ND filter for street shooting?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 14,146
Re: ND filter for street shooting?

BrownBandit wrote:

I shoot with Fuji 35mm F1. 4 for night-time (bars and such), and Fuji 16mm F1.4 for daytime, cityscapes, landscapes.

I recently ran across this quote:

"Slap on a 3 stop ND filter for great street photography"

I'm guessing that an ND filter will lower my aperture

An ND filter causes you to either use a wider aperture (like f/1.4 not f/14) , a longer shutter-speed, or a higher ISO than you otherwise would use in a given situation. For “street photography” At least as I understand and sometimes practice it, I do not see much if any sense in using an ND filter.

allowing for better bokeh?

What you need to know about bokeh from the person who popularized the term: https://luminous-landscape.com/bokeh-in-pictures/

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting with a 3x on my 35mm?


And will it cause more blur?

if you choose a more open aperture your depth of field - the apparent depth of focus - will be shallower. On the other hand if you choose a longer shutter speed things that are in motion will blur and smear and if you are hand-holding your camera there is a chance that the camera’s own motion will create blur. This can be an interesting effect in strong light with intense colors. As an example of that effect look up Ernst Haas’s photos of bullfighting in Spain.

What would be the sweet spot? 3x, 6x, 10x?


While I have you, and am firmly rooted in the Beginner questions section:

The other day I did a photoshoot with my GF. I was using the 16mm F1.4 and I assumed I wanted as much bokeh as I could get (inside portraiture). I set the aperture manually to F.14 and it was a huge fail.

a 16mm in any format, m4/3, APS-C, or full-frame would not be a focal length I’d use for shallow depth of field work.

A full 75% of my photos were blurry. I had everything else set to auto. Is it possible that by not setting the aperture to A that caused the blur? It wasn't camera shake or model movement.

Anyway, my inexperience makes me wonder if an ND filter would only increase the issues.

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Ellis Vener
Professional photographer since 1984.
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