ND Filter for shooting portraits (inside and outside)

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by shanguli, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. shanguli

    shanguli Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 16, 2014
    My camera-flash combo (Gh3/Yongnuo 560) is such that I can't do HSS. The only solution seems to be getting ND filter. I shoot mostly for portraits, (more so than landscape....)

    Any great filter(s) out there for which I wouldn't have to break a bank for.

    Btw, should I go for variable, gradual, or ...a normal ND filter.
  2. For that purpose, normal ND. Grads are generally for landscapes, only darken skies, etc. If they have colour casts its a big problem as it won't be the same across the frame. You want even across the frame darkening from a normal ND, plus if there are colour casts with a normal ND it's easier to fix because it's even across the frame. Variable is a bit more flexible, but are super expensive and the quality varies a lot more. With variable ND you will get banding and uneven colour casts across the frame at higher settings.
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    The ND filter would just reduce the output of your flash, not allow you to shoot at higher shutter speeds. What are you hoping to accomplish with the ND filter?
  4. To get ambient exposure down to the flash sync speed. But you're right, you will need reasonably powerful flashes for this to work, given that the ND will cut the flash power as well!
  5. shanguli

    shanguli Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 16, 2014
    Well, basically I was told (Specfoto) that ND filter cuts down the brightness of the sky and preserves the highlights, hence allows for shooting at faster apertures and in doing so limits the depth of field (hence, helps in achieving the Bokeh effect, I guess ). Also, that the ND filter is good for when shooting people, so to make them pop out and give that 3D effect, so to speak. Was also told that there are different kinds out there like the B&W brass ring screw on ones & Tiffens ( and that B&W costs at least twice as much as Tiffens, but that's all I've learned so far)
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  6. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Are you sure you have this problem indoor too? You could try to use extended ISO to get a little help.

    To shoot at f/1.4, ISO 200 and shutter speed 1/160 in bright daylight you need to remove about 8 stops. I think an ND2 (6 2/3 stops) should be fine, considering that you usually do not take portraits at noon under direct light, you can stop down a little and you can use extended ISO. Some brands calls it ND2, other ND100.
    See here the big table looking for about 8 stops: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutral_density_filter

    Graduated ND filters are filters half clear and half dark, see the picture here: http://www.ethanmeleg.com/tip8.htm
    You push it down exactly to the "horizon" level to darken the sky only. It's not about DoF, usually with landscape you want a lot of DoF.

    A normal ND filter, round, all dark, allow you to shoot wide open (without overexposing and clipping highlights) getting small DoF and this could be the 3D effect they were referring to.

    I have an Hoya HMC. There could be better ones (special coatings, etc.): if you are going to use it on a 1000$ lens it could(?) be worth to spend a little more.
    For the size consider if you are going to use it with different lenses: you can buy one for the biggest lens and adapt it to smaller lenses with a step-up ring.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. shanguli

    shanguli Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 16, 2014
    I don't really do nature/landscape work. I'm more into people/portrait photography.
    I sometimes shoot with.
    I've heard about Lee filter (100 mm square ND), but am wondering if there is brand that would have one size fits all so to speak, that I can use with both Full Frame Canon and also MFT system lenses (the problem with Lee filter is I've got to buy different size adapter rings, that are pricey, for lenses with different diameter.
  8. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    If you do not landscape a normal round one is fine. ND filters are the same for DSLR and mirrorless.

    If you want to buy only one you need to look at the lens with the biggest thread size that you will REALLY use for this specific purpose. Then you buy step-up rings to adapt it to the smaller lenses.
    If there is a big difference between the biggest lens and the smallest lens, like 37mm and 72mm, you'll get an ugly monster like this:


    but it will work. Later, if ever, you can buy a more appropriate filter for the smaller lens.

    Just one more thing that maybe I got wrong: if you do HSS you can use any shutter speed so you just need to remove 4 stops or less (NOT 8) to shoot wide open during the day with a fast lens. In my previous post I used 1/160 that is the SLOW sync speed for GH3.

    See this:

    Did you try too take a few shots? I suspect that with ISO 100, a little shade and stopping down just a little you can already do anything (shooting at 1/4000). Even a two stops ND filter could be fine depending on aperture of the lens you use.
  9. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    This is a confused bunch of very, very inaccurate and incorrect information.

    ND filters (technically not actually "filters" but instead they are "attenuators") reduce light of all frequencies and brightnesses uniformly. They would cut down the birghtness of the sky but would also cut down the brightness of the foreground as well leaving the two just as different as they are without the ND. As a result, there would be no difference in the image except for what would be introduced by the necessary change in shutter speed (more motion blur), f/stop (less Depth of Field, DOF), and/or ISO (increased noise and narrower tonal range). A graduated ND can darken a portion of the image without darkening the rest and serve to balance the two areas. This works only when the transition line in the filter can be positioned to match a natural transition line in the subject, something that is not always possible. With digital stills, distinctly better results can usually be obtained using proper HDR techniques (not the "grunge" type of exaggerated HDR).

    ND filters will not, in and of themselves, alter any attribute of an image that would make portraits "pop out and give a 3D effect". It is possible that in some situations using a ND of an appropriate strength would allow you to use a wider f/stop than you can otherwise get by simply adjusting the lighting. In those cases, using an ND can help you use a wider f/stop that will yield narrower DOF and help separate the subject from the background. Again, it is not the ND that creates the effect. It is the wider f/stop that does. Often using a diffuser or "bounce flash rig" will not only dim the flash adequately but also soften the light and give better results than only dimming the light with an ND on the lens.
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