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I have been doing quite a bit of landscape recently and thought its time I needed filters but totally lost which ones. There are coloured ones (red,green,blue,orange) not really sure what they are for. There is one on an auction site that changes from 2 to 400 (i think) which I thought would be a good starter as all Im looking for is to slow down the shutter speed.
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get ND grad filters and a polariser - that's all you need
oh - ND can be handy if you want to make shots with fluffy water and whooshy clouds
The strongly coloured ones are mainly for black and white, to control tonal relationships between the colours. If you are familiar with the colour wheel, a filter will lighten it's own colour and darken those opposite. Thus a red filter will lighten reds (and Colours near red) and darken blues (and colours near blue) so it may be used to darken skies for dramatic landscapes, but it can also be used to smooth complexions in portraiture, as it hides reddening of skin and blemishes. Green can be used to lighten foliage, blue to enhance contrast in portraits and so on. There is little point in using these with digital as most effects can be reproduced using channel mixing or selective curve adjustments in PS.
Other coloured filters can be used for white balance, such as 85 series (deep orange for using tungsten film in daylight), 80 series (for using daylight film in tungsten light), magenta (for daylight film with fluorescent light) and so on.
Paler filters can be used for 'warming up' of a bluish scene (81 series) or cooling excessively 'warm' images (82 series) - these have various strengths. Again, minor colour balance issues are easily corrected in PS etc.
The variable ND you mention increases the effect by turning one polariser relative to another, simply by rotating the front ring of the filter. It has a major drawback, in that as the strength of effect is increased, the effect becomes uneven across the frame typically leading to a full dark cross in the frame at higher densities (most become too uneven to use above 5 or 6 stops ND, even though they are advertised to go up to 8 or 9 stops). If you google them, there are pics that show the effect.
The best filter to start with is a circular polariser. You rotate the front and it increasingly cuts down scattered light. This has the effect of strengthening colours and increasing contrast, and cutting local haze. At certain angles, it reduces reflection from non-metallic surfaces and generally helps 'clean up' the image. It is the one that makes blue skies deeper (again, by cutting out scattered light), though it's effect is greatest at 90 deg to the sun, so with very wide lenses, the sky will show uneven polarisation (a variation in how much the blue is affected). It will also lose you up to 2 stops of light at maximum polarisation, however, it is the one main filter you cannot reproduce in PS.
Other filters, such as ND grads are useful (for reducing the contrast range between land and sky, for example), coloured grads and effects such as starburst, diffraction, motion effect etc are less useful.
My advice would be to start with a good circular polariser, then maybe a ND grad or two (of different strengths), but don't worry about the others for now. If you want a slow shutter speed, a fixed ND will be of more use IMHO, as you can vary aperture and ISO as well for different effects.
Thx very much both for the advice that has helped me a lot, now I know what I need, cheer
If you're using digital, the polariser is the only filter effect that you can't do in Photoshop.
.....true, though you'd need to bracket and blend to simulate ND Grads
If you're going to get a polariser get a circular one, as the other type (linear, I think) fools the autofocus on digitas cameras.
By circular I don't mean the round, screw in type, it's the type of filter you should look for.
They do circular in the square filter system ones too (confusingly).
All it means is that the polarising goes in concentric circles within the filter rather than in bands across it.
Quote: ... all Im looking for is to slow down the shutter speed.....
If you are shooting landscapes and want slow shutter effects with blurred clouds the maybe look at this http://www.ephotozine.com/article/light-craft-workshop-nd500-mc-filter-review-14...
I've one I use occasionally for seascapes and like it.
Quote: get ND grad filters and a polariser - that's all you need
Quote: If you are shooting landscapes and want slow shutter effects with blurred
If your just doing the odd scape and you have photoshop you don`t even need grads, take a bunch of identical pictures and stack
Or if you already have one Polariser, buy a second, remove the collar, flip the glass over and re assemble, then attach this second polariser to the first for a cheap variable grad filter.
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