Discussion Forum Leica S System S2 S2 Filters and Post Processing
  • #1164

    Since I haven t used filters much since moving to digital ,I was surprised at how many combinations were listed from the recent trip to New England . As a contrast I also looked at what the Tech Camera guys were using and even a LR workshop .

    Neutral Density …. I understand the need to use ND filters to achieve a slow shutter speed . Really doesn t seem like you have much choice if your goal is to blur the water flow.

    Variable Denisty …while I can obtain a similar look with post processing …I can t restore DR lost in holding the highlights . But otherwise I can t see a difference.

    Polarizer….understand the objective of enhancing the colors saturation and seeing into the water . But do I need this ? I also lose some of the reflected highlights ..do I want this ?

    Not being an experienced landscape photographer …I wondered what the consensus was on the use of these filters with the S2.

  • #1165
    Jack MacD

    One of the joys of digital has been the ability to “add filtration” in the post process.
    That is certainly true with B&W when any filtration can be added later.

    But Rodger, you described exactly the three pluses of filtration in the field.

    I used to use polarizers for blue skies. Not needed in the digital world. But in fall when you want the leaves highlights reduced, the polarizer was useful. And as you said useful on water. Also useful when stacking with a ND filter to get darker. However, I shoot a lot of panoramas, and a polarizer can make merging more difficult as it is more of a blending challenge. Net, I used the polarizer in a more limited way than others.

    The Variable Density filter was used regularly. I had a soft variation, David Farkas also had a “hard” version that I saw him use very nicely once. None of us had these ND's to start with, all of us bought and used them by the end. As stated elsewhere, I had used these years ago with a Pentax 67 but thought they were more useful as colored VariDensity filters then. Colored VD filters in a digital would are as unnecessary as are B&W filters. Back then the filters were plastic and I felt they degraded the glass of the lens, so I did not like to use them. Glass panels make a big difference.

    David's system was so precise, I enjoyed using it. David and Josh should do a video on how effective his system is, because words clearly can't explain how nice his system is. You live near to him, so just stop in his shop sometime and get a demonstration. Hey, have Josh video the demonstration. I sure was glad he had enough to sell to us all. The fact that we then all used it suggests you really ought to try it for your landscape. By the way, often on water, we would turn the filter up side down to cut the brightness of the water versus the foliage.

    The exception in the use of VariableD filters is this shot that we all joked needed a V shaped variable density filter. Here we all were using the S2 exposure bracketing ability and working exposure blending or HDR in post. So it wasn't like we were not shooting for Exposure Blending, it's just that few have been posted yet as the process is time consuming. I did this shot as fast as possible just for this post, and I need to revisit the shot to finish it. So I hope viewers don't jump on the image yet. The group shot was exposed for the map sign, and the blown out clouds were quickly and clumsily toned down in post.

    So, the variable density system costs several hundred dollars. What is you time worth in avoiding post work? David, after you get some micro prism finders in stock, work on a V shaped variable density ND filter please.

    Attached files

  • #1166
    David K

    Jack MacD;944 wrote:
    So, the variable density system costs several hundred dollars. What is you time worth in avoiding post work?

    Quick footnote…

    The 120 macro requires an additional filter or spacer of some kind. I wound up buying a polarizing filter for it because that's what David and Josh had with them. By the time I was done with the variable density, ND, polarizing filter and rings it was a bit over $1k. The holder kit does come a 77mm ring so you can use it on a bunch of your Nikon lenses too. So I will recoup some of this cost by selling my 77mm Singh Ray vari-ND which, by the way, wasn't cheap either.

    Roger, be happy to lend you my kit to play with when you're back in Jupiter.

  • #1167

    Jack David

    I understand the ND filter and POL benefits and trade offs. Is the primary benefit of the graduated density filter …the preservation of the DR ? E.g. bring down the sky while maintaining the shadow detail?

    Still in Atlanta thru year end but then I will borrow David s kit and try it out .



  • #1168

    I'm not sure I agree with not needing many filters because it can be done in post now with digital.

    When you deepen a sky in post for example, the level of noise and other factors makes it different form the rest of the image. If you are shooting non-moving stuff, you can shoot multiple exposures and merge them in post, but it is two or three different images shot at different times even if only seconds apart.

    For a softening effect, I like the Zeiss Softars which are impossible to duplicate on post.

    For a nice flexible filter system take a look at the LEE range of shades and filtration.


  • #1169
    David Farkas


    Sorry for the late reply. Just saw your thread while on a short layover in Charlotte. Heading home after the LHSA meeting in Pittsburgh for a few days before heading back out to NYC for Photo Plus. I only have a few minutes to answer, so here goes…

    The Graduated ND filters make a huge difference. All of the shots I've posted are single exposure captures. Not having to do HDR blending in post has two big advantages as far as I'm concerned:

    1) I spend less time processing. As has been mentioned before, 30 seconds adjusting a physical filter will save me several minutes of processing time. I like having (mostly) finished images when evaluating and selecting in LR as well, without having to process multiple files before making that determination.

    2) The quality is better and the result is more natural looking. HDR in post can often look artificial. I've found that by using graduated ND, the result is totally natural and more pleasing to the eye…unless, of course, you are faced with a non-linear situation like Jack's photo of Crawford Notch above.

    Keep in mind that we are using 3 stop grads. There is no way you'd be able to hold that much of a range in the highlights, even with medium format sensors. The other alternative is to underexpose the image by 3 stops, then pull up the shadows with a grad in LR and/or apply more fill light. The result is a pretty good amount of noise. By using the grad ND in the first place, you circumvent all the issues and just get a good result in-camera. Where's the harm in that?

    With regards to polarizers, there is no way to digital replicate polarization. It is an optical phenomenon, not a look. Taking shine off of leaves and wet rocks makes the colors pop so much more than attempting to adjust a color range in post. Again, a few seconds in the filed will save amazing amounts of time at home. And, I do agree with Jack here. When do stitched panos, the use of a polarizer is not recommended as you are changing your relative angle to the sun, resulting in drastically different sky tones.

    Marc, Lee filters are of the optical resin type, which I've personally found to be inferior to glass. They scuff and scratch very easily and attract dust like nothing else I've seen. Optically, especially when pointed in the direction of the sun, they degrade the image quality of the S lenses. The Schneider Schott glass filters have no negative effect on image quality when put in front of the S lenses.

    Hope this helps.

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