Should you be using a 13 stop Nd filter or 16 stop ND filter?
Welcome to my “should you use a 13 stop or 16 stop nd filter” post.
Ok, spoiler alert its a big YES you should so stick with me as I try to describe why that 13 or 16 stop ND filter is a vital bit of gear that should be in your camera bag. Go grab a cup of coffee a bag of popcorn or whatever you need but do stick around for a few minutes and have a read.
Let’s break this into three different questions.
1.- Why use a 13 stop or 16 stop ND filter?
2.- When would you use a 13 stop or 16 stop ND filter?
3.- Should you be using a 13 stop and 16 stop ND filters?
Why use a 13 stop or 16 stop ND filter?
Well a 13 stop or 16 stop ND filter is perfect for producing long exposure images in bright daylight, a ten stop ND filter for example just won’t give you long exposures in the midday sun. Normally a ten stop filter will give you only about a half second to a one or maybe even up to four seconds of an exposure in peak sunlight hours (depending on how bright it is).
So let’s take the half a second exposure example with the ten stop ND filter. A 13 stop ND filter will give an exposure time of 4 seconds or a 16 stop filter will give you an exposure time of 32 seconds in the same light. So the 16 stop ND filter is ideal for nice smooth long exposure seascape shots in those conditions.
The four second exposure with the ten stop nd filter. A 13 stop ND filter will give an exposure time of 32 seconds or a 16 stop filter will give you an exposure time of a whopping 4 minutes and 22 seconds in the same light. So the 13 stop ND filter is ideal for nice smooth long exposure seascape shots in those conditions. The 16 stop ND filter is perfect for those ultra long exposures (I will get back to that later on).
So as you can already see the 13 stop and 16 stop ND filters are great at giving you nice long exposure times in bright daylight.
When would you use a 13 stop or 16 stop ND filter?
Well I suppose the above section already starts to answer that question for you doesn’t it? But let’s just look at it in a bit more detail to help make it clearer.
Before I really get into this I have to say I love these two filters and never leave home without them now. Stupidly, I really only started using the 13 stop and 16 stop ND filters at the start of 2020 as before then I normally only used up to a ten stop ND filter (even though I had a 16 stop ND filter in my filter pouch). What a mistake that was….
The 13 stop is my favourite of the two as I generally find it will give me anything from 15 seconds to 2 minutes of an exposure in the conditions I use it in. As you probably know your choice of ND filter is dictated by the scene you are shooting or the light level at the time and the effect you want to achieve in your images.
So before we go any further I just want to mention I have an awesome blog post on how to figure out what ND filter you need here.
Also I have a blog post here on square or circular ND filters if you are unsure which one would work best for you then have a quick read and it should help you.
A very quick example of with and without a 13 stop ND filter below. These are the Raw shots with and without a filter.
The above photograph is the raw shot without the ND filter giving you the still static shot.
The above shot is with a 13 stop ND filter, you can see how the clouds have been dragged across the sky and the water has been smoothened out completely also.
This brings us to the question of why shoot long exposures in bright daylight?
The main reasons why I would take serious long exposures during bright daylight is there is a completely different look to an image capture in bright daylight and you can also capture some nice cloud movement in the photograph. If you are shooting a waterfall or river then a half second to 5 seconds is generally long enough to capture the waters movement and give it that soft beautiful look via motion blur.
Why shoot 2 minute long exposures and longer!!!
Now stick with me on this one, I know I said after 2 minutes you run the risk of getting hot pixels from your sensor over heating but sometimes you just got to push your gear to get those great shots.
So should you use a 13 stop or 16 stop ND filter?
Let me just say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES to that, is anyone else getting a “When Harry met Sally” vibe going on there??? :-). For those of you that are still unsure it is a huge yes for me on that one, and as I said earlier one of my biggest regrets now was not using these filters regularly over the years. Which brings me to the next piece…
So if you are thinking of buying a 13 or 16 stop ND filter which one should you use and why?
Well for me the simple answer is as you may have guessed the Formatt Hitech Ultra 16 stop ND filter. They are colour neutal and ultra sharp filters(pardon the pun) and the other good news is I can offer you the discount code HAYES10 to get 10% off filters and holders on the Formatt Hitech website.
Lastly make sure to checkout my Formatt Hitech Discount code page here for the latest Formatt Hitech offers and discount code.
By the way there is a new 100mm Firecrest MKII filter holder click here for my review of it…
For the sake of clarity I should add I am a Featured Artist, Photography Educator and Brand Ambassador for Formatt Hitech and I also get a slight kickback from any sales made with my discount code but you also get a nice discount too so it’s a win/win for everyone. This slight commission helps me write informative articles like this and keep this website running.
I have personally found that with a lot of the cheaper ND filters you can get a very strong colour cast as the ND coating is inferior and this effects not only the colour neutrality but also your image sharpness.
Formatt Hitech have this perfected and they even have an ND filter with an amazing 24 stops of light stopping power. That filter is ideal for solar eclipses etc…
Have a look at my photography tips and tricks section in the menu where I cover everything from…
Thanks again for reading this post and if you have any questions please do feel free to ask them I am only too happy to help.
If you want to know more about the differences between the square vs circular ND filters have a read here or if are sitting back totally confused and wondering how to pick the right ND filter click here.
See you out there,
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Kieran Hayes Landscape Photography Ireland Kieran Hayes Photography Should you be using a 13 stop ND filter or 16 stop ND filter, Is that secret weapon in your camera bag your 16 stop ND filter?27th of January 2021 https://www.landscapephotographyireland.com/ why-use-a-13-stop-or-16-stop-nd-filter/ 5.0 39 10% off promotional code