I'm a digital video student who is looking to up the quality of his videos. For budgetary purposes, I'm picking up the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Autofocus Lens, over the more expensive 1.4 counterpart.
However, since I am picking up this lens to get shallow depth of field shots, I realize I need either a variable ND filter or set ND filters.
I primarily shoot my videos outdoors, often in bright light. In the past I've liked Tiffen Filters because they're made in the USA and work well for the price.
The answer I can't seem to find though is, what sort of ND filter or filters should I buy? A Tiffen Variable Density Filter at 52 mm on B&H is $100, while set filters from Tiffen at .3, .6, .9 and 1.2 are between 10-40 dollars each (the 40 dollar one being the 1.2).
So my questions are:
1) What ND filter do I need to get the results I want?
2) Should I buy set filters? If I buy these, which ones should I have in my arsenal? Just .6 and .9, or .3 and 1.2 as well?
3) Is it worth spending the extra money for the variable filter?
4) Are there other brands besides Tiffen I should consider?
I don't know about the different brands, but I do know that it is way, way more convenient to be able to just twist the variable ND to get your exposure, as opposed to screwing and unscrewing filters until you find the right one; at which point the light could change, or you change camera angles, and you have to start all over. Get the variable.
Absolutely agree, one Vari ND filter to rule them all! :-)
There are many articles on the web talking about different brands of ND filters, yet I have rarely heard the Tiffen to be on the recommended brands. Having up to 8 stops of light reduction is so very convenient and can be a life save in bright outdoor settings.
Shooting outdoors can be very challenging...you'd think it would be the easiest setting but that hasn't been my experience - as you mentioned, tools to soften or to cut light are essential to the whole shallow depth of field thing when filming in bright, sunny, outdoor environments.