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Archive 2013 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter
  
 
alhajri
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Hello everyone,

This is my first post on this wonderful forum. I got introduced to it through a long time friend, gunzorro.
I hope to learn and contribute to this great forum.

My first question is about the B&W grad neutral density filter. I'm looking to get one for my
Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L
Canon EF-S 10-22 Wide Angle
Canon EF 50mm 1.8
used on the Canon 7D

I want to do the long exposure photos of clouds, running water, and mist/fog. However, since it will be my first ND filter, I don't know which grade to get. 0.3-2x which I hear is very poor, 0.6x4x which I hear is ideal for most situations and the x9 and x1000 for extreme metal welding photos.

I wanted to see your opinion though, and possibly see photos that you've taken with the filter if you had one. Also, if using this filter on an APS-C camera like the 7D will yield different results from a full frame.

Thanks

Kal



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Monito
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Welcome to FM, alhajri.

alhajri wrote:
I want to do the long exposure photos of clouds, running water, and mist/fog. However, since it will be my first ND filter, I don't know which grade to get. 0.3-2x which I hear is very poor, 0.6x4x which I hear is ideal for most situations and the x9 and x1000 for extreme metal welding photos.


You don't want a Gradated Neutral Density filter; you want a plain Neutral Density filter. For the photos you describe, you will need to reduce exposure overall, not selectively.

It is easy to use basic photographic knowledge to calculate what strength filter you need based on knowing how long the exposure you need. How to do it is below. To blur waterfalls, you might like an exposure of one second (a range from 1/8 to 8 seconds will have pleasing effects).

However, for your stated needs, a reasonable starting point is 1.8 ND (64x, six-stop). The main use of 0.6 / 4x / 2-stop or 0.9 / 8x / 3-stop NDs is for getting shallower depth of field shooting wide open.

Think about it this way, using the Sunny F/16 Rule, which you know, right?, or will shortly know: exposure in bright sun between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm with the sun behind you is f/16 at a shutterspeed one-over-ISO, so 1/100 sec for ISO 100. In practice, with DSLRs and under many seemingly sunny conditions, a bit more exposure is needed, but that will get you close with a workable image. In the field, use the HistoBlinkyMeter with EttR (Expose to the Right), or if that is a mystery then simply center the meter needle in Manual mode.

To get to one (1) second in bright sunlight, you can start by going to f/22 and sacrifice a touch of sharpness. But let's assume you want to be at f/11 for maximum sharpness (though not maximum depth of field).

That would 1/200 f/11. Let's use 1/250 for ease of illustration. Stepping down: 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 1/4, 1/2, 1 second. That's 8 stops.

So with a 1.8 / 64x / 6-stop ND, your exposure would be 1/4 sec f/11 in brilliant sunshine or 1 second f/22.

With a 3.0 / 1000x / 10-stop ND, your exposure would be 4 sec f/11.

Here is a crop of an exposure test, no filter, ISO 200, 1/250, f/8:

http://monitophoto.com/posts/2013/MP20070429-125551-cweb.jpg

And here is a photograph I made about ten minutes later at ISO 100, 1/2 sec, f/9 with a 1.8 / 64x / 6-stop ND:

http://monitophoto.com/Stock/Tsr/MP20070429-130825-h500-web.jpg

For 20 minute exposures that turn seashores into misty water, try a 3.0 / 1000x / 10-stop ND with dimmer conditions.

(Post edited to correct 1.6 filter to 1.8 filter.)


Edited on Jan 12, 2013 at 04:43 PM · View previous versions



Jan 12, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Larate
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Hello and "bienvenu bord"!

Regarding your question, I'm afraid a 4x ND filter is too light to blur water.
Most of the time, I rely on a 32x (loosing 5 stops) or the ND400. (about 9 stops). Or a stack of both.
I've recently bought a 8x one either to stack with another one, or to use it alone handhold on sunny days while shooting wide open.

Beware of vignetting on the 10-22 when using or stacking filters. It is advised to use thin filters. There's no such an issue with the 24-105 (I've already stacked 2 ND with a polarizer). One of the advantage to have EF lenses with an APS-C !

