Help with ND Grad Filters2009-03-19T20:36:57+02:00

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Help with ND Grad Filters

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  • BAJ
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    Hi Everyone

    I bought my first Digital SLR Camera during June 2008 and whilst browsing the net at that stage looking for camera deals I came across this Web site and registered immediately. Since then I have read and absorbed a lot from everyone from posts, pictures etc. I am very much hooked and although I do not have all the time in the world I uses every opportunity to go out and take some pics.

    I need some advice on buying ND Grad Filters.I have never used ND Grad filters before but understands their purpose.I have been reading about them and as I understand the reason my sky’s are always washed out is that i am not using these filters.I need to get some advice from those who use it regularly as to what brand(from what i have read seems like lee filters is the way to go but will appreciate views on other brands)and what different strenghts. Whether to first get a soft or hard Grad filter.Will be mostly for landscape so something versatile to cover most situations.The only filter I currently have is a Kenko Pro1 Circ Pol Filter (77mm)

    Will be visiting Cape St Francis beginning of April so would like to experiment accordingly.

    Thanks
    Andre

  • Liesel
    Participant
    Post count: 297

    Andre, you do not state whether money’s a factor or not. If it’s not, Lee would be your product. If you’re like me and always scraping the bottom, Cokin’s will do perfectly. A few photographers have complained about a color shift in them, but I have honestly only had good experiences with them. I use my 3 stop soft Grad almost 80% of the time, so it will be my first choice if I had to choose one.

  • Gavin Hayhurst
    Participant
    Post count: 73

    depends on what you like to shoot, for general landscapes I would go for a 2 stop, for low light seascape type stuff a 3 stop is probably the way to go. I guess you are shooting with a 1.6 crop camera, if this is the case I would suggest hard edged grads as they have a softer effect on the smaller sensor, the soft Lees are really soft on a small sensor.

  • Peter Betts
    Participant
    Post count: 1250

    Yes Lee seems to be great but havea look at [URL=”http://www.singh-ray.com..I”]www.singh-ray.com..I[/URL] have hada few custom made for me by Bob Singh in Florida…very very helpful on the phone etc…They sadly are seriously expensive though

  • Liesel
    Participant
    Post count: 297

    I have been eyeing Singh-Rays for a while now Peter. I’m just curious, could you give a figure how much they cost you? I will need to upgrade in the next few months and will then start looking at them all again.

  • Willem Semmelink
    Participant
    Post count: 190

    Expect to pay in the order of R2000 to R2500 for singh ray.
    Tiffen is also an alternative.

    Both the above make filters that fit the Cokin holder, which is quite convenient if you already have a Cokin set. Do not buy a round filter if you want a grad – you will need a square one in a holder like the Lee or Cokin holders.

  • Peter Betts
    Participant
    Post count: 1250

    W Semmelink;150386 wrote:
    Expect to pay in the order of R2000 to R2500 for singh ray.
    Tiffen is also an alternative.

    Both the above make filters that fit the Cokin holder, which is quite convenient if you already have a Cokin set. Do not buy a round filter if you want a grad – you will need a square one in a holder like the Lee or Cokin holders.

    At R10 to the dollar that would be correct for a glass Grad from Singh Ray which range from about $210 to $ 295 but their circular polorisers in variuos persusions cost about $400 for a 77mm thread!!:eek: They also make a brilliant Vari Solid circular ND filter which you dial in the amount of density you want…great for freezing or blurring waterfalls etc…love to get one of those $350 jobs one day

  • Mitchell Krog
    Participant
    Post count: 225

    The Singh-Rays are definitely a superior product but they will hurt your pocket, keep in mind their prices exclude shipping and you will also pay an additional 14% when you collect from the post office so keep this all in account. You can only order directly from Singh-Ray as they have no dealers or agencies anywhere in the world. When you factor in the cost of shipping and the VAT you pay on arrival you need to make your order worthwhile to subtantiate that extra cost, so do not buy one filter because you are wasting your money, buy a few items at one time.

    I have heard good things about Tiffen too but have never used them.

    Nothing wrong with Lee filters either and you could get away with around R5000-R6000 for a set of three hard grads with a foundation kit and ring AND they are locally available.

    As for the Cokins, they are a cheaper alternative to get started. The color casts are dependent on certain batches, some people get lucky, some people don’t and end up with filters from a batch that has a magenta or green cast.

