Adjustable Neutral Density filter

I just bought one of those adjustable Neutral Density filters (ND2 – ND400) that I noticed having surfaced on the market for very reasonable prices (I paid £13 for mine in 77mm size). Of course, one needs to be careful what one puts in front of an expensive lens as a bad filter will make a great lens look mediocre.
For the lenses of my 35mm cameras and DSLR I have sets of different ND filters: 0,3, 0.6, 0.9 for my prime lenses and it is always difficult to pick the right density factor straight away and sometimes I feel like I really need to add two or more of them together to get the reduction in light I want. The Adjustable ND filter covers a whole range and more and getting just one filter does make a lot of sense for people like me who carry lots of filters around in different colours and sizes.

I took my Pentax 67II and loaded it with some Fuji Acros 100 as I know that I wouldn’t need to correct for reciprocity failure with exposures of up to 30 seconds. My first trip took me to the Grand Union Canal around Rickmansworth.

The weir in the photo above was shot with an exposure time of 15 seconds. The water  flowing over the weir turned nicely white and the rest of the water developed that nice, undisturbed quality. To take this shot, I turned the filter until the camera’s TTL meter showed the desired exposure time in the viewfinder.

This second photo shows the lock at the same location, again the exposure time was set via the TTL meter and by turning the filter until an exposure time of 15 seconds was displayed in the viewfinder. As a result of the long exposure, the whirlpool in the front of the photo became a lot more noticeable.

The results were very promising, even in full sunlight the adjustable ND filter allowed me to chose exposures of 15 seconds. The next day it was one of those days you have occasionally in autumn: very clear but loads of wind. I figured that I could go to the Ruislip Lido and capture a couple of clouds in motion with an Orange Filter and the adjustable ND filter.

In the bright sunlight that would often suddenly change when a cloud covered the sun, the handling of extreme long exposures became tricky. But even if the lighting stayed constant, with the two filters, it looked like the TTL results where not reliable any more. To be investigated!

To summarize: The adjustable/variable Neutral Density filter I used did everything it promised on the box and I haven’t seen any drawbacks yet. It allowed me extreme long exposures that the camera could handle via the TTL meter. Only time will tell if the filter is durable but the construction does like solid and certainly not more flimsy than any polarizer filter that I own. The only (minor) remark that I have about this particular filter is that the filter size of the front of the filter is not the same as the filter size of the lens which means that once the filter is on the lens, you cannot use the lens cap for protection of the filter.

Peak District

Early October, the UK was bathing in a heat wave and we decided to visit the Peaks as it is located a mere two and a half hours away by car. We were clearly not the first to think of this as no Bed & Breakfast was available in the Edale area. We booked the last room in a hotel in nearby Buxton instead.

We arrived about lunch time and had a lunch at the Old Nags Head Pub in Edale which is also the start of the Pennine Way. After lunch we continued down the road of the pub and turned right at the Grindsbrook signpost to come onto some moorland (see above) and we followed the ever narrowing Grindsbrook until we turned around to check into the hotel.

The next day we decided to walk from Edale to the Edale Cross along the Pennine Way that leads from Edale all the way up to Scotland. The first part of this hike was easy, the path followed the valley floor until it arrived at a stone bridge after which immediately the Jacob’s Ladder begins which brought us on the plateau and to Kinder Scout.

Once above, it is just a short distance to the Edale Cross. The stone cross marks the boundary of the three wards at the Forest of High Peak: Campana, Hopedale and Longdendale and it is not actually on the Pennine Way which turns north to go up for Kinder Scout.

As indicated already, the trail was packed with hikers and I had sometimes to wait to get the photos I wanted. However, most likely due to the fabulous weather, everybody was super friendly and I didn’t mind.

My Pentax 645NII

The Pentax 645NII is an amazing medium format camera and although it does look a little different, it does handle like a modern 35mm camera or any DSLR for that matter. Would you attempt to shoot handheld with 1/15s with a 45mm or even the 75mm lens? No problem! Follow the link for the photos on my blog that I have shot with this camera until now.
I do own the following lenses by now:

  • Pentax 645 FA 75mm f/2.8
  • Pentax 645 FA 45mm f/2.8
  • Pentax 645 A 200mm f/4

Like the Pentax MZ-S, the camera does record details of the exposure on the rim of the negative which I find helpful and which I usually add to the scanned image as EXIF data with help of EfixTool GUI. This sounds like a lot of trouble for little, but the EXIF data can be useful in Adobe Lightroom in smart collections when the number of photos in a catalogue grows.

The 6×4.5cm sized negatives are awesome and do give me the low-grain negatives that you would expect. I love to use this camera with the ADOX CHS ART 25 film for super low grain and loads of grey tones.

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