ND filters 3 stops or 6 stops


Apr 26, 2007
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#1
Need to seek some advise on ND filters. Any advise on whether to get 6 stops or 3 stops? I've read some article saying that it's not worth getting 1 or 2 stops filter.

Thanks in advance!
 

ZerocoolAstra

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Mar 13, 2008
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#2
xxhellinvaderxx said:
Need to seek some advise on ND filters. Any advise on whether to get 6 stops or 3 stops? I've read some article saying that it's not worth getting 1 or 2 stops filter.

Thanks in advance!
I think only you can answer that question.
My question back to you is: do you know the difference between 3 stop and 6 stop ND filter?
 

Apr 26, 2007
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#3
not very sure though as i can't find a picture that i can see the difference of 3 stop and 6 stop nd filters.
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#4
Need to seek some advise on ND filters. Any advise on whether to get 6 stops or 3 stops? I've read some article saying that it's not worth getting 1 or 2 stops filter.
Do you understand why this article makes such a statement?
 

ZerocoolAstra

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Mar 13, 2008
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#5
xxhellinvaderxx said:
not very sure though as i can't find a picture that i can see the difference of 3 stop and 6 stop nd filters.
Well, if you mean a photo of the filters, then maybe you won't be able to tell them apart. Both will look like pieces of dark glass.
If you understand what is meant by ___ stop, you will be able to decide for yourself.

We believe in the "teaching someone to fish" concept here ;)
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#6
not very sure though as i can't find a picture that i can see the difference of 3 stop and 6 stop nd filters.
If properly exposed both pictures would look the same. The differences are subtle - and will depend on the purpose these filters are used for. If you put a 3 stop GND and 6 stop GND on your cam using Auto Mode you won't see any difference - except for the settings that the camera chooses.
 

Apr 26, 2007
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#8
Well, if you mean a photo of the filters, then maybe you won't be able to tell them apart. Both will look like pieces of dark glass.
If you understand what is meant by ___ stop, you will be able to decide for yourself.

We believe in the "teaching someone to fish" concept here ;)
You mean the sunny 16 rule?
 

ZerocoolAstra

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2008
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#9
xxhellinvaderxx said:
You mean the sunny 16 rule?
Errr nope that wasn't what I was trying to get at.
I meant to ask if you know what a 3 stop ND filter actually does. It involves understanding what the meaning of stops. If you understand stops, you will then know what the difference is between a 3 and 6 stop filter. Understand the basics... :)
 

edutilos-

Senior Member
Dec 28, 2010
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#12
Need to seek some advise on ND filters. Any advise on whether to get 6 stops or 3 stops? I've read some article saying that it's not worth getting 1 or 2 stops filter.

Thanks in advance!
It really depends on you.

ND filters are tools to extend exposure timing, the amount of movement you want in your photo determines what strength of ND filter you use.

Frankly speaking? Having a ND filter all the way from 1 stop to 10 stops is going to be useful - the sweet spot of a lens is usually F/8 and if you want ultimate sharpness then keeping it there is optimal. But is it worth it to carry 10 filters around? Not really (the vari-ND filters don't count, as they cannot really be used on UWA) - most people would rather stop down to extend the exposure for 1 or 2 stops.

So it's up to you. Currently I have a 6 stop and a 10 stop one... I do want a 3 stop filter, but haven't gotten round to buying it yet..
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#13
Need to seek some advise on ND filters. Any advise on whether to get 6 stops or 3 stops? I've read some article saying that it's not worth getting 1 or 2 stops filter.

Thanks in advance!
buy two, then use depends on the saturation arises.

