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Testing my ND filters
with the One Dollar Resolution Chart


 
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For a general methodology description, look at my lens tests.

Here I'll only talk about the changes made for testing my ND filters.

First, a note: this results are not comparable with any of the previous ones, because the camera is different: now I'm using a Canon 550D, instead of a 500D.

I used two lenses: a Leitz Elmarit-R 35mm f/2.8, and a Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135mm f/4, both using fotodiox adapters (from Leica-R and M42 to EOS). I picked these lenses because one is my main lens, the other is the longest lens I regularly use (and ND filters are said to be especially bad with long lenses).

The accessories I have tested are the following:

Light Craft Workshop LCW fader ND mark II 77mm ($125 on ebay, bought from lightcraftworkshop-official-store)
Fotodiox resin ND2 filter for cokin P system
Fotodiox resin ND4 filter for cokin P system
Fotodiox resin ND8 filter for cokin P system (turned out to be two stops darker than ND8!!)
Tiffen ND 0.3 filter (screw-in 67mm, $25 at bhphotovideo)
Tiffen ND 0.6 filter (screw-in 67mm, $25 at bhphotovideo)
Tiffen ND 0.9 filter (screw-in 67mm, $25 at bhphotovideo)

My conclusions:

* The ND fader is terribly convenient, it is a delight to use, much, much, much better than the screw-in tiffen filters. But it will soften all your lenses. On a 35mm, there's a visible difference, but it's not a huge problem. On a 135mm, it is unbearable. So you only want to use it when there's no viable alternative: if you have the time to go through the pain of swapping filters, you want to avoid the fader. (edit: I sold my fader on ebay)

* The resin ND filters are cheap and convenient, not as much as the fader, but close enough, still worlds apart from the screw-in filters. But they still have a very noticeable effect on picture quality, again not much on a 35mm, but sometimes huge on long lenses. And that sometimes is part of the problem, as they offer very inconsistent results: of my three filters, one is extremely horrible, one is horrible, and the other one (the ND 0.9) is surprisingly clear... but nearly two stops darker than it should be (making it an ND 1.5 or something like that), and with huge IR issues that create a powerful color shift in daylight (you can't see it in my tests inside, and I haven't ran formal tests outside with this filter, but trust me: this makes it useless too).

* Future DIY project: build an adapter that can allow me to slide the screw-in filters into the cokin P filter holder (currently abandoned: I just forced myself to get used to screw-in filters).




please visit my equipment recommendations





















Results with Tiffen ND filters on the D800 + 85mm f/1.8 (at f/4)
(100% center crops from 36 Mpix stills)
 
filtersNo filterWith filter
no filter
0.3
0.6
0.9
1.2
0.6+0.9
0.6+1.2
0.9+1.2







Results with the 135mm at f/5.6: Tiffen vs Fader
 
Tiffen glass screw-infilteringLCW ND fader
no filter
ND 0.3
ND 0.6
ND 0.9




Results with the 135mm at f/5.6: Tiffen vs Resin
 
Tiffen glass screw-infilteringFotodiox resin filters
no filter
ND 0.3
ND 0.6
ND 0.9




Results with the 35mm at f/5.6: LCW ND Fader
 
No filterfilteringLCW ND fader
fader 0.3
fader 0.6




Results with the 35mm at f/5.6: Tiffen vs Resin
 
Tiffen glass screw-infilteringFotodiox resin filters
no filter
ND 0.3
ND 0.6
ND 0.9




Just for reference: results for $3 Chinese UV filter from ebay
(not comparable with previous results: different camera, lens, lighting, picture profile)
 
without cheap UVwith/withoutwith cheap UV
f/5.6




Sunshine color tests
Shots in daylight, just to evaluate the color shift
 
WB: sunny  
no filter
ND 0.3
ND 0.6
ND 0.9
ND 0.3+0.6
ND 0.3+0.9
ND 0.6+0.9
ND 0.3+0.6+0.9
no filter
CIR-PL
diffuser

.
.
WB: manual
.
.
 
no filter
ND 0.3
ND 0.6
ND 0.9
ND 0.3+0.6
ND 0.3+0.9
ND 0.6+0.9
ND 0.3+0.6+0.9
no filter
CIR-PL
diffuser




Copyright Similaar 2011 -- similaar.feedback@gmail.com -- @Similaar
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