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ND Filters for my Canon Lenses

Roger Edgington , Mar 21, 2006; 06:27 p.m.

I have three Canon Lenses. 28-135 IS USM, 70-300 IS USM and the 18- 55 kit lens. I have polarizing filters and UV filters for all three. I have marveled at the waterfalls and sunsets taken with ND filters. I plan on buying three of these filters, one for each of the lenses probably. My question relates to the ND number of the lens. I know some people that primarily use an ND 8 and others use a 3 or 4. I realize there is no universality here. If you were going to buy a single ND filter for general use, what number would you consider?


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Jim Simon , Mar 21, 2006; 06:52 p.m.

Rather than buy the same filter in different sizes for all 3 lenses, consider buying a 1-,2-, and 3-stop ND filter for the lens with the largest diameter and step-up rings for the other two.


Bob Atkins , Mar 21, 2006; 06:59 p.m.

ND filters or ND graduated filters?

An ND filter isn't much use for a sunset.

Roger Edgington , Mar 21, 2006; 07:52 p.m.

I stand corrected. I missed the nomenclature obviously. I was referring to filters that will reduce the light, when one turns the filter. i.e. the filter will, in effect, restrict the light coming from the sunset or the glare from the waterfall, so I don't have an overexposure or washed out picture. I checked my B & H catalog and OC it is referred to as Color Graduated ND filter, or Graduated ND filter. I am not sure if those are available where one can use step up rings. I know that some of the better ones can cost as much or more than a lens. Thanks Bob for pointing out my error.

Lilly W , Mar 21, 2006; 08:20 p.m.

Not all grad ND's are created equal...some causing color-shift. I've been using some Singh-Ray's and like the results (2-stop soft and 3-stop hard). If I were to go w/ one filter, to answer your question; a 2-stop soft. The soft break is more forgiving but when hard-pressed can manage the duties of the other.

The Cokin-P system, like others, offers various sizes of adapter rings that screw onto the filter thread, onto which the filter holder is mounted. Simply make sure you have the proper adapter rings for your different lenses and you're set.

Roger Edgington , Mar 21, 2006; 09:11 p.m.

Lily, thank you for the response. I will pursue that method and try and learn more about the adapter etc. It seems that is the logical way to go. OC, now I have started reading more info about the Graduated ND filters.

Puppy Face , Mar 21, 2006; 09:51 p.m.

Rodger, I shoot rivers and waterfalls all the time with my 10D and slow zooms. I have never, not once needed a ND filter to render water blurred. Of course I only shoot on overcast days and normally use a polarizer and tripod. Stop down a bit and 2-4 second exposures are no problem at ISO 100. Longer exposures don't look like water (too fog- like)

Perhaps if you shoot in bright sunlight a ND would be helpful, but the extreme contrast would make for a terrible image.

Upper Multnomah Stream, Oregon, USA, Canon EOS 10D, EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM, Hoya polarizer, Gitzo G1028 Tripod

Geoff Francis , Mar 21, 2006; 09:53 p.m.

For waterfalls you need a ND filter. I think one with about 3-4 stops is about the most useful. You can use a polariser to increase exposure by 2 stops.

For sunsets you need a graduated ND. The Cokin system is a cheap way to start, and can produce ok but not really professional results.

BTW the 70-300 IS and 18-55 lens both take a 58 mm filter, so you can use the same filters for both.

Joshua Szulecki , Mar 21, 2006; 11:01 p.m.

You certainly do not NEED an ND filter to do waterfalls, but it certainly HELPS if you are trying to blur water in less than ideal conditions. I find that at ISO-100 and F22 there are few times when I actually need my 8X ND to blur water, although it certainly increases the effect.

From your description of what you shoot, I think an ND filter is what you need for falls, and you also need a grad ND for landscape/sunsets. I have never really encountered a scenario where I needed a grad ND for a waterfall, but I am sure one exists... Most sunsets require a grad ND (not ND) to compensate for the sky being somewhat to considerably brighter than the land. The two are generally mutually exclusive, in situations where one would be useful, the other one would probably not be terribly effective. I would buy one of both types at the size of your largest lens (as mentioned above) and get rings to adapt them to the other lenses, saving a wad of money in the process. Truth be told, however, the grad ND's are hard to use with the Rebel 300D/350Ds (assuming from the kit lens) because of the viewfinder, you can barely see the gradient, so it is difficult to line up with the horizon or some artificial line. I have a ton of trouble using mine, so most of the time, I don't. The 8x ND filter will render just about any waterfall not lit by thermonuclear flashbulb blurred as desired, but keeping the ISO low and the aperture stopped down for DOF control frequently negate the need for one during most conditions.

Joshua Szulecki , Mar 21, 2006; 11:03 p.m.

Should mention that a polarizer will frequently decrease the light level just enough to get you that blur as well if you are stopped down.

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