Which filters to get

Started Jun 25, 2010 | Discussions thread
sean000
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Re: Further questions
In reply to fermy, Jun 25, 2010

fermy wrote:

So it appears that using a step up ring with 20mm is ill advised and kit zoom is better left alone filter-wise. Wouldn't using filters with 20mm run into the same problem as the step up ring? What happens when 20mm powers off with the filter on, is there some potential danger for the lens or for the filter?

I have the 20mm, but no filter yet. I have read that if you use a step up ring, and I imagine it could happen with 46mm filters as well, the lens can't retract. I've read that it doesn't seem to damage the lens, but I wonder if the Panasonic polarizer would allow it to retract in place?

For my DSLR gear I already have a 77mm polarizer, 77mm 9-stop ND filter, and a couple of rectangular ND grads that fit a Cokin P holder. Not all of my DSLR lenses are 77mm, so I have used step-up rings before. They are kind of a pain since it's one more thing to screw on and on, and your lens cap won't fit on the larger filter... so you need to get a lens cap for that filter size or take the whole mess off everytime you want to put your camera away.

Initially I envisioned using the filters mostly in landscape/architecture type of shots. That's why I thought about getting them for 20mm and kit. But I see that several people recommended getting them for 40-150 as well. In what situations do you use them with tele lenses?

Polarizers produce a more even effect with normal to tele lenses. Since skies are not evenly polarized, the effect will vary across the sky with a wide angle lens. In my experience it isn't terribly noticeable in many situations. I actually shoot a lot of landscapes using telephotos... even long telephotos. We live near mountains, and if you photograph a landscape with mountains in the distance you don't want to use a wide angle or they will look too small and far away.

My m4/3 kit includes the 20mm f/1.7, Panasonic 14-45mm, and Panasonic 45-200mm. I'd like to add the Oly 9-18mm or the 7-14mm when funds allow. The attraction to the 9-18mm is partly to keep as many lenses to 52mm as possible.

Regarding HDR v ND grad filter. I don't like to PP and definitely don't want to PP most of my landscape shots. It seems to me that ND grad filter is an easier route than HDR. Your bracketed shots are guaranteed to be out of alignment even if slightly, unless you are using a tripod. If someone with experience disagrees, I'd like to listen to his take as well.

A tripod does make a difference... even in single shots, but for handheld it's quite amazing what modern stitching software can do. You can take a burst of several bracketed shots and the software aligns them extremely well. But this approach doesn't work well for moving subjects... including water.

Regarding ND grad filter. Do they come in different varieties (with the varying strength of gradation) or are they all standard? If there is a variety, what gradation would work in Italy and what elsewhere?

Yes...they come in many types and strengths. The circular kind are not the best because you can't control where the transition is in your composition. The square or rectangular kind are much better because you can decide exactly where the transition needs to be to work with your composition. ND grads come in two types of transitions: Hard transition means that the shading goes from dark to clear rather abruptly. This is great for scenes where you have the sun setting on a flat horizon (like the ocean), but it can be a problem if there are tall objects like trees or hills in the foreground. You also have to be very precise about where that transition is. A soft-transition filter gradually fades from shaded to clear, which makes it much easier to position, and it's much more forgiving when it comes to tall foreground objects.

I have a 2-stop soft filter and also a 3-stop hard. I definitely use the 2-stop more often. the 3-stop hard can also be used as a 3-stop ND filter.

As with any filter not all brands are created equal. Multi-coated is worth paying for since no coatings can rob you of some contrast (at best) and produce major flares (at worst).

Sean

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