Nd filters or software solution? Long exposure

amit

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
76
Hi !
First of all, do we have a beginner questions forum?
I want to get long exposures for waterfalls and streams. I never had nd filters ,and not sure which will provide good results . I use em10ii with mostly oly12-40.
I wonder if I can make it happen in PP , the em1x software can do it -so maybe it is possible in edit...

If not , I will be happy to get recommendations for nd filters on the budget...

Thank you
 

junkyardsparkle

haunted scrap heap
Joined
Nov 17, 2016
Messages
2,091
You might want to start with at least one ND filter even if you want to play with software processing. If you can get your exposure times at least as long as 1/2s you'll be able to use the Live Composite feature of your camera, which can be fun to play with (and it lets you see the image "develop"), but doesn't give exactly the same effect as a continuous long exposure. Even with using other software stacking techniques, you might get better results more easily if you also use an ND filter at capture time for smoother source images. You can always try software first and see if it's good enough for what you want. There are a few threads here discussing budget ND filters, too, here's one: https://www.mu-43.com/threads/nd-filter-for-daytime-water-movement.97132/
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
285
Location
The Netherlands
Real Name
Roel
I would recommend a 6 stop filter to start with, doesn't have to be expensive but I would recommend a decent brand (B+W, Hoya to name a few) as they don't have color casting.
Most of the time you can still auto focus with the 6 stop mounted which is practical when starting out and should be able to cover 90% of long exposure shots.

A 3 and 10 stop could be a nice addition but most of the time not really needed. Starting out long exposure many people look for a 10 stop (as did I) but as a result all movement is often completely smooth losing all/most definition in the water which makes for less dynamic images. For slow moving water (small waves on a lake) most landscape photographers try to keep exposure to a few seconds up to 1 minute, for waterfalls it's mostly 1/3 of a second to a few seconds. Of course this is personal preference, and I certainly have images with a lot longer exposures, but this is something to keep in mind.

The 3 stop sometimes is handy but in my opinion you would be better served by using a circular polariser. You get polarisation effect which is very nice for landscape and certainly forest photography (brings out the greens) where you will encounter most waterfalls with the added benefit of 1.5 to 2.5 stops of light reduction depending on the quality/price of the filter. A higher priced circular polariser often stops less light vs a cheaper filter of the same brand.
As a "cheap" CPL from a decent brand is still very good but just stops more light. But this means that it can also double as a ND with the added benefit of polarisation. Polarisation can not be done in post processing. Also ideal to pair with a 6 stops ND to get to somewhere around 8 stops light reduction + polarisation. But if you want to combine a ND and CPL filter you need to buy a slim filters if you don't want vignetting on the 12-40 (at 12mm).

For my landscape / long exposure work I shoot approx. 90% with circular polariser and/or 6 stop ND. The other 10% is split between 3 stops, 10 stops, graduated ND, stacking ND filters...

One additional tip is to lock your white balance (don't leave it on auto, but pick the most appropriated WB setting), this will save you a lot of hassle in post production (manual correcting the white balance of the images with ND to match those without ND) when you have photographs with/without the ND filter.
 
Last edited:

ac12

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
2,315
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
Hi !
First of all, do we have a beginner questions forum?
I want to get long exposures for waterfalls and streams. I never had nd filters ,and not sure which will provide good results . I use em10ii with mostly oly12-40.
I wonder if I can make it happen in PP , the em1x software can do it -so maybe it is possible in edit...

If not , I will be happy to get recommendations for nd filters on the budget...

Thank you
Nope
The EM1X does it electronically in the camera, before it is recorded to the memory card. Not the same as PP.
You have to do it in the camera, before it is recorded to the memory card, so ND filters are the only way to go.

You don't need EXPENSIVE filters, but not the $3 junk either.
3, 6 and 10 stops is a nice 3 filter ND set.
But first, you need to sit down with results from your shoot, and determine what is the slowest exposure you can get, WITHOUT a ND filter.
Then think about how much slower you want to go. That will tell you how many stops of light you want the ND filter to attenuate.
Example, If you can get down to 1/60 sec without a ND filter​
A 3 stop filter will bring you down to 1/8 sec., a 6 stop filter will bring you down to 1 sec, and a 10 stop filter will bring you down to 16 seconds.​
BTW, at REALLY SLOW shutter speeds, you really need to use a tripod.​
Warning, the 10 stop filters are not inexpensive, at least they were not when I got mine.
 

Richard_M

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
140
Location
Melbourne, Australia
This article is a worthwhile read. Although a few years old now, but does give you the basics of ND filters. There are a few other ND filter brands on the market since this was written

https://www.redbubble.com/people/pe...the-ultimate-guide-to-neutral-density-filters


EDIT: Sometimes you can get away without using ND filters as I did with this image. It was morning, the sun was low, and the foliage made it dark enough to get a few seconds exposure.

EM1 II with 12-40mm f/2.8 lens

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Last edited:

amit

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
76
Thanks!
This article is a worthwhile read. Although a few years old now, but does give you the basics of ND filters. There are a few other ND filter brands on the market since this was written

https://www.redbubble.com/people/pe...the-ultimate-guide-to-neutral-density-filters


EDIT: Sometimes you can get away without using ND filters as I did with this image. It was morning, the sun was low, and the foliage made it dark enough to get a few seconds exposure.

