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Thread: ND vs Cir Polarizer filter

  1. #1

    Default ND vs Cir Polarizer filter

    Hi
    Can someone show me a landsscape pix taken with
    1)ND and
    2) Cir Polarizer filter (same shots & setting).
    I am curious to see the differences ( if any)
    Thanks.

  2. #2

    Lightbulb

    i do not have pics to show. however, these are the differences, not exhaustive though.

    with all other factors remaining the same, the pic shot with CP will be with deeper colour saturation, less reflections, darker blue skies. the result will depend on one's usage of the CP.

    NDs by itself have no impact on the pic. used to cut down light levels to achieve some effect eg. to allow one to use a slower speed to capture the 'flowing' effect of running water of a stream.

    hope it helps.
    Last edited by reachme2003; 31st December 2004 at 02:48 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Bro...you are trying to compare apples to orange. You can eat both but they taste difference and you eat them in none similar ways. Same goes for the ND and Polariser Filters.

    Reachme2003 basically hit it on the nail regarding both filters.

    Let me try to elaborate on it further since I am a hardcore believer of Cir Polariser and nothing to do in the bloody office and a boss who refuse to give half day today! hehe...


    Neutral Density Filters ( ND)

    Usually you can buy them in a set of 3(or more) or sold individually. They come 3 to a set, for example, because they come in varying degree of dark tint. They would usually use EV as a means to indicate the strength of the tint on the filter. Neutral means that in terms of colours, this filter will not have any impact on colours of your subject or scenery like shifting of colours, contrast..etc. What colour you see is what colour you will still get just like you never use a ND filter. What this filter was made for is to (trick as I call it) shift your shutter speed range thus alterating the exposure period. It can be anything from 3EV to 8EV for example.

    Example I: I am shooting a single stalk of flower against a background of leaves. You want to blur the background out so you want to shoot at your widest apecture..say f1.8. So you set your camera to apeture priority mode, select f1.8. Unfortunately it's a very bright day and it seen that at f1.8, it is too bright and out of your shutter speed range in relation to your f-stop. The only way to get it to within the cameras shutter speed range, you need to close down your f-stop maybe from f1.8 to f8. But doing so will increase the DOF which would instead of creating a blur background as you wanted, you now have one that's in sharp focus. Making your shot too busy or take the attention away from the flower. In this case, we can use a ND filter say with a 6EV factor. With this filter over your lens, exposure latitude has changed and thus your camera is now 'tricked' into thinking it is alot darker so now the speed it calculates would be lower by 6EV that should put it to within your shutter speed range but still allow you to keep to your F1.8 apeture setting for that shallow DOF.

    Example II: Using a ND filter to let you shoot in slow speed to create special effect shots. The best example would be those waterfall shots where the water seem to flow in a white and blurry flow manner unlike shots where the waterfall flow is frozen in time and every splashing drop of water is caught in mid air very clearly. Again with the ND filter you trick your camera into capturing the same scene at a much slower shutter speed creating a waterfall shot with water that flow smooth white and blurry fashion. You set your lens to the smallest apeture f22 and the speed the camera suggest is 1/30 as it is a bright sunny day. So by putting an ND filter of 6EV for example. Now your camera could be suggesting that the correct shutter speed for the shot is now 1 second or maybe longer.

    Thus ND is very much like "sunglasses" for your camera.


    Polarisers: To some extend, you COULD use the polariser as a ND filter but barely because it is really too lightly tinted to be of much use(giving you maybe about 2EV). BUt yes it is possible. That about all the similarity this filter will have with the ND filter.

