A neutral density filter is one of the essential tools for a landscape photographer. Digital photography offers endless possibilities for experimenters.
What is Neutral Density filter
The Neutral Density (ND) filter is a filter placed before the lens to reduce the intensity of light. ND filter does not change the color of the light being captured by the camera. Long Exposure Photography is one of them. Control of Shutter Speed is the key technique to take LE photos.
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What is an ND Filter used for
This allows for creative effects such as using a wider aperture for Depth of Field effects or longer shutter speed for time-based effects like the water movement in the sea smoothing out, or the clouds blurring across the sky.
There are some ways to use a Neutral Density filter:
- Extended time exposures
- Reducing the depth of field in bright sunlight
- Adding motion blur to moving objects
- When using a wider aperture
Neutral Density filter Chart
Select the Aperture you'd need before adding the ND filter then drop the shutter speed or widen the aperture to compensate for the number of stops the ND filter has reduced.
ND filter reduces light by one stop has a filter factor of 2, two stop…4, three-stop 8, etc. Light reduction doubles for each further reduction in f-stop.
How do I know how long to expose for using ND filters past 30 seconds? This ND filter chart will help you.
Free download ND filter Chart PDF
Using ND filter
Do I need a using ND filter for Landscape Photography?
As I said, a Neutral Density filter is perfect to use to achieve long-exposure effects. Water, and particularly waterfalls, are perfect examples.
With ND filter, you reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor. It allows you to use slower shutter speed to compensate for the lost light.
OK, and what ND filter do you need? It depends on your creative idea.
If you want slightly blur the water you can use not high-density ND filters like ND2, ND8. And if you need a strong effect you should use ND400 or ND1000.
High-density ND filters need for daylight Landscape Photography. See the Neutral Density filter chart!
How do I know how long to expose for using ND filters past 30 seconds
Follow these simple steps:
- Determine your composition without the ND filter and focus your lens so that your image has the perfect point of focus.
- Set your lens manual focusing to prevent the lens from shifting the point of focus when you take the shot.
- Measure the exposure without ND filter.
- Add the ND filter to your lens.
- Use ND filter Chart for recalculated the exposure and remember it.
- Set a camera in Manual Mode and add Aperture and Shutter Speed.
- Take a shot.
Type of a Neutral Density filter
Most ND filters are round and screw onto the front of the lens. You need an adapter ring for using ND filter on different lens sizes. Some ND filters are square-shaped and are inserted into special holders.
Since using square filters allows for the most flexibility, this is the solution preferred by professional photographers
How to avoid terminology confusion
ND 0.9 vs. ND8 what the difference?
In fact, it is the same thing. The manufacturers label their filters using the Optical Density of the filter, and some of them use the Filter Factor.
Hoya, Cokin, B+W use the Filter Factor and it called ND2,4,6,8,10,16…
Lee, Tiffen use the Optical Density and it called 0,3ND…1,2ND…
Each step equals f-stop.
Example, ND1000 is 10-stop; ND32 is 5-stop. 0,3 is 1-stop; 0,9ND is 3-stop.
In other words, each subsequent ND filter doubles the Shutter Speed.