Which ND filter?


TPF Noob!
Dec 2, 2010
Reaction score
Galveston, Tx
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
hey guys a while back i bought an ND16 filter for long exposure photography. later i found out that ND filters can create a clearer/more colorful picture in bright days. The ND16 proved to be a bit too dark on a sunny day (shutter speed dropped to 1/30 with widest aperture). does anyone know which ND filter will do a better job? (obviously something below ND16, i just dont want to keep buying the wrong filters). please post any experience with ND filters or any recommendations thanks.
You said it. The ND filter is for long exposures. 1/30 of a second is not that long. ND is meant to darken A LOT the scene to capture blurring water falls, rivers, car lights flowing the street and so on. To this purpose i bought the ND400 Hoya filter. 9 stop less ligth, 400 times longer exposures.
by the way,yours can be used to capture lovely portraits with beautiful bokeh even in bright sunny scenarios. You can widen by 4stop your aperture keeping the right exposure even in full sunny days.
Hope to be helpful.
later i found out that ND filters can create a clearer/more colorful picture in bright days.
later i found out that ND filters can create a clearer/more colorful picture in bright days.

I have heard this theory as well, and while I can envision reasons why it might be true, I've not seen any actual evidence of it, and I don't know enough about photosite design to decide based on the physics.

The idea is that for very fast shutter speeds, (1/2000, etc...), the sensor captures information less accurately than it does if the light has more time to register. I can see this being true if there is some limit to the slew rate at which photons are converted to electrons. If whatever physics happens at the photosite to enable this process occurs at some finite speed, then it's conceivable that photons are capable of striking the sensor at a rate faster than this, resulting in some of them not being converted to charge. I don't know if this is actually the case, maybe someone who actually understands sensor design can help out. If it is true though, using an ND to slow down the rate of photon strikes would actually work in producing more accurate colors.

... as a side note. If the effect I described doesn't actually happen, and a sensor is instead able to record any real world rate of photon accumulation with the same accuracy that it would a longer exposure, I have an idea of why people may subjectively "believe" their NDs are helping them. The ND that I use causes a decent amount of vignetting, as a result of the light simply travelling farther through the filter at the edge of the frame since it's non-perpendicular. I notice as soon as I pull up an ND image in an editor for the first time, the vignette makes the scene "feel" deep and makes the colors "feel" more saturated. That's my take anyway, maybe they actually are more saturated as a result of some sensor property, but to me it feels like an effect of the vignette.
Something tells me using an ND, especially since most people don't buy the good ones, is going to do more harm than good if you're looking for colors and saturation. The loss in IQ is probably going to outweigh any color you may think you get.

NDs can allow you to get more dynamic range in your photos, however. If you use a graduated ND filter to darken the skies or other highlighted portions, you'll get a more evenly-exposed photo, and more dynamic range than if that spot was overexposed, obviously.

Now, I can see you might get better colors if you use a variable ND since they work with 2 CPOLS, which give you better colors, and lose non-mirror reflections.

Either way, I think you're looking for the wrong type of filter if you're wanting better colors.


Most reactions

New Topics