    What polariser filters does is amazing. ( And not surprisely, they are the most expensive among all kinds of filters) Till today, I always try to use one when I am shooting all my outdoor scene or any shots with too many reflective surfaces. Most folks I notice when talking about this filter, always refer to how much more bluer or darker shade of blue the sky gets when using this filter. Yes it does that of course....and more! The filter works by cutting out reflected glare by filtering the lightwave passing through the filter. It does not work automatically. You need to turn the rim of the filter which will rotate the polariser to locate an OPTIMAL refraction angle to cut off the maximum amount of glares from the sky, water, objects..etc. Of course while you rotate it, you have to be looking into your viewfinder to detect the changes in colours, refelction on surfaces..etc For example you can cut off the glare from the water of a swimming pool so much that you can almost not see water plus maybe clearer view of everyone's swimming custome inside the pool now Use that on leaves or any surfaces (even non shiny surfaces) and you can reduce or cut reflection off the leaves or surface too and thus improve coloration. When I shoot some of my product shots, I sacrifice abit of light exposure by using the polariser on my lens. Of course, I could spend more time adjusting the light(s) but sometime when you lack the time or just abit lazy...it does allow you to save time and get away with it. So what they say about polariser is true about the colour. Actually that is half right. They dont change the colour to darken it. They just take away all other distracting glare and light reflection from the colour surface and what you get are the true colours on the object or scene recorded on your film or CCDs That in a nutshell is why I love the polariser. It can also help to get rid of glare or oiliness from a model's skin...not 100% but again..it helps.

    Still need more info about polariser...I just found this site..not too bad. And got some pictures too heh.. wish I could put some of my up but I am stuck in the stupid office and can't get home early! :P Typical chinese boss.....

    Okay that's my two cent for 2004...
    Last edited by sammy888; 31st December 2004 at 04:45 PM.

  4. #4

    Lightbulb

    more than 2cts worth. a detailed explanation. happy new year.

  5. #5

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    Thank you Sammy and Reachme for taking the time to share with me about
    ND and Cir Polariser filter.

    I read a site before and it also has the same explanation like yours as regards to the ND.

    Recently I posted photos of landscape and saw comments about no gradual contrast as well as recommendation of a ND gradual filter to produce the gradual contrast.

    Mountain Landscape


    What do you guys think?? Would the Cir Polarizer produce the gradual contrast too? If the gradual ND filter were used, what improvement could happe to these shots??
    Do you choose to use Cir Pol filter or Gradual ND filter for these shots?

    I really wish someone can shoot a shot with these 2 filters and post it

    Poor Sammy bro.. donít have a half day but you had a done a good deed to help me further understand about Orange and Apple.



    Happy New Year 2005... May this be a better year

    Cheers
    Last edited by Hosea; 1st January 2005 at 03:15 AM.

  6. #6

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gosu_John
    Perhaps this would be of use to you. http://www.ephotozine.com/techniques....cfm?recid=329
    Thanks Gosu.. btw, I always use the Cir Polarizer to produce the Silky Water effect. It seems like this was the site I read before about ND & Pol
    Happy New Year 2005

  8. #8

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    Happy 2005 to you too. I'm currently using a Nikon CP but sometimes i cant cut down enought light to get the silky waterfall effect. So I'm considering getting a ND. Some people suggest using 2 CPs... hur hur that would be a tad too expensive.

  9. #9
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reachme2003
    more than 2cts worth. a detailed explanation. happy new year.
    Ya I know...that is what happen when man has too much time on his hand and stuck in a office with almost all work tucked out of the way and still the boss does not allow half day. heh...

    Well so long as it did not confuse anyone.....I tend to get a tad long winded with my ranting...

    cheers

  10. #10
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gosu_John
    Happy 2005 to you too. I'm currently using a Nikon CP but sometimes i cant cut down enought light to get the silky waterfall effect. So I'm considering getting a ND. Some people suggest using 2 CPs... hur hur that would be a tad too expensive.

    2 CP is not practical not just in terms of cost since we all know that polariser are the most expensive filters in the world of filters.

    The real problem is if you intend to shot scenery with wide angle lens. You have a problem with dark corners in all your pictures due to the twin stack of polarisers. As it is basic polarisers are already alittel thicker then normal filters as it has to have that rotating rim. Even normal polarisers like that can casue that dark corners on some ultra wide lens. That is why brands like B+W or Hoya sell those (even more expensive) super thin rim polariser filters!. ND are alot cheaper and quality might be important but you really don't need to get those better brands to find a pretty decent performing one.

  11. #11
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    Thank you Sammy and Reachme for taking the time to share with me about
    ND and Cir Polariser filter.

    I read a site before and it also has the same explanation like yours as regards to the ND.

    Recently I posted photos of landscape and saw comments about no gradual contrast as well as recommendation of a ND gradual filter to produce the gradual contrast.

