I've finally gotten around to looking into them. Currently I have a Cokin P 120 (1 stop I think) grey. It's the only one I have, and I don't use it much since I'm not really a landscape guy. But playing with it over the weekend in Quebec I found it quite lacking. I think I have quite a weak one so it didn't do much with the strong contrasts I was looking at. I stacked on a few ND's and got some pleasant shots, but could be better. So, to make a story short, I went on eBay to see what's available.
There's a Cokin 1,2,3 stop kit, and Lee's in 1 and 3 stops. Anyone have experience with the two brands ? The Lee's are considered better since they don't give a colour cast. But the Cokin is definitely more affordable. Since I'm not a serious landscape guy (mostly I'm interested in taking snapshots of opportunity when we're out camping), it might be enough.
Both brands are good and highly popular, though Lee are considered the more professional. And I wouldn't worry about colour cast - it really is splitting hairs for those who can afford to pay the extra.
A '2 stop' filter is probably a good standard, though a one and a half stop (if it can be used with the one you already have) will give a nice range - 1, one and a half, 2 and a half in just two filters.
But - have you thought of getting a polarizer? It will darken blue skies (define clouds, etc) and also cut down reflections in water, glass, etc. It will cut down your light by 2 stops though, but nothing you can't get around.
Personally, I think filters took a dive since digital, where a lot of people turned to Photoshop. I found Photoshop eats time compared to getting the shot 'in camera'. Anyway - these are just my thoughts. Hope they help.
Thanks for the great advice. I'm also leaning towards the Cokin set as well. Since I don't see myself using it that much, and just can't justify the extra cost. How's the material its made from ? Nothing's scratch proof. But some guys say the Lee filters are made from a more wear resistant material. Don't know what that means exactly. The Cokins come in discrete stops, while the Lee ones come in half stops. So I guess I'll have to live with it. I'm looking at a kit on eBay. For almost the same price as one 2stop Cokin at my local camera store. So why not !
I have a polarizer. Several actually, for the lenses that I use to shoot landscapes with and the two old film cameras that I have. I don't find that it darkens my images that much, since I find digitals over expose a little bit anyway. They don't do the same job as a ND grad though, since you can't darken just part of the frame.
I agree with trying to do as much in the camera as you can. I just think having good raw material will always lead you to a better outcome. I like Photoshop and consider that an essential part of the workflow. But garbage in garbage out. We had a whole thread recently about just this topic. One thing I didn't say was that some of my stuff that people swear has been photoshoped, really hasn't been. And a few for the reverse also. I always found that funny and interesting.
My old tutor was always banging on to me that photography was never an exact science - it took me years to understand what he meant. I now know it's all problem solving really - and spending as little time and money as possible. The Cokins sound great.
Snaps? I don't take snaps! I paint with light!