Today I picked up the Cokin P121F ND8 (3-stop) Graduated Neutral Density Filter from Broadway Camera at Central City. I wanted the Graduated Neutral Density Filters because I'm not one for sitting in front of a computer for too long editing photos. I like being behind the viewfinder and it felt really good to pick up the camera again after a long while of recuperating from a throat infection. I also like the fact that if you do it 'in-camera' it lessens the amount of time that you have to do post-processing in the computer.
The filter comes in a nice little plastic pouch that will probably give out sometime with a lot of use, this will mean that we will have to look for a filter pouch, preferably a Lowepro or Tamrac which is made to take some abuse. These resin filters must be babied as the slightest scratch will ruin these 'drop-in' filters. These 4x4 Cokin 'drop-in' filters are different from those you screw in and are much more flexible in that you can adjust where the filter sits in the holder so that you can adjust the demarcation line on your filter. This allows you to follow the horizon line that is uneven.
This next shot here shows just what the Graduated Neutral Density Filter does for the shot in-camera with no touch-ups or post-processing. Note that in the shot without the filter, when I exposed for the ground, the sky completely blew out and there is no definition in the clouds. Whereas when I exposed for the ground and shot with the Cokin ND8 on that there is definition in the clouds and the clouds look more noticeably interesting.
The Nikon D300s with the Cokin holder and no filter on
The nikon D300s with the Cokin Holder with Cokin ND8 filter in and prepped ready for a shot
Finally a shot with all the bells and whistles (post-processing) done to it in Photoshop Elements 8.
The concensus is that there is a grey color-cast to this filter and it has to be corrected in Elements, either with the slider on the RAW/NEF editor or when you get to the JPG mode directly in the Photoshop Elements 8 Enhance>Adjust Color. But needless to say, pricing wise if you are taking the first steps into a 'drop-in' filter range, Cokin is a good set to start out with. I intend to upgrade to the Lee filters and give these ones to my wife eventually but when you're looking at $49.99 for Cokins versus $499.99 for Lee filters (reputedly the best on the market), it's quite a substantial expenditure that I would recommend for serious hobbyists as well as professionals. Lees do not color tint like the Cokins, but for $49.99, I will put up with that for now.
The next filter purchase will be an actual straight Neutral Density filter. Then I will be going to Bear Creek Park to photograph Bear Creek into misty water. Happy Shooting.