Finally, I had B&W filters but they were hard to clean up after several uses on beaches (they really didn't like salt water !)
Now I'm using Hoya and it is easier to clean them up (well except for the ND400)

Sorry for the mistakes. English is not my native language, and definitely not my smartphone's !

Larate



Jan 12, 2013 at 12:14 PM
irieweasel
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Welcome to FM.

Monito beautifully explained how to decide what density you may need above. I agree with the 1.8/6-stop recommendation for your described needs. Personally, I have 0.9 and 1.8 B+Ws, as well as a 4x4 "big stopper" (3.0) to fit with my Lee system.

Now grab a 77mm ND filter (that fits your 10-22, and 24-105L perfectly) with density of your choosing. Purchase a 52-77mm step up ring if you would like to use it on your 50 1/8.

p.s. Mutli-resistant coating, or "MRC" filters help with the cleaning issues mentioned above.



Jan 12, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Hi Kal! Glad to see your first post here!

(Kal and I go back a few years to some oil painting forums, where we became friends. I think Kal even bought one of my paintings -- please don't hold that, or our friendship, against him. )

Monito gave you a very nice example and some good advice, along with Larate, to use a plain ND (not graduated) of 5X to 10X intensity. Even for shady brooks with overcast skies, you might use 3X or 4X -- you really want to lengthen the time.

I like Hoya filters too, and you can save money over B+W (which I like as well). Even the HMC (Hoya Multi Coat) made from the "O" (optical) glass is good (avoid the "N" or other lesser glass), but I prefer the Super HMC, or better Pro 1, or their top HD model. Any of those are fine for outdoor time exposure.

Another tip on the practical side: You can save a lot of money buying the largest size filter you are going to need (let's say 77mm or 82mm), then buy accessory step-up rings on ebay from HK or China for the other sizes of your lens's filter rings for a couple dollars apiece (52 to 77, 72 to 77, etc). It also results in less weight to haul around!

See you around!



Jan 12, 2013 at 03:58 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Here's a sort of "simple and practical" approach that usually works for me. For subjects in which I need just a bit more exposure time, my CPL (circular polarizing filter) can often work OK. Yes, it does have some additional effects, but in many cases they are fine with the subjects that you might be shooting this way. As an example, there are some waterfalls and cascades in "my" Sierra Nevada range that I shoot fairly often. I often prefer to shoot them in indirect light. Since the light is already fairly low, the small darkening effect of the CPL is often just about right. (And the CPL is useful for other purposes, too.)

If you want to play with very much longer exposures, you will almost certainly want a 9-stop or 10-stop ND (neutral density) filter. The effect of such filters is rather extreme, so you probably would not use one in most cases, but when you want this effect these filters are just about the only way to get it. Using my 9-stop ND and a small enough f-stop I can get daytime (often early morning or evening) exposures up into the 10 second range, and even a bit longer if the light is obscured by clouds a bit. This is useful for smoothing out the surface of water, creating a "misty" or "hazy" effect from ocean spray, and even for blurring some moving elements (vehicles, people, etc) to the point of invisibility. These filters do create some challenges. You cannot really see the scene through the viewfinder with such a ND filter attached - though you can see it in the LCD in live view with exposure simulation turned on. These filters can also add an unpleasant color cast to the photograph this is extremely difficult to neutralize in post.

(While I have a 9-stop ND, if I were getting a replacement for my purposes, at this point I'd probably look for a 10-stop version. While doubling exposure time from, say, 1/100 second to 1/50 second often makes little difference... going from 10 seconds to 20 seconds for long exposure work can be substantial and significant.)

Dan

I used the 9-stop ND for the following photograph in order to smooth out the surface of the San Francisco Bay water:

http://gdanmitchell.com/gallery/d/7104-5/RatIslandWinterSky20130106.jpg



Jan 12, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Monito
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


ND filters are described by three measures: change in stops, multiplication factor for shutterspeed (or light or exposure), and log base 10 of the multiplication factor.

So each "stop" means 2x more time is needed (or equivalent change to exposure or add 2x light).

1000x (one thousand times) the time is ten stops (2 raised to the power 10 = 1024). Log base 10 of 1000 is 3.0. Thus we have 3.0 / 1000x / 10-stop filters.

