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I would like to take long exposure shots in the day, but I just can't imagine how to do it because even fireworks (night shot) exposed for more than five seconds are too bright.

I did some research, and I guess it's because I have no filter. What do you recommend to me for night and for day for long exposure shots?

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I think the question should better rephrased to something like "what filter should be used to lengthen exposure?, because the word "best" only makes it subjective. –  Karel Aug 18 '10 at 16:58
    
Done :) I changed the title for yours. –  Daok Aug 18 '10 at 17:02
    

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You're looking for ND (as in Neutral Density) filter. They're usually marked as ND2, ND4, ND8, ..., each step indicating 1-stop change in your exposure settings. For example if you were shooting at f/2,8, 1/100, ISO100 then adding ND2 filter will give you options to shoot either at f/2,0, 1/100, ISO100 or f/2,8, 1/50, ISO100.

Most of recognized filter manufacturers have ND filters in their lineup, including Hoya, B+W, Singh Ray, Lee, Cokin.

Should you already own a polarizing filter you might use it to get rid of 1-2 steps of light or even combine it with the second polarizer to create a variable density ND filter.

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+1: for referencing that article. Random story: I posted a comment on that blog post on Feb 29th, 2008. –  Alan Aug 18 '10 at 21:05
1  
A word of caution - in theory you should be able to combine ND filters to get even longer exposures, but when you do this with Cokin filters the photos take on a pink cast. I've no idea why this is, but it is a common problem, so if you've not already bought into the Cokin system I'd go for Lee instead. –  Nick Miners Aug 19 '10 at 10:48

In addition to the ND filters Karel mentions, a circular polarizer will also reduce the light by 2 stops and, as an added bonus, cut down certain types of glare and reflection from things like glass, water, and other bright surfaces.

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+1 Useful additional tip that might not require any extra purchases (I tend to use CPLs as lens protectors, as they're so useful outdoors anyway) –  Rowland Shaw Aug 18 '10 at 15:47
    
Interesting choice, though there are times I'd prefer not to have the light loss, but I can see the benefit for certain types of outdoor photography. Mind you, I use the Cokin system, so my lenses aren't normally filtered until I need it anyways. –  John Cavan Aug 18 '10 at 15:57
    
I've read that you can use two (Non circular IIRC) Polarizers stacked on top of each other to create a variable ND filter. As you might be aware, two polarizering filters that are set to filter light perpendicular to each other will completely block light (try it with a couple of sunglasses!). I thought this was a unique solution. The obvious downsides are needing two non-cpls, vignetting, and possible ghosting. –  Alan Aug 18 '10 at 17:24
    
I've heard of that technique as well, which I always thought was interesting though I've never tried it since I actually only have one linear polarizer. I would think the other downside would probably be effect on autofocus, linear polarizers can mess that up. –  John Cavan Aug 18 '10 at 17:42
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@Alan @John - only one linear polariser, the one in the front. CPLs are just linear polarisers with a quarter-wave plate on the back. Typically, though, this setup takes you pretty far from "neutral" in terms of colour. –  ex-ms Aug 18 '10 at 18:41

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