    Mountain Landscape


    What do you guys think?? Would the Cir Polarizer produce the gradual contrast too? If the gradual ND filter were used, what improvement could happe to these shots??
    Do you choose to use Cir Pol filter or Gradual ND filter for these shots?

    I really wish someone can shoot a shot with these 2 filters and post it

    Poor Sammy bro.. donít have a half day but you had a done a good deed to help me further understand about Orange and Apple.



    Happy New Year 2005... May this be a better year

    Cheers

    No problem lah...as I said...I was a man with too much time on my hands. heh. You want to knwo the irony..my boss is in China..not at my china office but on vacation with the family there. Well I hope this will be a good year....I WANNA CHANGE JOB!... heh

    Okay back to your talking point. The polariser just don't create that gradual effect or meant to do so. Personally, it's not meant to be used in that manner.

    I would personally use Gradual Neutral Filter for one main reason. That's to bring "balance" to a difficult lighting especially a scene with a horizon that separate the ground scene and the sky. On a typical clear sunny day this is not a problem as the lighting is pretty evenly "placed" for both sky and ground level. But when you have a bright AND cloudy day, the bright blue-less sky can be over powering to the point that your exposure range for the picture is too far apart to cover the scene. ( meaning....meter for the sky, your ground scene gets too dark. meter for the ground and it literally burn out your sky ) With a gradual filter I can bring the bright cloudy sky's brightness down a few EVs by having the darker tint rotated to the top portion of the lens. I use to have a gradual filter system from Corkin and I prefer the square piece as oppose to the screw-on filter because I can adjust how much of the gradual tint to include in the picture by lowering it beyond the half point of my lens diameter or to have it only just barely showing on the top of it...etc. Of course you can use that in the opposite manner if you have a scene where your ground scene is way brighter then your sky. Example: an evening scene with lots of bright street lights or some snow cover ground or sparkling body of water...etc.

    Gradual filters to me are more specialty filter and not something you buy unless you really have alot of uses for it. In these day and age, you could just shoot an under-expose shot then use Photoshop and do your correction by brightening areas you think needs brightening or darkening further

    A typical gradual filter does not have a gradual fade coat to it when you look at the filter. It starts off dark till its about half way to the centre of the filter, it's immediately follow by a neutral clear glass portion. You control the degree of intermediate fade by your apeture setting(DOF). The wider you open up (f2.8) the more subtle the gradual fade will look from dark to light. Just in case, for those who have never seen one before.

    Also note that there are coloured gel gradual filters too. It does just about the same thing...darker a portion of the scene you shoot. But with the added benefit of colour. This is great if you want a more dramatic sunset or sunrise where you use a warm colour like red or orange to cast over the sun and horizon. ( some would use a blue one to get more blue out of the sky but personally it looks too fakie) Or you could use more unconventional colours to add some alien or abstract look to the shot. Again..you can also do this in Photoshop. PLUS in PS, you get to do it with more control over the end result heh.

    More two cents ....

  12. #12
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    Recently I posted photos of landscape and saw comments about no gradual contrast as well as recommendation of a ND gradual filter to produce the gradual contrast.

    Cheers
    Ah... just notice this part. You can have just one ND filter and still get the gradual effect if you purchase the CORKIN system as I mention earlier. It is a square piece that is place infront of your lens. Now instead of sliding the whole filter over your lens, you just adjust it half way or do some test shot and see how much you need to move it around. By adjusting your apeture ( DOF) you can adjust the fade!. Just thot I throw that tip in

  13. #13

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    Bro Sammy... wow, appreciate your another 2 cents bundle with tip... should thanks you with a cup of coffee

    The orange and Apple is distinctively different now

    I once saw a friend of mine holding a Cokin system holder... the appearance put me off that I dont even want to hv a second look
    Do you think this is really good if I wish to invest on ND filter?

    I read an article on ND filter (canít find the URL now), it mentioned that Cokin ND filter are not good as compared to Tiffen. Is this true?

    Maybe I should resort to PS for the gradual effect. Sad to say that I am no good in PS and always felt guilty when I use PS for my photos. However for gradual effect I felt PS is the same as using a physical filter.

