Digital ND Filter?

Started Jun 8, 2014 | Discussions
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Bearkite New Member • Posts: 6
Digital ND Filter?

On occasion, I have what I call my "Shower Thoughts". You get the idea... standing there in the shower, head stuck in the stream of water pondering whatever ails you. In the old days, I came up with some outstanding kite graphics that way. More recently, it's been more about problems at work. This morning, I was thinking about a shooting session I had last week.

Last Saturday, I was shooting in a grove of hardwoods in the northern Pennsylvania woodlands. Being a breezy day, the trees were in motion. I was looking to try and capture that motion. But the only real way to pull that off would have been with an ND filter. But I own none (but will soon).

The thought I had this morning was, with all the computing power being built into today's DSLRs (and digital cameras in general) why not add a function that applies a "digital" neutral density filter (either standard or graduated) to the scene and then meters accordingly. You could pick the amount of darkening in a menu. You could (perhaps) tie it to where the virtual horizon is (or not).

I don't know. Like I said, random thought in the shower. But maybe worth someone's time to look at?

Now the question becomes, how do I get this on Nikon's radar?

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steelhead3 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,262
Re: Digital ND Filter?

A number of Sony cameras have a ND built in (7s, rx10, rx 100III etc.)

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jon lake
jon lake Senior Member • Posts: 1,630
Re: Digital ND Filter?

Canons G12 has similar. Perhaps it would be regarded as a gimmick in an expesive DSLR. Don't know.

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steelhead3 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,262
Re: Digital ND Filter?

Mostly they are put in for video and its frame rate restrictions.

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Pontoneer Senior Member • Posts: 1,406
Re: Digital ND Filter?

The compacts mentioned have it more because of a lack of latitude afforded by the tiny sensor .

As for getting it on Nikon's radar , it is more likely to be looked at by Pentax who have shown themselves to be more innovative .

As for how to implement it - I would be looking either at DLP technology , similar to that used in data projectors ( where you have pixel sized mirrors that flip one way or the other when energised ) , or for a simpler solution look at an optical filter with a reactive variable density , which darkens as the sunlight increases in intensity , exactly as employed in some sunglasses ; this would simply be a filter put onto the lens as per any other filter , the only difference being the variable density - or has this already been done ?
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With kind regards

Derek.

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Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 12,097
Because serious photogs wouldn't want another layer of glass.

To create an ND filter requires another layer of glass in the light path they can't remove...it's one thing to choose to use it, but to have it in the light path all the time and it darkens and becomes clear when not needed...unless it's one that moves out of the light path when not needed.

Personally though when I'm out shooting in the wild I will carry two polarizers (one linear, one circular) and combine them to create a variable ND filter.

Levan Regular Member • Posts: 265
Re: Digital ND Filter?

steelhead3 wrote:

A number of Sony cameras have a ND built in (7s, rx10, rx 100III etc.)

Don't these compact cameras havehysical ND filter? How digital MD filter is possible? If you don't put an extra glass before the sensor, it will get exposed anyway. You can not digitally reduce light. You can darken the scene digitally, but it want make your exposure "correct" or shutter speed slower. Am I missing something?

aliasfox Contributing Member • Posts: 717
Re: Digital ND Filter?

Levan wrote:

steelhead3 wrote:

A number of Sony cameras have a ND built in (7s, rx10, rx 100III etc.)

Don't these compact cameras havehysical ND filter? How digital MD filter is possible? If you don't put an extra glass before the sensor, it will get exposed anyway. You can not digitally reduce light. You can darken the scene digitally, but it want make your exposure "correct" or shutter speed slower. Am I missing something?

I don't know about Sony cameras, but I'm pretty sure my Oly XZ-1 has a physical 3-stop ND filter that moves into place when you activate it in the menu. Useful for staying around f/2 or so outside.

All digital cameras essentially have a 'digital ND filter -' it's lower ISO. My understanding is that base ISO is already as low as the sensor can go in terms of signal gain, so there's no physical way for the sensor to be any less sensitive. Oly has implemented a mode called "ISO LOW" into their more recent firmware updates, which allows the camera to simulate ISO 100 (where base ISO is 200), but what the software does is simply darken the image - what you gain in lack-of-sensitivity you lose in DR - highlights are apparently clipped by 1 EV.

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Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 15,412
Re: Digital ND Filter?

Levan wrote:

steelhead3 wrote:

A number of Sony cameras have a ND built in (7s, rx10, rx 100III etc.)

Don't these compact cameras havehysical ND filter? How digital MD filter is possible? If you don't put an extra glass before the sensor, it will get exposed anyway. You can not digitally reduce light. You can darken the scene digitally, but it want make your exposure "correct" or shutter speed slower. Am I missing something?

I think that you are right.

The problem with having too much light is that the sensor pixels get "fully filled" causing blown highlights.  The only way that you can deal with that is to reduce the light before it hits the sensor.  Any digital solution is going to happen after the data is read from the sensor which is too late.

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studioduplateau
studioduplateau Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: Digital ND Filter?

A few cameras have ISO 50 done in the image processor, which is equivalent to the idea of digital ND Filter.

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Allan Olesen Senior Member • Posts: 3,358
Re: Digital ND Filter?

studioduplateau wrote:

A few cameras have ISO 50 done in the image processor, which is equivalent to the idea of digital ND Filter.

They do it by cutting highlight headroom. So this is a really bad ND filter. If your highlights clip at ISO 100, the same aperture and shutter speed will also make them clip at a fake ISO 50 with one stop of highlight headroom removed.

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