I’m steadily adding to my kit list and as anyone who’s into photography will know, that is hardly ever cheap! One thing I wanted to add pretty quickly was some gradual ND filters. I’ve got a cheap and cheerful set but they don’t come without problems, so I’m upgrading.
For anyone who doesn’t know, ND stands for Neutral Density. The ND filters photographers use allow them to control light better by darkening areas of the frame, as with gradual ND filters, or to darken the whole frame with full ND filters. So as an example, if you take a photo and the sky is blown out and much too light, but the fore and mid ground element is exposed correctly, you can put an ND filter over the front of the lens to darken the sky part of the photo.
In my case I wanted a specific type of gradual ND filter, a reverse gradual ND filter. This filter is half clear and half darkened. The darkest part is just off the centre with a gradual decrease in darkness to the top of the filter. I will be using this filter for when I’m shooting into the sun at sunset. It will allow me to darken the brightest part of the frame, where the sun is going down. You can watch this video where the author describes it better than me:
I’ve not got an endless pot of cash so finding ND filters that I could afford but still offer good results was difficult for me. I had decided on a 100mm system, where the filters are 100mm wide. This allows me to place them on all my lenses without vignetting when using them, maybe with the exception of the 10-20mm ultra wide lens at it’s widest. There are a couple of components in the filter system;
I’d been using circular filters before and have had some great results with them. Moving over to the 100mm system means spending some cash to replace the circular filters but in the long run I should be saving money. The circular filters are lens size specific, but you can step down lens sizes by using a step down ring. Even then though it’s not ideal. By making use of the 100mm system with adaptor rings, I can use the filters across all my lenses.
Once my wallet has recovered from the shock, I’ll be adding to the filter system with full ND filters and a couple more gradual ND filters. I’m heading out to Mam Tor in the Peak District as soon as I get the chance, where I’ll be putting the new filters through their paces!
What’s your take on ND filters? Do you use them or prefer processing in Lightroom? Have any recommendations of ND filters and accessories? Please do share in the comments below!
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