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Under Water, Over Land
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Old June 25th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #1
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Filters for Outdoor Shots?

Some of the footage I shoot seems rather blown out when in the really bright outdoors.

I've been considering getting a Hoya circular polarizing filter, as it sure works magic on the Nikon D300 I have.

Then I hear UV filters come in handy for bright outdoor shoots to minimize washout.

What do you all use if t all?
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Old June 28th, 2010, 11:49 AM   #2
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I use both. Polarizing filter is a real lifesaver around water in particular. In the past I've also used a half grad for some wide shots of landscapes. Only works well and easily if the camera is still, of course.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 12:09 PM   #3
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About 20 years ago made the same question to a friend of mine who is a professional wildlife photographer and well known around the world. For my surprise he replied that he uses no filters expect occasionally an ND filter. Nowadays, I find myself following the same pattern. Usually I set a ND filter to get the iris around f8. Otherwise in very rare situations I may use an 85 series filter to stop the blue channel from clipping and open the exposure a bit to increase the G and R channels, but this is meaningful only with raw exposure. Here, such a need may pop up in the winter time. Haven't used any UV or polarizing filters for years. My friends who also shoot for wildlife documents seem to do the same.

Guess, in the end of the day the question is of taste; The more one tries to gain documentary type of exposure, the less one needs/is keen to filters (?).
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Old June 30th, 2010, 05:04 AM   #4
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I hardly use any filters. Once in a while may use the circular polarising filter. I don't like the intense colour of the sky when you use the polariser to the maximum. Graduated ND filters, will help you in toning the sky in bright conditions.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #5
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I have been asking myself the same question lately.
Filter use depends on what the final result you want is.

If you are concerned with the blowouts, then an ND filter works well.

I use a polarizer alot more than I used to, in bright situations, and all looks well for what I want my look to be.

It's all subjective, but go with what works for you in the situation at had. In other words carry a few different NDs in the case and a polarizer.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 11:51 AM   #6
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Sam is right, use whatever for your liking!

In daylight you have to use some sort of ND-filter to minimize the amount of light hitting the censor. Unlike still photographers who are able to increase the shutter speed in bright light, we have to shoot at 1/50 or 1/60 most of the time. And as Lauri say, every lens has a sweet point where you get the sharpest mode. Going beyond f11 and most lenses become soft.

I also often use a polarizer for landscape footage as I like the enhanced and vibrant colors.

The most important is to get a proper exposure when you are recording. Blown out footage is impossible to rescue in post. Many shooters also like to record "flat" and color correct in post.
Beware that adjusting levels in post could be limited if you shoot in 8 bit with a low chroma subsampling like 4:1:1 (DV/HDV) or 4:2:0 (AVCHD) vs. higher bitrate 10 or even 12, like RED or HD-CAM SR with almost full color information 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 which is better to color correct in post.

Lauri, could you tell us something about your opinion, as I know you did use the Canon XL2, XLH1 and now the RED ONE?
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Old June 30th, 2010, 12:00 PM   #7
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The only filter that will make a big difference is an ND grad, and that's only for static scenics really.
If your highlights are blown an ND won't make any difference, unless it's so bright that you can't close the iris enough. The solution is not filters, it's knocking your exposure down to stop them blowing and then pulling up the shadows in post. This is why a lot of people (including the BBC) have settings that stretch the dynamic range of the cameras, it gives a bleached out look but preserves detail in the shadows allowing you to get the exposure down to stop highlights blowing while preserving enough shadow detail to pull it up in the grade.
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Old July 1st, 2010, 02:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
Lauri, could you tell us something about your opinion, as I know you did use the Canon XL2, XLH1 and now the RED ONE?
Per Johan, share very much the same view with you.

The whole point of a ND or a ND grad filter is to avoid clipping highlights and manage with the dynamics, respectively. Clipping implies some data is lost and there is no way to recover. (Still, perhaps wortwhile to add, there are situations in which one may deliberately want some clipping.)

It is not often said explicitly, that even if none of the color channels clip, one may still loose data due to the gamma curve setting. Typically, the in camera gamma setting amplifies the mid range colors. As a result, towards the bright end tones become compressed in the same manner as the peaks of audio signals are compressed/limited. Again, once the signal is compressed, there is no proper way to recover. Wildlife shooters will see the effect, for instance, when shooting evening or early morning skies. If one adjusts the exposure just below clipping to capture details in shadow regions, as a result --due to the compression-- the number of tones on the sky become reduced and the result is not as vivid as what the eye perceives. The less bits and dynamics in the sensor, the stronger the effect.

