Tag Archives: Neutral-Density

NiSi Filters: Initial Impressions

Today I picked up my new NiSi filters.

My filter kit now consists of:

  1. NiSi 150mm x 170mm Nano IR 1.2 (GND16/four-stop) soft graduated neutral-density filter;
  2. NiSi 150mm x 170mm Nano IR 0.9 (GND8/three-stop) reverse graduated neutral-density filter;
  3. NiSi 150mm x 150mm Nano IR 3.0 (ND1000/ten-stop) neutral-density filter; and
  4. NiSi filter holder for Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM.

I just had a look at my new filters, and my initial observations are as follows:

  1. They are extremely high-quality glass filters.
  2. The filter holder for my Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is surprisingly large and heavy for its size.
  3. A 150mm filter is literally a handful; two hands are needed to safely mount and dismount filters this size.
  4. Extra care will be necessary when using them, as a drop could be disastrous.
  5. They take up considerable more room in the camera bag — particularly the filter holder.
  6. NiSi products are very nicely packaged.

The NiSi 150mm system is quite a change from my former Lee 100mm resin filters.

I am looking forward to using these.

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New NiSi Filters Ordered

Having recently replaced my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM with a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, my Lee 100mm filter system was rendered obsolete.

Unfortunately, 100mm filters are not wide enough to work with the 14mm lens.  What I now need is 150mm filters, and I decided to invest in the NiSi 150mm filter system, which seems to be popular with landscape photographers.

Yesterday I ordered a filter holder specifically for my lens, a 150mm x 170mm 1.2 (four-stop) soft graduated neutral-density filter, a 150mm x 170mm 0.9 (three-stop) reverse graduated neutral-density filter, and a 150mm x 150mm 3.0 (ten-stop) neutral-density filter.

This lineup should nicely cover my needs.

Fortunately I was able to sell all of my other filters in one go (including some screw-on filters which were also surplus to my needs).

I am looking forward to picking up my new filters next week and putting them to use for some landscape photography and long-exposure cityscape photography.

Which Filters for Landscape Photographers?

A discussion about creative filters on an Internet forum got me thinking, and prompted me to post a quick article here on a question new landscape/seascape/cityscape photographers often ask: Which filters should I buy?

I personally recommend Lee filters (although I have a HiTech filter in my rig), and use the Lee filter holder and adapter ring.

I shoot cityscapes, landscapes and seascapes, and generally don’t use graduated ND filters for cityscapes, as I tend to only shoot at twilight, or otherwise when the light is soft and low in contrast.

For landscape and seascape images, particularly when shooting towards the brighest part of the sky, I recommend the following kit:

  1. 1.2 (four-stop) soft GND;
  2. 0.9 (three-stop) soft GND;
  3. 0.6 (two-stop) soft GND;
  4. two 0.9 (three-stop) ND; and
  5. ten-stop ND.

Apart from the 1.2 GND, this is the combination I use.  (At the time I bought my filters, the 1.2 GND may not have been available.)

I sometimes stack both of my grads, which provides for a five-stop transition.

My view is that 0.3 (one-stop) grads are useless in harsh Australian light.  For the money a good grad filter costs, I’d recommend something far more effective.

Some people recommend using hard grads for scenes with flat horizons (eg, ocean views), but in my experience of having shot a lot of seascape images, I’ve never found soft grads to be lacking.  Soft grads offer more flexibility and a less-pronounced transition between filtered and unfiltered subject matter.

Now, Lee filters are not particularly cheap, and buying all of the above equipment will be a rather expensive undertaking; so if I had to recommend a single filter to someone whose budget is only so accommodating, I would recommend the 0.9 soft grad.

Similarly, if someone could only have one neutral-density filter, I’d recommend 0.9.

A three-stop filter of either kind provides a good middle-of-the-road approach if one’s limitation is a single filter.

Natutrally, a photographer will quickly find a single filter limiting, but as a starting point it will provide sufficient flexibility.

Hitech 10-Stop ND Filter on Order

I’ve just ordered a Hitech Pro Stop 10-stop neutral-densty filter.

As its name indicates, it’s a neutral-density filter which reduces the light intake by ten stops.  When fitted to a lens, the Pro Stop ten-stop filter reduces the light intake to about a thousandth of the light otherwise seen by the lens.

This significant light intake reduction allows for blurring of water, cloud and other movement in bright light, which can result in some dynamic, striking images.

I’ve been wanting a ten-stop ND filter for quite some time, and as a user of Lee ND and GND filters, I had hoped to procure a Lee Big Stopper; but this filter is unfortunately very hard to obtain, with long waiting times.

In the mean time, the newer version of the Hitech ten-stop ND filter has been receiving some positive reviews and gaining popularity amongst photographers like myself who are keen on long exposure imaging.

One of the big advantages of the Hitech filter is that it has a rubber/foam gasket on the rear side of the filter, which shields the lens from light spill between the filter and the filter holder.  It’s also cheaper than the Lee filter, and is made from resin rather than glass.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with this filter in my seascape, landscape and cityscape photography.