Graduated ND filters

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
TheBlackGrouse Veteran Member • Posts: 3,586
Re: Graduated ND filters

sbw123 wrote:

I'm going on a trip to the Badlands and imagining sweeping landscape photos. Unfortunately, I'm afraid of the sky being blown out.

How often are graduated ND filter used by landscape photographers?

Professionals use them, however many photographers prefer combining images.

Are graduated ND filters "a must" for landscape photographers?

For me, yes, because I shoot a lot of water, reed, trees and it's windy over here. Then the weather makes it difficult to combine images. Surely, many will say that they are not needed anymore. In many countries you can live without them. Besides, GND filters are not the best in the mountains.

Is one used more than the others (3/6/9 stops)?

Better be subtle and combine filters. My basic GND is just 1-stop (soft edge). You can add another and have more stops. That also makes it possible to play with the edges.

it is best to start with just a few filters. You will be surprised what you are ordering after a few weeks of using them. Something completely different. In my case, I bought the Lee Sky Blue and Real Blue filters because they give a nice effect when combined with the neutral 1-stop GND. Besides, in many situations you don't need a polarizer because the sky is already blue. Especially important when shooting at wide angles where the sky gets an uneven polarizing effect (dark blue spots).

Is there really a difference between the brands or is it more like the tired old "Nikon v. Canon" debate?

Don't go cheap but the better brands are all quite good. There is a difference between resin and glass filters but glass filters are not worth the extra cost (for me).

What about filter holders? Is there one brand, or one design, that works better/easier to use than the others?

Keep it simple, I use the Lee system. Most filters from other brands fit in their holders. Others love the magnetic systems.

The price range is wide when looking at graduated ND filters. Is there a particular feature that is obviously necessary and which separates a $100 filter from a $500 filter?

Glass or resin is an important one. In my view, the Lee resin filters do it all, they are expensive but some brands cost a lot more. Glass is a nice material but it can break! Resin filters bend but do scratch easily (and attract dust). After years of using my Lee resin filters there are only a few scratches, almost all of them from the first few weeks when you make a lot of mistakes

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