this filter.Sometimes the 7D does notindicate focus lock (beep or flash). It usually it does, but not always. But even the times it doesn't, looking at those photos they were still in focus and properly exposed. (EDIT---on a recent trip the AE still worked but underexposed by ~1 stop).

    • I haven't yet had the opportunity to test the filters on a waterfall in direct sun (say lower falls from Artists Point.... []), but I suspect I would be able to either drop my aperture down to f/11-f/22 range with the B+W106or stack a CPL on top of it.
    • Remember filter wrenches. Having now used B+W screw in filters and step up rings on a couple of waterfall trips the filters jam in the step up ringstoo often. I've started not screwing them in all the way, which, of course, makes me worryabout the filter falling off . So a good set of filter wrenches or rubber bands are needed if you are going to stay with the B+W screw in series.
    • In regard to image quality, I have found that the B+W106 (non-MRC)to beextremely good. I can look at 100% crops and I have not seen any effect in IQ. However, if you get this as well, I recently tried to photograph a GBH with the B+W Grad 102. 100% cropswith the grad 102were definitely negatively impacted. I hadn't noticed this in uncropped or slightly cropped images, but it is definitely an impact when looking at 100% crops using the B+W Grad 102.I am sure others here know, but my current assumption is that the B+W 106 ND is glass while the grad 102 is a resin.



    It sounds like you want to stay with B+W, which is what I did, but, honestly, I may somedayswitch to the Cokin or Lee filter systems.Right now I can seeseveral benefits of those rectangular systems:
    1. Decrease the potential for the threads jamming.
    2. The B+W filters currently cause vignetting at wide angles. I believe this may be better with the retangular systems.
    3. The ability to "feather" a graduated filter (moving the filter up and down during the exposure to blurr the graduated line).
    4. I suspect that it is a little easier to alternate filters.



    Maybe not a huge deal andI am happy with my B+W series.They work well and were less expensive than the rectangular system I was looking at.


    Have a great trip.


    Brant



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    Re: ND Filter Advice wanted



    Thanks Guys, I really appreciate the responses


    Sean I considered, although didn't really research it allot, a filter like you described. My first thought is that just starting out trying this I wanted full control over how much I modify the light. My thoughts were keep it simple and straight forward for now. I will check in to the Genus more though.


    John, as always thanks for the detailed response. I think I will be following your advice.


    Brant, I just wrote a wrench down on my shopping list. I to think the rectangular systems is where I will eventually end up, but for now it seems the threaded filters will be the easiest.


    Graduated filters were mentioned and there is something I was going to try, with all the advances in photoshop and the ease at which you can process a simple HDR, can you get the same effect as the filter by shooting several of the same landscape shots and combine them. For instance take one with the right exposure for sky, one for the ground then split the difference for one shot and combine all three. I have tried this on indoor pictures and as long as the subject is steady it seems to work. My only problem with HDR is that most people over do it in my opinion, it comes out artificial, possibly it can not be over done enough to still feel real.

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