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Alternative to ND Filters


John_Frid 8 514 56 United Kingdom
11 Nov 2009 5:35PM
I'm sure someone will have a good explanation as to why this idea wouldn't work, but rather than sticking ND filters in front of expensive glass, wouldn't it be better if we could achieve the same effect by having lower ISO settings available in camera.

At present the lowest ISO on my camera is 100. However, if I could also chose from 50, 25, 12, 6 and 3 (for example), I could have the equivalent of a 5 stop ND filter compared to what I have now.

Am I missing something?

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mattw 11 5.2k 10 United Kingdom
11 Nov 2009 6:26PM
It would indeed be better, although you may find noise performace drops away at the very low ISO levels (because it still makes sense to 'tune' the ISO response to be optimum at ISO 100 in most cameras)

Surprised the 50D does not feature an ISO 50 option, but yes options for ISO 25 and maybe also ISO 12 would be most welcome.
Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
11 Nov 2009 6:49PM
I guess research shows that the majority of people like faster ISO. It happened in the film world as ISOs for popular print film stabilised at ISO 200 as standard, the slow stuff never sold, apart from the enthusiasts who would buy the likes of Kodachrome 25 or Ilford PanF but this was a fraction of the film market. So current development goes into looking after the needs of those who desire better performance in low light, not the creative types who want to slow things down and already have an option to do this with filters. I guess when all the speed side has been sorted, and we're almost there, they will switch focus to slower speeds - if enough customers request it.
Scutter e2
7 1.7k 6 United Kingdom
11 Nov 2009 6:54PM
Do the pseudo lower ISOs eg LO 1.0 etc on a D300 help? I realise they dont go down very far. Ive not tried them I must confess.
Glynn 8 1.2k 1 England
11 Nov 2009 10:27PM
There used to be and i still have, and possibly there still is a "Pol Fader" mine is a 49mm thread ND filter which allows you to adjust neutral density with only one filter as you like approx 2 to 8 stops added density. Perfect to create slow shutter speed with a single filter. All you do is attach the filter and rotate it to the desired level of density. Other than this i do not know of any other way other than a slow shutter speeed and applying EV settings.
John_Frid 8 514 56 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2009 3:29PM
I hadn't realised until last night when i was playing around with my G9, but it has an inbuilt ND filter selectable through the menus. Now I assume it is a simulated filter rather than an actual filter, but I was interested to see that it was an option.
Dave_Canon 8 940 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2009 6:16PM
Does everyone regularly use ND filters? Although I have been taking photographs for decades, I have hardly ever had the need for them. It may be the subjects I take. The combination of subject in full sun and low speeds rarely arises for me.

Dave
TonyBlake 8 2 United Kingdom
18 Nov 2009 12:54AM
You bet your life they do Dave. I have a complete set of Lee soft and hard grads as well as a number of solid ND's and use them virtually every time I shoot landscapes. As you intimated Dave, I guess a lot depends on the type of photographs being shot, for instance a friend who is basically a journalist photographer has never used an ND filter in 30 years either, whereas on our landscape workshops we run I would say it would be very hard to keep the exposure within the cameras dynamic range without filters. The other alternative is merging two images in PS (one exposed for the sky the other exposed for the darker areas) but I assume if someone doesn't want to be bothered with filters they are probably even less likely to be bothered with PS.

I reckon in time we will see built into the camera an electronic/digital filter that can be varied and adjusted at the touch of a button, or probably even just switched on and let the camera work out the exposure automatically ...similar to face recognition but recognising the high contrast in a scene instead.
scotty99 8 123
18 Nov 2009 11:50AM
Nik Software Color Efex Pro V 3.0 plug in software has grad filters, ND grads and polarizer presets. These would be the next best things to the real deal. The polarizer in the plug in is very good and it's hard to tell the difference from my Hoya one.

I havent tried the grads properly yet

heres a list of the filters in the plug in

http://www.niksoftware.com/colorefexpro/usa/entry.php?view=intro/cep3_filters.shtml
Dave_Canon 8 940 United Kingdom
18 Nov 2009 1:55PM

Quote:You bet your life they do Dave. I have a complete set of Lee soft and hard grads as well as a number of solid ND's and use them virtually every time I shoot landscapes. As you intimated Dave, I guess a lot depends on the type of photographs being shot, for instance a friend who is basically a journalist photographer has never used an ND filter in 30 years either, whereas on our landscape workshops we run I would say it would be very hard to keep the exposure within the cameras dynamic range without filters. The other alternative is merging two images in PS (one exposed for the sky the other exposed for the darker areas) but I assume if someone doesn't want to be bothered with filters they are probably even less likely to be bothered with PS.

I reckon in time we will see built into the camera an electronic/digital filter that can be varied and adjusted at the touch of a button, or probably even just switched on and let the camera work out the exposure automatically ...similar to face recognition but recognising the high contrast in a scene instead.



I was only thinking of ND filter as raised in the first post but not specifically Grads. The question being how often do you need a lower ISO ( than 100) or to use the alternative of an ND filter.

Incidentally though I used to use ND grads with film I have not used them for years. For many shots there is sufficient dynamic range in a Raw file not to need to use Grads. You do have to work on the images but I do this anyway. However, I use multiple exposures and HDR for most landscape photography which I now much prefer to grads.

I agree that it will not be long before HDR is built into the camera.

Dave

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