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Sony NEX-EA50 (all variants)
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Old May 4th, 2015, 05:42 AM   #1
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Are ND's really needed???

Has anyone compared footage shot in bright sunshine without any ND filters using a slightly higher shutter and closing down the lens (let's say F16 at 1/200th) and then using an ND or two and using something like F3.5 and 1/60th??

I have done somewhat exhaustive tests in bright sunshine and I seriously cannot see any image quality difference between the two. I would have expected a little bit of image degradation at really small apertures but I cannot see any ... they are probably there once one goes past F16 but my eyes cannot see any vast different ..each test seemed to have the same sharpness. Ok I couldn't tell what the actual aperture was but I did stop down quite a lot and it didn't seem to change the image so I just didn't bother with ND's after that.

It would be interesting if someone else has done this and can say 100% that at F22 the image really falls to pieces ...(which technically it should)

Chris
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Old May 4th, 2015, 06:33 AM   #2
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

For me ND with out getting too technical is so I can use lower apertures for more depth of field (bokeh) in my shots.

One thing I love about my FS700. Flick on the ND's and I can stay at F2.8 or F1.8 if im using a prime.
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Old May 4th, 2015, 10:21 AM   #3
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

Hey Chris,

I have privately considered this for a long time, The "certainties" are that you should stick to 1/50th. sec. shutter. Diffraction starts, depending on the sensor size of course, in my case Canon APS-C, at f11, it also depends on the lowest ISO that can be set, Canon setting 160, Magic Lantern can get it down to 50, So, anything brighter than those settings can accommodate is theoretically impossible. Right?

The photographer in me (you too, methinks) says "cr*p"! How often will a shutter speed faster than 1/50th affect the image enough to make it obvious? Yes, there are times when it does, but most times it does not.

How often will an external ND filter affect the white balance? Pretty much all the time in my experience.

If you are not in a studio or on a powerfully lit film set, you have no choice but to use the exposure settings on the camera to get it right.

I'm putting my parachute on in case I get shot down in flames, but I say ND filters should be a total no-no except in extenuating circumstances. For two reasons. First, I'd rather not have a white balance shift if I attach (or more likely remove) a ND filter. Second, most of the time with a larger sensor the fight is to get enough DoF, so the aperture needs to be as small as possible, before diffraction starts of course!

Dave
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Old May 4th, 2015, 11:52 AM   #4
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

That's a good question I have wondered myself. When I first got the EA50 I was expecting the lack of ND to be a big problem. As I started using it, it ended up being much less significant than I thought. Shooting weddings and slow moving events it seems to do fine letting the iris close down and shutter increase. I haven't shot anything with a lot of action or pans though without ND on a bright day.
I did experiment one day with ND trying to keep the iris as open as I could for shallow DOF and it was a cloudy day and when the clouds moved and covered the sun I saw the camera gaining up so I had to take the ND off. But when it was bright enough my ND did help me keep the shallow look I was trying to get with the shutter low
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Old May 4th, 2015, 03:23 PM   #5
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

uh short answer yes long answer hell yes! Well I guess if your not running and gunning with a EA-50 but if your doing weddings going inside to out and back and fourth the EA 50 is really a PITA having to change shutters on the fly.
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Old May 4th, 2015, 06:17 PM   #6
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

It's not the first time you have asked this question :)

Is using no ND a crime? well, yes and no, my sony handicams don't have a ND and I never use one on those, the camera uses the shutter to compensate for too much light and on a bright sunny day that shutter is skyrocketing, do I see that in my image? Sometimes yes, especially when something is moving there is not a natural motion blur. Why don't I use a ND then? These camera's are real run and gun camera's, often used as unattended camera's where I don't have time to fiddle with settings or I also use them as manned camera's for shooting non repeatable events in rapidly changing light conditions, the image they output, even with very high shutterspeeds are good enough for my purpose.

When would I most certainly use a ND filter? When I want to keep my f-stop wide open on a fast prime in bright sunlight, here even the highest shutter won't do and in such a case I prefer to have the shutter at 1/50 or 1/100 depending on my framerate, then I set my iso and f-stop and use a variable ND to set the exposure.

