I was thinking of purchasing the Singh-Ray 77 Vari-N-Duo Polarizing Variable Neutral Density Filter. It is a lot of money so I'm not treating the decision to purchase it lightly.
I first read about it when a Nikonian moderator said he used it. I was wondering if anyone has had experience with this filter. I would also be interested in finding out what focal length lenses it works best with.
I am about to attend a workshop in Yellowstone and Grand Teton and was thinking of purchasing it for this trip.
I've got the Vari-N-Duo. It's my most used filter in the Smokies for stream photography. I've been using it for 5-6 years. I still look for overcast conditions, but it provides the 15-30 second exposures I am looking for.
The VND combines a CP with a Variable ND filter. The filter in theory provides 2 2/3 to 8 stops of ND effect, but in practice the extreme end can be a little blotchy. I probably use it to 6 stops.
The filter essentially combines two polarizing filters, so you can get some blotchiness at extreme levels with wide lenses. If you use it during the day in bright sun or with sun falling on the camera, you could get a magenta effect from IR leakage. You need to be sure to use the blind or cover the viewfinder in direct sun.
To use it, you set the ND effect first and then adjust the CP to taste. I often need to dial in some exposure compensation with stronger effects.
On FX bodies you may get some vignetting. The thin model is better for FX. You can avoid vignetting by zooming in, stopping down, or using lenses with a smaller than 77mm filter size along with a step up adapter ring. DX cameras do not vignette most of the time with FX lenses, but with DX lenses they may vignette.
I'm not sure of your planned use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. There are some places with moving water, and places where slowing down the exposure to capture clouds might be useful. You might get some interesting effects with some geysers. But I think the MoreSlo or BigStopper might be better choices for extreme ND effect. The MoreSlo and Big Stopper do not use a CP, so you avoid the blotchy skies with wide lenses.
Also keep in mind you can use the multiple exposure function to simulate long exposures. If you combine 7 separate exposures in the camera, the effect looks similar to more than two times the actual elapsed time.
>I'm not sure of your planned use in Yellowstone and Grand >Teton. There are some places with moving water, and places >where slowing down the exposure to capture clouds might be >useful. You might get some interesting effects with some >geysers. But I think the MoreSlo or BigStopper might be >better choices for extreme ND effect. The MoreSlo and Big >Stopper do not use a CP, so you avoid the blotchy skies with >wide lenses. > >Also keep in mind you can use the multiple exposure function >to simulate long exposures. If you combine 7 separate >exposures in the camera, the effect looks similar to more than >two times the actual elapsed time.
I think the MoreSlo, after you've explained it, is more what I'm looking for, at least for this planned trip. I have taken a number of images of moving water, including waterfalls, where the Singh-Ray would have been very useful, if I'd owned it at the time.
I do now own a Circular Polarizer (B&W Slim MRC 72). Before buying my D700 and FX lenses, I used it with my Sigma 17-70. The problem is that now I own the 70-300 (67 filter size) and the 35-70 (62 filter size) and will be purchasing the 16-35 (77 filter size) before my trip. Would the MorSlo in size 77 work with these FX lenses using the appropriate step-up rings?
Thanks everyone for jumping in and sharing your experiences with the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo.
I have a full set of the P sized filters. If I were to do it over, I probably would choose the larger 4x6 filters as they are a little easier to hold and reduce vignetting with wide lenses.
Starting fresh - the 4x6 are a little more expensive (nearly 50% more expensive) but they are a bit better for FX cameras. With a DX camera you can more easily use the P sized filters. The one exception is your 10-12mm ultrawide will benefit from the larger filters.
Here is a link to the Singh Ray Grad ND filters. I'd think about a 3 stop soft and a 2 stop hard for your initial purchase. For situations with the sun on the horizon shooting toward the sun, the 3 stop reverse is also a good choice.
The standard 84mm x 120mm filters fit a Cokin P holder. You also need an adapter ring to attach the filter holder to the front of your lens. You get adapter rings in the appropriate size - they are inexpensive. The adapter rings are available in kits to save a little money - see link below.
I agree with Eric's comments. Thinking back to my visits to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons I don't recall a lot of opportunities for the use of this filter. I have used mine mostly in the Smokies as well. For your coming trip I think investing in ND Grads and a good circular polarizer is probably the best use of your filter dollars.
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I ended up purchasing a Marumi DHG Digital Variable ND ND2-ND400 at about 40% of the price. It works as advertised, but the dreaded X factor asserts itself at focal lengths of 28mm at less. It also blocks a little more purple and blue light than I'd like.
I'll be giving it more of a workout this fall.
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A big huge thank you to all that replied to my question. Your advice was much appreciated. Here is an update to let you know what I ended up doing.
I took your advice and put my $$$ into a new circular polarizer for the 16-35 wide angle lens and ND grad filters. I purchased the larger ND grad filters and the polarizer from an online retailer and had them shipped to the place where I was staying in Moran, WY, which is close to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton. They arrived on Monday and I was able to use them all week. I think my images were much better than if I had gone without using them.
The online retailer had a special price for a set of Hitech 4x5 filters (1 stop, 2 stops and 3 stops), the holder and the adapter ring. As it turned out, I ended up hand holding the filter in front of the lens and did not use the holder at all. Our instructors told us they did not use the holders and shot without them in almost all cases.
Here's one shot I took while at Grand Teton National Park.