I have 9 stops, 6 stops, and 2 stops, ordered a 3 stops but no time to pick it up.
 

rhino123

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Sep 1, 2006
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#14
Get a vari-ND filter and you can see for yourself the difference between 3 to 6 stops. Note that for UWA, you need to take note of the dreaded 'X' at higher stops (I only manage to squeeze 5 stops max for my vari-filter before the freaking X appeared and ruin everything.)
 

wildcat

Senior Member
Sep 8, 2004
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#15
When I got my 3 stop, it was because I wanted to open up the aperture of my lens in bright daylight and I am limited by my max shutter speed to 1/4000 secs. By adding 3 stops to the lens, I can limit the amount of light entering the lens while keeping the aperture opened wide.

When I got my 6 stop, it was because I needed something less than a 10 stop (which is still my fav ND) which is generally used with a tripod and I needed to take long exposure pictures.

I have since used the 3 stop filter for various other purposes (such as stacking) and the 6 stop ND remains my least used filter except between 6.50am and 7am (again, that depends on sunrise time also).

Without knowing your intentions for the ND filters, any advise given would potentially be the wrong advise.
 

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rawNature

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Oct 8, 2010
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#16
Take it this way:
To get a correct exposure, you play with:
1. Shutter Speed
2. Aperture
3. ISO

You either fixed one of them & change 2 of them, or fixed 2 of them and change 1of them.

A vari-ND (or a combination of NDs) allows you an extra option to to fixed three of them while varying the light entered to get correct exposure.

Example scenario:
still photo: You want to take silky waterfall motion on a bright day. You probably need a 1 second shutter speed. But even stopping down to the smallest Aperture of F22, you can only get a 1/30" shutter speed. When you dial up to 1sec shutter, you get over exposure by quite some stops. You are at the lowest ISO usable. What else can you do to get the correct exposure?
This is when the ND comes in. It reduce the lights. What number of stop of ND to use to reduce the light is the key on how you can get correct the exposure. A good wide range variable ND helps as you can turn until you get the correct reduction of light, else you have to figure out the stops yourself and pray that you have the correct combination of fixed stop ND filters with you.

Video:
Normally, you would want the shutter speed to be proportional to the frame rate(1xor 2x frame rate, eg: 1/25 or 1/50 shutter for 25 fps video) to get a natural motion.
You would also want to use the widest aperture to get a good bokeh for image isolation. On a bright day, this is not possible. At F1.4, you would need probably a 1/4000 or more shutter speed to achieve correct exposure. This shuttle speed will give you a jerky kind of motion in your video. You can use a ND to cut the light to allow you to dial to 1/25 shutter speed and maintain correct exposure.

Fixed stop ND filter is better in quality & cheaper (per piece) as it is easier to make as no precise matching pattern is needed (only one glass is used). But you will need a few different stops ones to give a good combination set. Also watched out for Vignetting if you use too many of them together.

A good variable ND is more expensive to make, as the two glasses have to have matching pattern & aligned precisely. But you can do a lot more with just one piece and also minus the hassle of switching ND filters.

if you get 3 stop & 6 stop, you have 3 combinations:
1- 3-stop
2- 6-stop
3- 9-stop (3 + 6 combined)

or you can get a variable one that goes from 2 to 4, 2 to 8 or 2 to 10 stops etc. (usable range depends on your focal length also)
 

Last edited:

giantcanopy

Senior Member
Feb 11, 2007
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#17
xxhellinvaderxx said:
Need to seek some advise on ND filters. Any advise on whether to get 6 stops or 3 stops? I've read some article saying that it's not worth getting 1 or 2 stops filter.

Thanks in advance!
If ur intention is to get only ONE ND filter for long exposure photography stuffs, u probably just wanna go for the 6 stop ND.

I have a 10 stop n a variable ND
 

pinholecam

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Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
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#18
6 stops is very useful. Usually good enough to slow down shutter speeds into the seconds even on sunny days.
You can usually play with aperture/ISO to vary it by 1-2 stops, so a 4 stop ND becomes less necessary.
 

HighTone

Senior Member
Jul 4, 2011
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#19
depends on your budget, getting a 5 or 6 stops is good. otherwise get a 3 stop minimally.
 

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