ND - Graduated neutral density filters - which one to get?
I like the look ND filters create. Which brand should I get? Is it really important to get an expensive one? Is there a visible difference?
How do you use them? Do you screw them on the lens or hold it in front of the lens when you take the photo? I saw both.
I am sorry about my silly questions. I have never used one.
The rectangular filters (singh-ray, cokin, etc) are useful because they let you move the horizon up and down.
I like the Hitech ones. Good filters at a good price. I use the ones sized for a Cokin P system.
In the case of ND filters, the circular, threaded type are generally preferred as they permit the mounting of the lens hood. In the case of grad ND's, the rectangular or square type are preferred as you'll want to adjust the break (between clear and grad) to suit your composition. Circular/thread-on grad ND filters are extremely limiting, frustrating, etc.
Some less expensive filters (ND and grad ND) are known to introduce a color shift. Singh-Ray, Hi-Tech and Lee are known to not have any color-shift in their grad NDs. Look to the same companies for standard NDs as well as B+W, Hoya and Nikon.
The screw in filters are quite limiting as the graduation line is fixed.
The advantage is a sliding filter (Cookin, Lee, +others) is that you can slide the ND part of the filter up and down to suit the horizon or what ever effect you are after
This needs to be done with the lens stopped down to the aperture you are going to shoot at – so you can judge the effect
Most people go for a 2 Stop (or 0.6) ND filter to start with (works well with Transparency film)
The question of Hard Grad v Soft Grad is the question.
A Hard Grad has a very clear cut off between the clean section and the ND part – great for clean flat horizons
A Soft Grad has a soft gradual transition between the clean section and the ND part – better for broken and non horizontal horizons.
A Soft Grad is easier to master and mistakes are not as obvious
The sliding filters require a Filter Holder that screws onto the front of a lens.
It then pinches the Filter with enough force to hold it firmly in place but still allowing you to move it up and down as you examine the effect in the viewfinder
Lee are top notch filters, Cookin more middle of the road fare. How much you are prepared to pay will probably decide what you choose to buy.
Hope this has been of some help
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