What does an ND filter do and where is it used?
An ND filter or grey filter is screwed or plugged in front of the lens to reduce the incident light on the camera sensor. The principle of operation can be compared to that of sunglasses. If you look directly into the sun with the naked eye, you will be blinded after a short moment and will only see white. A camera sensor can also be "blinded" and is comparable to the iris. As a result, the image is overexposed and may become unusable. ND means "neutral density".
The grey filters available from us are often used in landscape photography when a long exposure is advantageous. For example, the filter can be used when photographing a lake where you want to achieve a smoothing effect, or also with bodies of water such as a river or a waterfall. The ND filter is also essential when, despite the correctly set aperture, the exposure cannot be long enough without the image being overexposed.
An ND filter can also be useful in portrait photography with a relatively open aperture (blurred background) and a relatively short exposure time. Also, when shooting outdoors in the morning or in the evening with a low sun, the light hitting the sensor can be too strong. An ND filter then makes it possible to take a picture against the sun. In general, it is always worth having at least one grey filter with you if you want to take pictures in good weather.
Why should you increase the exposure time at all?
To summarise: To simplify complex scenes (for example in landscape photography).
This can create images that do not look real, which the human eye could never perceive in this way, by making movements "flow" through a long exposure during the day. This makes the surfaces appear soft and smooth.
Other applications are also conceivable, for example larger apertures in daylight to achieve a shallower depth of field in landscape shots or portraits.
Also, moving objects are filtered out by ND filters the larger the exposure time is chosen. This can be used to remove people in long exposures and architectural photography in front of buildings without subsequent processing.
What else do I need when photographing with a grey filter?
When taking a long exposure with an ND filter, the same rules apply as for other long exposures.
It is essential to have a tripod when taking pictures with a grey filter. Depending on the focal length, it is not possible for most people to shoot hand-held at exposure times of 1/40 seconds or longer without blurring the image. Professionals are sometimes still able to shoot up to 1/20 second without a tripod, but exposure times of over one second are not possible to shoot hand-held, even for professionals. A remote release is also a great advantage. The picture can blur even when the shutter is released. Alternatively, you can use the camera's self-timer.
How do I choose the right exposure time with a grey filter?
As already explained, the strength of the grey filter is directly linked to the length of the exposure time. So with an ND8 filter the exposure time is 8x longer. If the camera's automatic system specifies 1/20 second as the correct exposure time, for example, an ND1000 grey filter will result in 50 seconds exposure.
It is also easy to use aperture priority. The photographer determines the aperture and the camera automatically calculates the appropriate exposure time. In most cases with modern cameras, the result should be very good. For an architectural or landscape photo, you should usually set an aperture value between 9 and 11 in order to achieve a high depth of field.
If you want to take photos with an ND filter, you should be able to set the shutter speed, ISO and aperture. This means that you should shoot in manual mode.
Which ND filter strengths to buy and when to use with the camera?
There are generally four different filter strengths used in photography. These are ND8, ND16, ND64 and ND1000 filters. The ND8 filter darkens 3 f-stops, the ND16 filter 4 f-stops, the ND64 filter 6 f-stops and the ND1000 10 f-stops. In general, it can be assumed that the exposure time is doubled per f-stop. This means that the ND8 filter results in eight times the exposure time and the ND64 in sixty-four times the exposure time.
Table of the ND filters we offer:
|Neutral density||aperture stops|| |
Lengthening factor Shutter speed
The different filters are designed to take the best possible pictures in different situations and at different times of the day. Besides the grey filters, there are also so-called polarising filters. These do not reduce the incidence of light, but serve to prevent reflections. Especially with green and blue colour gradations, i.e. primarily in landscape photography, polarising filters are frequently encountered.
In which situation is which neutral density filter used?
|ND8 Filter||The ND8 filter is used on sunny days and under slightly cloudy skies.|
|ND64 Filter||The ND64 filter is used for snowy landscapes on sunny days, reflective water surfaces or similar.|
|ND1000 Filter||The ND1000 filter is mainly used in landscape photography to create blurred clouds and soft water.|