As a photographer, you’re constantly seeking new ways to enhance your creativity and capture stunning images. And if you haven’t already, neutral density (ND) filters may be just what you need to take your photography to the next level. ND filters allow you to control the amount of light that enters your lens, providing you with greater flexibility and creative control over your shots. But with so many different strengths available, it can be overwhelming to know which one to choose. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the world of ND filters and select the right strength for your photography needs.
The strength of an ND filter is measured in stops, which refers to the amount of light that the filter blocks. The higher the number of stops, the darker the filter and the more light it blocks. So, how do you know which strength to choose?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the strength you’ll need will depend on a variety of factors, including the amount of light in your scene, the effect you’re trying to achieve, and the settings of your camera. However, here are some general guidelines that can help you get started:
ND8 | 3 Stop
A three stops ND filter is good for smoothing out dynamic water while retaining some texture. This is perfect for photographing waterfalls or seascapes. The target shutter speed is generally between 0.3 to 2 seconds.
ND64 | 6 Stop
A 6 stops ND filter is generally used during golden hour in order to create exposures of 1-2 minutes for smooth water or clouds. A 6 Stop is also great for capturing dynamic water while retaining some texture before the golden hour.
ND1000 | 10 Stop
A 10 stops filter is used during the day outside of golden hour as the bright ambient light requires much more ‘light blocking’. These can prolong exposures for up to 5 minutes during golden hour with the appropriate settings.
ND32000 | 15 Stop
A 15 stops filter can be used to achieve very long exposures in the middle of the day. With this filter, exposures upward of 5 minutes can be achieved even during bright sunshine.