So, by calculation, each stop is 0.3 on the log scale. Thus we have the commonly used series as follows (others are certainly possible and available):

0.3 / 2x / 1-stop
0.6 / 4x / 2-stop
0.9 / 8x / 3-stop
1.8 / 64x / 6-stop
2.7 / 500x / 9-stop
3.0 / 1000x / 10-stop

Note: "5X" does not mean 5 stops and would lead to lots of confusion if it did.



Jan 12, 2013 at 04:53 PM
carnac
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


The filter manufacturer is: B+W (not B&W). A good place to buy and read description and reviews is NYC's high-end photography equipment retailer: B&H Video. Not trying to tweak the OP, but it will help with searches if you use the correct name. B+W is in my opinion is one of the best filter makers (for glass screw-on filters). Hoya Pro and Heliopan are also excellent. Singh-Ray makes premium color-graduated and ND filters too.

Jim



Jan 12, 2013 at 07:36 PM
alhajri
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Monito: great detailed advice. I've wrote those exposure settings down and will give it a try to see the difference . Your 2nd photo is amazing. The yellows and greens sing in that photo. Thanks for your detailed advice

Larate: thanks for the welcome, I haven't noticed any vignetting on the Canon EF-S 10-22 but that maybe because I've had the camera auto correct for vignetting with a list of lenses that I use. But thanks for letting me know before hand. And your English is great

irieweasel: I'll try the 77mm ND filter with the 50/1.8, holding the filter in front of the camera and see if I want one for it. I'm still not sure if that tiny lens will be good for landscapes. I checked the step up ring and 77mm to 52mm looks hilarious on the 50mm/1.8 which on it's own with the lens hood look like a midget. Thanks for the advice

Gunzorro: you think it's better to get a ND filter for each situation that comes up? At first I thought the graduated filter will offer a range like 5x to 10x but I was mistaken. I think with time I'll learn to know that my needs will be before going out to shoot. I still have your painting in my oil painting studio. I'll post it here one day. As an exercise of the wide-angle composition and to show your painting to everyone here :P

gdanmitchell: I have a CPL from B+W their Kasserman Polarizer they call it. Will give that a try.

carnac: you're right it's B+W I must have mistyped it because I was eating M&Ms. Would that count as a Freudian slip? or "Freudian mistype" lol


Kal



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:32 PM
 

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Monito
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


alhajri wrote:
Gunzorro: you think it's better to get a ND filter for each situation that comes up? At first I thought the graduated filter will offer a range like 5x to 10x but I was mistaken. I think with time I'll learn to know that my needs will be before going out to shoot.


Ah, you may be thinking of a variable neutral density filter.

Gradated (mis-spelled graduated so often that has become the usual spelling) neutral density filters, GNDs, have a range of grays visible at one time. They are typically dark at the top and have a hard or soft gradation (hence the name) into clear.

Variable density filters are built from two crossed polarizer filters and produce a controllable density that is the same all the way through the view. Variable density filters are convenient, but expensive and even more likely to have colour casts and flare and contrast loss because of the extra glass surfaces and double filtering.

Single NDs can be stacked for greater density but will have the same problems of multiple surfaces.

Even so, there are many situations where variables and stacked NDs perform more than adequately for the task at hand.

Note: Do not confuse 10X with 10-stops. I think Gunzorro made an unfortunate error in terminology and I'd advise care to not pick it up. Nobody really makes 10X NDs, since that would be about 3 1/3 stops. They do make 8x NDs = 3 stops. Likewise, no 5X NDs, but there are 4x and 8x NDs (2 and 3 stops). There are 5-stop and 10-stop NDs but they are 32x and 1000x respectively.


Edited on Jan 12, 2013 at 09:18 PM · View previous versions



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Kal -- As Dan said, the CPL will act as your ND giving you just over 2 stops of light reduction. You've got what is arguably the very best CPL in that particular B+W model. Any ND by them will seem a bargain after that! I also agree with Dan that you should try a darker one too, anywhere from 6 to 10 stops.

I agree with you that the 50/1.8 might not pay off as a landscape lens. You might try the inexpensive new 40mm STM which has remarkable image quality for such a cheap lens. That's also 52mm thread.