EM1 II with 12-40mm f/2.8 lens

View attachment 801948
Thank you , what was the shutter speed in this one?
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
285
Location
The Netherlands
Real Name
Roel
Fun experiment: I would guess between around 2 seconds? Although this is mostly depending on the speed of flow of the water (so it could well be between 1/3 of a second up to 3 seconds).

Sometimes you can get away without using ND filters as I did with this image. It was morning, the sun was low, and the foliage made it dark enough to get a few seconds exposure.
That's also something to keep in mind that the optimal conditions for waterfalls in woodland areas are overcast days or blue/gold hour (no harsh lights but still overcast is even better most of the time). Not needing a very strong ND to get proper results.

It doesn't work well to start out with "I want to go out now and shoot X" in landscape and long exposure (albeit with enough ND's you can, somewhat, get around this). The current weather conditions prescribe for a large part what kind of images you can shoot (e.g. overcast/fog/rain = woodland, golden hour with nice clouds = wide vista's, strong winds = sea scapes... and so on). Not a rule that is set in stone of course, but it does help to think how specific conditions allow for specific kind of photography.
 
Last edited:

Richard_M

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
140
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Thanks!

Thank you , what was the shutter speed in this one?
Fun experiment: I would guess between around 2 seconds? Although this is mostly depending on the speed of flow of the water (so it could well be between 1/3 of a second up to 3 seconds).
EXIF info

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


As @roelwillems quite rightly pointed out, you need to adapt to the conditions, and in particular the speed of the water. I experimented using a few different settings, and this one I felt had the right amount of blur in the water. However, like a lot of things, it is subjective.
 

amit

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
76
EXIF info

View attachment 801971

As @roelwillems quite rightly pointed out, you need to adapt to the conditions, and in particular the speed of the water. I experimented using a few different settings, and this one I felt had the right amount of blur in the water. However, like a lot of things, it is subjective.
That is the perfect amount.
You know , this photo looks really nice. The stones pop out from it , and I really dive inside and feel like Im in this forest.
What makes this 3d feeling?
 

PakkyT

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 20, 2015
Messages
2,999
Location
New England
What makes this 3d feeling?
Probably due to the well done use of foreground objects. A lot of landscape type photos will look a bit dull if everyone is along back at the same distance. This shot is a great use of including lots of foreground features which are in the same good focus as the background which makes you look close and far away.
 

exakta

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
Messages
615
As mentioned above, polarizers cause about a 2 stop loss so if you already own one, it can be used as a poor man's ND. Just rotate the filter while watching the exposure reading in the finder to find the maximum loss. Keep in mind that when you go from horizontal to vertical orientation, you have to readjust the filter.
 

ac12

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
2,315
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
What looks "just right" to one person, may not look "just right" to another.
So the "just right" shutter speed will vary based on the individual.
When I shoot that kind of stuff, I bracket like crazy. Cuz until I look at the image on my monitor, I don't know how it will look. The screen on the back of the camera is too small for that kind of evaluation.
 

robcee

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
611
Location
New Brunswick, Canada
Real Name
Rob Campbell
just to reiterate @ac12’s point, for any type of long exposure photography, you’ll want a tripod. Yes our IBIS is amazing, but for setting up a composition and being able to repeat it at different settings, you want to be on a stable mount.

Also, an external shutter release cable or a remote shutter app on your phone eliminates any additional shake from touching the camera. I like a wired cable because it feels old school. :)

Recs for various flavors of ND filters are good. 6 stops is a great medium ND filter that gives you a lot of extra leeway in normal light. You can certainly help yourself by staking out your spot and waiting for the light to be right. Early morning and evenings are best.
 

ac12

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
2,315
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
BTW, anyone have any experience with the variable ND filters?
I think they are simply two stacked polarizing filters, where you rotate one filter, to adjust the light transmission.
 

robcee

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
611
Location
New Brunswick, Canada
Real Name
Rob Campbell
BTW, anyone have any experience with the variable ND filters?
I think they are simply two stacked polarizing filters, where you rotate one filter, to adjust the light transmission.
I’ve used a Hoya 2-10 I think? It got really “blotchy” at high settings and had really bad pinkish color shift.

I use a Cokin stackable filter set now and I think they’re more versatile, if less convenient.

Not sure there is any such thing as a “good” variable ND filter. Maybe “good enough”, but stackable feels like a better option.
 

junkyardsparkle

haunted scrap heap
Joined
Nov 17, 2016
Messages
2,091
Also, an external shutter release cable or a remote shutter app on your phone eliminates any additional shake from touching the camera.
The 2-second shutter delay mode works well for this with any reasonable tripod, especially for multi-second exposures where a few ms of vibration have negligible impact. For a series of shots for stacking you can avoid touching the camera in between by using the built-in intervalometer (under "time lapse settings..." menu on my Olympus cameras). Also worth mentioning: Olympus calls the setting for enabling/disabling per-shot dark frame subtraction "Noise reduction", somewhat confusingly...
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2009-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom