Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Gadget Bag: Special-Effects Camera Filters
Craft the image in-camera instead of wrestling with Photoshop
Neutral-density filters reduce light transmission evenly without adding color or making any other changes to the scene. They’re labeled based on the amount of light they absorb: a 0.3 ND absorbs one stop; a 0.9 ND absorbs 3 stops. Standard ND filters are useful but boring. On the other hand, grad ND filters are cool because you can hold back exposure in part of a scene—the sky, typically—without reducing the exposure overall.
B+W offers more than 1,000 filters in standard screw-in configurations and more than 1,600 in all. Sizes range from 19mm to 122mm—essentially, there’s nothing they can’t fit. Many fall into the special-effects category, including every flavor mentioned here, as well as many others. For example, in the 55mm size, B+W provides four-point, six-point and eight-point star-effect filters. B+W was founded in 1947 and became part of the Jos. Schneider Optical Works in 1985. The merger of these giants has produced interesting products, including the world’s first filters with a water- and dirt-repelling multilayer coating.
Formatt Filters are mainly marketed toward motion-picture, video and broadcast-television camera users, but that doesn’t deter enthusiastic still photographers. The Supermist clear filter is a highly prized softening tool for knocking the edge off excessive sharpness and reducing contrast by slightly lightening shadow areas without detracting from the overall image. Formatt traces its heritage back to Reginald Morris, grandfather to the company founder, who worked for many years as chief physicist at Eastman Kodak and helped develop what’s now known as the Kodak Wratten Standard.
Heliopan supplies 13 types of polarizers, grad wide-angle filters and a full range of special-effects filters. For occasional close-up photography, nothing is more convenient than close-up filters. They can’t replace a true macro lens, but high-quality results can be achieved if you use a high-quality filter like those made by Heliopan. Available in four strengths (NL 1.0 through NL 4.0), they can be used in combination (NL 2.0 + NL 3.0 = NL 5.0, for example) for greater flexibility. All Heliopan filters are made from glass supplied by Schott (wholly owned by Carl Zeiss) and set in black, anodized brass rings.
Page 2 of 3
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!