All posts tagged filter

My Better Half bought me a GoPro Hero3+ for my birthday (that’s already a while ago, but a lot has happened in the past months).
I tried videography with my D800, but I must honestly admit it is not my thing. It’s too bulky and too much of a hassle, and really, my heart’s not in it. I’m a still photographer.
But with the GoPro things are very good, very easy, not a hassle and especially now that I’m diving so much, the GoPro is quick and easy to take a long.

But there we ran into the problem. On land the GoPro is fabulous. Fantastic colors. But in the water, as soon as you get below 3-4 meters everything turns blue.
I’m kind of at a loss that GoPro themselves doesn’t supply the necessary filters with this. They supply the craziest things as accessories with the little camera, and Hero3(+) comes by default in a waterproof housing. So you’d think that the good people at GoPro made this thing to go under water.
I started Googling red filters for GoPro. A couple of hits came out of that, but the one that stood out for me was the PolarPro link.
I was a bit hesitant at first, but decided to go for the Switchblade, which is a combination of red filter and macro filter.

And see here. The difference is remarkable.

The video above was a quick test just for the sake of showing the difference with filter and without filter. It was shot at about 5 meters depth.
It works really great between about 4-15 meters. When you go deeper, the effect of the loss of light will be heavier, and the red filter won’t be able to compensate as much as it would at shallower depths. The compensation will stay closer to the camera and further away the blue will still come out.
But nonetheless, it really works wonders.

Being a photographer, and having much experience with macro photography, I must say that the macro filter doesn’t do much for me personally. There is a slight difference, but just slightly. Close focusing will still render the video out of focus.
Now when I go out with the GoPro I will just leave both the red filter AND macro filter on. It doesn’t make much of a difference anyway.

Customer service
Initially getting the package was quite an operation.
I’m at the moment located in quite a remote location and having the package sent over proved to be quite a challenge. The postal service in this place is marginal at best, and delivery of anything seems to be subject to the mood of the post man. So when, after a month, I still hadn’t received the package, I contacted PolarPro and asked them about it. Since I hadn’t received a tracking number, I had no way of tracing the package myself. But they could, and I was told that the package had been stuck in customs.
But no worries, they would resend a new package with DHL, and it should arrive in 5 days (“yeah, right”, I thought). And indeed, 5 days later the package arrived. I had to pay some taxes and duties, but I had my package.
And I was eager to try. The next day I wanted to give it a try, and to my (unpleasant) surprise I found that the filter did not fit the Hero3+. The package read SwitchBlade 3+, and I ordered it from the Hero3+ accessory section of the website, but after inquiring again with PolarPro we found out that this really was the filter for the Hero3, which has a slightly different case around the lens. It’s still unclear how this mistake occurred, but the great people at PolarPro did not hesitate to send a new package, again with DHL, and sure enough 5 days later the new package arrived. And this one did fit.

PolarPro requested I return the other filter, which in any other case I would happily do, but like I mentioned before, the location I’m in is quite limited with its services, and right now even the ferries to and from the island are mostly out of service (until further notice). It would cost me two days and about 200US$ (excluding sending the package) to get to a location to return the package from.
I wrote PolarPro a mail and explained this to them. I told them if it was possible they would just charge my credit card for the extra filter (it was only 60US$), because that would be way cheaper for me in the end.

I promptly received a mail back from them telling me to never mind, it was ok. No need to worry about anything, no need to pay or return anything, and thank you for shopping with us.

You want customer service?
This is it.
This is the kind of customer service any company can set as an example.
This is the kind of customer service I haven’t received in a very long time.

Thank you, PolarPro!

Last year I bought from B&H Photo Video a Singh-Ray VariND filter.
I’m the kind of guy that wants to have all the good stuff, but I don’t want to have to haul around so much stuff. And since one ND filter rarely does the job, I wanted something that WOULD do the job, but would also give me the flexibility to “change” the filter if necessary.
I had my eye on a VariND filter for awhile already, but I couldn’t really justify the costs (they come in at $340, which is quite a steep price I think). But I was extremely happy when I got it, and I’ve been using it a lot. It’s absolutely worth the investment, especially considering the fact you get ND1-ND8 in one filter and if you’d have to purchase these filters individually you’d be out of a lot more cash.

But… Recently I started experiencing some weird stuff going on. I noticed it for the first time a couple of months ago when I was shooting some images for my “Commuting” series. A weird red “blob” appeared right through the center of the image. At first I thought it might be some funky polarizing going on, but that’s not it. It now appears -only at the darkest setting- indoors, outdoors, in natural light, in bright sunlight, in tungsten light… Everywhere.

It didn’t used to be there. The images I shot and posted in this post were shot also with the VariND and at the darkest setting. They don’t have it.
This is how it looks:

VariND problem

D800, ISO100, 30 sec @ f/16, Nikkor 50mm, VariND filter at its darkest setting

I have no idea what could be the cause of this. I cleaned the filter several times, there’s no other filters on top of the VariND that could cause this. I didn’t drop it… I’m in the dark…
I sent Singh-Ray a mail about it yesterday, let’s see what they come up with (if they reply).

Of course I can fix it, that’s not the problem (there are few things that I can’t fix in Photoshop), but it’s a pain in the ass, because it’s local and not global, so you really have to be precise with the masks and everything. I wouldn’t want to do this to a series of 100 pictures…

VariND filter problem solved

D800, ISO100, 30 sec @ f/16, Nikkor 50mm, VariND filter at its darkest setting and some Photoshopping à la Arno

Not too long ago I bought a new toy for my camera. Had been drooling over it for a looooong time already, but never got it, because they’re hard to get from here (and with a hefty price-tag) and it would still be quite expensive to order from the States anyway. But then the other day I finally made up my mind and ordered it from B&H.

It took me awhile before I got the chance to actually test it, but some nights ago I went out to this place I’ve been looking at for some time, and set up the “gear”. And in these neck of the woods you really NEED this gear. Especially around this time, when the sun sets around midnight and rises again an hour later without it getting dark completely. And even then it was still so light and bright that I couldn’t get it exposed any longer than 30 secs. It worked fairly ok. There was a decent wind that kept the waves rolling and the boat bobbing on the waves, so that gives a nice little touch to the image.
This image was shot just after 8pm, and it was like mid-day. I really need to go out after midnight to catch some of that civil twilight. Maybe then I can up the clock to a minute or so…

Question now is (again): which one’s better? The color one or the black and white one?

Boat and pier

Both images shot with D700, ISO200, 30sec @ f/16, Nikkor 50mm, 8-stop VariND filter

Boat and pier