ND Filters for my Canon Lenses

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by rogernoel, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. I have three Canon Lenses. 28-135 IS USM, 70-300 IS USM and the 18-
    55 kit lens. I have polarizing filters and UV filters for all
    three. I have marveled at the waterfalls and sunsets taken with ND
    filters. I plan on buying three of these filters, one for each of
    the lenses probably. My question relates to the ND number of the
    lens. I know some people that primarily use an ND 8 and others use
    a 3 or 4. I realize there is no universality here. If you were
    going to buy a single ND filter for general use, what number would
    you consider?
  2. Rather than buy the same filter in different sizes for all 3 lenses, consider buying a 1-,2-, and 3-stop ND filter for the lens with the largest diameter and step-up rings for the other two.

  3. ND filters or ND graduated filters?

    An ND filter isn't much use for a sunset.
  4. I stand corrected. I missed the nomenclature obviously. I was referring to filters that will reduce the light, when one turns the filter. i.e. the filter will, in effect, restrict the light coming from the sunset or the glare from the waterfall, so I don't have an overexposure or washed out picture. I checked my B & H catalog and OC it is referred to as Color Graduated ND filter, or Graduated ND filter. I am not sure if those are available where one can use step up rings. I know that some of the better ones can cost as much or more than a lens. Thanks Bob for pointing out my error.
  5. Not all grad ND's are created equal...some causing color-shift. I've been using some Singh-Ray's and like the results (2-stop soft and 3-stop hard). If I were to go w/ one filter, to answer your question; a 2-stop soft. The soft break is more forgiving but when hard-pressed can manage the duties of the other.

    The Cokin-P system, like others, offers various sizes of adapter rings that screw onto the filter thread, onto which the filter holder is mounted. Simply make sure you have the proper adapter rings for your different lenses and you're set.
  6. Lily, thank you for the response. I will pursue that method and try and learn more about the adapter etc. It seems that is the logical way to go. OC, now I have started reading more info about the Graduated ND filters.
  7. Rodger, I shoot rivers and waterfalls all the time with my 10D and slow zooms. I have never, not once needed a ND filter to render water blurred. Of course I only shoot on overcast days and normally use a polarizer and tripod. Stop down a bit and 2-4 second exposures are no problem at ISO 100. Longer exposures don't look like water (too fog- like)
    Perhaps if you shoot in bright sunlight a ND would be helpful, but the extreme contrast would make for a terrible image.
    Upper Multnomah Stream, Oregon, USA, Canon EOS 10D, EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM, Hoya polarizer, Gitzo G1028 Tripod
  8. For waterfalls you need a ND filter. I think one with about 3-4 stops is about the most useful. You can use a polariser to increase exposure by 2 stops.

    For sunsets you need a graduated ND. The Cokin system is a cheap way to start, and can produce ok but not really professional results.

    BTW the 70-300 IS and 18-55 lens both take a 58 mm filter, so you can use the same filters for both.
  9. You certainly do not NEED an ND filter to do waterfalls, but it certainly HELPS if you are trying to blur water in less than ideal conditions. I find that at ISO-100 and F22 there are few times when I actually need my 8X ND to blur water, although it certainly increases the effect.

    From your description of what you shoot, I think an ND filter is what you need for falls, and you also need a grad ND for landscape/sunsets. I have never really encountered a scenario where I needed a grad ND for a waterfall, but I am sure one exists... Most sunsets require a grad ND (not ND) to compensate for the sky being somewhat to considerably brighter than the land. The two are generally mutually exclusive, in situations where one would be useful, the other one would probably not be terribly effective. I would buy one of both types at the size of your largest lens (as mentioned above) and get rings to adapt them to the other lenses, saving a wad of money in the process. Truth be told, however, the grad ND's are hard to use with the Rebel 300D/350Ds (assuming from the kit lens) because of the viewfinder, you can barely see the gradient, so it is difficult to line up with the horizon or some artificial line. I have a ton of trouble using mine, so most of the time, I don't. The 8x ND filter will render just about any waterfall not lit by thermonuclear flashbulb blurred as desired, but keeping the ISO low and the aperture stopped down for DOF control frequently negate the need for one during most conditions.
  10. Should mention that a polarizer will frequently decrease the light level just enough to get you that blur as well if you are stopped down.
  11. If using a DSLR, ND grads are not really needed either, use a digital blending technique from 2 images exposed to retain highlight and shadow detail - search on Digital ND or Contrast masking techniques - this gives a much better result as there is no hard/soft line to line up, especially on complex horizon subjects where you would get some additonal darkening of dark elements caught in the graduation zone.

  12. Mike, merged exposure are of no use for blurring water.
  13. I was referring to the "sunset" element of the query and graduated ND filters, not full ND filters/Polarisers. As someone else pointed out a standard polariser acts as a perfectly good 2 stop ND filter and is certainly better than a Cokin series Grey "ND" filter which will colour shift
  14. > Mike, merged exposure are of no use for blurring water.

    That depends on how many images you are willing to stack. If you stack say 100 images, the resulting image should show blurred water.
  15. I have the 2-stop soft and 3stop hard Singh Ray GND filters, and would guess I use the 3 stop hard filter 95% of the time compared to the 2 stop soft. It depends on what you shoot though and the type of light you shoot, if you shoot mostly mountains with reflective lighting then you might use soft filters more. However, I do stack my filters when necessary and I use the 2 stop soft a lot more often for stacking purposes than by itself. I don't own any ND filters, waste of money and gimmicky. I'd rather just use the polariezr if necessary. www.rwongphoto.com
  16. Matthias, if you stack 100 images you'll most likely have a good deal of blur - everywhere.

    For the effort and time of shooting 100 photos I think I'd much rather just whack an ND filter or polarizer in front of the lens (or, if possible, come back when the lighting is more favourable)

    Mike, I still don't agree, there are times when you cannot use a tripod, or that it would be pointless (when on water, or when there is other motion in shot), these are the times when ND Grads help tremendously. Don't get me wrong, I use the technique you describe, but I'm glad I have my filters with me when I need them.
  17. Thanks to all of you for your useful information. Apparently there are almost as many options and opinions on the use of these filters as there are posters. I am going to purchase a 2 stop soft Grad ND filter and experiment with it. I am going to print out the discussion on this subject. It is very good.

    Puppy Face, Nice shotl. I lived in Portland over 20 years and I have shot Multnomah Falls, Bridal Veil Falls,Horsetail Falls, etc. I once caught a four pound trout in the waters of Horsetail Falls. Again, Thanks Everyone.

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