ND grad and polarising filters on GSW690 rangefinder

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by adam_kingston, May 12, 2015.

  1. Hi all

    I've searched but was unable to find anything that dealt with all the questions I had on this...

    I have GW and GSW690 rangefinders but have yet to use any filters other than the UV filters I use in place of a lens cap to protect the lens. I understand that using filters, particularly grads and polarisers, can be a bit of a challenge with a rangefinder for obvious reasons.

    First question - which system? Would Cokin P with a 67mm adapter be sufficient with the GSW (65mm) or would I need to go bigger i.e. Z-Pro? I don't have budget for Lee or Singh filters. Cokin say P for 28mm+ which I believe should just be sufficient.

    People complain about having to guess when lining up ND grads but surely if you're using square filters it's relatively easy to determine how to orientate the filter according to the landscape?

    Polarisers I imagine are going to be more challenging. Primarily I'd be using it to reduce reflection in large bodies of water. In theory I could look through the polariser until I found the correct position then place on the lens in the same orientation but perhaps in the field this just isn't so practical.

    Sometimes I wish I'd just bought a D800..!

    Thanks in advance.
  2. if you're interested in a full set of Hitech P size (85mm) ND and GND's, let me know.
    Polarizers can be challenging w/ wide angle lenses due to uneven polarization across the field of view.
    If everyone else is complaining about lining up the GND filters, perhaps you should take heed and re-think your assessment.
  3. Thanks Howard

    I've been reliably informed that P size holders on the GSW will vignette so I'm going to go bigger, 100mm.

    I'm inclined to just forget about polarising for the reason you mentioned and the difficulty positioning the filter, more trouble than it's worth.

    Fair point regarding GNDs but people complain about the strangest things. Do you have any experience using GNDs with rangefinders? Surely you'd know where the top of the filter is so orientation can't be so difficult? Perhaps difficult to get a hard grad level, but soft? I'd love to hear peoples' experience with this. I'd be using tripod when using the GND filters.
  4. Not sure if it was Leica, but at one time there was a device for using polarizers on a rangefinder camera. it was a mount that held the polarizer in front of the viewfinder while you adjusted it, then shifted it into position over the lens without changing the angle to which it had been adjusted. Unless somebody makes the same for your camera, it could be challenging. One option would be to hold the filter up to your eye, adjust it, then hold it by hand in front of the lens. But it could be difficult to hold it without getting your finger in the way, being squared to the lens, not having light leak in around the edges, etc.

    As for a grad on a rangefinder, I don't see how that would be possible. it isn't a matter of the angle. It's a matter of the vertical positioning to line up with the horizon or wherever else you're trying to put it. Normally that is done very precisely, and done through the lens.
  5. What Craig said. You have to be able to get immediate feedback WRT the vertical positioning of the filter. Non-TTL doesn't cut it. You'd be better off bracketing and then photoshop or take multiple images w/ the filter in different positions and accept the waste.
  6. Most polarisers have a mark on them which you can point towards the sun for maximum effect. You can check this first
    by looking through the filter and noting the position of the mark and then simply attach the filter to the lens with the same
  7. Some polarizers have a mark on the moveable ring indicated the plane of polarization. If not, you can do it yourself with a white or silver marking pen. Turn the polarizer until reflections are minimized by an horizontal piece of glass or water. The mark the top of the ring. Reflected light is polarized parallel to non-metallic surfaces, and are minimized when the polarizer is in the crossed position.
    You can use this mark to set the polarizer on the camera, based on the orientation of the reflective surface. For grass and foliage, the mark will be roughly vertical for best effect. For sky, the mark will be opposite the sun for the greatest effect in that part of the sky (easily overdone, especially in a dry climate).
    Caveat - the polarizing element may not be firmly held relative to the ring, especially in cheap filters. B+W Kaesemann filters are generally locked in place.
  8. Not sure if it was Leica, but at one time there was a device for using polarizers on a rangefinder camera.​
    I think Steve Gandy at Cameraquest has or had that device.
    (no affiliation BTW)
  9. Believe me,you don't want anything to do with a polarizer on your GSW, I'd have to search my photos to show you an example of what happens to the sky ( it was with a 50mm lens on my Mamiya 7 and their polarizer, probably the best attempt of making a polarizer user friendly on a rangefinder )
    A grad filter , well, that kinda depends on how critical the start of the gradation has to be.
  10. Tiffen used to make, and may still, a polarizer that has a short "handle" that is used to rotate the filter. This handle could be pointed at the sun, just like the index mark Edward mentioned. The filter came with a small polarizer with a stem that fit over the handle, you'd watch through the small filter until you got the effect you wanted, and the main filter would match it. With a lot of cameras all this could be accomplished with the main filter mounted on your lens.
    It might work on the Fujis if you can find one. I have one in series 8, which with the appropriate adapter ring would probably work on you camera. I suspect these have been discontinued but they were plentiful back in the day, so you can probably find one on Ebay.
  11. There is a Leica polarizer which has an hinge. The filter can be flipped up and set for the desired effect visually, then returned to the shooting position without changing its rotation. Like anything with the Leica marque, it is fabulously expensive. There was also a dual element polarizer for a Rollei TLR, geared so both filters rotated together.
    Lee (and other) filter holders can be rotated on the lens. Since the filters are rectangular, there are only two ways they can be inserted. If you feel comfortable placing a cheap piece of plastic in front of one of the industry's best lenses, this might be the most practical approach, with the fewest headaches.
    For split-gradient ND filters, you might as well get a round one with the split in the middle. I see no way to fine-tune the position of the gradient of a rectangular filter, so you might as well aim the camera at the horizon (level it) and hope for the best. Better yet, shoot a bracketed series of exposures and use an exposure fusion option for processing the HDR, rather than some ... painterly tone-mapped effect.
  12. This has been asked several times before I'm sure but probably years ago. Yes, you can use ND Grads/ Polarisers with the GSW, I did
    that quite a lot pre digital with my own GSW690, using Lee filters with a metal adapter ring screwed onto the lens and the Lee filter holder
    clipped onto that. Main issue is really that you will have to constantly take off the adapter ring to alter settings on the camera, some users
    used to saw the lens hood off for that reason.

