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Grad ND

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Art, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I wonder if anybody is successfully using graduated nd filters with m43? I often find it quite challenging to expose correctly in harsh sun when photographing landscapes. Seems like grad ND could help?
     
  2. guzziknight

    guzziknight Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    May 18, 2011
    I personally don't use grad ND filter, but I'm sure they would work fine with mft. In those cases, I use HDR to get the DR I need.
     
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I haven't used it much, but I bought a set of cokin filters -- their graduated ND set. I just felt like moving the square filter around by hand was easier to achieve the effect I wanted, then a screw-on filter mount. Like I said, I haven't used it much, and it's probably better for tripod work than hand-held, but that's been my approach.
     
  4. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    777
    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    Art, I have used GND filter once with a micro four thirds camera and was satisfied with what I got. The reason is that I had used a very crappy GND filter that I got with the lens and it didn't work as well as I thought it would. Having said that, I do not see any problems using a high quality GND filters with a micro four-thirds camera. I did see some vignetting in my photographs, but that was because I had stacked an ND filter, CPL and a GND to cut the light as much as I could.

    Also, are you saying that you would want to cut down the light across the frame or a particular part of it? Like, do you want to reduce the light in the sky when you take a photograph or do you just want to reduce the light across the frame to avoid clipping? If it's latter, you're better off with an ND filter.
     
  5. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I thought that m43 with its limited DR could really benefit from GND. HDR works great but only with tripod and probably bot for people? Can GND be used for people shots too? (w/o fill in flash)
    I use regular ND filter all the time to shoot wide open but GND is for completely different purpose.
    I know a lot of people like to use polarizers but I haven't had much success with those. They don't help much with exposure and often darken sky to look unnatural. I usually include people in my shots and I really don't like what polarizers do to skin tones which I can't even correct in LR.

    Update: looks like it may actually be easier to apply grad ND filter in LR or PS
     
  6. Joery

    Joery New to Mu-43

    3
    Sep 11, 2011
    I asked a question about grads a few months ago but didn't get any reaction. Finally I decided just to go for it and so far I've used the grads with great satisfaction. They are very helpful for landscape photography and a great benefit when dynamic range of the scene is too big for the sensor. They are not very useful for portraits. I don't know if that's what you've got in mind.

    I've compared the grads with the built in nd grad function in LR and I must say it is impossible for me to simulate the nice results like I get with the real grads. Blending two different exposures in PS might work better but I don't have much experience with that as I don't like post processing when it becomes time consuming.

    One thing you should keep in mind when choosing grads is that the diameter of m43 glass is rather small so you need grads with relatively narrow transition zones from dark to clear. A hard grad would otherwise work like a soft grad and the transition zone of a soft grad would otherwise cover the whole scene and that will not always be the effect you wanted. This becomes more apparent when using a tele lens or a lens with a very small diameter of the front glass like for example the 20mm.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  7. zpierce

    zpierce Super Moderator

    661
    Sep 26, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    Zach
    I used a grad filter on my 14-45 quite a bit and it worked great. Since then I've switched to different sized lenses so I haven't had a filter to use, but I have one on my Xmas list. I think they are ideal for m43 in helping get more of the scene in the range of the camera. I used it almost exclusively for landscapes to properly expose the land without blowing out the sky or clouds.

    With that said, it's easy enough to apply in LR, however, you will not recover the detail that the camera wasn't able to capture. If the sky was blown, it's not going to magically turn blue by applying the LR filter.

    Here's a very early photo I took with my G1 that turned out pretty nice with a cheap ebay grad filter on the 14-45.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zachpierce/4722341227/" title="P1140979 by zach.pierce, on Flickr">"640" height="360" alt="P1140979"></a>
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    I like that shot Zach.

    So with the filter you were able to get better definition and detail in the shadowed areas and kept the control of any potential blowout in the skies. I like the sound of that...never considered a GND filter before, I have great CPL and ND filters (B+W) but this looks a very useful tool.

    Are there any specifics I should consider when shopping for one ?
     
  9. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Nice shot.

    These are the type of pictures I'm thinking could benefit from Grad ND.

    Untitled_Panorama31_small.
    Untitled_Panorama4_small.
    Untitled_Panorama5_small.
     
  10. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    I hadn't realized LR had this function; one learns something new every day on this site. :smile:

    Very good points that wouldn't seem self-evident at first.

    Also, don't bother with a screw-in ND grad filter unless you like to fix the horizon line exactly in the middle of your frame every time. Get the rectangular cut filters and mount them using a Cokin-type adapter.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I think I might rather stick with HDR, I'm afraid the hassle of using Grad ND filters will take away the joy shooting with m43
     
  12. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    I know what you mean. I invested in the filter holder, and a few rather expensive Singh-Ray filters several years ago, but I rarely use it for my style of photography. Now that I know LR can mimic it in PP (even if the quality is not the same), I'll probably use the filter kit even less.
     
  13. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe

    Couldn't you just use the rotating front ring type ? B+W produces them. I would've thought they'd allow for a relatively easy alignment.

    Also, isn't the point still valid that although LR may be able to mimic the effect somewhat....adding color to the sky for example.....but it can't replace the finer details of clouds etc lost as a result of overexposure/blown highlights ?
     
  14. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    Rotating will help you to align with the angle of the line where the highlight meets the lowlights (the edge), but it doesn't allow you to move up and down that line, forcing you to frame every image so that the line crosses the exact center of the frame. For example, when taking an image of the horizon, because of where the edge is on a screw-on grad filter, you must always frame the horizon line directly in the middle, which is what photographers are taught to avoid.

    Correct, which is why I said: "Now that I know LR can mimic it in PP (even if the quality is not the same)...."
     
  15. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Right, I didn't consider the fact of having to always have the horizon run perfectly centre thus limiting how you can frame the image.

    Thanks mate....as you can see I'm still learning many of the very basics.
     
  16. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    You'll find some great examples and explanations of working pros techniques using the graduated ND filter here: Focus on Singh-Ray Filters :smile:
     
  17. Fred49

    Fred49 Mu-43 Regular

    169
    Feb 24, 2010
    FRance
    with (right ) or without(left )a circular Grad ND 0.6 filter ( used with step up on the 12mm lens )

    111213112656966489173153.



    if i look real pixel size , i have a bit more details in the one with the grad nd filter but also lot of noise in the sky.


    next time i try a 0.3 one.

    edit : unfortunately both photos are not taken on the same side of the bridge, so there is the difference of shadows on it, but it gives an idea, for the rest.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Just a quick thought --

    I know m43 has all these DR issues, but graduated ND filters have been around a long time. Getting sky and land exposures correctly have ALWAYS been an issue, long before the humble 43 sensor :)