Ultimately, you might get filters for every diameter of important lenses. I have tons sizes of UV and CPL, and duplicates for the most common sizes. But to start out, buy the largest diameter you need, and then extra step up filter rings. You can do them in combination too, using several steps instead of one huge leap.



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:16 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Monito wrote:
Gradated (mis-spelled graduated so often that has become the usual spelling) neutral density filters...


I had never heard that before, so I did a bit of quick searching. (That's what the internet is for, right?) I did a Google search on "gradated neutral density filters." Google gave me a long list of returns, every one of which referred to "graduated" filters.

I did find one reference on a filter sales site, but it appears to be a typo in that other references there refer to "graduated." Other searches limited to "gradated" also return a preponderance of "graduated" references. A bit broader search on the term "gradated" without reference to photography suggests that frequently, if not most often, its appearance is due to a misspelling of "graduate" or "graduated."

The word "gradated" does exist, and its meaning seems consistent with what GND filters accomplish. However, the definition of "graduated" (in the cases where it is relevant to filters) has an equally appropriate meaning.

I think we can safely say that while the term "gradated" might make some logical sense, it is not the word for which the G in GND stands today.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for word meaning...



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Monito
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Gradated means have a grade or slope or incline or transition of a parameter; in this case density.

Graduated means for making measurements or having markings. That is why we have graduated cylinders in chemistry labs to measure volume, and why we graduate when we get our high school diploma or first university degree, having achieved a mark or level of accomplishment.

It's a distinction which I don't fight over, since I accept that "graduated NDs" has won the battle (82,000 to 5,000), even though I mention the distinction from time to time for those who are thoughtful and go beyond the surface of things. The numbers refer to results in Google if you use the search "gradated neutral density filter" or the other, both phrases in quotes in the search box so that Google uses the exact spelling.

People get confused because of the word "gradual", which refers to a rate that could be marked or unmarked.




Jan 12, 2013 at 09:35 PM
alhajri
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


I think part of the confusion and why people have adopted 2 different terms is that it's always shortened to "Grad" on most filters packages, online stores and filter reviews. Just like in here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00017LSCG/ref=ox_sc_act_title_4?ie=UTF8&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Once the majority adopt one word that goes on all packages, then this could be solved. Isn't there a standards consortium for photography?

Kal



Jan 13, 2013 at 08:31 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Like you, I'm interested in the underlying derivation of words and their evolution. (It is a sort of occupational hazard for me.)

The underlying semantic meaning outside of photography is pretty much irrelevant. If we stuck to that we could not write things like "Canon is cool" or "Canonsucks."

Language evolves, especially language related to specialized fields of interest such as photography. While it is certainly fair to make a point that the derivation of the current, accepted term graduated neutral density filter may have evolved from the term gradated, it is not true that the term than virtually no one uses (any more?) is more correct than the term that is normally used.

Now, gotta' fill that thermos (oops, "Thermos!") bottle (uh, I mean "container") and head (um, I mean "walk") out the door to go shoot (I mean "make") some photographs.

Dan

Of course, my "escape valve" is just to refer to them as "GND" filters! ;-)



Jan 13, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Photon
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


gdanmitchell wrote:
Now, gotta' fill that thermos (oops, "Thermos!") bottle (uh, I mean "container") and...
Dan

Of course, my "escape valve" is just to refer to them as "GND" filters! ;-)

Please Dan, that's "thermally insulated bottle", unless you fill it with catsup and wipe it with facial tissues.
Does anyone even remember catsup? Hyper OT, sorry.
I'm gonna go with GND now.
Monito, great rundown of the Important terminology and uses.



Jan 13, 2013 at 04:46 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · B&W Grad Neutral Density filter


Photon wrote:
Please Dan, that's "thermally insulated bottle", unless you fill it with catsup and wipe it with facial tissues.
Does anyone even remember catsup? Hyper OT, sorry.
I'm gonna go with GND now.
Monito, great rundown of the Important terminology and uses.


Yes. Ketchup? Or catsup? Couch or davenport? ... ;-)



Jan 13, 2013 at 11:41 PM





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