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Cheap filters?


26 Jul 2013 8:57PM
I'm looking to invest in some filters, I've not had much experience with them and wanted some advice. Is there a large difference in a cheap filter and £100+ ones?? I'm mainly after ND FILTERS I believe. Mainly for long exposures of sea scapes etc.
Thanks

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27 Jul 2013 12:32AM
You need to define "cheap" and "quality" for yourself. The real difference in image may be noticeable between the cheapest no-names from eBay (£1+) and top brands from the store near you(£100+). But if you wish to compare , say £20 stuff with £100 stuff you may find that multiplying the price barely adds to image quality. The main difference will be in the quality of packaging, metal ring and thread and the looks of the filter itself. Plus maybe better longevity of expensive filters - which depends more on how intensely they gonna be used. My mid-price NDs for example, maybe 90 percent of time reside in their boxes. At the end it all comes to the lens you own - if it is premium quality "professional" one then probably there would be some sense in buying a £100+ filter for it. It will be a great match(by the looks at least), and the filter won't add too much to the (already whopping) lens cost. And if it is "just" some modest Sigma or Tamron - one will need to strain themselves to find a difference in image taken with £20 filter and the same image taken with a £100+ one. So why pay more?
Paintman e2
8 902 173 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2013 7:25AM
These are a good mid priced make.

If you're photographing seascapes I'd suggest a 0.9 hard grad ND filter, a 0.3 soft grad ND filter and a 10-stop filter along with a 0.3, 0.6 and a 0.9 ND filter.

Go for the 100mm filters as they can be used on a Sigma 10-20mm lens with very little vignetting, as long as you buy a wide angle filter ring.

Cheap filters tend to have a colour cast, especially when two or three are used together. Cokin have a very strong magenta cast and it's difficult to correct in post processing. The Hitech's have a manageable colour cast and are the ones I use for landscape and seascape work. I also have a Lee 10-stopper which is excellent but expensive and has a cooler cast which I prefer.

You may need to spend about £100 to get a reasonable set of ND, ND grads and a filter holder.

If you use a round screw in 10-stop filter you need to compose the shot before you put the filter on. I prefer the square filters because I can set up an ND grad to where I want it, compose the shot and then insert the 10-stopper last and take the shot.

I see from your seascapes you get a very strong magenta cast from your filters. In post processing (Photoshop) try using a green gradient from the top downwards. As green is the complimentary colour to magenta this should go someway to neutralizing the colour cast.
Gundog 1 624 Scotland
27 Jul 2013 10:14AM
My own experience is that there is no discernible image quality between £3 Chinese cheapies and £100+ Lee systems (I use both). The only reason I use Lee at all is that my Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens does not have a filter thread and there is (was?) no inexpensive alternative.

You will find folk on here who trot out the cliché "why buy an expensive lens and put a cheap filter in front of it?". My answer to that is "simply to save money when there is no resultant degradation in image quality."

I am not saying that a ££-multi-million optical laboratory could not find some tiny difference. But I can assure you that, using a Nikon D800, top quality Nikkor lenses and enlarging prints up to A3+ (sometimes from small crops of the entire frame), there is absolutely no difference that can be detected with the naked eye that can be attributed to the cost of the filters.

In fact, some of the cheapies have less colour cast than some of the Lee filters (which do, themselves, show a bit of variation). However, colour cast can be routinely zapped in Lightroom, so no problem there.


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