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  1. #1
    mr rusty's Avatar
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    ND filters - why use them?

    Grad ND filters I get and have one and use it sometimes, likewise colour filters, but what is the benefit in using say a 3 stop neutral density filter rather than just changing the exposure by 3 stops? Some great images by Thomas B in the gallery using filters, but I don't understand what the ND filter adds.

  2. #2
    fretlessdavis's Avatar
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    Bigger aperture for less DOF, or a longer shutter speed.

    I use a 2 stop ND when I want narrow depth of field so I can open my lens up more. I also use ND filters to lengthen exposure for movement effects... Smoothing out water, removing/making people in a scene blurry instead of defined, increasing motion blur of other moving objects, etc.

    I find them totally necessary in my kit.
    New-ish convert to film.
    Pentax MX for 35mm
    Bronica ETRS for 645

  3. #3
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Sometimes you can't stop down or reduce shutter speed enough to get the effect you need. Some landscape photographers use these in multiples to blur water and cloud movements. Others in towns to avoid recording people on the move.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  4. #4

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    I don't have ND filters, I just use colored filters.

    Jeff

  5. #5
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    Want to blur a waterfall with a 4-second exposure, but all you can get is 1s at f/16? Either stop down to f/44 if you can and blur the whole lot with diffraction, or add a 3-stop ND.
    Want to shoot wide open at f/1.4 at a max of 1/1000s, but the slowest film you've got is ei50 and sunny-16 says you need ei8? Add a 3-stop ND and you're at a sensible speed.
    Want to shoot a building where people keep walking past? Add an ND to get to a few-minutes exposure and the people magically disappear.
    Want to shoot the sun? (I've done it, it's fun). Add an ND10,000...
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

  6. #6
    jp498's Avatar
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    I use soft focus lenses where different apertures create different results. If I want to shoot at f5.6 and my ilex5 shutter only goes to 1/50 (or slower for a packard), I'm going to need some filtration to get exposure into the range the camera+lens can handle.

  7. #7
    alienmeatsack's Avatar
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    I use them for the same reasons as listed above... My primary use of them is to be able to open my lens wide open for shallow depth of field on a bright day. I have several, two of which are 8 and 9 stops each. Quite aggressive but they are really nice when you need that f/1.4 and your film is 400 or 200 and it's bright outside.

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Like everybody else have mentioned already, it is to alter shutter speed or aperture. I use three varieties:
    3-stop ND filter
    9-stop ND filter
    2-stop ND grad filter

    It really is as simple as that. Once I used the 9-stop ND filter, hoping to show something underneath the water in a lake. It was windy and wavy, so the 9-stop filter, along with a polarizer and an orange filter (to cut through the blue/green water). If I remember correctly the exposure ended up being about 20 seconds. It worked, and I now have a photograph of a shipwreck that I otherwise wouldn't have.
    It's a bit of a technical exercise, and you simply apply your tools to achieve what you want.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9
    bobwysiwyg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Like everybody else have mentioned already, it is to alter shutter speed or aperture. I use three varieties:
    3-stop ND filter
    9-stop ND filter
    2-stop ND grad filter

    It really is as simple as that. Once I used the 9-stop ND filter, hoping to show something underneath the water in a lake. It was windy and wavy, so the 9-stop filter, along with a polarizer and an orange filter (to cut through the blue/green water). If I remember correctly the exposure ended up being about 20 seconds. It worked, and I now have a photograph of a shipwreck that I otherwise wouldn't have.
    It's a bit of a technical exercise, and you simply apply your tools to achieve what you want.
    Well thought out, good job.
    WYSIWYG - At least that's my goal.

    Portfolio-http://apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=25518

  10. #10
    Trail Images's Avatar
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    I use ND filters often. It of course depends upon the light. For me it's always the transition zone between light and dark in a scene. If shooting in a direction away from the sun I use standard Grad or ND's in 2 or 3 stop and in both soft and hard edges. If shooting towards the sun I use Reverse Grad or ND's and sometimes even stack those as required.
    As I typically shoot only transparency film the exposure latitude is very narrow and the grads all help work through the shortcomings of the film.
    The attached image was shot with a Reverse ND.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Flor0773_A_APUG.jpg  
    Last edited by Trail Images; 02-20-2014 at 07:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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