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I'm really interested in long exposure photography and will be shooting the coastline in the Pacific Northwest, plus landscapes mostly in Colorado. I have absolutely settled on Singh Ray filters as my brand choice, but I'm so torn on which one(s) to buy. I've narrowed it down to a few choices:

  1. LB Color Combo filter (standard mount) stacked with a 10-stop Mor Slo (thin mount).

  2. Vari-N-Duo filter (standard mount) all by itself. That would at least give me up to 8 stops of ND. No color intensifier effect, though. Then if I needed more ND later, I could buy a Mor Slo to stack on top of it.

I'm kind of leaning toward #1, although I know that that would give me less flexibility as far as the ND, since it's fixed at 10 stops instead of variable. But on the other hand, if I didn't need any ND, I could just use the Color Combo by itself and lose a minimal number of stops.

  • I like Singh Ray, but realize 10 stops is a lot. You may consider adding a 3 to 6 stop to your set. Also, for my needs, I almost always use a ND Graduated filter with a soft edge. If you're considering sky/land images or sky/sea images, that may be very useful. Some use a reverse ND Grad for sunsets and sunrises. Lastly, because it is a ND Grad, get a rectangular filter larger than your lens diameter to be able to adjust the position of the gradient. - I know this isn't the answer your looking to get - so I put it in the comments. – B Shaw Aug 23 '14 at 17:02
  • Thanks. I guess I was just intrigued by what a really long exposure would do to water, clouds, removal of people from a static scene, etc. Maybe what I'll do is just buy the Vari-N-Duo for now, though. 3-8 stops of ND should be enough for a seascape sunset scene. As far as a reverse grad, that would be cool for the beach shot, but it won't be of much utility in mountainous Colorado. (Guess I'd have to go out East and take more plains shots.) So, not sure if it's worth the $120 when I don't think I'd use it very much. – Guillermo Rodriguez Aug 23 '14 at 19:23
  • I'm wooried about vignetting on my 10-22 lens, so I am thinking about taking another approach: The Lee Foundation System Holder, with a 4x4 Big Stopper and a Singh-Ray 4x4 Reverse Grad on it. Now to add polarization to that mix, that's where it gets a little messy. I can add a Lee 4x4 circular polarizer, but I really want just a screw-on polarizer for convenience, something I can just keep on the lens most of the time. So...thnking about the Singh Ray LB ColorCombo or the LB Warming Polarizer in STANDARD mount size for that purpose. – Guillermo Rodriguez Aug 24 '14 at 15:56
  • The standard mount would have the front threads on it to allow adding the Lee holder. But the question is -- am I defeating my anti-vignetting purposes by getting this standard-size screw-on polarizing filter? Ugh...Sometimes, I hate having all of these confusing, clunky choices. I just want something elegant and simple that works. – Guillermo Rodriguez Aug 24 '14 at 15:58
  • I like your thinking - A couple of things - youre probably not going to need your polarizer as much as you think with the NDs on camera. - regarding your 10-22 Wide Angle lens, I'd skip the 100x100 and go straight to the 150. Also, to try the concepts and the geometries - I bought those very cheap, ~20 USD, no-name, ND sets on EBay. So, before you spend a few hundred on a filter system, consider a 20 USD investment to show how various filter holder thickness will cut of your FOV, or how strong the various stops - not great quality - but useful to understand how it all works – B Shaw Aug 24 '14 at 23:50
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Are you sure that you want the "Color Intensifier" built in to the polarizer? Everything it does can be done better in software without spending $160 or more extra.

I'd get the variable ND filter (8 stops is still a lot) plus a regular polarizer.

  • Thanks for the input. You're probably right; I can get a good color intensifying look in software. But I like this filter's subtle intensifying effect; seems more natural than in software. Probably not worth the extra $160, though. – Guillermo Rodriguez Aug 23 '14 at 19:17
  • Have you worked in LAB? You can get better control of color doing so. – JenSCDC Aug 23 '14 at 19:22
  • What's LAB? Is that an acronym for something, or do you just mean working in a photo lab? EDIT: Oh wait, you mean the Lab color space. I usually do post-processing in the Adobe color space. Don't know much about Lab. – Guillermo Rodriguez Aug 23 '14 at 19:24
  • It's a color space that Photoshop offers in addition to RGB. If you're using a different program that can use PS plugins, the Curvemeister plugin allows you to use LAB. So how do use use LAB effectively? Get these books by Dan Margulis: "Photoshop LAB Color". His latest book "A Modern Color Workflow" is also very good, but is pretty much impossible to get cheaply. – JenSCDC Aug 23 '14 at 19:59
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Absolutely settled may be a little extreme without trying first;)

I have Singh-Ray and Lee filters, and use Lee holder and hood system with Singh-Ray and Lee filters. Lee big and little stopper (Singh-Ray offer very good 100x100 5-stop, 10-stop and 15-stop filters if you prefer SR), wide-angle and regular medium-wide (universal) Lee hoods, Lee magenta CC40m resin filter, Lee 105mm rotating polarizer - description here, Singh-Ray grads 100x150 (A.K.A. Galen Rowell filters), Singh-Ray reverse grads 100x150 (A.K.A. Daryl Benson filters) and Singh-Ray 100x100 LB Color Intensifier Filter are what I always have with me. If you are going to use very wide angle lenses consider soft-edge grads.

The enhancing filters change the spectrum of the light, so their effect can't be mimicked in post-processing.

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A couple of useful resources on this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pUBtZr5MYk

https://alexkunz.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/underexposure-salvaged/

I use the Vari-ND style filter but I know photographers who go the other route. Either works, with practice. What you need to decide is how useful the color enhancement is. My view is that there are times it's quite useful and other times it'll get in your way, so I'd carry it as my second filter set, not my first (which is why I'm carrying the vari-nd but not both styles now. Can't justify both in the budget yet)

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