Recommendation Needed : Affordable and Reliable Neutral Density Filter system.


Dec 31, 2005
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PLANET EARTH
#1
I am looking for an affordable (Lee is just too much) Neutral Density filter system (also including graduated filters). I have tried Tianya (and found them terrible - as it causes red/pink overcast) and not suitable.

I want to be sure that those who use Cokin have found them reliable and effective. Also whether there is anyone here who would be able to give his/her opinion on those variable ND filters that are screwed onto lenses. Are those (about $80 for 77mm) worth the money and does it do the job? I still need a hard edge graduated filter recommendation in any case.

Hope to hear any useful inputs! Thanks!
 

Vulpix0r

Senior Member
Oct 2, 2002
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#2
I have good experience with Hitech filters for their GND ones. They come with a lower price compared to Lee, but it's still not what I consider cheap. You get what you pay for.
 

edutilos-

Senior Member
Dec 28, 2010
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#3
Hi-tech is fine, but they are apparently less neutral than the Lees for their ND/GND beyond 2 stops.

They are much cheaper though.

Cokin is also cheaper, but similarly has cast problems. I think the magneta cast from the Hi-tech set is probably easier to correct compared to the yellowish cast from Cokin.

Variable ND filters have problems if you're planning to use wider angles, you get a cross in the picture beyond 3 stops IIRC.
 

Mythmaker

Senior Member
Oct 8, 2011
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#4
I'm using Hoya NDx400 and Hitech GNDs for most of my landscapes, I don't see any color casting...
 

shierwin

Senior Member
Dec 29, 2008
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#5
For a variable ND filter setup, place the CPL onto the lens and set that to the lowest (brightest), then add on a LINEAR polariser to the CPL. Now you turn the Linear PL without moving the CPL, viola you've a variable ND filter........
 

Daoyin

Senior Member
Nov 25, 2008
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#6
I use a Hitech GND and it is fine for me.
 

daredevil123

Moderator
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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#7
I am looking for an affordable (Lee is just too much) Neutral Density filter system (also including graduated filters). I have tried Tianya (and found them terrible - as it causes red/pink overcast) and not suitable.

I want to be sure that those who use Cokin have found them reliable and effective. Also whether there is anyone here who would be able to give his/her opinion on those variable ND filters that are screwed onto lenses. Are those (about $80 for 77mm) worth the money and does it do the job? I still need a hard edge graduated filter recommendation in any case.

Hope to hear any useful inputs! Thanks!
Hey boss! How are you?

Anyway, I am using Hitech and I found no detectable color cast 3 stops and below, even with stacked with a 3 stop GND. The 10 stop filter has a slight blue cast, but so does Lee's big stopper. Let me know when you are free, you can try mine out.

As for variable NDs, the one that is very interesting is the new one from Tiffen. Not cheap though, cost $350 from Cathay. It is quite a bit cheaper in the USA. The new Kenko variable ND is supposed to be very good as well, but I checked US prices and it cost 400+!!??! Not sure how much they cost in SG.
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#10
I have not seen any casts so far. I have even stacked 2 pieces of 3 stop ND. No detectable cast whatsoever on all my cam bodies. I said cam bodies also, because the IR blocking quality of the AA filter also plays a big part, and it does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The old 4-stop is another story. That filter has problems with casts but most Hitech users know it anyway. It has been replaced with the pro 4 stop now.
 

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Dec 31, 2005
479
0
16
PLANET EARTH
#12
First, Thanks everyone who so kindly contributed their thoughts on this issue. Most helpful. I am very grateful.
Looks like Hoya and HiTech is the best bang for the buck (though not inexpensive). Was tempted with the Light Craft Variable ND but I may not go that way due to the X problems.

My further research online resulted in this very long and interesting article.

"The Ultimate Guide To Neutral Density Filters" by Peter Hill | RedBubble

The Black Glass and sounds useful though it seems quite expensive to come by and not going to be something I will use all the time. But I am sure staunch landscape photogs will find it useful.


Hey boss! How are you?

Anyway, I am using Hitech and I found no detectable color cast 3 stops and below, even with stacked with a 3 stop GND. The 10 stop filter has a slight blue cast, but so does Lee's big stopper. Let me know when you are free, you can try mine out.

As for variable NDs, the one that is very interesting is the new one from Tiffen. Not cheap though, cost $350 from Cathay. It is quite a bit cheaper in the USA. The new Kenko variable ND is supposed to be very good as well, but I checked US prices and it cost 400+!!??! Not sure how much they cost in SG.

Hi, So good to hear from you! You are very kind to offer to help me out here. I would be very keen to have a look at your filter system and get more personal info on them. Will PM you to arrange. :)
 

edutilos-

Senior Member
Dec 28, 2010
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#13
I have not seen any casts so far. I have even stacked 2 pieces of 3 stop ND. No detectable cast whatsoever on all my cam bodies. I said cam bodies also, because the IR blocking quality of the AA filter also plays a big part, and it does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The old 4-stop is another story. That filter has problems with casts but most Hitech users know it anyway. It has been replaced with the pro 4 stop now.
I see, I have issues with 3 stop, especially when stacked with B+W ND106/ND110... Daytime not so much an issue, sunset timing, it's there..

I think Leong23 (D700) has mentioned this color cast issue in passing when stacking with Lee NDs, but can't remember if it's 4 stops only. hans from NPSS landscapes also has mentioned his impression that Hi-tech GND filters (3 stops +) have a cast.

Anyways, different people have different standards for what is acceptable neutrality. I think Lee GNDs also have cast issues, but it may be less obvious in most situations.
 

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Cowseye

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Mar 7, 2010
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#14
daredevil123 said:
Holey Moley, are they all trying to fight for the "more expensive than Singh Ray" title?
To be honest, this piece of gem is the only Vari-ND filter that I have confident that it won't vignette my tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm. Even LCW vignettes at that wide focal length.

I believe any ND fader out there has the same X problem due to the construct. Hence I gave up using them for stopping down light for landscape but use them for wide aperture daylight outdoor portrait.
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#15
I see, I have issues with 3 stop, especially when stacked with B+W ND106/ND110... Daytime not so much an issue, sunset timing, it's there..

I think Leong23 (D700) has mentioned this color cast issue in passing when stacking with Lee NDs, but can't remember if it's 4 stops only. hans from NPSS landscapes also has mentioned his impression that Hi-tech GND filters (3 stops +) have a cast.

Anyways, different people have different standards for what is acceptable neutrality. I think Lee GNDs also have cast issues, but it may be less obvious in most situations.
I can only speak from my own experience:

2x ND 0.9 - no color cast
ND 0.9 stacked with GND 0.9, 0.6 or 0.3 - no color cast.
GND stacked with Lee Big stopper - blue color cast, but Lee Big Stopper alone also gave the same blue color cast.

Same results from D300s, D90 and D700.

I sold the ND110 because it gave a brownish color cast which I find hard to correct. I found the same color cast when with the ND106 but to a much lesser degree.

These are my experiences. I do not have experience with all the other combinations you mentioned. Other than the Big Stopper, I have no experience with Lee filters as well. BTW my Hitech GNDs are very old batch, way before they got popular in Singapore. I got it used from another CSer. Hitech filters, like Lee, also suffers from variations, as the filters are pretty much made the old style by hand and minimal machinery. A batch of Hitech pro 10 stop from late last year was not even, and Lee Big Stopper's blue cast also vary from batch to batch. So, YMMV.
 

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