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Advices for a good GND Filter?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by 917K, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. 917K

    917K TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Aug 13, 2014
    Dear TalkEmount gurus :bowdown:,

    I need some advice for a good GND filter:
    I would like to use it especially for shooting on mountains, to minimize the effect of overexposed clouds in the sky, and consequently underexposed ground, so if I don't mistake from what I read the best choice will be a 0.9 soft GND, can you confirm?


    Reading some guides/reviews I've figured out that the Lee 100mm system can be a nice choice; so in this moment I'm considering to buy one of those; but...
    since i'm not a pro but rather a huge noob, as you can imagine, I don't want to spend a lot of money in something that in this moment I don't even know if I will able to use it correctly.

    (And also if I've to be honest I can understand the price for the filter itself, but not the price of the holder and the wide angle adapter ring!! ...after all is a piece of threaded aluminum...)

    Since I wasn't able to find used one at a good price, I looked for an economical alternative.
    Searching a bit I ran into Cokin and the Formatt Hitech systems, but the first one from what I read it does not seem to be good as the Lee, and the cost of the second ones is comparable with the Lee; so than I've found this Lee compatible holder that honestly it doesn't conviced me very much.. but for a beginner like me can be an acceptable choice.

    So what do think about the Lee 0,9GND+holder linked above?
    Any other advice?

    Thank you very much in advance to everyone :bowdown:
     
  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Cokin ND filters tend to have serious color cast issues and require a fair bit of post processing to correct. The Hitech have a slight color cast, but it is more grey than the purple of the Cokin. I cannot speak to the Lee filters as I've never used them, though they are well regarded.

    As far as holders go, the inexpensive Cokin holders work fine in my experience. If you are getting vignette because of the holder a dremel to remove the extra slots works wonders. Frankly I lost track of how many times I forgot the holder and had to hand-hold the filter in front of the lens and it worked fine. If your plan is to use these filters quite often I'd say spring for the more expensive holder. For very infrequent use a reversed lens hood and a couple of rubber bands works pretty well for no cost.

    As always, your mileage may vary... ;)
     
  3. 917K

    917K TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Aug 13, 2014
    Thank you very much for the detailed answer!
    I will take a look again to Cokin holders, and due to what I read and you've written about color casting with Cokin and Hitech filter I think that I will go for a Lee filter.

    Thank you very much again!
     
  4. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    I think that these days, especially with dynamic range on A6000 and A7x style cameras, the best graduated filter is the one in adobe lightroom.

    You can use zebras to get an idea of where you are clipping, and dial exposure comp back until you are just clipping a tiny bit in the sky. It's really pretty amazing how much you can boost up the underexposed areas in post.

    Obviously you have to shoot RAW for this to work
     
  5. 917K

    917K TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Aug 13, 2014
    I agree with you when you say that newer Sony sensor have so good dynamic range, such that in many cases is no longer needed to use ND or GND.

    But the fact is that Lighroom filters they are not the ultimate solution imho...

    Even if as I already said I'm a huge noob, here I've got an example shot, that in my opinion explains what I'm talking about: https://flic.kr/p/xsEzVL
    There i was shooting with some bright clouds in front and I needed to use longer shutter speed (or lower f stops) to don't underexpose the ground/lake.

    Digital filters can't do very much in this case as you can see...
     
  6. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Hm. Nice shot! But it's well within the dynamic range of the A7's sensor (if you shoot raw) I think. No need for a ND filter there, 917K.
     
  7. 917K

    917K TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Aug 13, 2014
    Thank you very much for the answer David,

    regarding HDR, since I don't like very much the effect (in most of the cases I obtain a non-natural effect, when I prefer a softer effect), or more likely I'm not able to use it correctly to get a decent result, I tend to don't use it at all when possible, or when is indispensable i tend to don't use it in camera but later during PP (with Capture One or DxO), however:
    Maybe I'm just trying to justify my GAS :biggrin: but reading some article, as I written before, I've understand that using a GND can help a lot when you've to shot a scene where is present an horizontal transition between a bright element and a second one in penumbral.
    So since I ran into this case several time and the results, like the shot previously linked, were shameful, I'm wondering if buying a GND can be a good idea...

    Thank you very much again:bowdown:
     
  8. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I'm not a big fan of the "HDR Look" myself, except sometimes in situations where that over processed look is the shooter's intention from the start, and the subject fits. But for the photo you linked to above, a little shadow boost and highlight reduction would make the photo more pleasing without making it look all "HDR."

    And while it's true that a photo with a nice horizontal transition could lend itself to using a GND filter, what do you then do with that rising ridge line on the left side of your image?

    I would never counsel anyone against satisfying their GAS ;) but with the latitude built in to Sony's modern sensors (at least when you shoot raw), GND filters seem to me to be kind of anachronistic and an unnecessary hassle in all but the most unusual circumstances.
     
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  9. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    This discussion got me to rummage through my Lightroom library to find a photo with a dynamic range that would, in a jpeg, max out the A7's dynamic range. This photo, taken last March of a snow-dusted Pilot Rock, seemed to fit the bill:

    Pilot Rock.

    On the left is what I would have ended up with had I been satisfied to shoot a straight-out-of-the-camera jpeg. As you can see, it has overblown highlights and clogged shadows. Using a GND filter here would have been very difficult because of the prominent rock in the center of the frame.

    But because I shot the image raw, I was able to lower the highlights and raise the shadows without (I think) giving it an unnatural HDR look or any posterization. And it took far less time to do those minor tweaks than it would have to mount and adjust a GND filter in the field.
     
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  10. 917K

    917K TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Aug 13, 2014
    I must admit that you've obtained a pretty good result with the posted image; so it will be definitely better if I try again to give a look to LR filters...
    Thank you very much again David!
     
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  11. Dennis Koh

    Dennis Koh TalkEmount Rookie

    19
    Aug 9, 2015
    I would think in this case, it's better to consider whether to shoot in raw and finding out more about the goodness of LR is better. It really makes a whole lot of difference to the image you can create.
     
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  12. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    Actually I think that situation with the lake is the perfect example for what I am talking about. As long as you don't blow the highlights out too badly, are shooting at ISO 100 (dynamic range is highest at base ISO) and shooting RAW. Grad filter in post and you'll end up with a better shot than you could get with anything but the most expensive IRL grad filters
     
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  13. 917K

    917K TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Aug 13, 2014
    Thank you all again.
    I will give a look to LR filters again as soon as I've some free time, hoping that this time I will be able to use it better than the previous time...