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Graduated ND

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Danny Grizzle
Graduated ND
on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:44:18 pm

Any experience or suggestions?

I shoot a lot of exteriors, though rarely with an unbroken horizon. The obvious application is avoiding blown out skies and clouds.

Redrock Micro makes an optional 5.65" x 5.65" filter holder ($170), but no 4" x 5.65" vertical like Chrosziel.

Each 5.65" x 5.65" ND grad costs approximately $140 by Cavision, $280 by Formatt, $435 by Tiffen, or $500 by Schneider.

Two types are offered: soft edge and hard edge.

Formatt and Schneider have a wide range including color grads, but Tiffen offers only a 0.9 ND soft edge.

My brand preference is Tiffen, but I think they are late to supply 5.65" x 5.65" (not that I want to spend $3k on a full set, or $6k for a full selection of soft and hard edges.)

I'd particularly be interested to hear from editors and colorists who have worked with footage in post shot with graduated ND. Is this a wonderful thing worth the money? I expect so, given DSLR footage and the imperative to get things right in camera.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Graduated ND
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:43:39 pm

I've got a Formatt 4"x4" graduated ND. When you've got earth and sky in one shot it definitely helps even out the exposure. I also have a Formatt polarizer that helps make the image pop. I should be getting my Lightcraft Workshop Fader ND any day. It's going to be fun to experiment with long exposure timelapses.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Danny Grizzle
Re: Graduated ND
on Jun 18, 2011 at 1:24:05 am

What is your opinion of Formatt?

I bought a bunch of their polycarbonate (?) filters a few years ago for my last matte box, a Chrosziel. From the looks of their website, they are only making glass filters now.

Format filter quality was fine, but the thinner thickness made them sloppy in the filter holder, partly because they seemed just short of 4" x 4" also. The whole issue of keeping them pristine bothered me because the plastic slip cases they shipped in were shoddy, and I didn't think the polycarbonate would withstand a conventional square filter pouch. So I bought a little Rubbermaid plastic tool box for them. This was just enough to put me off the brand, but perhaps I should reconsider.

The Formatt website is great, especially compared to Tiffen, which is a disaster. On the Formatt website just now, I was looking at 5.65" x 5.65" ND grads within seconds. Tiffen, you can't find anything, even when they make it.

Maybe I should go with Formatt again. There is probably a case to be made to stay in one line on ND filtration. I know I bought some circular screw in ND recently, on the heavy end of ND, and Tiffen was less expensive and more neutral. The most expensive filter I bought was a B+W, which has a very pronounced color cast.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Graduated ND
on Jun 18, 2011 at 1:42:53 am

My ND Grad was about $180 when I bought it a few years ago. I think it's glass. It came in a nice padded cordura pouch with a large microfiber cleaning cloth. They seem pretty nice to me.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Danny Grizzle
Re: Graduated ND
on Jun 18, 2011 at 2:26:13 am

BTW - let me know how you like the Lightcraft Workshop Fader ND. I've bought several, and I really like them. I consider them standard equipment for my DSLR video cameras.

One thing about the Lightcraft Workshop Fader ND Mk II design -- it pretty much precludes use of the lens manufacturer lens hood. I can see a lot of situations where it will be necessary to flag the lens, maybe even with a c-stand on time lapse. Otherwise, an assistant.

The matte box rig will be my primary camera in more challenging situations. Right now, I can't rig it to anything other than my 5D Mk II.

My Chrosziel matte box cost a ton of money, and I've kept it in immaculate condition, with its own Pelican case. However, there was no practical way to convert it for DSLR use, so I bought a Redrock Micro matte box. Redrock calls theirs "microMatteBox" but there is nothing micro about it -- the thing is huge and heavy. I'm not unhappy, especially considering it cost 1/3 what was paid for the Chrosziel, and it is a more flexible and versatile matte box, also, including a swing away design, which adds substantially to the bulk and weight.

My objectives with this matte box are a little different, also, so I am looking at new filters. Mainly ND. The Chrosziel was bought for SD, and I was using ProMists and such to soften hard edges a bit. Specifically for DSLR, Tiffen just announced two sets of 4" x 5.65", ND mainly. These are designed or endorsed by Shane Hurlbut. They run about $2k total, and include a giant circular polarizer which is a mystery how it would fit.

Formatt would definitely be less money. I'm tempted to order one from B&H just to check it out before committing to the whole line. Tiffen needs to get their act together on 5.65" x 5.65" ND grads, and also redo their entire website because it is impossible to locate specific filter products.


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