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The beauty and the beast of Neutral Density Filters .... help please

This is a discussion on The beauty and the beast of Neutral Density Filters .... help please within the Digital photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; I am in the market for new neutral density filters, and graduated neutral density filters. Listened to the podcast 77 ...

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    Default The beauty and the beast of Neutral Density Filters .... help please

    I am in the market for new neutral density filters, and graduated neutral density filters. Listened to the podcast 77 on this topic, but I am still no wiser. On the one hand I understand that Cokin system has advantages: select the line of the horizon with the graduated filter; on the other hand, it is such a cumbersome system. Lots of parts that can easily fall into the water should you be close to a waterfall (Greg lost some filters this way, I am still laughing about it ... ). So I want to know if this is really such a big deal ... or if it would not be simpler to have just one filter to screw in. This way you would always have the horizon line in the center of the image, but since you know that, you could then compose your image for later cropping. Any thoughts?

    Should I decide to go with the Cokin system for the grads, should I use the same system for the regular filters? I do not think Cokin makes anything stronger than an ND8 in the square one - at least I have not seen a stronger one. I am tending to get a B+W instead. Any thoughts?
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    Well I have two cokin systems for my film cameras, they are a smaller filter size. It just threads onto the thread ring, and was kind of inconvenient because the barrel of my lens rotated when I focused, and rotating the filter rack round in circles. This is not the case with most modern lenses though. My filters were all very secure in the cokin rack, and I had no worries or losing them. In the book I was reading the author also said that the square filters were really the only practical option for graduated ND filters. Eventually I am planning to get a coking rack for graduated ND filters. Right now I have the screw on type for my circular polarizer, and 3.0ND Filter. Hope that helps.

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    I haven't looked recently and don't currently have any filters, so cant comment on current products, but in the past I used a Cokin system for my old film camera. At the time my rationale for using the Cokin system was the differing sized thread rings on the differing lenses. It was cheaper to get different diameter Cokin adapters than to have multiple sets of filters for the differing diameter lenses. Just something worth considering.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Runmonty View Post
    ...but in the past I used a Cokin system for my old film camera. At the time my rationale for using the Cokin system was the differing sized thread rings on the differing lenses. It was cheaper to get different diameter Cokin adapters than to have multiple sets of filters for the differing diameter lenses.
    I already have a Cokin (third party though with ughhhh, dare I say it, plastic filters ) set up. Works fine, but I think it is a bit cumbersome with straight NDs. With the graduated it would make more sense. And yes, I have rings for my different sized lenses as well ... that is a good thing, no doubt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Realist View Post
    ... My filters were all very secure in the cokin rack, and I had no worries or losing them.
    I watched Greg drop them into the water while taking waterfall pictures ... he was swearing rather loudly at the time ....


    Thanks for your input, guys ....
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    If you use a screw-on GND your horizon will always have to be relatively close to the center of the photo. I do have a holder from Cokin and use a GND from Singh Ray but have just free-handed them in front of the lens a couple of times. Good quality variable NDs are rather $$$ for me so I'd need to be sure of using them regularly. So far I've been able to use camera settings and a polarizer to get what I want. I did borrow a variable once from a friend on a club outing to use with the obligatory misty ocean shot but I just can't appreciate that look I guess. Foggy water and milky falls just don't look real. I have been looking at some other long exposure practices so I may have to see if Santa can help me out with the variable. Just not sure I'd use it that often though.

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    Well I done it ... bought the Cokin set of grads, and the B+W 10 stop ND filter. From a company in the states, which I can highly recommend. They are very good when it comes to communication, and helpful in their customer service. Helps that their prices are reasonable as well .. so now i can plant my tripod somewhere and open wide ....
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    In the old days I used two polarising filters and turned one against the other to work as neutral density. Can't do that with the new sandwich type the outer filter needs to be plain polarising without the quarter wave filter sandwich.

    Not a clue why they call the sandwich type circular as they are clearly not circular except in shape. It would be rather pointless to turn a circular polarising filter.

    I got out my old cokin type filters and tried them with the D-SLR as an experiment. However found it far easier to do it all in Photoshop post exposure. My idea was to use graduated filter to increase the dynamic range by darking the sky. But using a polarising filter and/or bracket and if necessary combining later seemed to work better for me. Always seem short of time on location.

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    Woops - I missed this thread....and have strong advice on the issue.

    If you enjoy and are good at PP, there's no need for these filters in most cases imo - HDR will cover your butt and then some.

    If you hate PP and like to get as much done in-camera, then yup this is the way to go...... and I recommend the Cokin Z system from the get go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marko View Post
    Woops - I missed this thread....and have strong advice on the issue.

    If you enjoy and are good at PP, there's no need for these filters in most cases imo - HDR will cover your butt and then some.

    If you hate PP and like to get as much done in-camera, then yup this is the way to go...... and I recommend the Cokin Z system from the get go.
    Hey thanks Marko (and Merry Christmas to you) .... I have meanwhile bought a Cokin P series filter set - including 3 ND grads, and the B&W 10 stop grad. I want to experiment with stuff where lots of traffic would otherwise disallow for proper viewing ....
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    Merry christmas as well!
    Cool and good on you - you will love the set! and I hear exactly what you are saying on making people disappear w/the 10 stop.
    The reason I recommended the cokin Z btw is that at least for the lenses I own, the P series was not large enough to cover at least 2 lenses and vignetting was a constant problem and source of frustration.
    Hopefully this isn't an issue for you.
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