It takes a cocktail of glass and diffusion to make HD look like film. One of the essential ingredients to this flavorful recipe is Neutral Density. You have to keep your exposure on a 5D around a 5.6 to get that beautiful shallow depth of field.
The Canon 7D, for instance, should be around a 2.8, and the Canon 1D around a 4.0. This gives the focus puller a chance and still keeps a beautiful fall off of focus.
The Canon cameras allow what has never been achieved before with most HD platform cameras. They never had a vista-vision sensor in them. It was always a 2/3 chip sensor or a 35mm sensor size with more depth of field than anyone would want or know what to do with.
Shane Hurlbut, ASC Favorite Neutral Density
I recently did a slew of tests for the Bandito Brothers Production Company and we discovered how cheap ND (Neutral Density) limited our color correction options. Green is one of my favorite colors but not what bad green filtration does to a beautiful image with depth and color.
1. HOYA Neutral Density Filter
We had a test where I was shooting five Canon 5Ds side by side with different ND filtration from a variety of manufacturers. The color difference was astounding. Muddy, green, and flat was the feeling I was getting from an $11.00 HOYA filter.
2. Schneider Neutral Density Filter
When I moved to the next camera it had a Schneider filter that seemed somewhat clean, but not perfect.
3. B + W ND Filter
Then onto the B+W filter, which has a color that was very close to the Schneider neutral density filter.
4. Tiffen Neutral Density Filters
Cameras 4 and 5 had Tiffen Water White 1.2 NDs which looked the cleanest of all of them. This filter was specifically designed for the HD world. When you ND so much to get the exposure that you love it increases the IR levels that your sensor is taking in. This filter counteracts that. But, what I have found is that the Canon DSLRs have very powerful IR filters on their sensors so the standard IR filtration in the HD world is not needed.
Testing has shown that when you go into the 1.5 to 2.1 range you do need a little IR compensation but nowhere near what the filter manufacturers have laid in there. So my go-to is the HV Tiffen Water White 77mm ND’s Indie: 3,6,9,1.2, Indie Plus:1.5,1.8,2.1 pola, or the HV Tiffen Water White 4 x 5 Pro: 3,6,9,1.2 and Pro Plus: 1.5, 1.8, 2.1 with 138mm Pola Kits.
The kits come with belt pouches that hold the 77mm or the 4×5 filters. They are sweet and very user-friendly. Tiffen has also upped their ND levels to 5, 6, and 7 stops. These are now available in WW IR ND and WW Straight ND 1.5, 1.8, and a 2.1. This is essential for getting that amazing shallow depth of field out of your Canon 5D, 7D, and 1D cameras.
For detailed information, please contact Jill Conrad at NYC Tiffen at 1-631-609-3215 or email email@example.com or Robert Oralndo in LA at firstname.lastname@example.org, they both will be able to direct you to a dealer to get you all set-up.
When we compared all the cameras in the color correction bay, the Tiffen Water White ND quickly moved to the top. The Water White filtration is expensive, but you get what you pay for. What a difference! So, my recipe for filming is to use the Tiffen Water Whites NDs across the board.
About Filmmakers Academy Cinematographer Mentor Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC works at the forefront of cinema. He’s a storyteller, innovator, and discerning collaborator, who brings more than three decades of experience to his art. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, the International Cinematographers Guild/Local 600, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hurlbut frequently joins forces with great directors: McG’s Netflix Rim of the World and The Babysitter, plus Warner Bros. We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation; Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Act of Valor; and Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home and Fathers and Daughters. His additional film credits include Semi-Pro; The Greatest Game Ever Played; Into the Blue; Mr 3000; Drumline; 11:14, which earned Hurlbut a DVDX nomination; and The Skulls. Notably, his television credits include the first season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.