ND filters for shooting wide open

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by RamblinR, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    I want to be able to shoot fast glass wide open outdoors when required.
    I don't know a lot about ND filters when it comes to this type of shooting.
    Have the P series adapter and graduated filter for sunrises/sunsets but this is different.

    Because of the limits of the shutter speed and ISO I can't shoot the f1.4 or f2.8 when there is too much light.

    I have step-up rings for all my gear to use a 58mm polariser so I would purchase a 58mm ND filter/s also.

    For those that are using ND filters for this purpose, which one/s do you recommend and how do I understand the way they are named.

    Thanks very much

  2. Hudsonhites

    Hudsonhites Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 14, 2011
  3. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    I havent had much luck with the variable ND filters.

    I find that a 3 stop ND filter will easily stop enough light that you can shoot your widest lens at its widest aperture.

    And if you want an ND filter for 'waterfall' 'slow water' effect you really need 10 stops (in other words a ND variable isnt really enough).
  4. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    Hi Maria,
    Good to see a fellow QLDer.

    I have a Variable Filter by Marumi from Digital camera warehouse with a steup ring for my Pana 25. The variable filter was bought for the kit zoom lens and worked well to blurr water.
    Have not tried it with the pana as I have just received the step up ring.

    Essentailly ND filters are named or numbered by the amount of stops they can reduce for a given aperture/shutter speed value/combination. They usually go upto a 8 stop when u get individual filters. The variable ones have a min of 2 and a max of 8-10 stops. The quality of the filter is judged by the smoothness of the transitions and also avoidance of odd polarisation of light within the FOV. The best ones are from Singh and B&W. (Read expensive)

    I you are in Brissy, suggest you drop into Photocontinental or DCW and have a look. I have no connection to these shops BTW.

    Happy shooting
  5. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    Thanks everyone.

    I understood that and ND8 filter was 3 stops of light. This is where I get confused.
    Would think I would need more than that.
    Need two for a start to make up for 1/8000 and ISO 100
    Then a couple to bring it down if its f1.4.

  6. DWhite

    DWhite Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 23, 2013
    I've also been enjoying the Tiffen 58 lately. A bit pricey buy provides options for a lot of conditions. Here's one taken on a VERY bright and sunny day:
    f/8 1sec ISO 200
  7. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Beware the variable ND's. They were tested and ALL have a color cast. However, it's not always that bad depending on the light and you can adjust it out.

    Some cameras will tune out the cast well, others not so well -- but it's controllable.

    The other peculiarity is some kind of interaction between the two polarizers in the filter and the sensor that can put texture in your bokeh. Great video showing what can happen with variable ND's here:

    Variable ND Filter Shootout

    Basically, raise the blue channel a bit, maybe the green too for some filters (for mine, yes) and then touch up white balance and you can get perfect color.

    In my stills photography I haven't ever had to manually balance R/G/B channels singly to get color right but maybe I've been lucky, lol. At any rate, I did not think to do this and in version 1 of my short "Flying Patriot", I made certain scenes black and white to dodge the issue. I also used some stupid combinations of adapter rings to fit the filter in the lens hood and ended up with some awful vignetting but that was NOT the filters fault -- that was my foolishness.

    Now I've redone it in color. Not sure why it seems to be more of a problem with video, but it might be my camera -- who knows?

    Hope this helps someone else as much as it helped me, lol. Now I can keep that filter and use it when I need it -- but with proper adapters so I don't get vignetting. But beware of bokeh texturing. The video I linked will show you what I mean.
  8. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    I like the idea of the variable filter as I suspect it would be more useful all round.
    I have seen that link before with the comparison with Tiffen being the winner.

    If I were to go with just one filter to use at f1.4 and f2.8 on a very bright day, which filter do I need. eg ND number and how many stops does this mean.

  9. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    Most ND filter designations refer to their density using factors. Factors, when written properly, are followed by an "x" whereas the number of stops would be written with a "+". You will occasionally see filters marked with their density value (e.g. Kodak's old gels and Nikon's old ND400 which had a density of 4.00 which is 13-1/3 stops). Also, if you really want to get picky, they aren't "filters" but "neutral attenuators". To be a filter you have to affect different frequencies of light differently, either totall blocking a portion or merely reducing a portion of the spectrum.


    1 stop = 2x factor = density of 0.30
    2 stop = 4x factor = density of 0.60
    3 stop = 8x factor = density of 0.90

    Based on the Sunny16 rule, a camera with a base (lowest) ISO of 200 and a top shutter speed of 1/4000 can't shoot any wider than about f/4 on a sunny day. To shoot at f/2 you need a 2 stop (4x) ND filter. To shoot at f/1.4 you would need a 3 stop (8x) ND filter.
  10. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Depending on how it is rated, it will either list the number of stops, or say ND(x), where x is a power of 2 (2,4,8,16,etc). The power will tell you how many stops it equates to (aka an ND64 is a 6-stop filter (2^6). The other way it is listed is by a multiple of .3, where the multiple is the number of stops. Most people say that 3 stops (or ND8 or ND.9) will usually allow you to shoot close to or at wide open with a modern digital camera. Depending on your desired shooting location, some polarizers start out blocking 2 stops of light, and may do more depending on the angle. Does that help with the naming?