  • Mitchell Krog
    Participant
    Post count: 225

    Peter Betts;150417 wrote:
    a glass Grad from Singh Ray

    Peter, they are not glass they are made from CR-39 Optical Resin.

    For a set containing a 1,2 and 3 stop hard (4 x 6 size), at todays rate, incl shipping and VAT you will be in for around R7000+ … then you also need to still buy a Lee foundation kit and lens ring which will set you back another R1000 or so.

    As for the size, if you are spending money on grads only go for the biggest filter size 4″ x 6″ as you will at some point regret buying the smaller size.

  • BAJ
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    Thanks everyone for the replies and advice.

    The Singh Ray/Tiffen stuff just seems to expensive so I got myself the Lee foundation kit and a ND 0.6 and 0.9 hard grad filter. Will now start saving for the 0.3 hard and 0.9 soft grad.Seems like this might be sufficient.

    Anyone in the Cape St Francis area during 4 – 9 April who would like to get together and give me a few pointers regarding using the filters and just general landscape stuff will be appreciated

    Andre

  • Stanberg
    Participant
    Post count: 889

    Pity….I am usually in St Francis every weekend but its the SA Ironman in PE that weekend, so I will be at the beachfront shooting away….and back to St Francis at Easter

  • Wolfaardt
    Participant
    Post count: 151

    Liesel;150318 wrote:
    ….3 stop soft Grad ….

    How much does the F-stop and Zoom influance the effect of soft/hard filters? I would think the graduation would be harder with wider zoom and larger f value.:confused:

  • Liesel
    Participant
    Post count: 297

    Quote:
    How much does the F-stop and Zoom influance the effect of soft/hard filters? I would think the graduation would be harder with wider zoom and larger f value.

    I’m not sure if I understand your question correctly:(…but f-stop (coupled with ss) has no effect on the grads. F -stop coupled with ss,only influence your DOF, the filter’s effect does not change if you change f-stop and expose correctly for your changes.
    But, if you change your f-stop without compensating with ss for exposure, the whole image will either darken or lighten, showing a darker or lighter filtered section as well.
    Zooming does affect the grads, but only minimal. If however you are zooming in from 18mm to 300mm, the effect would be more pronounced and you would have to change the position of your filter, but the graduation’s effect will be more evident on 300mm than 18mm.

    For those photographers who have never worked with these filters: They are pieces of semi-glass that slides into a holder that are screwed to the front of your lens. They can turn 360 degrees and also shift up and down.

  • Deezil
    Participant
    Post count: 806

    Another quick question regarding filter sizes …

    I’ve been offered 100×100 (4×4) Lee resin filters for quite cheap (about 1/3 of the price of 6×4 resins) but my question is how usable are these 100×100’s?

    I’ve only used 150×100 resins before and found it easy to simply adjust the filter in the holder for correct positioning … I assume with 100×100’s you need to adjust the camera/tripod itself to get the same effect and in essence these smaller square filters would only be “less convenient” than their longer rectangular brothers?

    I’m always looking out for a bargain but I would much rather buy a 150×100 at full price than a 100×100 at 1/3 if the smaller filter will be useless!

    Comments please!

  • Liesel
    Participant
    Post count: 297

    Personally I would not go for a square filter.

    I’m always adjusting mine up or down and have many times needed more space to adjust and just could not. So square just not make sense to me.

  • Deezil
    Participant
    Post count: 806

    That was my thoughts as well (talking specifically about ND grads or any other gradual filter)

    I think the 100×100 squares will be OK for any non-gradual filters (i.e standard filters) … please correct me if I’m wrong!

  • Mitchell Krog
    Participant
    Post count: 225

    Spend your money once and get the 6×4 size.

    Liesel wrote:
    pieces of semi-glass

    Most makes, even Singh-Ray are made from optical resin, glass filters are hellishly expensive and glass breaks when you drop it.

  • Deezil
    Participant
    Post count: 806

    Short & Sweet & to the Point

    At least we’re only talking about R1,000 filters here and not R10,000+ lenses/bodies/tripods so technically this was a no-brainer question to start off with … just wanted to confirm.

    Many thanx!

  • hougaard malan
    Participant
    Post count: 678

    Liesel;150877 wrote:
    but f-stop has no effect on the grads.

