Advice on ND filters
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Old 06-21-2014   #1
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Default Advice on ND filters

So I am wanting to get ND filters, but I use an ultra wide angle lens the Canon 17-40mm on the 5D. I am wanting the ability to significantly decrease my shutter speed to be able to completely blur water. I want to be able to use my CPL as well as a ND and possibly a GND as well. From what I can find stacking filters will cause either significant vignette or the filter housing will be visible at 17mm and possibly as high as 24mm. So I am looking at the holder systems such as the Cokin and the Lee. I would rather go for quality. I spend good money on my lenses so I don't really want to put something of inferior quality in front of it. I am leaning towards the Lee and the big stopper.

Does anyone have experience with stacking filters on the 17-40mm lens? Experience with the Lee and/or Cokin systems either in general or on the 17-40? Any other input?

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Old 06-22-2014   #2
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

Stacking that many filters you're just begging for vignetting and/or actually seeing parts of the filters/holders. I use a crop body and Canon's 10-22 lens and at the wider end I'm definitely getting both probably with only 1 filter attached.

I have an inexpensive knock-off of the Cokin holder and even if I only put one filter in it I can still physically see the tabs for the other slots in the holder (it has 3 sets of slots/tabs/whatever to hold up to 3 filters at a time).

If I had a slim profile one that only held 1 filter I'd definitely be able to go wider without interference. Still don't know if I'd get all the way to 10 (16 on Full Frame) without any issues or not. But three filters; no way.
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Old 06-22-2014   #3
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

I don't know if it will fit your lens, but if have heard great things about the Lee big stopper. It's 10 stops.
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Old 06-22-2014   #4
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

Does anyone know if I will be able to use my CPL with the Lee system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlriley86 View Post
Stacking that many filters you're just begging for vignetting and/or actually seeing parts of the filters/holders. I use a crop body and Canon's 10-22 lens and at the wider end I'm definitely getting both probably with only 1 filter attached.

I have an inexpensive knock-off of the Cokin holder and even if I only put one filter in it I can still physically see the tabs for the other slots in the holder (it has 3 sets of slots/tabs/whatever to hold up to 3 filters at a time).

If I had a slim profile one that only held 1 filter I'd definitely be able to go wider without interference. Still don't know if I'd get all the way to 10 (16 on Full Frame) without any issues or not. But three filters; no way.
I was looking more on Lee's site and apparently their wide angle holder is designed to go to 17mm full or 10mm crop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nu2scene View Post
I don't know if it will fit your lens, but if have heard great things about the Lee big stopper. It's 10 stops.
Yeah that is the system I am looking at.
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Old 06-22-2014   #5
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

you definitely dont want to stack filter on your 17-40,, you will certainly get heavy vignetting,, I use the 17-40 on my 5D MKII and I use a B+W 10 stop "screw on" style filter,, been very happy with it but if I had to do it over again I would opt for the "big stopper" the 10 stop ND filter is SO dark that I must compose, focus, turn off the AF then screw on the filter and shoot, where if you had the Cokin holder you could simply slide the filter down,, I LOVE working with the ND filter though, its a blast,, you'll need a decent shutter remote too if you dont already have one and of course a tripod which I assume you have
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Old 06-22-2014   #6
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

So you don't use a polarizer and the ND? I do have a solid tripod, I have a manfrotto set of legs and pan tilt head. I have a wired remote that is a cheap no name brand but works very well. Has multiple settings that I can set exposure time digitally etc. I think really a screw on is not possible unless I want to lose the polarizer. Haven't been able to figure out if I can use my CPL with either system yet. I'll be sad if I can't. I really like it. I just got a B&W MRC CPL at Christmas and love it.
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Old 06-22-2014   #7
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

It would up the price tag, but get filters that are larger than the thread on the lens and a single step-up ring. That will allow you to stack a fair bit more stuff in front of the lens without vignetting.
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Old 06-22-2014   #8
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

Here's the thing; running large amounts of ND on an UWA lens will give you optical vignetting, even if you're not getting any mechanical vignetting. This is because the light is passing through the filter at an oblique angle around the edges and therefore has farther through the filter to travel. It's similar to the kind of vignetting you get with a very fast prime.

Here is a shot taken with the 17-40 on a 5DII against a white wall, no filter at f/8:

Here is the same shot with a 10 stop filter at f/8:


Beyond that I would recommend either the Lee Big Stopper or the Singh Ray Mor-Slo(which is now available in 15 stops )

As far as a CPL goes, it's not going to be too useful on an UWA lens.
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Old 06-22-2014   #9
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

My basic rule of thumb or policy on filters goes like this:

Serious photographers spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars in top quality lenses- real good glass. Keeping that in mind, I find that it is very counterproductive to use filters which are not of equal quality to the lens or the use of a configuration of multiple filters which may degrade the image quality that your unfiltered lens will usually deliver. Very low priced or “knock off filters” can also introduce other types of distortion and optical aberrations which can badly affect other areas of lens performance besides loss of sharpness.

I always advise photographers to use top quality multi coated filters such as those manufacturer by B+W, Sing Ray, Harrison and Harrison, Lee, Tiffen, Hoya and the ones provided by your fine camera and lens makers.

There are specialized filters that are mounted in very low profile rims to accommodate wide angle and super wide angle lenses and zoom settings.

Poorly made or uncoated filters can cause more susceptibility to flare and the resulting serious loss of contrast or even totally wiped out images.

Stacking filters can be done but I try to avoid it whenever possible. The more air to glass or optical surfaces you have to deal with the more the possibility of some degree of image quality loss even with high quality filters.

In the interest of economy it is best to select a neutral density filter of the most useful density for your way of working and then add more to your equipment inventory as your requirements expand.

I have never had experience with the variable ones but I suspect that the work on the principle of cross-polarization. If that is the case; there may be more that two optical surfaces in their design. I have not heard any in depth reviews on theses filters but I also suspect that theses may be too thick for use with wide angle lenses. I am going to do my research on theses items. Another question that interests me is if the variable ND filters work on cross polarization principles, I would wonder if this would have any effect on the highlights or reflections in any given scene, portrait or product shot. Sometime eliminating reflections is a good thing and sometimes it is not a desirable effect where strong or specular highlights are desirable. I also wonder if this kind of filter has the properties of a circular polarizer which are needed for full functions of all DSLR automated exposure and focus features.

I hope this helps! Ed
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Old 06-22-2014   #10
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Default Re: Advice on ND filters

So far the CPL has worked great with my wide angle. I do have to be careful with the angle of the sun to make sure the polarization is even across the frame. I probably should have bought a 82mm rather than a 77mm CPL but I didn't know any better at the time.

Thank you for the wall shots. What filter is that? It seems to have some cast to it. You wouldn't be able to take a similar example with a screw on filter plus the ND? I guess I am assuming you are using a plate ND filter?

Ed thank your for you input. I am certainly wanting to out the best quality glass I can on the front of my lens. If I can't afford quality right now then I will wait. I don't see the point of spending the money I have on lenses to put a cheap filter on the front and degrade thee image. I certainly have the funds to purchase the lee system at this point. I plan on purchasing one filter at a time so I can get a firm grasp on what I need to add. So would you not suggest using a CPL and a ND filter?


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