Any way to use a hood with a variable ND filter?

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I'm about to buy a 77mm variable neutral density filter -- sized to fit my largest lens, the Sigma 10-20. I understand that these filters actually have a diameter greater than 77mm (I presume it goes up to 82mm), which must be kept in mind if you decide to put another filter in front of it.

Of course, I want to use the ND filter for the usual purposes, such as slow-shutter effects with flowing water, etc. I also want to use it to photograph fireworks and get more than a couple of bursts in the frame at once. In these situations, there are often lights that provoke lens flare. Is there any practical way to use a lens hood with such a filter? I thought of buying an 82mm screw-in petal hood, but it seems like it would be difficult (if not impossible) to get the hood into the correct position to avoid -- or at least minimize -- vignetting.

What would you do? I'm ordering the filter along with some step-up rings today. I think it is impossible to get the fireworks shots I want without an ND filter, but I certainly don't want lens flare to stab me in the back and make the images useless. I hope to experiment with this method soon; I'll be in Orlando for Photoshop World in less than two weeks, and several trips to Walt Disney World are part of the plan ...

One other thing -- is there any practical reason I should choose metal step-up rings over plastic (or vice-versa)?

Scott
 
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Just a heads up, I have the Singh Ray Vari ND filter in the 77mm. I also use it on my Sigma 10-20 and because of the thickness of the Singh Ray I can't go below 14mm or I start to see the edges of the filter in the shot. I've never used a lens hood with this set up but I'm guessing the hood might interfere with your shot. Good luck.
 
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Just a heads up, I have the Singh Ray Vari ND filter in the 77mm. I also use it on my Sigma 10-20 and because of the thickness of the Singh Ray I can't go below 14mm or I start to see the edges of the filter in the shot.
I kind of figured that might be the case, but I'll just work around it. No way to get the shots I want without the filter, so I can either get the shot and zoom accordingly, or not get the shot and whine about it. And I don't like to whine.

I keep trying to think of a way to make the hood idea work. I even thought of an elaborate idea where I'd buy a cheap 82mm polarizer (if such an animal even exists) and remove the "glass," then attach a screw-on hood to that so I could I could rotate the hood independently of the ND filter. Sounds like it would theoretically work but be a major pain in practice -- and then there's the additional vignetting it would almost certainly cause ...

Another hair-brained idea would be to get a rubber hood large enough so that, with the screw-on ring physically removed, it would fit around the outside of the lens barrel and could be taped in place. Then it could be moved far enough up the barrel to provide some protection against glare while causing little or no vignetting. It could be folded back to rotate the filter, I think ...

Hah! And people say I'm crazy ... :m78:

Scott
 
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You're just thinking outside the box and that's a good thing :smile: I've never had an issue with not using the hood when using the Singh Ray. Good luck!
 
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Of course, I want to use the ND filter for the usual purposes, such as slow-shutter effects with flowing water, etc. I also want to use it to photograph fireworks and get more than a couple of bursts in the frame at once.
FWIW, I didn't understand this. The ND filter is not for the fireworks, so I suppose you want a ND filter to block the ambient light in the longer exposure to allow multiple fireworks... But ND will reduce the fireworks too, in same degree. Therefore, any ND result would be exactly same as simply closing the aperture a stop or two... which seems much easier. It dims the fireworks too, but I don't get the ND filter? Seems the hardest possible way?

I keep trying to think of a way to make the hood idea work. I even thought of an elaborate idea where I'd buy a cheap 82mm polarizer (if such an animal even exists) and remove the "glass," then attach a screw-on hood to that so I could I could rotate the hood independently of the ND filter. Sounds like it would theoretically work but be a major pain in practice -- and then there's the additional vignetting it would almost certainly cause ...

If you can attach a screw in filter, you can attach a screwin hood without it. I guess you want the remaining rotation feature, which would only be necessary for petal hoods. Why do it the hardest possible way? Don't use a petal hood.

