Are you also an owner of a GND Soft and Hard filter but just like me, find yourself in situations where you wished you had something in between? Look no further, finally there is a GND filter that will solve our problem :-)
Keen on feedback from photographers and with the aim to develop and create new products, NiSi, the Chinese camera filter brand company, released their first GND Medium filter two months ago. I’ve been a lucky owner since then and I’ve been very satisfied with the result and the use of it so I’m happy to share my thoughts and experience on the GND8 Medium filter from NiSi.
Before proceeding with a presentation of the filter, you might wonder why one should use a GND filter? The GND filters main purpose is to cover a background that is lighter than the foreground, in order to provide you with a perfectly balanced exposure throughout the image. An alternative is that you could take two photos with different exposures and then blend them into one in the post-production. However, as I prefer to edit as little as possible, I rather use a GND filter that is adapted to the situation I have in front of me, helping me to achieve the perfect balanced exposure right on the spot making the final photo as authentic as possible.
NiSi GND Medium filter
This GND Medium filter is made of high quality optical glass providing high definition and sharp result. Thanks to the nano coating on both sides ghosting and flare are prevented. The filter is water and oil repellent and therefore suitable for practically any type of weather. Further there is an infrared protection coating eliminating infrared light to pass through the lens, this results in ultra low color cast and provides you with results in natural color. The NiSi GND Medium filter exists in 2-, 3- and 4 stop, the one I have used in this review is 3-stop. Last but not least, the maintenance of this filter, a simple microfiber cloth will make it shiny and clean as new!
In the field
The GND Medium filter is compatible with NiSi filter holders but also filter holders from any other brand that supports 2 mm thin filters. With the help of the live view in your camera you’ll see until what part of the field you’ll need to bring down the filter when sliding it through the holder. The dark graduated part should cover the sky. As any other NiSi filter the GND Medium filter comes in a sleek leather simili case for protection and safe storage. It is easy to travel with and to maintain. Keep a microfiber cloth in your bag as that is all that is needed to clean the filter after usage!
So far I have only been shooting with it in areas of Paris, which has been very useful as a GND Medium filter is in most cases the filter you would need as you’ll have horizon with protruding elements. The result I’ve achieved with the GND Medium filter has been very satisfying, perfectly balanced photos from foreground to the background, no need to edit the protruding elements in the horizon line as I would have been doing if using a GND Hard filter. Instead I have attained a fulfilling result already on the spot. And as any other filter from NiSi the photos has been sharp with natural colors. Below you’ll see two photos, one taken without the filter and one with:
Above you can see two SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera) photos. In the left one, no GND filter was used and this results in a pretty over exposed sky. In the second photo the GND8 Medium filter from NiSi was used resulting in a more balanced exposure, from the sky to the foreground.
How to use the GND Medium filter from NiSi
The NiSi GND medium filter is very easy to use as their other filters. When you have attached the filter holder on to your camera and also set the polarizer, make sure you are in Live View mode and simply slide down the GND filter until you have the sky fully covered with the darker part of the filter. If you are using an ND filter, the GND filter should be in front of it, if not, it should be closest to the polarizer.
In the video, you’ll see how to use the GND filter. After attaching the filter holder onto your camera you simply slide it through and by the help of your live view in your camera you will see when you have the sky covered by the graduated part of the filter.
Comparision between the Hard and Medium GND filters from NiSi
Why use GND Medium filter if you have a GND Hard filter? A GND Medium filter, as previously explained, has a medium transition on the horizon line and therefore, elements such as mountains, buildings, trees etc will not be covered by the darkest part of the filter. No more you will need to recover objects in the post-production that has turned dark due to the GND filter. You will leave the field with a photograph containing a perfect exposure from the foreground to the sky.
As you can see in the video above, where in situations the GND Hard filter would underexpose elements such as buildings etc the GND Medium filter is more adapted and manages those scenes better thanks to the softer transition.
The NiSi GND Medium filter is the filter you would most appreciate when you are out shooting and have a horizon line with protruding elements. I have now used it for weeks, testing the GND Medium filter on the field and I have been very satisfied with the result. In a city you can hardly find a scene with a clean horizon, there are in most cases always protruding elements so it is very useful for cityscape photos. For me, the medium filter has been a product I’ve wished to have for long and it has now a secure place in my filter bag both in Paris and when I’m off on photo adventures!
If you have any questions in regards to the filter feel free to comment! And don’t forget I organize photo-tours in Paris but also customized lessons on the field if you wish to learn how to use ND and GND filters.