When I was doing a Canon 5D film test in January of 2010, I put eight Canon 5Ds in a line for this cool action camera array. When I started screwing Neutral Density filters onto all of the cameras to get the same stop, I noticed that when the eight cameras were side by side. The color on every camera was different.
I quickly pulled all the filtration off each camera and stopped down the exposure. All the cameras’ colors matched. It was the ND filters. So, I looked at the filters that I had in my inventory. I realized to avoid the green/brown muddy look, the filters had to be designed for the color space.
Filters Tailored for the Canon 5D Color Space
I called Steve Tiffen, whom I had met at several ASC functions. I asked if he was willing to make a set of filters tailored to the Canon 5D color space.
With the limits of an 8 BIT color space, you need to get the image close to the look of the final product. The best comparison that I can make is to treat the Canon platform like reversal film stock.
Results from many tests revealed that the brown and green mud colors were baked in with the ND filters. So, they were difficult to get rid of in the color correction process. After collaborating with Tiffen, we came up with a new set of Neutral Density filters that deliver the cleanest image for post-color grading.
Water White Neutral Density Filters
These are Water White Neutral Density filters that are very easy to use. We have designed 4 kits for both the novice and professional. They come in two sizes 77mm and 4 x 5. Tiffen has engineered them to give you 7 stops worth of ND so that you can shoot the Canon 5D in the blazing sun at F 2.0 if you would like.
Since the invention of the Arri Alexa, Water White ND glass is engineered to go to 10 stops, which will be essential for shooting with the Alexa’s base ISO at 800.
Why Neutral Density?
The biggest reason is that you have a vista vision sensor in a 5D. Three reasons that the HD image looks so great right out of this camera are the sensor, the color space, and the ability to use shallow depth of field. You achieve it by using ND outside.
It takes something that at an F 11 looks like video and drops the f-stop down to an F 2.8, which makes the resulting image look like digital film. Depth of field is a very powerful cinematic tool and these filters give you this ability and your cleanest image in post.
Here are the Tiffen Image Makers HV Filter Kit Series WW ND filter packs.
77mm WW Neutral Density, this gives you four stops worth of ND.
.3, .6, .9, 1.2 with a 4 carrying case that attaches to your belt for easy access.
The Indie Plus
77mm WW Neutral Density, this gives you another 3 stops worth of ND plus a circular pola. With both kits together, you will have 7 stops worth of ND.
1.5, 1.8, 2.1, and a circular Pola with a carrying case that attaches to your belt for easy access.
4 x 5 WW Neutral Density, this set gives you the Panavision size and 4 stops worth of ND
.3, .6, .9, 1.2 with a carrying case that attaches to your belt with pull tabs that slide each filter right up into your hands for quick filter changes.
The Pro Plus
4 x 5 WW Neutral Density, this set gives you the Panavision size and 3 more stops worth of ND with a 138mm circular pola. With both kits together you will have 7 stops worth of ND.
1.5, 1.8, 2.1, 138mm circular pola with a carrying case that attaches to your belt with pull tabs that slide each filter right up into your hands for quick filter changes.
These kits are available at:
B&H at the links above
And other authorized Tiffen dealers.
Looking for mentorship in the film industry? Schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with Shane Hurlbut, ASC today! This is where you can get expert advice from an industry professional on your career or a particular project.
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.