Do I need neutral density filter for Sigma 50mm 1.4, to maintain DOF for portraits during daylight?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by myra_trimble, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Hello, first of all I will apologize if this question has already been answered. I've searched the forums for several hours now, and found very relevant information, but nothing totally answering my question. I'm pretty sure I will need a Neutral Density filter, but my question is which one? I was told I would need an ND to maintain my f1.4 in daylight. I've read about "different stops" for different filters as well. I just want to purchase the right one. If this question has specifically been answered already, please just point me to that post with a link:). I am also wanting to do some fill flash for "catch lights," but I am unsure of just how to maintain the f1.4 with flash/filter/shutter speed. Any setting suggestions? I'm just a novice photographer, and quickly learning, so I'm not familiar with filters just yet. Also, any other advice about filters (polarizing, UV, etc.) is greatly appreciated.
    My purpose: outdoor portraits (where I can't always have optimal conditions), low light photography, basketball
    My equipment: Canon 60D, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon Speedlight 430X
     
  2. People use 1.4 lens in all sorts of situations (even in bright daylight) and even more so in low-light situations! ( ...and definitely without a ND filter).
    Was that a salesperson that told you you needed a ND filter to use your 1.4 lens normally? Hah! If not, what other reason makes you think you need a ND filter? You definitely do not use a ND filter normally for the scenarios that you have presented.
     
  3. Myra, you can figure this out for yourself. If you're under hard light, as you know, the exposure will be very close to f/16 over the ISO equivalent in shutter speed. Let's say you're set at ISO 200, that would mean f/16 at 1/200th second. You want to use f/1.4. Count the f/stops, f/16 to f/11 (1), f/11-f8 (2), f/8-5.6 (3) f/5.6-4 (4), f/4-2.8 (5) f/2.8-2 (6) and f/2 to f/1.4 (7). Seven stops. You can't make it up in shutter speed unless you go from 1/250th-1/500th (1) 1/500th to 1/1000 (2), 1/1000th to 1,2000th (3), 1/2000th- 1/4000th (4) - 1/4000th - 1/8000th (5)
    Regular synch is at 1/250th, but FP synch (which eats batteries, so bring extras) on your camera goes to 1/8000th second (and I would try all of this before going to the shoot. Assuming the FP is working at 1/800th, if you want to be at f/1.4 in strong sunlight, you will need about 2-stops ND filter.If you have a polarizer, that will work out. In shade, stay in aperture preferred, flash on FP (set to whatever your fill setting happens to be) and let the speed vary accordingly. It should not go over 1/8000-th, and if it should, put the polarizer or ND filter on.
    Questions? Remember, it is truly imperative that you make certain, via testing, that all this works before risking another person's time, OK? Always test, test test. Questions?
     
  4. Mike, thank you for your response; no it was not a salesperson who told me to get the ND. It was a tech support guy, whom I know well, from my photo lab. He is a photographer as well.
    Luis, thank you for your response. I don't understand all of what you said, but I'm getting the hang of it I think. "FP" sync, I'm not sure about. I'm not sure how to set the flash so that it wont force my shutter to 1/250. I know, I need to study the manual for my flash. You said a polarizer would work? Should I get that, instead of ND? And yes, I am testing all this on a friend before a paid client. The problem is that I'm ordering the ND at the same time as ordering the 1.4 lens, so I wanted to know the filter to order with it.
     
  5. Mike, thank you for your response; no it was not a salesperson who told me to get the ND. It was a tech support guy, whom I know well, from my photo lab. He is a photographer as well.
    Luis, thank you for your response. I don't understand all of what you said, but I'm getting the hang of it I think. "FP" sync, I'm not sure about. I'm not sure how to set the flash so that it wont force my shutter to 1/250. I know, I need to study the manual for my flash. You said a polarizer would work? Should I get that, instead of ND? And yes, I am testing all this on a friend before a paid client. The problem is that I'm ordering the ND at the same time as ordering the 1.4 lens, so I wanted to know the filter to order with it.
     
