Lens filter, I think is the most popular gear for landscape photography. But rarely used for any other kind of photography. Model photography doesn’t use it, street photography doesn’t use it. The reason I can think of is that filter manufacture only advertises their product only for one photography genre, landscape photography. But that doesn’t mean it can only be used for that. Today I want to talk about a particular filter used for a particular photography genre. This is a super stopper ND filter for black and white fine art photography.
I previously wrote about the only 3 filters that matter. All of them have a common function, to reduce the amount of light coming into the camera. One of those filters is a solid neutral density filter. In this post, we will talk about a particular kind of solid neutral density filter that can only be used for one reason, to create super long exposure. A 15 stop neutral density filter, or also known as a super stopper. A super stopper is not the most popular ND filter because it reduces too much light and is not that easy to be used. So it can be used for everyday landscape photography. But one particular effect this filter can do is perfect for my kind of photography, black and white architecture fine art photography.
(Oh, this probably gonna end up like a camera gear review, but that is not the purpose of this post)
Let me show you my 15 stops ND filter.
NiSi Nano IR ND32000 (4.5) 100x100mm
I use a NiSi Nano IR ND32000 (4.5) 15 stops filter. I have been using this filter for more than 10 months now and I haven’t stopped using it ever since I bought it.
There is many 15 stops filter brand. NiSi, compared to brand such a Lee or Formatt-Hitech, is actually a rather new filter brand. But the high quality it offers and really great review that I saw on the Internet makes me buy this brand of filter. To tell you the truth, the reason I bought it is not only for the high quality. Also, my brother already has a set of Lee brand filters, it feels wrong to buy the same brand. So I just want to have a different brand, but not as bad as Lee filter. And I’m sure glad I bought this NiSi filter.
Oh, by the way. It’s a 15 stops filter. So a tripod is really necessary. Also, I just bought this NiSi filter holder V5 Pro.
The highest quality ND filter for NiSi is when the filter’s name starts with “Nano IR.” That means if you looking for the best ND filter on the market, you can find it by looking for that name. Here are this filter’s features:
- Ultra-Low Color Cast
- No Vignetting
- Ultra-Low Reflection
- High Definition
- Nano Coating On Both Sides Water & Oil Repellent
- Environmental Optical Lens Glass (H-K9L)
At first glance, besides the long exposure to the sky, do you see any different? I’m not. And this is what we wanted from an ND filter.
On the very first try using this NiSi 15 stop ND filter, I realize that there’s no color cast. Unlike when I used my brother Lee Filter my photo turn bluish, caused by a color cast. But using the NiSi filter, I see none. Actually, its quality is much better than without a NiSi filter. Which surprise me. It feels like the filter increase the saturation and color quality, creating some higher definition into the photo than without the NiSi filter.
Of course, when we analyzed it in more detail, we can tell there are few differences between without NiSi filter and with NiSi filter.
First, if we check the sky, the one with the filter turns out more blue than the one without the filter. You can assume it as a color cast. But if we check the color of something besides the sky, there is a little change of color. But soo little. You probably can’t even see the difference.
The second is the sharpness in the detail. If you check the one with filter lines is more clear and more contrast than the one without the filter.
That moment I realize the NiSi filter worked best for me. But that is not the reason why I particularly bought a “15 stops” ND filter. The reason is that my black and white architecture fine art photography always works best when taken in long exposure, which can be done using an ND filter that reduces so many lights in, such as a 15 stops ND filter. So how is this super stopper ND filter for black and white fine art photography?
Super Stopper ND Filter for Black and White Fine Art Photography
Because fine art is subjective photography, this is my opinion based on my personal experience with NiSi Nano IR ND32000 (4.5) 15 stops filter. So I’m not sure you will feel the same way. But it works perfectly for me.
These are some reasons super stopper ND filter for black and white fine art photography.
The first thing that a filter that can reduce light up to 15 stops. So the main purpose of this filter is to create a long exposure effect, no matter what time of day it is. Even in the middle of the day. It works great for me because when I’m going for a photo walk, I usually up to midday, which is not ideal for photography. But the only choice I got. With 15 stops filter, I can still create long exposure, even in the harshest light.
Another reason why super stopper ND filter for black and white fine art photography is in the detail. I’m not exactly sure if this is the filter or my camera fault. But when I’m using the filter, my photo got a bit softer on the detail. In many cases, that is a bad thing, but not for me. When I said softer, I’m not talking about the sharpness of the photo.
I’m not sure if you can see it. But when I see the overall photo, I can see the texture of the surface gone softer. But in detail, there is no change in sharpness. This works perfectly for black and white, especially my kind of black and white fine art photography.
In black and white photography, there is a term called texture contrast. It means that we can differentiate each part of the texture, up to the detail, and from that, we can see something that I liked to call a pattern in texture (don’t know if the term actually exists).
In black and white photography, the texture contrast can be seen more clearly than in color photography. Photo with high texture contrast gives an impression of harshness or hardness into the photo. Completely the opposite of what I want, which is soft and smooth. One way to reduce texture contrast is to increase the distance between me (the camera) and the subject. Another way is to reduce it in Photoshop. Then I found another way.
What I found out throughout my 10 months using NiSi Nano IR ND32000 (4.5) 15 stops filter is that I can reduce texture contrast. I didn’t expect this when I bought it, but it worked. Just a theory, but I guess the long exposure it creates from using a 15 stops filter creates a soft blur into a photo. Not enough to cause a blur that can ruin a photo, but enough to create a bit of softness in the detail of a photo.
That’s why NiSi Nano IR ND32000 (4.5) 15 stops filter works great for my black and white fine art photography.
Now, just because the super stopper ND filter for black and white fine art photography is NiSi, doesn’t its the only brand. There are many brands that produce 15 stops ND filters. So I’m not actually promoting the NiSi brand. But since I have it and I already compared it with Lee Filter (which I borrow from my brother and used, without permission), I found NiSi is much better. And that is the story of my most expensive photography gear yet, besides the camera of course.
If you want to buy one, remember the name start with “Nano IR.”