To GND or not to GND

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by obelix, May 3, 2005.

  1. obelix

    obelix

    714
    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
    I am debating this for a while. I have a Bishop area photography weekend coming up and have to decide if I need to buy Graduated ND filters or not. I have been eyeing these:

    http://mountainlight.com/filters.html

    Right now, I use multiple exposures and digital blending. [I also have FM's DRI plugin]. I wonder how useful GND filters would be and how much they add value.

    I thought I would go with the 2 stop soft and 3 stop hard filters for starters. But then for that $200, I could

    - Upgrade to PS CS2 and use the 32 bit DRI
    - add another $300 and get the tokina 12-24

    What would you advise?

    Should I just shut up and work on my photoshop masking skills and blend more correctly?

    Is the GND filter worth it in the digital world?
     
  2. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I have a couple of the cheaper GND's, thought I'd give them a try before spending the money on the nice ones. What I found is that for me they're not of much use. Given the small viewfinder on 1.5x crop DSLR's, judging where to put the transition can be difficult in low light situations even with the DOF preview. Also you've got far less flexibility in how to do the transition from light to dark with the filters compared to digital blending.

    If you're one of those people who hates post-processing and wants to do as much as possible in-camera GND's are probably a useful tool, but for me they're just not as flexible/powerful and digital blending with bracketed exposures.

    BTW if you decide on the Tokina 12-24 you won't be disappointed, it's a great lens.
     
  3. obelix

    obelix

    714
    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
    Jeff

    Thanks. I have struggle with the dim VF :(, even with the DOF preview button pressed, I can't see the transition.

    I don't dislike post processing, just that I need to improve my masking skills.

    Appreciate the comments. I think I will go for the tokina soon.
     
  4. sfoxjohn

    sfoxjohn

    May 1, 2005
    Marlton, NJ
    Obelix

    I prefer the two exposure (or two scans) and blend for most of my problem shots. So often the division between too bright and too dark is not close to a straight line. For example a tree which projects into the light (sky) area. The expose twice & blend method is as good as it gets in that case.

    On the other hand if you have a low flying bird in the darker part, then two exposures aren't practical. Although two scans would be if you used film.

    I always shoot in RAW mode, and, it is almost always possible to do two conversions, one for shadow and one for highlights. Then blend. By the way I also have the Fred Miranda action and find it does a good job most of the time.

    The only grad ND filters I own are 3x3 square and have been used only in 6x6 format - and not too often then.
     
  5. obelix

    obelix

    714
    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
    Thanks John.