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Old September 24th, 2013, 06:57 PM
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The_Animal The_Animal is offline
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Grad ND filter questions.

Just a simple question to the ones who use slide-in filters for landscape photography - which density do you use the most when you go out landscape shooting. 1-stop, 2-stop, or 3-stop. (or if you use Lee filters. 0.3, 0.6, or 0.9?). I know that I can fit Hitech filters into my Lee holder. I wish I could afford the Lee filters right now, but I can't. I have $4400.00 left to pay off on my 600mm f/4 lens and the money is spoken for. I've decided to go with the second best option and go for Hitech filters. I will more than likely have to get them one at a time. I'll be mostly shooting sunsets so I'm just wondering which stop Grad ND filters do you find that you make the most use out of, because that will be what I'm going after first. Since I will be mostly shooting cityscapes in Vancouver, I will go for the soft filters first, then the hard-filters later.

I hope to also get a 10-stop ND filter as well, but that will be later on down the road.
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Old September 24th, 2013, 08:48 PM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: Grad ND filter questions.

For a number of years I've owned Hitech GND's in the P size (85mm wide). I now mostly hand hold them in front of the lens, although sometimes unsuccessfully (ie evidence of fingertips) in front of 77mm wide lenses! Z-pro size (100mm) are more than 200% of the price! I own +1, +2, +3's in hard edge aka HD. It's been reported that while there should be universal standards on what constitutes a 2 stop GND, there is no standard on what constitutes hard vs soft edge and Hitech HD's are as soft as other manufacturers' soft edge. That may have changed in the intervening years. Of the 3, I initially principally only used the +2 but have increasingly used the +3. I rarely use the +1 alone, but do use it in combo (layered over another as additive OR flipped over to provide a lesser GND on a lake's reflection, etc). A +1 is initially hard to recognize where it is. Learn to stop down your lens in preview for optimal placement of the transition zone until you develop a more trained eye to detect it thru the viewfinder. I once considered ordering direct from Formatt UK (actual parent company) when you could buy a set of 3 for what a single GND sold here for. Prices have changed so less attractive. Note that you can "soften" the edge of a HD GND by jiggling it up/down (if handheld) during the presumably slow shutter....but you can't "harden" an SD.

Do take care of 'em as they are an "optical grade" resin, quite unbreakable, but readily scratched....especially sliding them in/out of their "protective" sleeves if you have even a single grain of grit in there.
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Old September 24th, 2013, 09:06 PM
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Re: Grad ND filter questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ View Post
For a number of years I've owned Hitech GND's in the P size (85mm wide). I now mostly hand hold them in front of the lens, although sometimes unsuccessfully (ie evidence of fingertips) in front of 77mm wide lenses! Z-pro size (100mm) are more than 200% of the price! I own +1, +2, +3's in hard edge aka HD. It's been reported that while there should be universal standards on what constitutes a 2 stop GND, there is no standard on what constitutes hard vs soft edge and Hitech HD's are as soft as other manufacturers' soft edge. That may have changed in the intervening years. Of the 3, I initially principally only used the +2 but have increasingly used the +3. I rarely use the +1 alone, but do use it in combo (layered over another as additive OR flipped over to provide a lesser GND on a lake's reflection, etc). A +1 is initially hard to recognize where it is. Learn to stop down your lens in preview for optimal placement of the transition zone until you develop a more trained eye to detect it thru the viewfinder. I once considered ordering direct from Formatt UK (actual parent company) when you could buy a set of 3 for what a single GND sold here for. Prices have changed so less attractive. Note that you can "soften" the edge of a HD GND by jiggling it up/down (if handheld) during the presumably slow shutter....but you can't "harden" an SD.

Do take care of 'em as they are an "optical grade" resin, quite unbreakable, but readily scratched....especially sliding them in/out of their "protective" sleeves if you have even a single grain of grit in there.
Thanks a ton for the detailed advice, Russ. Appreciate it. I kind of figured that I might prefer the +2, +3 look. It's gonna take some fiddling around with the exposure times to (I presume that you expose for the foreground in order to let the GND do its work on the sky). So I figure I might get a +3 soft and a +2 Hard to start. and pick up the rest as I need them. I'll check with Beau Photo (near where I live as they seem to be the only ones who seem to carry that kind of filter. Everyone else in the Vancouver area seem to only deal with the "screw in filters". Considering that I have the Lee 4x6 holder, I will probably have to go for the 100mm size GND filters.
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Old September 25th, 2013, 01:08 AM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: Grad ND filter questions.

I would never, never, ever buy a screw in GND, aka Split-density filter....they are useless UNLESS your horizon is smack mid-height....and arguably that's poor composition usually. +2 HD and +3 SE is probably a wise choice. Know that some users complain about a magenta cast using Hitech GNDs. I've never seen that. It may be an unfounded rumor perpetuated by those wanting to justify much higher expense brands. GNDs and NDs attenuate light, perhaps more so certain wavelengths than others. It could also be an issue with using AWB while determining exposure settings......I generally use Daylight WB to preclude color shifts.

Re the exposure, I've done it so many times that its become somewhat intuitive (not that I'm always right!) as to which GND to use. Initially I'd meter on the sky or snow capped mtn peak, then on the lower mtn etc, determine the metered differential (say +4 here), then determine how much darker than "neutral" the lower level should look (ie dark green coniferous forest is NOT neutral....say 1/2-1 stop), how much brighter than "neutral" I want to represent the sky/snow (usually 0.5-1.5 stops), and do the arithmetic to choose which GND. The alternative is to "chimp" it, ie take a pic then check your histogram and make adjustments accordingly. I've used anything from a +1 to a +5 (ie +2 layered over a +3).

The alternative to using GNDs is to take multiple exposures and merge them in post processing....there are pros/cons to either method.
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Old September 25th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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Re: Grad ND filter questions.

I'm starting to see the flexibility of "slide-in filters". But...they can be expensive. I know, Hi-tech has Cokin P size filters, but that would necessitate a purchase of another holder. But considering that even the Hitechs are still $109.99 for a single filter at 4x6 size...the P holder (considering that I have a 67mm DX 18-70mm) would probably be the more economical way to go for the time being for buying slide-in filters, even with having the Lee holder. My wife will have her eyes on the Cokin holders if I upgrade my filters to Lee soft and hards.
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