Screw on filters vs square?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Ted, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. Ted

    Ted Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    Tasmania, Australia
    Real Name:
    Theo B
    Hey guys
    Right now I've only got a 58mm 3-stop Hoya filter from my old Canon, which I have ordered a step-up ring for thanks to a recommendation on this site (I was going to give it away!). I would like to get a 10-stop filter also and maybe even a graduated ND filter. My question is, should I get these in the size of my current lens then use more step-up rings for any new lenses I get (the ones I have my eye on are all smaller) or get those gel ones that slip in? The pro landscape guys around here all seem to use those as they say it makes composition easier (due to being able to see). Are they even a thing outside of DSLR land? Also, the guy at the local camera shop told me not to bother getting ND filters in various sizes and get one of the variable ones instead- are they just as good? Or, more importantly, will I (as a beginner hobbyist) notice a difference? Thanks!
  2. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Real Name:
    Hi Ted,

    Lets see if I can make sense.....

    Both types have their fans but they also have uses and ultimately both may end up in your bag. I've ended up with both.

    Cokin/Lee filter kits are the go for any graduated filter setup and once you have the kit then ND filters are logical to have, the slip in ones also allow quick and simple changes and stacking.

    Screw in are good for polarizers/star/uv and Variable ND or 10 stop.

    Size wise.... now that is a hard one. When I bought into m43 I decided that 58 would be fine and I would just adapt all the 37 and 52 lens to the 58mm filters... then i bought a lens with 72mm, then a second and the 40-150 will make 3 so i have rebuilt my filter collection in 72 and i'm keeping the 58's as the 72's look dumb/stupid on say the O45 :smile:

    I like my VarND but i also have standard screw and slot ND filters as well
  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Be prepared to pay quite a bit for a good variable ND. The not so good ones have horrible colour cast and being stacked polarisers, they will also tend to have characteristic X-bands when fully closed.

    I think it all depends what you're using the NDs for:
    • I have a 46mm ND4 for my 45mm f/1.8 and 25mm f/1.4 so I can use them at large apertures in daylight, non-landscape settings, running around. I just leave the ND on until the light diminishes - in such situations a filter holder system would be too cumbersome for my taste. Same goes for polarisers that I typically leave on - I even shelled out for the cost of multiple polarisers so I wouldn't have to swap them when shooting.
    • For long exposures though? A drop in rectangular filter is a bit nicer to use, especially for grads. I have an old Cokin P set that works well enough, though I've been too lazy to carry it these days.
    • One thing to note, because of the typically smaller front elements of m4/3 lenses, a 'normal' grad for something like a Cokin P will be too gradual, and you might actually want a harder edged one. Personally I don't bother with grads any more since the E-M5 has such good dynamic range - I just shoot RAW, make sure I don't blow highlights and put in a grad effect in post...
  4. Ted

    Ted Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    Tasmania, Australia
    Real Name:
    Theo B
    Cool, thanks for that. How do the Hoya ones compare?

    If I could go from 1.5 to 9 stops in one filter I think I would be pretty happy with that. It does say that it will add a cross like pattern to your image at or close to MIN, but I have my three stop filter anyway which should cover me down there. If they're just as good/close to it at the other end that's a very economical way of doing things..
  5. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    One thing to keep in mind with the variable filters is they work well for telephoto however if you use them with a wide angle lens you will get weird colour shifts from one side of the frame to the other as the angle changes enough (WIDE angle!) for it to become pretty noticeable. Variable is fantastic for video though as your shutter speed is generally locked, if you want a certain aperture it lets you dial it in exactly.
  6. Ted

    Ted Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    Tasmania, Australia
    Real Name:
    Theo B
    Thanks, I had no idea! I keep saying it but this forum is such a great learning resource. I take it 12mm is wide angle?
  7. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    yup, you'd want a square for that. And if you're going to use a square might as well stick with square ND's. No need for both, unless you have specific video needs. The Vari ND's are just 2 polarizers put together, hence the lack of consistency across the frame. Compared to a single square filter. The squares generally have less degradation to image quality, although be wary certain cheaper brands can have color shifts, this applies to all filters really... read the reviews. With these small lenses I'd stick with the squares as you can reap the benefits of being able to buy smaller filters.
  8. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Yeah, 12 is wide.

    The cross thing and the colour shift with wide angles are related, what happens is a wide angle shows the cross (sort of related to an extinction cross if you want to look it up) much sooner than a telephoto as the difference in polarization is much greater. So while a telephoto might only show it at the highest setting, a wide angle will start to show it (as colour shifts) 20-30% sooner.

    I'm not saying it's a bad thing... it can look amazing in the right image, it's just you have to keep it in mind when using any polarizer. Using two stacked together (variable ND) just throws even more randomness into the mix.
  9. mcrosa

    mcrosa Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 26, 2013
    Miami, Florida
    Real Name:
    Mike Crosa
    I use the Cokin A filters and have been pretty happy with them. I got a few on E-Bay for a pretty good price but bought the nd filters new at B&H and Adorama.
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Like AussiePhil, I have both. Truth be told I am not much of a filter user, but I want to have the capability.

    In "round" I have a polarizer andI have one medium-density ND.

    In "square" I have the Cokin "P" system. My reason for buying into this system is that it is cheap, it fits all my lenses, and cheap filters are ubiquitous on eBay. My plan was to try out the various options using the cheap plastic eBay filters, then move up to high quality filters (Lee, etc.) if I found some that I used a lot. So far, my useage has been minimal though.

    Re adapting lenses to a single thread I am a believer. I have 9-18, 12, 20, 45, 14-140 and 100-300 -- all bushed to 52mm. My main reason for doing that was so that when I am traveling and changing lenses, the cap from the lens going onto the camera can always go onto the lens coming off. Also, I have to carry only one or two spare caps. Note that the 100-300mm has a native 67mm thread, but bushing it down to 52mm adds no vignetting even wide open at 100mm -- carefully measured by checking pixel values. The reason, of course is that the 100mm focal length is quite a narrow field of view and the lens front includes a fairly wide ring listing lens specs, etc. The bushing blocks most of this ring but does not impinge on the field of view. The 14-140mm was a little tougher nut because of its wide field of view. I ended up having to make its bushing thinner in order to eliminate vignetting. Fortunately I have a lathe so cutting it down by 0.080" was a 10 minute job. I won't be able to put round filters on this lens without risking vignetting but the bushing still serves my purpose of standardizing lens caps. So, end of long story, you might want to consider standardizing on the 58mm you have started with and don't forget to consider that it may be possible to bush a larger lens thread down to 58mm without penalty.
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