    I used the square glass Lee polariser filter and just adjusted it by eye holding it against the subject and then attaching it to the adapter
    ring, results were pretty good, the lens is only about 28mm equivalent, so gives decent results as long as sun is roughly behind you. I
    took some pictures this morning on my D800 with that same Lee Polariser on my Nikon 16-35mm, mainly at 16mm! By taking quite a few
    from maximum polarisation and going back from that, I got images sufficiently polarised to bring up the nice fresh spring colours without
    very obvious darker/ lighter parts in the sky, which is very easy to get with ultra wide lenses. Issue you have here is that you only get 8
    images from one roll of 120 film and won't know precisely what you've got until the films processed, expensive to get it wrong!
    The ND Grads again you can position manually, as long as you understand how many stops you need to adjust from original light meter
    reading. Filters usable but not anything like as easily as with digital cameras I'm afraid. The GSW 690 can give absolutely stunning
    images in the right hands but it does take a bit of fiddling around to get the best out of it Im afraid!
  13. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I used a Mamiya 7ii for ten years and found using a polariser quite simple- just paint a noticeable mark on the rim of the filter and before attaching it to the camera twiddle the filter in your hands to achieve the degree of polarisation you seek for that shot. Note where your mark is and replicate that position when you attach the filter. I didn't find that difficult . Issues such as the effect of polarisation across a frame with wider lenses remain however , albeit that they are not specifically a difficulty with rangefinders alone
    Using grads I found an order of magnitude tougher. If you're using a very soft-edge filter such as a Hitech 1 or two-stop grad then it might be possible to judge the position more of less OK by eye. But it gets much harder with denser filters ( which make the importance of accurate placement more important) and with hard edge filters which you might want to position on a skyline. All the time I had the Mamiya I was using grads extensively with a MF slr - but I still never found a reliable way to position grads reliably. It was easier when I wanted to position the "grad line" across the middle of the frame. Eventually I settle for a round screw-in filter with a very soft graduation so that errors in placement wouldn't show. Not perfect but better than nothing.
  14. David's suggestion sounds an easy way to use a standard screw on polariser, which simplifies things greatly for adjusting
    shutter speed etc without having to deal with an adapter ring. Meant to say I used the soft version of the Lee ND grads, a
    two stop filter of that sort is relatively easy to position by eye but you would need to have the pesky adapter ring again!

    I loved using this camera and indeed still have it but must admit that the sheer convenience of modern cameras such as
    the D800 does make it a lot easier to get good results without having to wait on film being developed and takes away any
    uncertainty. I still take images in much the same way but I can see instantly what has worked and what hasn't, deleting
    images you don't want is much less painful on your wallet than wasting film in the same way!
  15. Really appreciate the input on this, I was inclined just to take the ND grad set with me on the assumption it wouldn't be too hard to figure out, but this morning I tried using ND2 and ND4 grad filters on a friend's digital without looking TLR and even with a soft gradient it's very difficult to even approximate the correct position. The polarising filter I had some success with if I marked the filter rim as suggested, so I've ordered a 67mm version.

    This is paid work far from home so I'm going to ditch the grads and shoot Portra 160 instead of Ektar: the increased DR should reduce the need for a grad filter. Bracketing just isn't practical given the 8 frame limitation and costs associated with that - it would mean paying for multiple drum scans also. These rangefinders have suited me perfectly for most of my work but when I take them out of my comfort zone I feel a bit challenged. Keeping it simple is probably the best approach in this case.

    Many thanks again for the input


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