    I still not sure to purchase the ND as I might not fully use it as you mentioned.

    hey Sammy, can put up some of your shots to show me ?
    Last edited by Hosea; 1st January 2005 at 12:58 PM.

  14. #14

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    Thanks Sammy...learnt something from you today. During the film days, filters are valuable tools, but i wonder in this age of digital, PS is all one needs.

  15. #15

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    How much roughly is the price of ND filter and the polarizer ?

  16. #16
    Senior Member erictan8888's Avatar
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    wow... learnt something today again.... thanks.... hee hee

    but hai... there goes my $$$ again.....
    Hope to learn from everyone here....

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by sammy888

    Gradual filters to me are more specialty filter and not something you buy unless you really have alot of uses for it. In these day and age, you could just shoot an under-expose shot then use Photoshop and do your correction by brightening areas you think needs brightening or darkening further

    A typical gradual filter does not have a gradual fade coat to it when you look at the filter. It starts off dark till its about half way to the centre of the filter, it's immediately follow by a neutral clear glass portion. You control the degree of intermediate fade by your apeture setting(DOF). The wider you open up (f2.8) the more subtle the gradual fade will look from dark to light. Just in case, for those who have never seen one before.

    Also note that there are coloured gel gradual filters too. It does just about the same thing...darker a portion of the scene you shoot. But with the added benefit of colour. This is great if you want a more dramatic sunset or sunrise where you use a warm colour like red or orange to cast over the sun and horizon. ( some would use a blue one to get more blue out of the sky but personally it looks too fakie) Or you could use more unconventional colours to add some alien or abstract look to the shot. Again..you can also do this in Photoshop. PLUS in PS, you get to do it with more control over the end result heh.

    More two cents ....
    "Gradual" ND, or more accurately "graduated" ND filters are absolutely necessary accessories for landscape photographers. Whether it is necessary today with digital imaging is another matter. I think your idea to correct for underexposed image with PS is a wrong advise. The proper thing to do is to shoot the same scene twice, metering first for the sky and then for the foreground, and then merge the images in PS. Of course you will need a tripod for this. Using PS to correct for bad exposure is one sure way to image degradation.

    Your statement that GND do not have a gradual fade is incorrect. Perhaps it might be correct if you refer to "cheaper" filter systems. I may be wrong here regarding "cheaper" systems such as Hoya. But certainly, for Lee filters, there are GND with hard and soft grauation. I have a stack of such filters. It would be a bit of a problem if one have to have a "soft" fade and yet enough depth of field as typically encountered in landscape. Therefore to suggest using a wide aperture to "soften" an edge in the typical situations, viz, landscapes, when GND filters are used is not really an option.

    Colored GNDs are gimmicks. If one likes gimmicks it is fine. If one likes the sky to be green and the sea reflection to be purple, it is OK. Call it "creativity". But I have my own views on such things.

  18. #18

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    Student, could you post some of your landscape shots (using the GND) here.
    I am very keen to see its effect (do not PS it, so I can see the actual GND filter effect). I guess you should have lot of these shots since you have a stack of these filters. Thanks
    Last edited by Hosea; 1st January 2005 at 11:36 PM.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    Student, could you post some of your landscape shots (using the GND) here.
    I am very keen to see its effect (do not PS it, so I can see the actual GND filter effect). I guess you should have lot of these shots since you have a stack of these filters. Thanks
    1 I do not know how to post photos on to the net

    2 I had stopped using these filters for a long time. I do only black & white now. Controlling contrast with black & white is better done with color filters than GND filters.

    3 My previous color photos are not worth looking at, and they have been consigned to the trashcan.

    4 If you are really interested in this issue, may I suggest that you look into this website www.singh-ray.com.

    You can learn more about filters than anywhere else. The only filters I now use from Singh ray is the variable ND filter.

  20. #20
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    I once saw a friend of mine holding a Cokin system holder... the appearance put me off that I dont even want to hv a second look
    Do you think this is really good if I wish to invest on ND filter?

    I read an article on ND filter (canít find the URL now), it mentioned that Cokin ND filter are not good as compared to Tiffen. Is this true?

    Maybe I should resort to PS for the gradual effect. Sad to say that I am no good in PS and always felt guilty when I use PS for my photos. However for gradual effect I felt PS is the same as using a physical filter.

