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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> filters on the camera vs. photoshop processing
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02/08/2009 09:34:51 PM · #1
I'm trying to decide whether to invest in a set of filters for my camera to start doing landscapes. The guy at the photo store says most people these days are making adjustments in post processing instead of using filters on cameras.

I wanted to start off with some neutral density filters to help me with sky issues, and then maybe get some color ones. What's better, the filter on the camera or processing for the filter effect in photoshop? Also, what about bracketing? I have a friend that does that instead - he said you can do it in photoshop or get a HDR program to pull the images together.

What do most landscape photographers here do to get those awesome shots?

If anyone answers, thanks so much for advice in advance!

Message edited by author 2009-02-09 01:10:03.
02/08/2009 09:38:01 PM · #2
Circular polarizer and grad ND filters.
02/08/2009 09:46:49 PM · #3
Originally posted by cpanaioti:

Circular polarizer and grad ND filters.

Agree. Might also consider normal ND filters if you want to plan to do a lot of waterfalls, rivers or large bodies of water and want that smooth water effect.
02/08/2009 10:28:33 PM · #4
Originally posted by ErikV:

Originally posted by cpanaioti:

Circular polarizer and grad ND filters.

Agree. Might also consider normal ND filters if you want to plan to do a lot of waterfalls, rivers or large bodies of water and want that smooth water effect.

Exactly -- you only need physical filters to control exposure characteristics -- color can be taken care of in post-processing.
02/08/2009 11:46:08 PM · #5
Ditto what the others said--

Also, don't break the bank for your polarizer and other filters. I've had good luck with moderately priced Cokin and HI-tech ND filters and Hoya Polarizers.

Buy a polarizer that fits your largest lens size, then add step down rings to adapt it for your smaller lenses. Saves $$

Good luck!
02/08/2009 11:55:35 PM · #6
Hi,

Filters offer advantages that HDR cannot, but both can get the job done. Here is a comparison of the filters vs HDR:

Filters vs HDR

Here are some good articles I found on the filter subject, and one on how to photo mountains.

//www.naturephotographers.net/articles1108/dw1108-1.html
//www.naturephotographers.net/articles1102/dw1102-1.html

02/09/2009 12:25:07 AM · #7
I'm not a landscape photographer but being somewhat of a perfectionist I would go the bracketed/HDR route.
02/09/2009 01:20:12 AM · #8
Thank you heli-guy for the excellent article links and especially the filter/hdr comparisons. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. They've been very helpful!
02/09/2009 01:31:21 AM · #9
A circular polarizer is a must I would say.
I use the Cokin filter system in the "P holder size", I have several graduated neutral density filters of different intensities. I use them mainly for longer exposures to balance the sky and land. I find it much harder to do long exposures via HDR or blending due to cloud or water movement from the different shutter speeds. You can still bracket images for HDR too if you buy the filters.
02/09/2009 09:57:13 AM · #10
Originally posted by dafletchr:

Thank you heli-guy for the excellent article links and especially the filter/hdr comparisons. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. They've been very helpful!


Most welcome. I too am trying to figure this stuff out!
02/09/2009 10:04:12 AM · #11
I always keep a couple of cp filters in my bag just incase i come across a rainbow. or a very bright reflective surface.
02/09/2009 10:16:34 AM · #12
I go for camera filters whenever I can. As a matter of fact, I almost never shoot landscape/seascape without ND grad filters.
02/09/2009 10:36:43 AM · #13
I use my Cokin P-series 3-stop graduated ND and 2-stop ND filters extensively when shooting landscape. Colour filters are easy enough to replicate with a white balance adjustment.
02/09/2009 11:30:48 AM · #14
Yes, though you can do things in post processing, filters are the way to go.

Post processing only allows you to modify what was captured, filters allow you to capture the data right in the camera. You always have the option to adjust the image even further in later post processing.

By far, the most important accessory for the landscape photographer is a polarizer filter. If you only buy one filter a polarizer is the one to get. For my upcoming landscape work I invested in a very expensive multi-coated polarizer and bought adapater rings to use it on all my lenses. (Btw, I don't count a UV filter because they are only used to protect your lenses anyway and you have to have them for all lenses for that purpose)

Neutral density are the second most important filter types for the landscape photographer. As mentioned, they have many uses and one of them is for natural image tone balance which is one of the things you are interested in with HDR.

Btw... Yanko is correct... you should always bracket images for HDR processing. You can't bring out detail that isn't there in a single image, you only simulate it; bracketing is the only way to capture the data to begin with.
02/09/2009 06:25:50 PM · #15
When shooting landscapes, why would one choose a GND or GND and ND combo instead of a CP?

I proposed this same question at the local camera store and the guy simply said "A GND makes the sky look good while they CP makes the whole pictures look better." I was hoping for a little more indepth answer. Can someone shed some light on this?

Also, do you guys really find it worth the extra money to spring for a B+W CP or just go for the less expensive Tiffen CP?

If it makes a difference I'm shooting with a Canon 40D and 24-105mm f/4L IS (77mm).

Message edited by author 2009-02-09 18:26:03.
02/09/2009 08:51:48 PM · #16
Again, I really appreciate all your help! From the majority of comments, I'm getting a circular polarizing filter and one or two graduated neutral density filters to experiment with first - I assume I use one or the other (PC or GND) - not at the same time. Then my plan is to experiment with bracketing/HDR and a couple of color filters.