This is one of the big differences between XL2, XLH1 and a camera like Red One that stores the raw signal --which is to say, the linear response of the sensor to light. In XL2 and XLH1 one can somewhat adjust the gamma curve, but controlling the effect of the adjustments with the EVF is bit challenging.

The color sampling 4:2:0, 4:2:2, 4:4:4 is another issue which in my view has more to do with resolution.

Agree with everybody who say it is the best solution to use the filters that please the eye the best. Guess, in general, in wildlife shooting the objects we shoot do not include man made objects and additional lights are not employed, less filters are needed than in other genres. Say, if I shot say cars outdoors for commercials, then I would use filters (to avoid reflections etc. that distract the eye).
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 11:40 AM   #9
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Good Afternoon,

Keeping things simple, just adding more glass to the front will always effect the image. the more filters on the lens the more likly one will have some dust or interference of some sort. so, by all rights shooting with just the pristine lens would always be best for pristine images.

for me the issues I deal with:

Sense I shoot Birds all the time I am dealing with the sky. I have found using a polizer helps immensely in keeping the sky slightly richer. I only use ND (usually internal only, though I have a .9 to add if needed) to get the aperature down if necessary. However, there is a trade off in shooting small aperature to increase depth of field to help hold focus on flying birds and the softening effect that Per Johan mentioned!!!

Here this time of year there is so much green/ blue that one needs to adjust the color if possible, but here rather than changing presets sll the time I will use a Warming filter or the polizer to ofset this balance without making things look to artificial. I have had plenty of people comment on footage that is virtualy identical to what the eye sees that the footage looks unreal. My wife and I now have a standard insider joke, when things are naturally so vivid and rich here we say, "gosh its so nice it looks unreal!!"

At the opposite end, in the winter when it is white and blue with almost no interuption, and sometimes it is white on white, it becomes essential to use filters to make things actually acceptable to the eye. I have a preset for this and again it is essential to add a bit of red, use of a polizer or a warming filter, perhaps the 81a.

so, while I prefer to use no filter when ever possible, circumstances and my location actually dictate that I do.

I try to shoot vivd in spring and summer, winter I tend to shoot flatter and color correct in post- capturing to cineform before color correcting as it gives you better influence.


I wish it was simple and easy. Great footage is not, at least for me in my location.
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 12:29 PM   #10
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Dale, instead of using a warm up filter why not just dial in a slightly higher white balance value? The higher the k value you dial in the more red/orange it'll be. On the Varicam etc., I dial in preset values of 5600, 7500 and 8500k so I can choose them at the flick of a switch.
As for polarisers, they only make a difference on blue skies, and with blue being a mid-tone I don't see it as needing to be altered personally. A white sky is a different matter, but there's just not much you can do about it.
Just my thoughts, you know what works for you.
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Old July 5th, 2010, 11:25 AM   #11
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I am with Steve on this, by increasing the wb number you will make it warmer. I do this with my EX1 and F800 both have a 6400 setting that I love outdoors, the F800 has an optical wb filter which is even better.

As for a polariser I would only use it at 90 degrees to the sun where it really helps.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #12
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I have to agree with Dale, I have found that putting an ND filter, even of the highest quality, softens the image noticably. When even the filter is not sufficient to decrease the light, putting the gain down a notch helps. But the best way is to increase the shutter speed. Maybe one day the movie guys will get out of their box and let us shoot at something higher than 1/60.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 04:09 AM   #13
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Only problem with going too high with shutter speeds is that you get horrible strobing. Shoot at 1/2000 second to get an exagerated idea of what the problem is.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #14
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shutter speed is not how you solve too much light unless you are looking for a jumpy effect which is rare.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 09:31 PM   #15
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I'd love to get this discussion out in the open. Maybe I'm just blind. I have been shooting at an elevated shutter speed (ca 1/200-1/500) for years. I do it because of the frequent need to pull a still or two out of the footage.
The video is anything but "jumpy", at least to my eyes...which are fine, thank you. Yes there is some wing flutter with flying birds and it is accentuated the faster the shutter. But guess what. If you look carefully at a flying bird in the air, in real time with your eyes there is wing flutter!! Try it. A large black bird like a crow or cormorant shows it the best.
I don't understand why so many people insist that 1/60 is the only way to shoot to get "acceptable" footage. To shoot at 1/60 in the constantly changing light conditions that we encounter means loading on the filters, stretching the blacks out into a pallid gray mush, still risking blowing out highlights and then trying to add color back to the scene in post. All that when a stop or two of the shutter would fix it.
Like I said , maybe I'm blind, but I would really appreciate someone demonstrating a noticable difference in the appearance of a (not flight) scene shot at 1/60 and 1/240, or even 1/500. Sorry to sound so snippy, but this is a sore spot.
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