Petal hoods come with wide angle lenses. Lenses are often zoom lenses, for example say 18-70 mm. The hood size provided necessarily works at 18mm, and petal cuts away some so the wide angle can work. Of course, a much more narrow hood could be used at 70mm, or even at 28mm. Fireworks are relatively distant, so probably wide angle is no goal here. So hood angle seems not critical, so long as it is large enough. If you will be using say 50mm lens, just use a round hood for 50mm lenses. Call it 35mm, for some leeway and safety factor. But 18mm seems not likely needed.
 
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FWIW, I didn't understand this. The ND filter is not for the fireworks, so I suppose you want a ND filter to block the ambient light in the longer exposure to allow multiple fireworks... But ND will reduce the fireworks too, in same degree. Therefore, any ND result would be exactly same as simply closing the aperture a stop or two... which seems much easier. It dims the fireworks too, but I don't get the ND filter? Seems the hardest possible way?
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This (not my shot) was shot with a D7000 using a 1.8 ND filter. It's a 100-second exposure. And this ...

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... is a 78-second exposure (also not mine) using the same filter.

Having shot Disney fireworks many times, I can tell you that even with my lens stopped all the way down and my D300 set to "Lo 1," I cannot shoot the finale of the show and get anything other than a brilliant white blast in the sky. The EXIF data used to be available for these images above, and I recall that at least one of them was shot at f/11 at ISO 200.

So, this may be the hardest possible way, but I think I've tried the not-so-hard ways and not gotten what I want. If I want to hold the shutter open for a max of about 10 seconds during a less-busy segment of the show, I might get a max of about three bursts, so long as they don't overlap in the sky too much. The show's finale is my ultimate goal, and the first shot above includes it.
Fireworks are relatively distant, so probably wide angle is no goal here.
Again, having shot Wishes (Walt Disney World's fireworks show) many times, I wouldn't want anything wider than 18mm from most inside-the-park vantage points. Sure, there are times when a more narrow field of view would be fine, but I don't want to have to anticipate when those are coming and constantly zoom. I'd rather go a little wider than necessary and crop if I must. I'll either be shooting with my 10-20 or my 18-135. Th only way I'd want to go with a longer lens is if I were across the lagoon at the Polynesian Resort, or on top of the Contemporary Resort.

Scott
 
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OK, thanks, I see. Narrow aperture and slow ISO do the same thing a ND filter will do - all simply reduce the light. However, ND 1.8 is 6 stops, and granted, ND filters are used when the range does not otherwise exist (I was thinking more like 2 stops and 20 seconds. :smile: )


From the B&H ND pages:

Neutral Density Factors

ND.3 (exposure adjustment = 1 stop, reduces ISO 1/2)
ND.6 (exposure adjustment = 2 stops, reduces ISO 1/4)
ND.9 (exposure adjustment = 3 stops, reduces ISO 1/8)
ND 1.8 (exposure adjustment = approx. 6 stops, transmits 1% of light,)
ND 3.0 (exposure adjustment = 10 stops, transmits 0.1% of light)
ND 4.0 (exposure adjustment = 13-2/3 stops, transmits 0.01% of light)
ND 6.0 = (exposure adjustment = approx. 20 stops)
 
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OK, thanks, I see. Narrow aperture and slow ISO do the same thing a ND filter will do - all simply reduce the light. However, ND 1.8 is 6 stops, and granted, ND filters are used when the range does not otherwise exist (I was thinking more like 2 stops and 20 seconds. :smile: )
Gotcha. Thanks!

Scott
 
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I assume that you will be using a tripod. I get beyond the extraneous light by using a hat, card, book etc. to block the extraneous light on the lens. Sometimes I just stand to the side of the lens while exposing, creating a shadow on the lens. I do a lot of night work and this it the best way that I find to shade the lens.
 