I also would use the ND to avoid diffraction by having to resort to high f-stops, you could experiemnt with your camera to see when the image starts to deteriorate but I prefer to keep it around f5.6 for best results.
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Old May 4th, 2015, 07:53 PM   #7
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

I saw a documentary at a theater that had a lot of moving shots outdoors without an ND and it gave me a splitting headache.

Neutral Density is used in order to keep your shutter speed locked to twice your frame rate and to keep your shutter speed down and your lens at a proper f-stop for its optimum performance. Diffraction can kill the sharpness of your lens once you step down too far (roughly over f/22 for Full Frame, over f/16 for Super 35/APS-C, over f/12 for m4/3, etc) and we're not talking a little bit of shutter over 1/48 here. Here in Texas, it wouldn't be uncommon to be 1/500 or higher.

Higher shutter speed makes any and all motion look "strobey" akin to the way the opening scenes were shot in Saving Private Ryan. Like I said, watching an entire feature do it that way gave me a splitting headache in the theater, and, frankly, is one of the aspects of what makes for what is termed the "video look" as well as looking amateurish to me.
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Old May 4th, 2015, 09:01 PM   #8
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

Thanks Guys

Yes, I have asked before but I popped this thread up for Steve Bobilin really. He is using ND's on his camera and is getting vignetting due to the ND's protruding too far forward so I figured a thread like this might be able to assist him in running without ND's and not getting the nasty vignetting

Chris
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Old May 4th, 2015, 09:12 PM   #9
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

If he's getting vignetting then what brand of ND is he using?
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Old May 5th, 2015, 07:25 AM   #10
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
He is using ND's on his camera and is getting vignetting due to the ND's protruding too far forward
He needs to look at low profile filters. I had low profile UV filters on my PDW-F350.

Other than that, pretty much what Gary says. High shutter speeds give a strobe like look to motion. Great if you are doing frame by frame analysis of say, a golf swing, but not so great for fluidity from frame to frame. So yes, if you want to have more control over your shots, ND's are sometimes necessary. It's easier of course, if your camera has a built in filter wheel so that it only takes a moment to dial in the ND that you need.

-gb-
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Old May 5th, 2015, 09:45 AM   #11
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

I guess it was because I stacked the ND filters—they are inexpensive Tiffen I believe. I will have to test this out. I really did want to use the ND's in order to get that depth of field I like. I will try to see if I have that problem with just one filter.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 09:47 AM   #12
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

Yeah, if you're stacking filters you are more likely to vignette, especially at wider focal lengths. I try to avoid stacking and instead figure out the strength I need in a single filter.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 08:16 PM   #13
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

Hi Steve

You might also look at using a variable ND filter?? Then you have a range to play with. My issue is that I have two EA-50's plus a range of lenses which is a PITA for ND's .. At weddings I'm using at least 3 different lenses which means 3 sets of ND's

I could be wrong but I'm sure I saw a lens adapter for our cameras that had a variable ND built into the adapter ... would that work??? Dunno where I saw it but it would certainly solve the issue of using different lenses with different filter sizes and would definitely solve the vignetting problem!!!

Chris
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Old May 6th, 2015, 03:36 AM   #14
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

Something like this?

FotodioX Vizelex ND Throttle Adapter VZLX-THRTL-EOS-NEX-PRO B&H

I broke my Genus Variable ND filter last year and simply have not replaced it. I just ramp up the the shutter speed if I'm outside and still want a shallow DOF - the act of constantly putting it on and taking it off during a busy wedding was a PITA and one more headache - even with the Xume magnetic filter adapters.

Pete
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Old May 6th, 2015, 04:53 AM   #15
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Re: Are ND's really needed???

That's neat Pete ..it would certainly solve the different lens filter diameters as the ND is behind the lens! They also make one for Nikon to NEX

Yeah it was also too much complications for me too as all my lenses have different filter diameters so I just accept a higher shutter and it does seem to cause any ill effects I guess cos everyone moves slowly?

I wonder what quality the ND is inside the adapter?? The whole thing is under $100 and most ND's cost twice that? However it certainly solves the filter diameter issue
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