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Variable ND filter, crucial purchase?


boxtree

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Hi, I live in the UK where we don't see much sun :) so my questions is do I still need one if not shooting in bright sun light all the the time. Also my brightest lens currently is the Panasonic 12-35 2.8 so again would I need one with shutter at 1/50.

 

Lastly is their ever a need to use a variable ND indoors or is it strictly for bight sunlight?

 

All words of wisdom greatly appreciated.

 

G. 

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I use a Hama variable ND which you can pick up for about £25. They are indespensible because otherwise you'll have to be shooting at f16+ outdoors. In fact sometimes I also place an ND4 filter behind the variable ND.

On the other hand, some vintage lenses give quite a nice look despite using narrow apertures.

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Tiffen NDs are the best at a good price , they are superb I use them all the time .(They where used on Need for Speed and Act of Valor movies by Shane Hurlbut)

 

get ND 2, 4, 8 and 16 and stack them to get the exposure you need

I never shoot outside without NDs , and I often shoot outside in bright daylight at f1.7 using Tiffen NDs

 

I NEVER use a vari ND as they give odd results including artifacts , rainbow fringing , wierd flares etc and I just do not like what they do to your images.

a vari ND is basically 2 polarizers stacked and rotated together (you can make one easily cheaply yourself this way if you so wish!)

 

stick to normal NDs and you cant go wrong.

 

Yes I do use NDs inside on set if Im shooting wide open and need to knock down the exposure to keep a narrow DOF.

 

Tiffen NDs for digital cameras

http://www.tiffen.com/press_release_hv_filter_kits.html

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i have the tiffen VND, cant go anywhere without it since its always sunny here, 

the uk has a permanent natural ND if you look up as i recall from my student years, with the exception of the south, 

 

 

if i was in the UK I would try the Digital Filter from Heliopan instead of the ND

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/156804-REG/Heliopan_707786_77mm_Digital_Glass_Filter.html  

 

for the overcast days and a cheaper ND for the sunny days...

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Hi, I live in the UK where we don't see much sun :) so my questions is do I still need one if not shooting in bright sun light all the the time. Also my brightest lens currently is the Panasonic 12-35 2.8 so again would I need one with shutter at 1/50.

 

Lastly is their ever a need to use a variable ND indoors or is it strictly for bight sunlight?

 

All words of wisdom greatly appreciated.

 

G. 

 

Everyone is going the wrong way about telling you what to do.  The best solution is figure it out yourself.  I shoot film sometimes for photography.  To this day film photographers even the ones that use $5,000 cameras use hand held light meters.  Frankly every once in awhile I walk around with one in my pocket.  Why?  Because I am not that good of a photographer so I don't have an automatic feel for light levels.  So I walk around with a light meter and get an idea what apeture I will be shooting at with different ISO film and different filters.  Unlike digital cameras filters can do a lot for B&W film photography.  So with different ISO films, different lighting conditions, and multiple different filters you have to understand the relationship between apeture, ISO, shutter speed and lighting conditions.

 

One thing no one has mentioned is most lenses are only optimal under a narrow set of apetures.  I use f/16 and very rarely f/22 sometimes on an aps-c sensors but that is only for specialized situations.  And the size of the photosites on a camera matter as well.  The smaller the photosites the sooner the image becomes diffraction limited as you stop down.  So if you take a small m43 sensor with a bunch of photosites and compare it to a 5D MK III with bigger photosites it will get diffraction limited sooner.  So technically on an overcast day you may be able to come up with some apeture, ISO, shutter speed combination that works for getting exposure but you will probably get a soft image on a lot of days.

 

So even in the UK with overcast skies you can end up with...

 

-Suboptimal technical use of apetures due to using f/16 and f/22

-Creative constraints disallowing shallow depth of field

 

 

Please review Fred Parker's Ultimate Exposure Computer.  You can pick your lighting conditions, your ISO, and your shutter speed and it will tell you what your apeture will be.  Based on a heavy over cast sky (12), ISO 100, and a shutter speed slower than 1/60 I determined that your apeture would have to be beyond f/8.  So on a high megapixel m43 camera you are already into diffraction territory.  And that is with a HEAVY overcast sky.  If you have a bright overcast sky you are beyond f/11.  So image softness and gigantic depth of field.  You will have to wait for sunrise or sunset to use your lens/camera combination at it's optimal settings if no ND filter is put in place.

