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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:24 AM   #1
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ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters:

I realise the importance of the above, in terms of controlling the desired aperature & shutter speed settings to obtain the 'film' look.

I was initially looking at a Tiffen ND Filter .9 (Three Stop), but then attentions turned to Vari ND. (LightCraft Fader ND vrs Sing Ray Vari ND would appear to be two main products to choose from).

Looking for some guidance from pros in the event industry. Realistically, how many indivisual ND filters do you have in your kit?, or do most of you just use a Vari ND. If so, did you fork out the big bucks on the Sing Ray, and is there any loss in quality, colour, especially say with a 135 mm, if one was to opt for the cheaper Fader ND option above.

Lastly, and most importantly, the majority of a wedding is shot indoors, so how crucial is it to have a Vari ND in the kit bag. Do you fing it adds to the production value of your final product, and waterfalls, & water scenes aside, could you provide some specific example of typical shots that you'd use. For moving subjects, realistically is it possible to achieve useable results, without a follow focus on a DSLR?

Cheers, J
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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:26 AM   #2
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

Just to add, as a newbie, if I was to go with individual ND filters, lets say from Tiffen, what would be a good average filer range to get. Would .9 (3 stop) be sufficient, or how do I base this decision on? Thanks
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Old March 9th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #3
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

INHO, an variable ND filter is an essential tool. How else are you going to get shallow DOF images in bright areas without going crazy with the shutter speed? Regular ND filters are nice as well, but why carry around a bunch of different ones when a single var-ND can be adjusted to perfectly suit your needs.

I have vari-ND filters made by Lightcraft, Genus and one called Nature that I purchased on Ebay. I can't tell the difference between the Lightcraft and the Genus and both are well built. The Nature feels a bit cheaper but it does what it's supposed to.

And if you decide to get one, make sure you get the 77mm. You'll have to buy some step-up rings as well, but you want you'll want to be able to use the filter on any size lens.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 01:56 AM   #4
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

Hi joe,

I have 2 Fader/Lightcrafts that fit most of my lenses. I live in a more temperate region so don't use mine as often as say someone in California or Southern Europe. But I bought them after filming 2 outdoor weddings in August where the white dress and highlights were really pretty blown out, relative to everything else around them. Personally, I think the variables are really the way to go.

Are they critical? Probably not for someone in Ireland. But they are useful. And they are really cool for shooting long exposure still photos at midday (waterfalls and stuff).
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Old March 10th, 2011, 07:00 AM   #5
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

You can always stop down the aperture so even shooting in the South of France in summertime I have never found it impossible to get a correctly exposed image without an ND filter but it is obviously nice to be able to use a wide aperture & thus shallow DOF. The LightCraft Fader ND is decent & you can buy several for the price of one Singh-Ray.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:02 AM   #6
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

By having a vari ND on the front you are also giving yourself a kind of iris control as used on more traditional video cameras.

Set your aperture to whatever you want (say f4) with the vari ND roughly in the middle, and then use the filter as your iris control.
This allows smooth aperture transitions and keeps your DOF constant.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #7
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

ND filters are nice, and we have some, but on a wedding day I just prefer not to use them because of the rapid nature of the day. It's also entirely possible to forget you have the ND filter on when you go inside to film (the reception say), and you could get stuck in a situation where you have to film with it on. I saw this happen to a colleague of mine that I 2nd shot with recently.

We've used them a few times, but not so much anymore. Must faster to make adjustments 'in camera'.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 05:19 PM   #8
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

Travis, I've been looking to get one but your saying you don't really need it? You just make the adjustments in the camera?

Thanks
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Old March 11th, 2011, 06:32 PM   #9
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

Wouldn't be without my Vari-ND filters. They are indispensable when you want to control DOF in daylight.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #10
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Langerak View Post
Travis, I've been looking to get one but your saying you don't really need it? You just make the adjustments in the camera?

Thanks
I would say you don't 'need' ND filters. Are they nice to have and use in some situations? Definitely. But realistically you can make adjustments in-camera to keep your exposure under control.

When we shot with XHA1's and other cameras with built-in ND filters we used them all the time because the switch was quick and easy and you had a visual indicator onscreen that you had the ND on. But screwing filters on and off DSLR lenses in run-and-gun situations just hasn't been what we wanted, and you CAN forget to take the filter off sometimes when you transition indoors.

Will we ever use our ND filters at a wedding again? I'm sure we will. But the circumstances need to be right for it. Otherwise we'll just make adjustments in-camera and save ourselves the hassle.
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Old March 13th, 2011, 05:39 AM   #11
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

It depends on your style and what rules you stick to. The rule used to be that you had to keep things at a shutter speed of 1/50 and we generally stuck to that on the FX1. But since going DSLR we break that rule all the time and use the shutter to control the light more than most things.

If you dont like breaking the 1/50 rule, get the ND
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Old March 15th, 2011, 06:07 PM   #12
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Re: Vari ND Filters

Thanks for your time & replies guys.

For run & gun style shooting, & with regards to screwing on Vari ND filters, I would have said prior to posting, that there's was a greater chance of 'that moment' being missed, by fiddling around with shutter speed, ISO & Aperature in camera, than screwing on that extra iris control, as someone referred to it as.

Then again, I'm forgetting that all you pro's probably dial in the correct ISO, Aperature, & shutter speed (if not using Vari ND), with your eyes closed, unlike me currently.

Great to hear the Lightcraft Fader ND recommended over the Syng Ray, and for a 1/3 of the price too.

For the timelapses & type of use I have in mind, I'll chalk one of these bad boys down on the wish list
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Old March 15th, 2011, 06:35 PM   #13
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

Trust me Joe. After a few months you will be dialing in your exposure within a second or two.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 04:49 AM   #14
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

We tended to stick with the 1/50 shutter rule for weddings last year. It tended to be ok with us since we are based in Manchester (sun. What is that?). This year we are shooting weddings more outside of Manchester than in, so we will adjust the exposure accordingly without the filters.

I personally like the look of a variable shutter, and as Travis said there is always the element of forgetting to take the filter off when transferring the shoot indoors.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 07:29 AM   #15
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Re: ND Filters vrs Vari ND Filters: Realistically are they needed

I used the shutter to set my exposure all over the place unaware of the 1/50 guide at the time but since I've started filming at 1/50 I can't believe I used my shutter to set exposure. I couldn't see it back then but now I can clearly see when motion is not filmed at 1/50.

A Variable ND filter is really handy I use mine all the time but get yourself a filter pouch you carry on your belt. I find that having my filters right on me is the magic key, running to the bag every time I need a filter is where the problem starts, screwing it on and off is quite painless.

I currently use the Genus 77mm ND filter and on my last assignment while filming with the Canon 70-200mm lens I noticed that when I stop down a lot the image loses sharpness, it's not as crisp as it is without the filter non-the-less it's a great piece of glass to have on hand. Setting exposure with the filter feels more natural to me.
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