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Old 02-02-2007, 20:23   #1 (permalink)
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Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

Have been thinking about using a variable Neutral Density Filter for shooting towards sun lit objects towards the sun. Will this help? I just finished using my first polerizer filter and like it. I just don't understand what this filter really is good for.
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Old 02-02-2007, 21:23   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

ND's reduce the light entering the lens without causing a colour cast. Then you can use wider apatures or slower shutter speeds that you would otherwise have to set. For instance, if you wanted to reduce the depth of field in very bright lighting, or introduce some blur on an action shot.

Most common are 2x and 4x.
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Old 02-02-2007, 21:49   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

ND's are great for getting a smooth milky effect in moving water, it allows you to set a longer shutter speed without over-exposing
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Old 02-02-2007, 22:02   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

As Dabhand and Stupot say Neutral density filters just cut down the amount of light going in. A polariser can double for this and often adds other benefits.
However looking at your post where you talk about "variable neutral density" I think you are referring to what is usually referred to as a grad ND. They are used to achieve what you describe and are especially useful for digital cameras. These come in various strengths just like vanilla ND (often in sets) and 2 flavours (hard and soft) which refer to how gradually they change from dark to clear. If you only get one type get the soft as hard is only really good for a featureless horizon like water or desert.

Last edited by VinnyP; 02-02-2007 at 22:18.
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Old 02-02-2007, 22:16   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

Graduated ND filters (the ones that are clear on one end) solve an exposure problem.
The problem is the sky. It's usually quite bright. If you expose for a normal subject, especially a landscape, that can result in a washed out sky with washed out clouds as you just don't have enough dynamic range in the sensor/film to cope.
The idea of the filter is to reduce the brightness of just the sky by a stop or two or three, to leave it a little brighter than the rest of the scene (which it should be) but not so close to overexposure that it starts to lose definition and looks washed out. You position the start of the dark area of the filter on the horizon, which can be tricky.

They are usually used in landscapes, but I saw a picture of a street once, where one side of the street was in shadow, and the other side in sunlight. A carefull diagonal positioning of the filter allowed both sides of the street to have a dynamic range that the camera could actually capture.
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Old 02-02-2007, 22:57   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

Excellent points made here. Remember that there is a technique to use with graduated filters.

Set the shot up without the filter and meter for the scene. Fix your graduated filter to the camera and ensure the settings the you got from the meter before attaching the grad are still selected. iI you leave the camera to it's own devices, you will find that it will want to increase the exposure with the fliter on, which will defeat the effect of the filter!

Usually, the grad is used to hold back the sky, being the lightest part of the shot, so the balance of the whole scene is improved.
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Old 02-02-2007, 23:08   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

good advice there Graham just bought a set of ND grads today so will hopefully being playing with them soon
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Old 02-02-2007, 23:12   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

Just to add my tuppence worth when trying to position the dark part of the filter over the sky a little tip is to use the Depth of Field preview button (if your camera has one) whilst doing this. Makes it easier
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Old 02-02-2007, 23:29   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Excellent points made here. Remember that there is a technique to use with graduated filters.
Certainly is and I am still trying to master it and often get it wrong
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Old 03-02-2007, 02:10   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Neutral Density Filter, good for what?

This makes it easyer to spend for this filter, Google wasn't helping. Thank You, I might get an edge on the wife now. She is very good with a camera.

Last edited by Boofers; 03-02-2007 at 18:51.
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