    Personally, I have a Fotasy vari-ND and haven't had any problems with it, but I corrected the WB when I first put it on, and it then was fine, as long as I didn't approach max darkness (caused some "interesting" color shifts, but was able to correct by re-setting the WB in camera, and then a bit of tweaking in post). High end gives me about 8.5 stops. Overall, can't argue for the ~$25 I paid for it.
  11. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    I purchased a cheap Fotga variable ND filter from ebay. Came with bubbles inside. Company was good and refunded after I sent them images so that was good.

    Even though it is faulty I can have a play with it to see if it is suitable and then maybe invest in the Tiffen one (which has very good reviews) or just go for a single ND8 or stronger filter.

    So here I go again (I know I must be thick headed!!). I have done a little research and and ND8 filter is (quoting some things I have read) 2x2x2 which apparently means 3 stops.

    So, with that in mind and the limitations of the OMD having ISO 200 and 1/4000, I am needing two stops to get me to the equivalent of 1/8000 and ISO100 and this leaves me only one stop to bring the f1.4 lens down to a usable shutter. Would this be enough or do I need more? Obviously I'm asking this of those that have used fast glass in bright light on cameras that have a bigger range (ISO 100 and 1/8000).

  12. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    I have sucessfully shot my f2's wide open with a 2-stop polarizer on them, and an "artificial" ISO 160 on my G3. The OMD is supposed to have a higher DR than my G3, so you should be fine. Sorry to hear about the bubbles.
  13. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
    I use to do landscape photography in rivers.
    I can smooth the water with ease only with a few seconds exposure.
    But I would like to produce a trail effect on clouds, and that needs an even longer exposure.
    I have a Hoya ND400 HMC 9 STOP Multi Coated ND and a HOYA 52mm ND8 Pro 1 Digital ND.
    I had several situations (even at sun rising) that I can only get an exposure of 5 second or so at ISO 160 f/16.

    I really need to cut down more light, but I don't want to expend much money.
    I was thinking about buy a cheap chinese ND32 filter.
    Or, using the ND400 + ND8 attached together.
    But I'm not sure about putting so much glass in front of my lens...

    What do you think?
    Would it be better to attach 2 good filters together or get one single ND32 filter (even not being one from a reputed manufacturer?
  14. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Have you tried welding glass? Purposefully designed to cut down on available light going through it. You may need to get it cut and then mount it yourself, but I know the can come in equivalents starting around 12-13 stops and up from there.
  15. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
    No, I never tried.
    I don't know if I can get that glass, or how to cut it.
    But anyway, I prefer screw filters, because I still can use my lens hood.
  16. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    Well and ND32 is only a 5 stop filter so I dont know how much good that would be.

    Sticking your ND8 + ND400 together will give you an ND4096 and should mean you get 40 seconds at iso 160 f16. I have stuck 2x 7 stop gel ND filters on my lens together (=ND16000) and have had no problems.

    Forgot to mention - You have an ND400 (=8.5 stops). I dont think you see individual filters higher than ND1000 (=10 stops)
  17. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    It's available in a range of shades (typically 8-13) on e-bay as well as various welding sources...
    No need to cut, just tapeing an uncut piece onto a Cokin adapter the right size for your lens works fine - mine also fit in a cokin P holder but that gives issues with stray light. This does cause issues with a lens hood, but you'll need to use a tripod so it's not difficult to use a hand or your shadow to shade the camera.

    Colour casts (green) are significant but can easily be corrected on digital.

    My calculations put a shade 8 at around ND1000, and a shade 13 around ND140,000!
    Prices are from ~$5 so it's worth a try :biggrin:
  18. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
    I've mentioned ND32 because I have a friend how purshased a cheap chinese filter that have written ND32 and is more black and cuts more light than my Hoya ND400. But maybe it have a wrong label.

    I never found an Hoya ND filter that cuts more light than the ND400. I think its the strongest that they manufacture.
    I'm going to attach my ND8 to the ND400. I think I will be able to cut enough light.
  19. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012

    I'm going to investigate the welding glass ;)
  20. garfield_cz

    garfield_cz Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 9, 2011
    Czech Republic
    As far I know welding glass is blocking Infrared and Ultraviolet light dangerous for human eye, but it is too dark for photography unless you shoot lava eruptions :thumbup:
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