Because you can’t see through a 10-stop ND filter, they are not the easiest accessory to use. But once you know how to use a 10-stop ND filter correctly, it can totally transform your landscape photography and open up a world of creative possibilities. Here’s a simple method for ensuring sharp shots with your 10-stop ND filter…
01 Set your ISO to 100 (or the lowest that your model of camera allows).
02 Set your exposure mode to Manual (M), and set the shutter speed to the B (or Bulb) setting.
03 Set the aperture to f/11. Depth of field is rarely an issue in super-slow shots, as only the main focus of the picture needs to be sharp. The rest will be blurred anyway because of the long exposure.
04 Frame up the image using a solid tripod; check composition carefully.
05 Focus on the focal point of the picture using autofocus. Keep the AF beep on, to reassure yourself the lens has focused. If dark, use a torch to light up the spot you want the lens to focus on.
06 Turn the switch on the camera body from AF to MF. This means that the focus is now locked (but be careful not to touch the focusing ring on the lens!).
07 Take a test picture and check the histogram to ensure parts of the image are not blown out. Note the shutter speed that gives you the ideal exposure.
08 Put the neutral density filter on the front of the lens. An 8-stop or 10-stop filter is ideal (an ND2.4 or ND3).
09 Use tables or an iPhone app to convert the shutter speed in step 7 to the one you’ll need with the picture.
10 Fire the shutter with a cable release. Time the exposure using a watch or smartphone app, then close the shutter with the remote.
Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)
ND Grad filters: what every photographer should know
How to use an ND filter to clear crowds
4 tips and a cheat sheet for choosing the best ND filter