Neutral Density Filter Advice needed

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I'm heading out to Italy, France, and Spain in a couple weeks and I wanted to get a neutral density filter for my oly 12-40 2.8 . I want to get a filter to be able to shoot wide open if I want during the middle of the day, and max shutter shutter speed is 1/4000 on the E-M5. My question is how many stop filter should I be getting. I was thinking that a 3 stop filter would be about right, but I wasn't quite sure. I would appreciate any help.

Also if you think a polarizer would be useful on the trip I might get one of those too.

Thanks,
Eli
 

elavon

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You can get a Variable Neutral Density Filter if cost is not an issue, the good one are sold at the 100$ range and give 2 to 8 stops. Do not get the cheap one from Ebay most of them have a brownish tint and poor optical quality.

The 3 stop filter it will suite your need in most light conditions, but will not be sufficient on sunny days.
If you plan to do landscape shots get a polarizer it will also give you an additional stop.
 

orfeo

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Look at Lee or Cokin gradual ND too. They offer nice tools for photogs. A variable nd can be expensive. I bought a heliopan vario ND and it wasn't cheap!
 

lightmonkey

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get a polarizer and a mid grade nd.... my polarizer is a 1.7 stop at max angle, combined with a 2 stop ND gives some flexibility
 

barry13

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I'm probably going to get one of the cheap Vivitar filter sets on Amazon for my 12-40mm:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005M23XOG/

It has a UV, CPL, and an ND8; I already got one in a different size for my kit zoom.

I'm sure they're not as good as a Hoya or similar, but the price can't be beat and the quality seems good.

BTW, you should read this about possible filter problems on the 12-40mm:
https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=65635

Barry
 
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I wouldnt recommend variable....unless for video.

I carry a 3 stop and a 10 stop for hand held and long exposure purposes respectively. I havent had a need for anything else.

Just curious if you've found that you could get people to "disappear" using the 10 stop filter at landmarks that would have a crowd walking around. I saw a few pictures on the web today that talked about it.

Thanks,
Eli
 

tyrphoto

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I've always just gone with a 3-stop and 10-stop ND and it suits me. With those 2 ND filters and a circular polarizer, all my filter needs are met.
 

barry13

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Just curious if you've found that you could get people to "disappear" using the 10 stop filter at landmarks that would have a crowd walking around. I saw a few pictures on the web today that talked about it.

Maybe, but you'd need a tripod, and if you're using a tripod, another method is multiple exposures and blend the people out with image stacking.

Barry


Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
 

biomed

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I use 3, 6 and 10 stop Hoya PRO ND filters. Get size to fit your largest diameter lens and use step up rings to fit the filters to your smaller lenses. Get the best filter you can afford. Preferably multi-coated on both sides.I have friends that use inexpensive filters on their expensive lenses. I was once told by a pro photographer I work with that a $20 filter will turn a $600 lens into a $20 lens.
 

letsgofishing

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This will help.... you can calculate shorter exposure times your self....

exposure-times.jpg
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Thanks for all the advice everyone. For sure I'm going to get a polarizer and probably a 3 stop filter. I've used up basically all (and more) of my photography budget for a long while since I got the 12-40 a few weeks ago, so I don't know if I can swing a 10 stop filter too. Do you guys think that on this fast paced vacation that's mostly going to be tours that I would just be burdened with a 10 stop and a tripod and not get any real benefit? I'm trying to see if it's worth trying to justify getting a 10 stop too.
 

ttomino1980

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how you use 10 stop filter when doing long exposures? I tried to use once on pana 14mm during sunny day and get barely 1s,plan to go during golden hour.but what surprised me more is that AF is useless with attached filter and Manual focus not easy cause all is very noisy. so I think lee/Cokin system is better for landscape & longexposures. or maybe full manual lenses? share your hints pls;-)
 

tyrphoto

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- Prefarably shoot during golden hous.
- Use a tripod.
- Set ISO to base.
- For smooth waters your shutter speed should be around 1s all the way up to 20s depending on desired effect.
- Stop down on the aperture until you get your desired shutter speed or use shutter priority or full manual. Your aperture should be no wider than f8.
- If you still want a slower speed, add a circular polarizer which will give you another stop or two depending on the filter.
how you use 10 stop filter when doing long exposures? I tried to use once on pana 14mm during sunny day and get barely 1s,plan to go during golden hour.but what surprised me more is that AF is useless with attached filter and Manual focus not easy cause all is very noisy. so I think lee/Cokin system is better for landscape & longexposures. or maybe full manual lenses? share your hints pls;-)


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usayit

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When I plan out long exposures, its a longer than normal process and I take my time to think things through.