    Imagine you’re shooting through a fence, focusing on the background. At F2.8 the fence is almost invisible(soft), because your focus point is so far beyond it. Increase aperture/ d.o.f and the focus plane shifts closer to the fence, making the lines thinner(harder) and more pronounced. Same applies to ND grads. The effect varies depending on the filter and the focal length:)

  • Hendrik van Rooyen
    Participant
    Post count: 277

    Cokin X-Pro series does it for me when talking ND grads.

    130x170mm filters. (60 to choose from)

    While the ND grads are resin, there are some gelatine and glass filters as well.

    Multiple filters can be used at the same time.

    The large size make them usable on Large-, medium- and small format lenses.

    Filter prices ( excluding holders & rings) can range from R400 for a simple colour filter, to R750-R1000 for ND grads, to R2500-R4000 for Linear Polarisers (Glass), and R7000 for special effect (glass) filters.

    Holders and adapter rings will set you back about R750 each.

  • Deezil
    Participant
    Post count: 806

    Hmmm, still cheaper than the Lee system!

    Problem with the X-Pro I find is local availibility!! Any pointers?

  • Harley
    Participant
    Post count: 911

    @ Deezil… got my Z-Pro series from the ODP shop so I’m sure they’d be able to source them for you.

  • Hendrik van Rooyen
    Participant
    Post count: 277

    The x-pro series IS scarce. (sold my Lee system with a Contax 645)

    I’ve had mine for a few years and don’t know if its still available here.

    I’m sure any decent photo retailer can order for you.


  • Hendrik van Rooyen
    Participant
    Post count: 277

    Some people have complained about “colour casts” from their Cokin filters, I think it can be easily solved by setting the right white ballance for the subject and not leaving it on Auto WB.

  • hougaard malan
    Participant
    Post count: 678

    Henke;151119 wrote:
    Some people have complained about “colour casts” from their Cokin filters, I think it can be easily solved by setting the right white ballance for the subject and not leaving it on Auto WB.

    Those clouds have a yellow cast and the sky has a purple cast. The cokin filters easily ruin the colour of a sunset sky beyond photoshop repair. More than 4 or 5 stops of Lee or Singh-ray does it too. Another reason why I prefer exposure blending.

  • Mitchell Krog
    Participant
    Post count: 225

    Definite yellow green cast on that image not to mention the blues are horribly off too. You simply cannot remove what a Cokin imprints permanently into an image, forget it.

  • Deezil
    Participant
    Post count: 806

    Another (hopefully last) question from my side to anybody who can answer … given the highly likely situation that you can only afford one decent ND filter for starters what would your choice be?

    I can’t seem to decide between a 2-stop or 3-stop soft grad. I’ll slowly but surely start growing my collection but would appreciate some pointers as to what to get at first … surely some filters in your collection get used more than others?

    P.S I did use the search function … that is why I’m undecided on 2 or 3 stop to start with … looking at the poll it seems as 2-stop soft, 3-stop soft & 2-stop hard would be the best 3 to start with!

  • Liesel
    Participant
    Post count: 297

    Quote:
    Some people have complained about “colour casts” from their Cokin filters, I think it can be easily solved by setting the right white ballance for the subject and not leaving it on Auto WB.

    I wonder if you might have found the beast….I shoot very little on Auto WB and set my Kelvin temp. manually. I’ve not had a problem with my cokin giving colorcasts, it only gives a slight colorcast if I shoot straight into the sun.

    Deezil – my choice would be a 3 stop soft Grad. ND. It’ s the one that get the most attention in my backpack.

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    Post count: 1

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  • WayneB
    Participant
    Post count: 529

    @bimpevesip 188524 wrote:

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    :confused::confused::confused:

    Wayne

  • Gerrit Laubscher
    Participant
    Post count: 233

    This thread comes for me at the right time so I´m following with interest. Please add more info on using the filter.

  • Geurt
    Participant
    Post count: 1100

    Consider “investing” in this company’s filters. They are widely used by many international photographers. Their “Vari-ND” has a very big following. Not cheap though:eek:

  • Krypty
    Participant
    Post count: 47

    Also look at Hi-Tech Filters. Guys reckon they are a bit better than Cokin and don’t leave a color cast until about 4 if you stack them.

    I got a set of 3 filters for about R720

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