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Old May 12th, 2011, 03:45 AM   #1
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Grad ND Filter

Hello,

I would like to hear opinions/suggestions for Grad ND Filters. I'll be using them in a Chrosziel 450 MB with two filterstages, one 4x4 and one 4x5.65. I've got a couple of Schneider filters and really like them. My first question is, what other companies of filters would people recommend? I'm planning on at least getting .3, .6 & .9. I like the Schneider filters I have but wondering if there are other companies that cost less that people can recommend.

Also, would you suggest getting the 4x4 or 4x5.65? The 4x5/65 filter trays don't rotate.

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old May 12th, 2011, 04:12 AM   #2
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Re: Grad ND Filter

Tiffen filters are popular in the film & TV industry.

I'd get filter size that your matte box allows you to both rotate and position the filler. This allows you to precisely set up the grad at the angle and height you want.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 12:03 PM   #3
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Re: Grad ND Filter

Thanks Brian, my 4x4 is the only one that rotates but I was thinking that would be the best size to.

-Garrett
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Old May 13th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #4
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Re: Grad ND Filter

At this point, the most useful application for grads is to contain what would otherwise be outside the exposure range of the camera (i.e. clipped sky). "Creative" use of grads, to deepen sections of the frame, can easily be done in post at this point so they have less utility than they used to.

That said, hot skies are generally WAY hot, so you could probably forego the N3 grad as it's rare that the sky is simply one stop hot. I've probably never used that light of a grad and that goes back to the film days.

Having just saved you a bit of money, I'm about to suggest that you spend even more--if you are getting into grads it's good to have them both in soft and hard edges for different focal lengths and applications.

Grads are extremely helpful for containing hot skies but of course they are limited to lockoff shots or extremely limited moves. As cameras become more sophisticated and the dynamic range continues to climb, they will of course be less useful. Once the camera can adequately capture all of the values within a shot, you are that much better off doing the effect in post. While some may argue the value of capturing the effect live, there are often compromises in using physical grads also, like having a person walk through the frame and thus through the effect.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 02:47 PM   #5
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Re: Grad ND Filter

Thanks so much Charles. I was wondering if it was worth it to invest in the ND .3 and was even trying to figure if the .6 would get much use. I'm going to be shooting a scene on a beach so I was thinking I'd need to control the sky somehow. Your point about soft or hard was actually my next question but you've already answered it.

So is it worth it to spend the extra for say Schneider or Tiffen filters over something like the Cavisions?

Like I mentioned, I've got a Schneider Tru Pol filter and really love it but since I don't have another filter to reference it against I don't know if there is a huge difference between them.

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old May 14th, 2011, 01:29 AM   #6
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Re: Grad ND Filter

I'm not familiar with the Cavisions. Have used both Schneiders and Tiffens for years. My collection is split pretty evenly between the two manufacturers, probably more Schneiders.


Generally I would say if you are buying only one grad, get a soft N9 (for wide shots, which are the more usual suspects) then maybe a hard N9. Should get you through most scrapes.
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Old May 14th, 2011, 04:00 AM   #7
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Re: Grad ND Filter

Gents, a great thread - thank you. I had been wondering why some of my blue skies were not turning out so blue in production and trying to make them blue in post I find really difficult.

Think I need to visit a dealer and try one of these. I do really appreciate the fact that lighter grads and cheaper grads may not be the best suggestion at this time and it had not occurred to me the point about hard / soft edge for distant / close shots - so have appreciated something there too.

Thank you..
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Old May 16th, 2011, 11:15 AM   #8
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Re: Grad ND Filter

Formatt make very good 4x4 ND filters and are reasonably priced. Not sure about availability outside the UK.

Glass Filters from Formatt Filters : Market Leading Glass Filters, HD Filters & Camera Filters

Polarisers can be useful for increasing saturation of skies and foliage but only really work properly if you are shooting at 90 to the sun.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #9
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Re: Grad ND Filter

And although there are plenty of photographic examples of the SinghRay Inverse Grad filter...

http://www.singh-ray.com/reversegrads.html

has anyone used them for video?

Too fiddly? Magic bullet?
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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:32 PM   #10
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Re: Grad ND Filter

Don't totally discount a .3 grad. I have had occasion on skyline shots to use a .9 on the sky and the .3 to knock down some of the lower foreground. Like sparkles on the water, while leaving the cityscape area of the image clear.

To some this is old news, but, do be aware, that with the EX3, (as well as the red camera and some others) there is the possibility of infrared contamination when using ND filters, whether they be grad or full NDs. This can be particularly apparent when you stack or overlap two grads. The effect appears brownish or even magenta on occasion, rather than neutral.

If you commonly use and IR cut filter to prevent this, that filter must be the outermost filter to be effective and in the case of the 450B matte box, it interprets to the 4x5.65 size which can be quite expensive.

Many have not had a problem with IR, but it's for sure if it happens, it will be on an important shot.

I have worked with Formatt, TIffen and Schneider and all give great results.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 01:23 PM   #11
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Re: Grad ND Filter

I often find hard grads more useful than softs for longer lenses and carry 3, 6 and 9 hards and just a 6 and 9 soft grad because the 3 is pretty subtle. Also I've found that Tiffen grads often go warm with age. Don't know about others, but warm ND's are pretty common out there and difficult when used over blue skies.
If your lenses will accomodate 4x4 filters without vignetting then you can get more range out of 4x5.65 vertical grads but your mattebox needs to make holders for them.
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