Focus is generally f8 or f/5.6; I'm generally thinking hyperfocal. I haven't had much trouble with using the camera's AF in daylight with the 10 stop filter (that I recall). You can always focus before the filter is attached. I don't tighten my filter on the lens, just enough to keep it from falling off.

In the past, I've used Cokin filters but the holder didn't inspire confidence that other light might leak into the exposure. They are also more difficult to store and larger filter sizes of present day lenses require you to use the larger Cokin filter plates which can be expensive. However, they are very useful with graduated ND filters.

I aim for shooting for exposures in the plus 1 second range but not necessarily as long as 20s as many sensors start to degrade once charged for that long. This highly depends on the scene to be shot. I generally meter for the subject and dial in +/- ev according to what I visualize. Its also not unusual for me to "paint" more light in with a few pops of a handheld flash or flashlight during the exposure.

I also use my heaviest and sturdiest tripod (Bogen 3021) equipped with a gimble head similar to what you sports/wildlife photographers use with their heavy telephotos. Yes.. this is a bit overkill but it works for me. Reason 1 is that it is bomb stable and won't be easily knocked over or shuffled to impact my composition and position while I experiment, test, and work. Two, the gimble head rotates the camera around center.. again makes it easy for composition. All 3 way pan and ball heads have their fulcrum below the camera. The gimble also is fluid with tension adjustment with big knobs (comfort with gloves too).. again for ease of composition.

EM5 + 14mm + 10 stop. Note that length exposure is important. Not necessarily just pick long long exposures. Notice the waves are rendered like brush strokes. Too long of an exposure, you would loose that.. the texture would be lost the ocean would look glass smooth. Of course, that's ok if that is your intent. To short of an exposure, the waves would look sharp.. or simply ever so slightly blurred that it would leave the viewer visually trying to focus them in. Note also the impact of length of exposure on the clouds.. they still maintain their definition.

7505395496_b5a42c56b4_b.jpg
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EM5 + 14mm + 10 stop. I was ill-prepared for this but it came out fine. Extremely high contrast so I chose to measure exposure on the trees above and push them way to the right in hopes to bring in details in the shadows. I allowed some of the highlights to blown out as a compromise. Unlike the previous, I targeted long exposures to make the river below look more like glass. I also didn't have flash or lights. So I borrowed my wife's P&S camera and used it as a handheld strobe. I added light from this P&S flash to the left near the rocks and some to underneath the bridge to the right during exposure. I was standing on another bridge and the camera was resting on a water bottle and bunched up jacket... the bridge was bouncing up and down as other visitors walked by. Took lots of patience.

8014218192_9dda0d86d0_b.jpg
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Its not unusual for me to shoot dozens and dozens of frames. Sometimes, I am not really sure what I will like so I will try different things; long and shortish exposures, lengths, compositions, etc. There are many subtle things that you may not realize at the moment of capture... sure makes for a difficult task to choose one to focus post processing on at times. You may end up with a handful "acceptable" frames that all are great. Both of the above have been processed in lightroom 3 + nik software.
 

ttomino1980

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@ usayit & tyrphoto

a lot of good hints and I will give them a try in my next long exposure session ;-)
 

MajorMagee

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I recently bought the Tiffen 3 fliter set. It includes a 2 stop (0.6), 3 stop (0.9) and 3.75 stop (1.2) with stack-able filter rings. Possible combinations are 2, 3, 3.75, 5, 5.75, 6.75, and 8.75 stops. I've not noticed much vignetting when the three are stacked together, but in very bright light there is a color shifted area in the center that white balances different than the rest of the image. With just one or two filters, or in less intense lighting conditions the center spot is not noticeable. They all have a hue shift toward the green, that a custom or auto white balance can easily correct.
 

letsgofishing

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Stacking multiple filters doesn't do much for image quality - if you can, rather buy the different ND's you need...
 

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