I have a whole set of them that I used to use with my film cameras, but I haven't used them with digital yet...
They have some interesting options and work quite well...
Are they durable? I first found the Lee filters which are really expensive, and discovered Cokin shortly after. I want to make sure they're what they say they are.
They are mostly square pieces of glass... You need to be careful with them, but I've never broken one
I'll definitely do my best to take care of them :) thank you for your advice!
Lee filters are the better of the two and yes they can be expensive replacing them every year but well worth the money but I only use polarizer, ND Grads, and ND's so not too much cost, any other filter can be reproduced in software
Unfortunately they aren't made of glass; unless something's changed. They are made of a resin material and they DO scratch easily. I had a bunch at one time and am of the opinion that they are gadgets meant to separate you from your cash. When we used film they made a lot of sense because it was needful to modify color balances etc. in camera. With the advent of digital and HDR they make little sense, because the "special effects" they achieved can be done easily now using Photoshop. I personally believe that the really big product they have, which is the split neutral density (ND grad) filter has been replaced by HDR, which makes imminently more sense.
I would tend to agree with that sentiment, I like the graduated filters, but most of what needed to be done with those filters can be done with post processing...
I'll still play with them and see what happens because I happen to already have them...
HDR does solve the problem, but producing a good HDR image requires so much post processing. I still find them useful to reduce post processing work though! That is one step I could eliminate in the digital darkroom.
From an article on landscape photography I came across today...
While I make use of digital image editing tools, I still find some filters to be indispensable. With a polarizer I can increase contrast and saturation in-camera as well as reduce reflections on bodies of water. Solid ND (neutral density) filters, which reduce incoming light to the lens, allow me to increase exposure time, and graduated ND filters let me selectively darken an area of the scene so that both bright and dark elements can be exposed with visible detail in a single exposure.
Graduated ND filters are dark on one end and clear on the other with either a soft or hard graduation in the middle. Placed in front of the lens these filters can darken a portion of the scene (usually by anywhere from 1 to 3 stops EV) for a balanced exposure.
When choosing filters I recommend a filter system by Cokin (shown here) or Lee. In contrast to screw-on filters, a single drop-in filter can be used on different sized lenses via an adapter ring. Even more importantly, the ND grad filters can be moved up and down in the filter holder, for precise alignment of the exposure adjustment.
That all well and good. However, and I repeat myself, these filters aren't glass and they do scratch, rather easily, They are made of a resin material. If you intend to use them in a studio there probably won't be a problem. If you use them in a dusty environment there will come a time when they are unusable. If you're going to get filters I HIGHLY recommend getting glass filters such as Tiffen, Hoya etc, and get a case to keep them in. My camera gear has a hard life. Not because I mistreat it, but because I use it. Also, if you are serious about your photography you must learn to use Photoshop. There's no good work around. Split ND filters were very useful with film. Even then though it took great skill to put the graduation in a place on the image where it didn't show. Most times it is painfully obvious, even with a skilled photographer. HDR is a MUCH better solution.
Why is HDR a better solution?
I always believed that on this site there are photographers of all abilities, so why would a person suggest HDR when the software ability is not up to that standard? Yes I do realise that some new DSLR's will take and make an HDR in camera but where is the fun. Photography is a learning process so use filters, what effects can you achieve? Once you get better at using filters than start to look at how you can achieve the same effect in software.
HDR, I am not a fan of it as most people go way over the top with it.
Yes square filters are resin based and do scratch easily but I always change the filters every year, I do not mind the cost.
We should all be growing. Because you can't do a process now doesn't mean you won't be able to. Not stepping into the water, however, assures you will never get wet, or learn to swim. I have great patience for folks who are trying to acquire new skills and who are learning. I have no patience for folks who are happy where they are. I have been doing camera work for a LONG time and still learn something new about it, almost daily, and I am challenged to "step up my game" almost daily.
When I was learning to work with large format cameras I found that if I left myself an escape route (in that case taking roll film cameras as well as the large format cameras) I would always take the easier route. When I started moving out by taking only the large format cameras I acquired the skills needed. If you leave yourself a route of escape you'll always take it.
My only point is that HDR is a much better, and more powerful tool, than Cokin filters. That YOU don't mind spending the several hundreds of dollars annually is your business. However the assertion was made that Cokin filters are glass and that would lead one to believe that they are difficult to scratch. If you have the available cash to replace your Cokin filters on an annual basis, then you surely have the cash to invest in a good HDR program that will allow full artistic interpretation and expression. If you want to use every Cokin filter made, all at the same time, who cares? All I was wanting was to make sure it was understood that those filters may not be the best route to take.
Because HDR is often misused doesn't mean it shouldn't be used, or even that it isn't a better solution. I use it and I would wager that you can't tell where it was used, because I am careful to not overdo it. It all comes down to personal tasted and skill. I don't like the overdone HDR because it looks plastic to me. I do, however, see HDR as a far more powerful, and useful tool than Graduated, or split, ND filters.