If you are into landscape, seascape or cityscape photography I’m sure you have heard of or are using GND filters. In this article I will introduce you to two different Graduated Neutral Density filters from the camera filter brand NiSi.
Graduated Neutral Density filters allows you to obtain a more balanced exposure on your capture. Forget about ending up with a dark foreground when you capture a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or a great exposed foreground but with an overexposed sky. GND filters prevents an overexposed sky, you will succeed taking perfectly exposed captures where details in the foreground are visible. During sunset or sunrise when the sun is strong, you can easily cover it, with either a hard or soft GND filter and obtain the perfect exposure of your foreground and sky.
I have had the great opportunity to try two different Graduated Neutral Density Filters from the camera filter brand NiSi. One Soft GND filter and one Hard GND filter. These GND filters are made of high quality optical glass with nano coating on both sides. The GND filters has an ultra low reflection and an ultra low color cast. They are designed in a way that will not give you any vignetting and there is also an infrared protection coating layer in order to eliminate infrared light to pass through the lens, this provides you with results in natural color. The filters are both water and oil repellent and very easy to clean (using a simple microfiber cloth).
The Soft GND filter is ideal to use when objects such as buildings, mountains, trees or other objects intervenes and cross the horizon line. By using soft GND filter in this type of situation you will avoid a hard line on the object/objects. Perfect when shooting among mountains or in cities.
The Hard GND filter is ideal to use when you have a clean horizon line, a defined transition between land or sea and the sky. A favorite among seascape photographers!
Below you can see a test I did with the Hard 3 stop GND filter from NiSi:
Where to place the filter
On the field
These two GND filters have joined me on adventures to Brittany in the search of lighthouses, to the magical Golf of Poets in Italy, to the rough and windy Iceland, to the charming Normandy and lately to Ireland. In other words I have had the opportunity to try them on many different locations and in distinct weather conditions. One might think that glass filters are extra vulnerable than filters made in resin for example and would rather choose the later one in order to avoid any fatal accidents on the field. BUT quality should, in my opinion, be the first priority, and that is what you get with the filters fr NiSi. Handle them with care and they will remain intact! The filters are delivered with a faux leather case which is great to store them in. However when I travel I put all my filters in one filter bag which has worked out very well. Not only will you be surprised with the high quality result but also I’m sure you will appreciate how easy they are to use on the field.
Ever since I started to use these filters I did not only fell in love with their high quality rendering but also the fact that they are so easy to clean and maintain! You must wonder why? Well, as I often do seascape photography during pretty rough and windy situations, the filters are exposed to wind with saltwater and sometimes I get caught under lighter rain. It’s a nightmare to clean filters if they cannot endure this kind of weather conditions. However with NiSi GND filters all I’ve needed to do is to use a dry microfiber cloth swiping away the raindrops with. No smudge left on the filter = I have been able to continue my shooting without taking a break. I’m also very pleased with the very low color cast. The worst thing I know is to find myself with photos with horrible harsh colors and over-saturation. Thanks to the infrared protection the result in term of color is as natural as possible. It is also a great advantage that these filters are made of high quality optical glass as they provide with a sharper and high defined result. The GND filters from NiSi has clearly fulfilled their purpose and I will continue to use them in my future photo adventures. I can therefore without any hesitations recommend them and I’m sure you will be pleased as much as I am using them on the field.
The GND filters courtesy of NiSi. All content, photos and opinions expressed here are my own.
Are you curious on shooting with GND filters? I would be more than happy to show you how to use these on the field, read more about my photo-tours for more information.