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Thread: Do GND filters take a lot of getting used to?

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    Ausphotography Addict Lplates's Avatar
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    Do GND filters take a lot of getting used to?

    I'm off to New Zealand in early January so have asked my son to buy me a set of Cokin GND filters and holder etc for my birthday in December. I came back from a trip to China this year with so many blown out skies which was really disappointing and unfortunately when travelling you can't always shoot at the best time of day. Are these filters really hard to get used to and if so anyone have any useful tips as I'll only have a couple of weeks to practice with them before we go.

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    I cannot say I'd describe GND filters as difficult to use, nor requiring an adjustment period.

    You can see the effect of the filter through the viewfinder, and if you've brought the darker portion down too far, you can easily adjust it to your liking.

    What you may find is that, depending on the direction you're pointing and the difference between the sky and land at the time of day you're shooting, the sky may still be too bright, in which case you may need to stack another GND to reduce the dynamic range.

    Shooting into a cloudless eastern sky at first light is a classic case where the dynamic range variation between land and sky will be way too bright for even a three-stop filter to handle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Shooting into a cloudless eastern sky at first light is a classic case where the dynamic range variation between land and sky will be way too bright for even a three-stop filter to handle.
    Quite right. I find that Brisbane skies need about 5-stops under such circumstances.

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    Yep , Standard 5 stops up here for sure , Thats one 2 stop soft and one 3 stop medium stacked in the holder , Standard setup for me
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    I find I sometimes need to stack a GND4 and a GND8 and it's still not enough.

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    I have stacked 3 and 2-stop GNDs on some occassions but I prefer to limit it to 3-stops where possible and use exposure braketing and blending layers or exposure fusion in HDR when more is needed. I wouldn't say they are hard to get use to and in many situations either a single 2-stop or 3-stop filter works just fine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    I find I sometimes need to stack a GND4 and a GND8 and it's still not enough.
    well those 2 filters = 5 stops...but you're right - the sky gets very bright, very fast (before sunrise).

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    Thanks for the replies. Sounds like a couple of weeks experimenting in our hot Queensland sun should give me an idea of what they do. The kit comes with 3 different filters which should be enough for NZ but maybe not for up this way.

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    Lplates,
    The kit will be fine in NZ. I was over there in September & had my GND8 on the camera most days. It was sometimes even a bit dark (but it was overcast & rainy a lot. I expect January will be much brighter...but perhaps not as bright as Gladstone ).
    Main thing to remember is that anything that breaks your horizon will be dark too, especially if using 3 stops or more - eg building, trees etc. Either take a second shot exposing for the object & blend it in, or just spend a bit more pp time getting it lighter
    I think you'll love them. I never take my camera anywhere without them.
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    Going Cold Blooded outstar79's Avatar
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    After seeing a lot of posts using GND filters I couldn't resist either, just ordered a ND400 this morning and can't wait to try it out. Look forward to seeing your pics from NZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by outstar79 View Post
    After seeing a lot of posts using GND filters I couldn't resist either, just ordered a ND400 this morning and can't wait to try it out. Look forward to seeing your pics from NZ
    Note that an ND400 isn't a GND. An ND400 is extremely dark across the entire filter, whereas a GND transitions from unfiltered to a given shade of darkness, expressed in a light reduction of one or more stops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Note that an ND400 isn't a GND. An ND400 is extremely dark across the entire filter, whereas a GND transitions from unfiltered to a given shade of darkness, expressed in a light reduction of one or more stops.
    Thanks Xenedis, there's a lot to learn in photography

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    This is something I found very useful as a beginner using GND filters is by using the DOF button on the camera the effect of the filter can be easily seen. The dof button is used to stop down the lens to what ever aperture you have set in the camera. This can also be done I live view depending on what camera you are using.
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    @ Adam, John is right , Don't get the screw on type , You need the ones that fit into a holder , Have a look here http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.co...egory644_1.htm

    PS : You need an adapter ring for the lens or Lenses you will be using, You need a holder and the filters themselves , I use Cokin P Series , P121S ND8 and a P121M ND4 , Cancel your order and get this set up - Bill
    Last edited by William; 22-11-2011 at 12:57pm.

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    Going Cold Blooded outstar79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    @ Adam, John is right , Don't get the screw on type , You need the ones that fit into a holder , Have a look here http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.co...egory644_1.htm

    PS : You need an adapter ring for the lens or Lenses you will be using, You need a holder and the filters themselves , I use Cokin P Series , P121S ND8 and a P121M ND4 , Cancel your order and get this set up - Bill
    Cheers Bill, I'll still get the ND400 but the set up you suggested is a good one - might get that as well

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwarak View Post
    This is something I found very useful as a beginner using GND filters is by using the DOF button on the camera the effect of the filter can be easily seen. The dof button is used to stop down the lens to what ever aperture you have set in the camera. This can also be done I live view depending on what camera you are using.
    You don't need to use the DOF preview button to see the effect of a GND filter.

    You can see the effect of the filter through your own eyes, and you can see the effect of it in front of the lens when looking through the viewfinder.

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    I would like to reinforce the comments of others, a circular filter GND is totally useless. If on a budget or not shooting ultra-wide, go for the Cokin P-series.

    If shooting ultra-wide or intending to do so into the future, go for the 4" filters like Cokin Z-Pro, Lee or HiTech.

    Note that if you are unsure what you really need, you can get Chinese knock-offs of the Cokin P-series for next to nothing from eBay. Provided you don't want to stack these beyond around 4 to 5 stops, these do a reasonable job and you can have a holder, adapter and set of GND and ND filters for around $30 including postage.

    The filters of any brand don't have an infinite life so starting cheap is a pretty good option.

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    Hi Peter, I use my 10-20 with the P Series , Just means in Landscape I shoot at 11mm , For some reason in Portrait I can still shoot at 10mm , Just dont have any other filters attached

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    I'll be using them mainly for landscapes but my widest lens is 17mm so should be fine.

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