    I still not sure to purchase the ND as I might not fully use it as you mentioned.

    hey Sammy, can put up some of your shots to show me ?
    Aiyo, I have not used any filter effects (quite passe leh) except the polariser now since I have jumped digital all these years since I gave up slides and negative. I migth have to reproduce some of those shots but to buy NDs again ? heheh... Let me see how much money I have set aside for more upgrades in 2005 heheh.

    Yes yes...there are many filter brands out there better then Corkin ( I was using the plastic ones) but hey...when I was shooting alot of these stuff that was like 15 -20 yrs ago. Also back then using all this fancy filters and those special effect ones was all the rage. I was looking over some of my old prints and..my godness, they need more then ND now to save them...all the colour prints are "orangy" now hahah...talk about apple and orange. 20 yrs ago...money no enough man. So Corkin was a good choice for me. And they sell those "packaged" filter Set for a special price. With budget constraint..you try to use what you can with them or make your own. That was why I suggested to use filter with the distinct dark and light tint (with no fade) and use your apeture to work out the DOF which thus control the gradual fade. I still managed to get some good play of DOF using various lens I have. It was not an issue for me anyway with what I shot back then. Student suggested to use those gradual filters that already have some form of fade. Wish I had that kinda cash back then. I use to make all kinds of effect with stuff I could find. I use to play with a lot of vaseline or ky on filters (spare UV filter) mixed with colour to get that specialised "gradual" effect but not with a straight horizon..etc. heheh. I am sure you could do better to buy the more expensive filters to give you the better results that you might demand. Tiffen is good and was available back then but it was a judgement call lah. Money spend on lens or dating chicks was a better choice. LOL. Beside you will soon find out that there are limitation to those filters too.

    Well stick to actual ND or gradual filters if you want to learn what it takes to do it while shooting. PS is only your solution if you are good or are making very basic touchup. I am pretty good with PS...not that I am bragging but because I have to be...it is partially my ricebowl. LOL

    I only brought it up in my last few emails because it is the evolutionary direction for the future...in time I am sure it would be so easy to do like a plug-in effect under PS that you dont even need to know PS to use it. Some of them are already available. To me, PS like the camera..is a tool.

    To be honest...it can take you very little time to learn to use PS...but abit more longer to do it creatively. Unless you have the time ( lots of it) ... stick to photography first till you have reach a certain limit with your skill then if you can spare more time to learning art,drawing and design program like photoshop. Retouching work is not an automatic things that PS can do for you. The software is only as powerful as you are at using it. I think that is also the same thing to be said about the camera and its equipment too. You HAVE to be able to understand lighting, how it falls on and off object, colour balance, how to touch up using mouse or tablet, selecting the right tools, forming the correct workflow..etc.

    I have never degraded any of my touch up work like what Student mentioned. Or maybe he is talking about jpg. I usually work in tiff and psd to preserve quality. If you are not sure, best to do your correction at the shooting stage. But taking shots by meter for the sky and then meter for the ground scene and then sandwich the two pictures together with photoshop is wishful thinking if the sky is white for example. If white cast sky, then metering both shot or shoot the shot twice will be redundant. When I say use PS, I actually meant take another sky scene from some other shoot and merge that over my orginal shot of the ground scene with the white cast sky. That's what I meant lah.

    Bro maybe between me and student we are confusing you abit heheh Just take your time. Why not try to get use to using a polariser first...then go on to ND filters..and then gradual filters. Don't try to lump them all in and then try to be good at all of them all at once. I took them on one by one in my days.

    If I have time to shoot some example..I will PM you and let you have them lah. I have found some of my old stuff but given the orange aging tint to my prints...I am too malu to show them man! heheh. Personally I thank technology for coming along..I can see all the stuff I have been shooting in digital all these 6-7 yrs till today, I am confident to see them in all their true colours 50 yrs down or longer...if I live that long! hehe. Let me go see if I can buy a couple of cheap ND and gradual filters and see if I can search out some scene to shoot them. Actually all this writing is making me feel that urge to go try some of my old nonsense again heh.
    Last edited by sammy888; 2nd January 2005 at 03:36 AM.

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