Which filter to use for long-exposure seascapes
These super-strong 10-stop neutral density filters are available from quite a few manufacturers, and there are two main styles: square or round. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
We first tried the Lee Big Stopper (£100; www.leefilters.com) square filter, for use with its filter holder system. A big advantage was that it was so easy to remove and replace for focusing and composition changes, and it’s easy to use a second filter at the same time, such as a graduated ND or a polariser. It also had the most neutral colour of the filters tested.
The biggest disadvantage was that with strong side lighting, light would leak in, causing streaks at the side of the image, even though the filter has black sticky foam on the back to help seal it against light leakage.
Unlike the Lee filter, no additional filter holder is necessary (although it makes sense to buy the size for your largest diameter lens and use step-up rings to fit the filter onto smaller lenses), and the key advantage is that because the filter screws into the lens, light leakage from the side is completely eliminated.
The B&W filter had a slightly warm, brownish cast (although this was easy to remove in Photoshop). In contrast, the Heliopan filter was reasonably neutral, although it didn’t quite match Lee’s offering.
Overall, Heliopan’s filter offers the best compromise between quality and value.
PAGE 1: Seaside Photography Tips – 01 Break the rules!
PAGE 2: Seaside Photography Tips – 02 Camera settings
PAGE 3: Seaside Photography Tips – 03 Attach the filter
PAGE 4: Seaside Photography Tips – 04 How to calculate exposure (free cheat sheet)
PAGE 5: Seaside Photography Tips – 05 Beach challenges
PAGE 6: Seaside Photography Tips – 06 When to shoot?
PAGE 7: Which filter to use for long-exposure seascapes