Message edited by author 2009-02-09 20:59:10.
02/09/2009 09:01:29 PM · #17
Hi,

Yes you can use the two together. The Grad filters are used to control the contrast in the scene. Often the sky is too bright for the image sensor to capture properly when compared to the foreground. So you use a ND grad to darken the sky such that the entire image is within range for the sensor.

I have been stacking the filters using the Cokin P setup. You get a sprocket CP filter, and square grad filter.

One thing to be aware of is that some of the ND grad filters are not ND (neutral density), they are Grey gradient filters, and as such, they will cause a color shift in the image. The Cokin CP filter is not the best in my experience, it does take away some sharpness, and it does cause more of a color shift it seems then some others.

If you have the money, it seems the singh-ray filters are the best (I have the 2 stop ND soft and hard filters, and they work great). The two images in my portfolio are with those grads, and also using the cokin CP filter. I am not a pro, but so far, it is working pretty good (not to say my pictures don't need lots more work!).
02/09/2009 09:09:56 PM · #18
nice links to filter articles--I love my CP. However, when I was reading the articles in the links, I saw a mention of a blue/gold polarizer. I hadn't seen one of these before. Has anyone played with one?
02/09/2009 09:10:34 PM · #19
Originally posted by dpatterson:


I proposed this same question at the local camera store and the guy simply said "A GND makes the sky look good while they CP makes the whole pictures look better." I was hoping for a little more indepth answer. Can someone shed some light on this?


The guy was an idiot. If you are shooting a bright sky and want to allow a longer exposure for the ground, a GND is a perfect tool. Same if you are shooting water/land, where one is lighter than the other (waterfall for instance). Many people compensate for this in photoshop now, using tonemapping (often too much I think) and HDR, but the closer you get it right in camera, the less you have to fix it. The less you fix it, the better it blows up large...

Its not necessarily true that a CP will make an entire image look better. That would depend on your CP, why you're using it and how you use it.
02/09/2009 10:13:20 PM · #20
Originally posted by dahkota:


The guy was an idiot. If you are shooting a bright sky and want to allow a longer exposure for the ground, a GND is a perfect tool. Same if you are shooting water/land, where one is lighter than the other (waterfall for instance). Many people compensate for this in photoshop now, using tonemapping (often too much I think) and HDR, but the closer you get it right in camera, the less you have to fix it. The less you fix it, the better it blows up large...

Its not necessarily true that a CP will make an entire image look better. That would depend on your CP, why you're using it and how you use it.


Thank you dahkota. I appreciate your explanation. I'm going to end up getting a GND and CP.
02/12/2009 02:50:36 PM · #21
Originally posted by dpatterson:

When shooting landscapes, why would one choose a GND or GND and ND combo instead of a CP?

I proposed this same question at the local camera store and the guy simply said "A GND makes the sky look good while they CP makes the whole pictures look better." I was hoping for a little more indepth answer. Can someone shed some light on this?

Also, do you guys really find it worth the extra money to spring for a B+W CP or just go for the less expensive Tiffen CP?

If it makes a difference I'm shooting with a Canon 40D and 24-105mm f/4L IS (77mm).


Unless you are routinely making prints over 16x24 or so, I wouldn't break the bank on the most expensive CP. I have had good results with the Moose CP. A quick search shows it priced around $125.00. I don't think I paid that much... The B+W 77mm is listed at $175 at B&H.

ditto what dahkota said.
02/12/2009 02:52:50 PM · #22
Originally posted by vawendy:

nice links to filter articles--I love my CP. However, when I was reading the articles in the links, I saw a mention of a blue/gold polarizer. I hadn't seen one of these before. Has anyone played with one?


I've messed around with the Cokin version(<$50.00) but havn't figured out how to really use it. Singhray makes a more expensive version.

Check out ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' jdannels. He has several seascapes where he used the Cokin version.
04/12/2009 10:06:59 PM · #23
This just goes to show me how much I DONT know. A couple of years ago I was given 25 different Cokin filters to use on my Camera, but with all the whoopla about Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and the like, I just assumed no one bothered using filters when shooting digitally. I just thought I could do it all on the computer. Well, I pulled them all out of mothballs tonight and cleaned them up. Another reason I haven't used them was because I didnt have the adapter ring and filter holder to match my lens. I just ordered both and can't wait for them to show up. Oh what fun I am going to have..WOOHOO!
04/12/2009 10:29:36 PM · #24
Originally posted by PleasantDreams:

Another reason I haven't used them was because I didnt have the adapter ring and filter holder to match my lens. I just ordered both and can't wait for them to show up. Oh what fun I am going to have..WOOHOO!


I was shooting recently and had one of those lightbulb moments when I watched a friend handhold a conklin graduated ND over his lens, tweaking this way and that trying different things. The filter holder always seemed so bulky, but the idea of keeping a filter in a pocket to handhold seems like it would suit just fine.
04/15/2009 02:09:04 PM · #25
Originally posted by dafletchr:

I have a friend that does that instead - he said you can do it in photoshop or get a HDR program to pull the images together.


Impossible..or he's not sure how useful a r/G/ND filter along with a circular polarizer can be minus losing stops of light and gaining stops of light in another part of the scene.

I use singh ray Reverse Neutral density filters alongwith lee polarizers for cutting down reflections and flaring. They go the extra way that your camera can't go, but your eye cannot quite reach too.
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