ND Grads vs Bracketing ?

Started Jun 10, 2014 | Questions thread
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Andrew Ellis
Andrew Ellis Contributing Member • Posts: 753
ND Grads vs Bracketing ?

Hi all, I've been thinking about this for some time, and would appreciate comments please.

I was looking to buy into a new square filter system (either the Lee Seven5 or the Formatt-Hitech 85mm series), for ND grads for the EM1 and GX7, used with my 9-18 and 12-40 lenses when shooting landscapes.

I've been pondering for some time over whether to get hard grad or soft grads. It then occurred to me that when I used to use 100mm filters on my Nikon FX gear, they were typically either 2 or 3 stop ND grads that would get used the most. I then thought instead of using filters, what about bracketing. My GX7 for example can bracket 7 shots at 1 ev steps meaning I get from -3 to +3 ev range from the base exposure. Judging by my previous use of filters, this would seem to be enough for the dynamic range of most photos ? I'm not talking about full HDR (which can if not done properly look terrible), but just holding back the contrast in a scene.

I know there would be an extra step of PP involved, and the purists like to get it right in camera, but I thought it would then do away with the need to choose soft or hard grads, and would be good for photos where there isn't a natural transition point (buildings or trees up into the horizon for example).

Is this a valid process or should I just bite the bullet and buy the filters. Obviously I'm only talking about ND grads, as I know that other filters are in fact very useful (full ND's and Polarisers etc), and as such these can't easily be duplicated in software.

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 Andrew Ellis's gear list:Andrew Ellis's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Nikon Coolpix P7100 Nikon D3 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 +13 more
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