  6. The right filter (in terms of stops of reduction) is going to depend on the light in which your'e shooting. Speaking of which: it's often a lot easier simply choose an earlier or later time of day, or to work in some open shade (possibly with reflectors). You'll get much nicer looking light, that way (than you will in full over-head daylight), and you can avoid spending money on ND filters this early in the game.
     
  7. Myra, I made a typo where it reads: "Assuming the FP is working at 1/800th," That should read `1/8000th. The reason for the lengthy explanation is that it gives you an understanding, not just a setting. With the latter, you will always have to come back herefor other settings. With an understanding, you can problem-solve in real time.
    Yes, for your use, a polarizer (circular) will function well as a 2-stop ND, which is what you need in the strongest light you're likely to encounter outdoors. And the polarizer is also a very useful filter which you can use to darken skies and/or modulate/reduce reflections. As I mentioned, and Matt seconded, in shade, you should not need any filter to reduce the light level entering the lens. Working in shade is easier to manage, contrast-wise, and if you plan to shoot at f/1.4 lets you get away without buying a filter of any kind this time (though you should be aware that successful fashion shots have been made in sunlight).
    In shade, with simple reflectors and an assistant or two (and shooting near-wide open), you can have a high enough shutter speed, see and modulate the light as you go, all without a filter..
    Try your best to read the manual for your flash. Again, being handed a setting may seem convenient, but it leaves you drawing a blank should you run into any other problems, and I can tell you from experience, that it's a bad place to be. You can always look for "FP" in the index, but to grow as a photographer, and be able to address the unexpected situations that usually arise during a shoot, you really need to grasp a few essential principles and how your gear works.
     
  8. Thanks so much for your responses! I will take your advice. And yes, most of the time, I do try to schedule my shoots for early morning/late evening.
     
  9. There is an art to taking portraits at very wide apertures. It is something that I am still learning as I mostly shoot portraits from 2.8 - 8.0. The smaller the aperture number, the smaller the dof (depth of field). You might want to start your earlier experiments using a tripod to get an idea of where focus is sharpest and then work from there.
    The attached photo is just an experiment I made a couple years ago. It's not a great photo but you'll get what some of the discussion has been advising. Focus is not perfect. I used one focus point on a 5D using a 85 F/1.2. ISO 100. F/1.2 at 1/1000th sec. This was in the afternoon under a tree. I didn't use a flash. Your most accurate focus point is usually the center one.
    00Yv9Z-371481584.jpg
     
  10. You'll need an ND filter if you're shooting wide open and it's so bright that you run out of low ISO AND high shutter speed. Figure noon on a beach or a similar scenario. I shoot on location a lot, and I use a 3 stop ND filter. If it's too much, I just raise my ISO a stop or two. As for adding flash, the ND filter will be blocking flash just as it's blocking sun (like a pair of sunglasses), so you'll need more flash power. Higher shutter speeds don't affect flash, but reducing light hitting the sensor via a filter does.
     
  11. Thanks so much! You guys have really helped! Can't wait to try these techniques!
     
  12. To things to bare in mind when you compare this shoots.
    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=924448
    The one whit out ND filter is shoot on 85 mm and the one with ND is shoot with 200mm This also effect the DOF(together with the distance to the subject) and the power of an 800 alianbee is a lot more than you can get out of the canon 430. but it the x sync is limited so the ND filter is necessary
    But the canon 430 have high speed sync as an option I would work with that and skip the ND filter.I use one when i shooting with studio flash outdoor but I can not see the need with an on camera flash
    This is a great movie about shooting with the setup you are going to use.
    http://youtu.be/snd34WNndn0
     
  13. I use a 2 stop ND when shooting near wide open on that lens. I typically go f/1.8-2.8 with that filter, iso50-100 in broad daylight or with flash+daylight.
    Or, go in the shade and use a reflector/strobe.
    I find that many of my engagement shoots are under less than ideal lighting due to the couples work schedules.. so its very good to have a ND (and maybe a polarizing filter to stack) in your kit.
     

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