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Not long ago, filters were part and parcel of any worthwhile camera system. If you wanted to warm up the palette of a dreary day, you used a filter. Ditto for converting daylight to tungsten light, tungsten to daylight, and daylight to (or from) fluorescent lights. And then you had red, yellow, orange and green filters for modifying tonal values when photographing black-and-white landscapes and the sort.
Nowadays, virtually every digital camera features in-camera filters and Scene modes that address these needs. And for every in-camera filter and special effect your camera lacks, there are an endless number of post-capture electronic filters and filter plug-ins that can do everything except eliminate glare and reflections (see Polarizing filters), cut through haze (see UV and Skylight filters) and keep dust and smudges off the front of your lens (see Protective, Skylight and UV filters). As a result, many photographers view filters, unfortunately, as little more than relics from the days of film that are difficult to justify in a digitally driven workflow.
One company that bucks the trend toward electronic filtration is Singh-Ray, a company that creates filters that go well beyond the parameters of UV, color-correction, “regular” Polarizers and similar garden-variety filtration. Instead, Singh-Ray’s engineers tackled tougher filter-related challenges, including infinitely variable neutral density (ND) filters, filters designed to intensify select slices of the visual spectrum and Polarizing filters that in addition to glare and reflection control also allow you to warm or cool the scene by simply rotating the filter ring.
And that’s why Singh-Ray filters, which are manufactured from the finest quality optical glass and resin materials, are still considered essential imaging tools by serious enthusiasts and professional still photographers and cinematographers alike.
One of the shortcomings of Polarizing filters—regardless of the manufacturer—is the amount of light they gobble up when used at their extreme settings. Singh-Ray’s optical engineers went to work on the problem, and their efforts have come to fruition in the form of Singh-Ray LB Polarizing filters, which at their maximum Polarizing position, allow passage of about 66% more light (1.3 stops) than conventional circular Polarizers. The net gain is a brighter viewfinder image, faster shutter speeds and quicker AF and AE response rates, most notably when shooting with smaller-aperture lenses.
Singh-Ray LB Polarizing filters are available in two types: Neutral Circular and Warming Circular, in a choice of standard ring thread sizes ranging from 52mm to 82mm. Singh-Ray’s LB Polarizers are also available with thin-profile rings for wider-angle shooting in 77mm and 82mm sizes.
If you photograph landscapes or other outdoor imagery you’ll truly appreciate the way in which Singh-Ray LB Color Intensifier Filters enhance the saturation levels of the green, red and warmer-toned colors of the visual spectrum without affecting the neutral areas in the scene you’re photographing. Singh-Ray LB Color Intensifier Filters, which have a 1/3-stop filter factor, are available in 52mm to 82mm thread sizes and are formatted for use in Cokin P filter holders. The visual results of LB Color Intensifiers can be subtle, but they add a large measure of atmosphere to “blah”-toned outdoor scenes regardless of whether the sun is shining or hidden behind cloud cover.
Cokin P-size filter holders are designed for use with square and rectangular filters with an 84mm width, and Cokin Z-Pro filter holders are designed for use with filters of 100mm widths.
When you combine an LB Polarizing filter with an LB Color Intensifier filter, you get a Singh-Ray ColorCombo Filter, which gives you the advantages of glare and reflection control along with saturated red, green and warm-toned colors in the scene. Singh-Ray ColorCombo filters, which are available in 52mm to 82mm thread sizes as well as a version for use with Cokin P filter holders, have a 2-stop filter factor, which is a full stop faster than individual LB Polarizer and LB Color Intensifier filters stacked together.
Neutral density filters have been around forever, and depending on the manufacturer, are available in full-stop, half-stop, third-stop and even tenth-stop increments. Depending on your needs, ND filters can be stacked together to create any number of density levels, based on how wide you want to keep your lens aperture or how slow you want to drag out your shutter speeds, without affecting the color qualities of the scene. ND filters also come into play when shooting film and video as a means of maintaining the critical exposure parameters inherent to cinema and video capture.
For straight neutral density needs, Singh-Ray George Lepp Solid ND Filters are available in one, two, three and four-stop increments, and in 77mm thread sizes, 4 x 6-inch rectangles (special order only), and for use with Cokin P and Cokin X-Pro filter holders (special order only). Made from optically pure resin, George Lepp Solid ND filters are neutral and only affect the volume of light passing through the camera lens.
Depending on how much light you need to block in order to capture whatever effects you’re trying to achieve, it’s not unusual to stack two or more ND filters in front of your camera lens. The problem with this old-world approach is that the more filters you stack, the more likely you are to degrade your image quality, not to mention introduce vignetting issues. And that’s with good glass.
The beauty of Singh-Ray Vari-ND filters is that they allow you to dial in two to eight stops of neutral density steplessly by simply rotating the outer filter ring. Available in a choice of 77mm and 82mm, Singh-Ray Vari-ND filters eliminate filter-stacking issues and greatly streamline the ND filtering process, allowing you more time to concentrate your efforts on creating strong imagery.
Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo Filters take the Vari-ND concept one step further by adding a warm Polarizing filter into the mix. Available as 77mm standard ring and 77mm thin ring only, Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo filters enable you to steplessly dial in anywhere from 2 and 2/3 to 8 stops of neutral density, eliminate distracting reflections and glare, and warm up the ambient color temperature of the scene. For photographing seascapes and similar scenarios featuring flowing water on dull or gloomier days, Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo filters are indispensable.
Made from CR-39 optical resin, Singh-Ray’s Galen Rowell’s Neutral Density Graduated Filters make it a snap to level the playing field between bright skies and darker foregrounds in landscapes as well as the light fall-off between bright windows and darker interiors when photographing the interiors of homes, office buildings and the atriums common to many hotels and shopping malls.
Available in a choice of one, two, three and four-stop increments, Galen Rowell’s ND Grad Filters can be purchased with soft edges for gradual fall-off or harder edges for sharper graduations. Singh-Ray’s Galen Rowell’s Neutral Density Graduated Filters are available in 4 x 6-inch, Cokin P and Cokin X-Pro formats.
Daryl Benson Reverse ND Graduated Filters take traditional graduated neutral density filters and go one step further by starting with a clear bottom (or top), which graduates with a sharp break to a darker neutral tone, and then lightens up a bit as it reaches the opposite edge of the filter. This configuration allows you to hold back the bright light of a sunrise or sunset in order to darken the foreground and background areas far more dramatically than normal grad filters.
Singh-Ray Daryl Benson Reverse ND Graduated Filters are available in one, two, three and four-stop increments in 4 x 6-inch, Cokin P and Cokin X-Pro formats.
If you need a single neutral density filter that can knock out a full five stops of light, look no further than Singh-Ray Mor-Slo ND Filters. In addition to delivering a five-stop punch in a single bound, Singh-Ray Mor-Slo filters can be used with Singh-Ray Vari-ND filters that together enable you to dial in anywhere from 7 to 13 stops of neutral density steplessly from an optically viable two-filter sandwich. Singh-Ray Vari-ND filters are available in a choice of 77mm and 82mm, in both standard and thin-ring mounts.
In the world of diffusion filters Singh-Ray Tony Sweet Soft-Ray Diffuser Filters stand out in their ability to diffuse while creating a soft glow around your subject, regardless of your working f-stop. Available in 77mm and 82mm sizes (standard ring and thin ring) as well as 4 x 4-inch and Cokin P-formats, Singh-Ray Tony Sweet Soft-Ray Diffuser Filters can also be combined with other Singh-Ray filters for additional creative visual effects. Singh-Ray’s Tony Sweet Diffusers can be used effectively and creatively for shooting portraits as well as landscapes.
Singh-Ray Strip filters, which measure 84 x 120mm (Cokin P-size), feature a centrally located band of neutral, pink- or orange-colored density along the center of the 84mm axis of the filter. Designed to add a touch of neutral or color density along the horizon lines of sunrise and sunset landscapes, Singh-Ray Strip filters modify the image density of the center portion of the image without affecting the color or exposure levels of the top and bottom portions of the frame.
More than your typical UV filter, Singh-Ray Hi-Lux Warming UV Filters feature an additional layer of amber filtration. With a warming quality slightly shy of an 81a color-correction filter, Singh-Ray Hi-Lux Warming UV Filters improve flesh tones—particularly when used with electronic flash—and also warm up landscapes and cityscapes when shooting outdoors. When shooting during the summer months Hi-Lux Warming filters can take the edge off the colder and harsher light caused by the higher angle of the midday sun. Singh-Ray Hi-Lux Warming UV Filters are available in 52mm to 82mm standard thread sizes (thin rings in 72mm, 77mm and 82mm only) as well as for Cokin P filter holders.
For photographers who prefer taking pictures beyond the fringes of the visual spectrum, Singh-Ray offers the I-Ray Infrared Filter. Available in standard thread sizes ranging from 52mm to 77mm (and thin-ringed 77mm only), Singh-Ray I-Ray Infrared filters transmit about 90% of the 700 to 1100 nanometer portion of the IR spectrum while blocking virtually all visual and UV light. The end results are bold monochrome images featuring black skies, white foliage and any number of visual surprises depending on your subject (and what your subject is made of), the ambient temperature and ambient lighting conditions.
The process of capturing IR imagery varies depending on whether you are shooting film or digitally. Additionally, digital cameras manufactured prior to 2002 may or may not have different exposure parameters than digital cameras produced after 2002.
Singh-Ray recently introduced their most substantial, long-exposure-inducing solid neutral density filter ever: the Mor-Slo ND 10-Stop Filter. This optically dense filter provides a highly effective reduction in exposure, allowing you to utilize larger apertures or longer shutter speeds for greater control over motion and selective focusing in bright conditions. To read more about these remarkable creative tools, click here.
If you desire more information about the Singh-Ray product line, stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, speak with a sales professional on the telephone at 1-800-606-6969 or contact us online via Live Chat.