Skip to main content

Naming of neutral density filters for DSLR photography

Planning to invest in a decent filter system to include in your photography gear? I am sure the nomenclature might have confused you a bit. In addition to my own ND filters set, I got lucky to be able to borrow a few grad filters from my friend who is a professional wedding photographer This allowed me to fiddle around a bit with different level of optical density and thus served as the photography inspiration behind this post. 
                               
naming neutral density dslr filters
Long exposure shot using a neutral density filter
The naming of the neutral density filters (either gradual or non-gradual) is a kind of myth, but this short and sweet post will make it easy for you. Some filter manufacturers name them as per optical density of the filter while others focus on f-stop number. The table below relates optical density, filter factor and f-stop number for neutral density filters.
Optical density of filter:

0.3 0.6 0.9 1.2 1.5 1.8 2.1 2.4 2.7 3.0 

Filter factor:

2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1024

F stop:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Example: 0.9 ND filter. This means it is a 3 f-stop ND filter. Similarly, a 10 f-stop ND filter would have an optical density of 3.0. So we have got the basics of neutral density filters, let's now talk a bit about the main motive behind spending money on density filters. There are certain aspects of photography which require a use of ND filter. For example: 
1) Outdoor portrait photography: Neutral density filters help for outdoor portraits in broad daylight. Example: Sun is behind your model or subject. In this case, a balance between ambient light and subject exposure can be achieved by using a fill flash and ND filter. Fill flash will prevent shadows on the subject face and pop out the subject more. Another way can be setting exposure to the background which would require a very high shutter speed and great flash power. 
2) Landscape photography. Shooting in harsh daylight sun can be made possible by using ND filters of higher optical density. Capturing sunset over the beach using ND filter gives a nice and silky effect to waves and leads to properly exposed sky. ND filter actually allows a longer exposure as it minimizes the amount of incoming light. 
Pro Tip: If you find it hard to focus post attaching a higher value ND filter, focus before on a point (either manually or auto) and then switch your lens to manual mode. Slide the filter in front of your lens and boom. Another way can be bumping up the ISO all the way to allow your camera focus through the filter and then lowering it back. There is a huge debate about using screw on density filters vs square shaped filters which require a holder system such as Lee SW150. 


If you found this post helpful or informative, share the photography love. :)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

sRGB vs Adobe RGB colour space explained

Digital images are everywhere, both offline and online. Each digital image is made up of a large number of square sized individual pixels. Zoom into an image at 2000 % or more in any of the viewers, you will see these pixels. Here is an example:


In order to categorize pixel colours, RGB and CMYK are the two widely used colour models. According to the RGB colour model, each pixel colour can be considered as an addition of different shades of red/green/blue light. These light shades are calculated according to the bit depth of the image. Jpeg images are usually 8 bits per colour channel (red, blue or green), which means 2^8 ( 256) different shades of each red/blue/green colour are possible. Few examples to make it clear how different colours shades are represented:
Red: (255, 0, 0)
Green: (0,255,0)
Blue: (0,0,255)
White: (255, 255, 255)
Black:  (0,0,0)



What does CMYK do? It is a subtractive colour model for printing purposes and stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. According to …

5 things to know before switching DSLR between Canon and Nikon

Photography is an expensive hobby or profession and everyone wants the best bang for every dollar they spend. This applies to any photography equipment starting with low-cost tripods to super expensive professional grade lenses. I am sure all of us must have heard of Nikon and Canon. The good old battle between these two DSLR brands will never end. Whether you are a beginner or a full time professional, there are a few quirks everyone should know before switching camera between these brands.
1) The used market for Canon gear is just enormous which makes a good plus point for investment and buying decent used gear. Go to craigslist for a given city and search used photography gear, the difference will be easily noticeable. I searched for 10 different cities in Canada and all had comparatively more listings for Canon.
2) Nikon has better dynamic range cameras. Dynamic range is the ability of the camera to sense the lightest and darkest scene in a given photo retaining as much detail as…

Digital photography histogram explained for better photos

The ability to read histograms in digital photography is an excellent skill that every photographer should have. Getting a properly exposed shot is crucial when it comes to photography, and using the histogram is a solid way to achieve it. That 2 to 3 inch LCD screen located on digital cameras is only a quick way to look at the photo exposure and its details. In harsh lighting or vivid ambient lighting conditions, it can prove to be misleading to the human eye. Sometimes the LCD brightness level can also create issues with judging the exposure of a shot. So what does histogram explain about an image? How can histogram help you to take better images? In this beginner-friendly post, I will try to answer these questions. You can consider it as a tutorial or cheat sheet for digital photography histograms.
Photography histogram image examples: The histogram is basically a mathematical way of representing data, and it applies to digital image information too. In digital photography, histogr…