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I assume that you will be using a tripod. I get beyond the extraneous light by using a hat, card, book etc. to block the extraneous light on the lens. Sometimes I just stand to the side of the lens while exposing, creating a shadow on the lens. I do a lot of night work and this it the best way that I find to shade the lens.
Yeah, I do some of that too -- good to keep in mind. My only issue in a situation like this is that it tends to be a very crowded location, and it is fairly dark (street lights in the Magic Kingdom are dimmed or turned off when the fireworks show is running). Using a tripod under such conditions is a test of bravery to a certain extent; people wander about in any direction other than where their eyes are looking, and I keep a constant watch on my tripod legs to keep it from getting toppled. And I've already got one hand on the remote trigger ... but that's good general advice.

Scott
 
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Hi,

I don't know if this is a viable suggestion for you or not.

Pentax lens hoods come with a little opening in the hood so you can adjust a filter with your finger with the hood on. Very neat little feature. I know you would not want to attempt cutting a little opening in your Nikon hood but how about one of those inexpensive rubber hoods you can get from B and H, or Adorama. Since they are not hard plastic they might be easier to cut.
 
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Hi,

I don't know if this is a viable suggestion for you or not.

Pentax lens hoods come with a little opening in the hood so you can adjust a filter with your finger with the hood on. Very neat little feature. I know you would not want to attempt cutting a little opening in your Nikon hood but how about one of those inexpensive rubber hoods you can get from B and H, or Adorama. Since they are not hard plastic they might be easier to cut.
A good idea -- I may have to give it a shot. Is there any sort of image online of how Pentax implements this feature? I'm curious to see how they do it.

Scott
 
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How about one of those screw-in rubber hoods. I use one with my circular polariser and when at a WA I simply fold the hood back. I fold it partially or completely back depending on the FL I'm using.

Just a thought...
 
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Here is one of the lenses/hood with the little cutout. The door slides off if you want to get access to a filter. It is designed so that when the hood is mounted on the lens and the lens is mounted on the camera the opening is underneath and a filter can be quickly adjusted with your thumb.
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[/url] Pentax Lens by rzarbo, on Flickr[/IMG]
 
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Interesting ... a lens hood with an access port. Cool.

I think a rubber hood is probably the way to go. Might have to trim it to get it to work with the wide-angle lens. And it probably won't happen before I leave for this trip -- no local store is likely to have one large enough, and I don't think I would want to spend the extra to get one shipped to me before I go.

I'll figure something out, or make do with what I have. Thanks so much for the help, guys!

Scott
 
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Update: My experiments with the variable ND filter for fireworks were a success, technically speaking. Compositionally, I could have done better if I had scouted and claimed a shooting position a little earlier, but that's difficult to do when I'm with my wife and my boys.

I got usable exposures over a minute in length with the filter. For a couple of the finale bursts when the sky is just filled with fireworks, I might have been better off stopping down a bit more -- I used f/11 as my starting point. Still, I was pretty pleased for a first attempt.

Using the filter for this made me wonder if it might also allow me to capture multiple lightning strikes in a late-evening or nighttime thunderstorm, if the lightning was cloud-to-ground ... anyone ever try that?

I'll post links to my fireworks images from this trip as soon as I get them on my site ...

Scott
 
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Well, here are some links to a few of the shots I got from my Disney trip, using the variable ND filter for the first time. Literally, I put the filter on my lens once before I used it for fireworks -- all I did was take a handful of test shots during the day to determine the maximum amount of darkening I could dial-in before crazy artifacts started to rear their heads.

I'm pretty pleased with the results. Next time, I'll try for an improved vantage point (it didn't help that I was there during the busy Spring Break season, making Main Street USA especially crowded for the show). Being familiar with the show really helped -- I was able to anticipate when I would get multiple bursts within a relatively short time.

I shot Wishes twice in the Magic Kingdom -- the shots from the first night were comparable; I just don't have them on my site yet. The first three images below are from that second attempt. The fourth shot is a composite of three images made with the filter during Epcot's "Illuminations" show, which uses some fireworks, but isn't a straight fireworks show like the Magic Kingdom has. All three shots from Epcot were fine on their own, but I like the combined image better.

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Scott
 
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