/ Whatever happened to Cokin filters?

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Martin W 10 Jun 2019

I remember back in the 1980s these things were all the rage - to an almost ridiculous extent (I lost count of the number of landscape shots "improved"/faked/spoiled by graduated tobacco filters).  In these days of digital photography and kind of jiggery-pokery which can be achieved on the computer after the event, I assume that there's little use for such tools any more.

But what about people who still shoot on film?  Sometime a graduated ND filter might come in useful (although film, having AIUI a wider dynamic range than digital, doesn't suffer quite so much from blown-out skies or dark foregrounds).  And a subtle starburst can add a certain je ne sais quoi to an otherwise run of the mill urban street screen or the like, or a soft filter to a portrait.  But IMO the gimmicky image manipulation filters/effects such as the more out-there ones amongst those reminisced upon on this web page:

https://www.ephotozine.com/article/experimenting-with-filters-from-the-eighties-i-have-never-used---come-check-out-the-results--32530

should probably never have been given space in any self-respecting photographer's outfit case.

I understand that you can still buy Cokin and other brands of square filter.  But I can't recall seeing anyone using one recently.

Is anyone on this forum using Cokin or other square filters?  Anyone have any other views/opinions?

jethro kiernan 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I still occasionally use Lee filter set up with a Cokin  ND grad and a 10 stop Lee ND, 

i don’t carry them around all the time now as the dynamic range on my full frame is pretty awesome.

still use them for seascapes and some landscapes but a 100mm set up is pretty bulky so not for carrying in the rucksack all the time 

Durbs 10 Jun 2019
In reply to jethro kiernan:

Yep, same - used to have a set of graduated filters, but TBH the dynamic range of my camera shooting RAW is insane, and as they'll be run through Lightroom anyway, it's easy to stick the grad filter on in post...

Also, one less piece of glass/plastic to clean.

Still use a polarizer obviously, as that can't be done in post...

Very occasionally I'll use a 10-stop, but a cir-pl, plus ISO50 and a small aperture usually gets me there anyway.

Toerag 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I only use a CPL, but grad filters are useful for HDR scenes if you're not into doing software HDR.

Escher 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I sometimes use them for filming to achieve a certain shutter angle (to avoid blurring or choppy footage) or when shooting a timelapse without using an intervalometer and just a slow video fps rather than individual images. Both cases require tight control of the ambient light to get a slowish shutter speed. 

Martin W 10 Jun 2019

Thanks for the replies.

So, for specific and largely technical uses they still have a place.

But at least we do seem to be spared the over-use of coloured graduated filters that seemed to get thrown at every possible subject when they first came on the market!

For CPL and the like you can use screw-in filters, though I suppose if you have a number of lenses then a system that can be used on all of them with a set of different-sized adaptor rings also has its uses.

HeMa 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Martin W:

They are still very much in use. But perhaps more focussed on the ND (gradient on no) side and CPL, instead of those fancy effect things (where LR & other digital work has more or less added the same and some more possibilities in post).

Also NDs (and to extent GND) are still used quite a bit with video work... as you have less possibilities there (generally speakin', you need to keep the time fixed... often 180 deg rule, so for 30 fps you need to shoot at 1/60) and still keep a certain aperture.

So they are still used, but perheps more people now have dslrs and pretty much use them in the green/full auto, like old P&S cameras... so they don't naturally use (or even know) about proper filters... bar the 5 quid UV and/or lens protector.

Smelly Fox 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Yep, I’m using their nd filters. Their nuances range are excellent. Great results with 6 or 10 stops.

Dont bother with the grad filters, but do carry one, haven’t used it properly in years though. Only application I can think of would be very early morning at late night with a very dark foreground, but usually can fit the range in without being clipped and sort in lightroom.


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