George Parapadakis (monocotylidono)

Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

My grandfather was a serious amateur photographer in the ’20s and ’30s, leaving me a legacy of stereoscopic pictures and...

Bargain of the week! "10+ stop ND" on a shoestring

Yesterday, I was admiring my friend Vikram Franklin’s experiments with a 10-stop ND filter and was scavenging the ’net for information. However, the prospect of spending nearly £100 on a filter is a non-starter at the moment…

While browsing on the ’net though, I came across an interesting discussion thread in a forum, which talked about using a welding filter instead!

Intrigued, I decided to order one of these filters (from www.darkmutton.com or just search ebay for “welding filter”), for the grand sum of £2.30, which to my surprise arrived already in the post this morning! So I had to try it out… :-)

Not the greatest shot of my garden, but here’s what the test looked like. Here is the reference shot (without the filter) and the final shot (with the filter):

As it turns out (from a quick calculation I did) the one I ordered (Shade 11) is actually closer to a 14-stop, as it took the exposure from 1/500sec to 120 seconds. Also, I have not sorted out the camera WB settings yet, so this was corrected in the RAW conversion. The actual shot looked like this originally:

The filter is 83mm wide, which is the right width for a Cokin P-series holder, but at 3mm thick it won’t slide in very easily. Also for these long exposures you will need something around the sides to prevent light creeping in. In my test I just used rubber bands to hold the filter against the front of my Sigma 10-20 lens, but if you look at this thread you will see more picture examples and different ways of mounting it on the lens.

This is by far the most fun I’ve had for £2.30 this week! I’m off to order shades 8 and 9 now and I’ll report back :-))

For a most comprehensive discussion on ND filters and their use (with lots of exmples!) I would recommend Peter Hill’s journal

NOTE: I’ve cross posted this into the Bargain Shooters Forum. You can “Watch that topic” for updates

UPDATE: 9 April 2010
I have finally managed to run some controlled tests with the complete set of filters. Here’s what works for me; For a full sunlight shot that would normally be 1/500sec, f:5.6 @ISO100 – (note: WB settings are for Sony a350, it might be different for your camera)
No Filter +0 stops, Daylight, 1/500 sec f:5.6
Shade 8 +9 stops, 4100K (full Magenta bias), 0.8 sec
Shade 9 +12 stops, 3200K (full Magenta bias), 8 sec
Shade 10 +14 stops, 4000K (full Magenta bias), 25 sec
Shade 11 +16 stops, 2800K (full Magenta bias), 120 sec (i.e. 2 minutes)

I also found that the width of the glass is different. Shade 8 fits into the middle slot of my Cokin holder, but the others are too thick…

Journal Comments

  • Vikram Franklin
  • George Parapadakis (monocotylidono)
  • Ursula Rodgers
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  • Mark Snelling
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  • Clare Colins
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  • Vikram Franklin
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