 

And againg if you look at the exposure computer you will see that for indoor use you don't need an ND filter.  Most of the time you have the opposite problem indoors.  You are using f/1.4 lenses and battling with depth of field just wishing you could stop down a bit but you're afraid of bumping up the ISO.

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I NEVER use a vari ND as they give odd results including artifacts , rainbow fringing , wierd flares etc and I just do not like what they do to your images.

a vari ND is basically 2 polarizers stacked and rotated together (you can make one easily cheaply yourself this way if you so wish!)

 

 

+1

 

I had a Lightcraft Fader ND MK II which has gotten positive reviews. I still prefer standard ND's a lot more than that one. 

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Everyone is going the wrong way about telling you what to do. The best solution is figure it out yourself. I shoot film sometimes for photography. To this day film photographers even the ones that use $5,000 cameras use hand held light meters. Frankly every once in awhile I walk around with one in my pocket. Why? Because I am not that good of a photographer so I don't have an automatic feel for light levels. So I walk around with a light meter and get an idea what apeture I will be shooting at with different ISO film and different filters. Unlike digital cameras filters can do a lot for B&W film photography. So with different ISO films, different lighting conditions, and multiple different filters you have to understand the relationship between apeture, ISO, shutter speed and lighting conditions.

One thing no one has mentioned is most lenses are only optimal under a narrow set of apetures. I use f/16 and very rarely f/22 sometimes on an aps-c sensors but that is only for specialized situations. And the size of the photosites on a camera matter as well. The smaller the photosites the sooner the image becomes diffraction limited as you stop down. So if you take a small m43 sensor with a bunch of photosites and compare it to a 5D MK III with bigger photosites it will get diffraction limited sooner. So technically on an overcast day you may be able to come up with some apeture, ISO, shutter speed combination that works for getting exposure but you will probably get a soft image on a lot of days.

So even in the UK with overcast skies you can end up with...

-Suboptimal technical use of apetures due to using f/16 and f/22
-Creative constraints disallowing shallow depth of field


Please review Fred Parker's Ultimate Exposure Computer. You can pick your lighting conditions, your ISO, and your shutter speed and it will tell you what your apeture will be. Based on a heavy over cast sky (12), ISO 100, and a shutter speed slower than 1/60 I determined that your apeture would have to be beyond f/8. So on a high megapixel m43 camera you are already into diffraction territory. And that is with a HEAVY overcast sky. If you have a bright overcast sky you are beyond f/11. So image softness and gigantic depth of field. You will have to wait for sunrise or sunset to use your lens/camera combination at it's optimal settings if no ND filter is put in place.

And againg if you look at the exposure computer you will see that for indoor use you don't need an ND filter. Most of the time you have the opposite problem indoors. You are using f/1.4 lenses and battling with depth of field just wishing you could stop down a bit but you're afraid of bumping up the ISO.

Everyone else in this thread may be wrong, but I find this answer just a wee bit confusing :| Can't we just say that to avoid diffraction issues, avoid the smallest lens apertures or wait for the light to change?
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Everyone else in this thread may be wrong, but I find this answer just a wee bit confusing :| Can't we just say that to avoid diffraction issues, avoid the smallest lens apertures or wait for the light to change?

 

Everyone in this thread is most certianly not wrong.  I 100% agree with the conclusions reached by most people posting.  I just wanted to give anyone stumbling on this thread a reason for why these things are an issue and the tools to figure your their needs on their own instead of turning this into a faith based initiative.  What I wrote was verbose and lacked a degree of clarity.  That is a valid complaint.

 

I have found the Exposure Computer invaluvable because it doesn't involve any gear and it doesn't involved traveling anywhere.  You can sit at your desk and figure out exactly what you need.  No one has to tell you.  If you know the basics of photography or videography a lot of questions are answered before you even ask them.

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Vari NDs are all-right a lot of the time if you want speed, though they can create funny artefacts.

 

I have cheap Polaroid ones, and I don't mind em. Colour temperatures goes cool one way and warm the other though, but it's a quick way to expose in bright light, just sticking setting the same and twisting the ND!

 

Fixed-value NDs are better for quality though, if you're not shooting run-and-gun.

 

The shot at 3:09 here is me twisting a vari ND up and down on 550D, so it can be used for special effects:

 

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Based on the opinions of a lot of people over at bmcuser, the Tiffen VariND can be a poor chice for some cameras and generally a bit muddy. The BMCs have a lot of problems with IR. Heliopan are held in high regard. I currently use Formatt Hitec multistop on my GH2 with good results. Not tested enough on the BMCC yet.

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