Vu Professional Drop-In Filter System Review
Vu filters are a fabulous addition to your gear kit, and offer up some seriously fun and creative options for your photography. These are very high quality filters which is obvious the moment you open the boxes. They are packed well, have a great carrying case, and offer a lot of options, from a polarizing filter to hard neutral density filters and graduated neutral density filters in several density increments. Specifically, I have been working mostly with the Vu Sion Q Neutral Density drop-in filter kit. It’s given me some additional creative flexibility when it comes to crafting my images and has spurred me to experiment with new techniques as well.
Generally speaking, photographers use filters for accentuating motion in a photo - for example, getting a long exposure of a waterfall or river to give the water a silky smooth look, or to drag some clouds across a sky, or maybe even to capture light trails from passing cars. These are popular options with filters and they are quite effective. It works wonderfully, is easy to do, and the results speak for themselves. You can create images you previously only imagined.
You can accentuate a single long exposure and you can also take some long exposure brackets to create an interesting long exposure HDR photo, if you are so inclined.
Let’s take a closer look at some images and go into a little detail.
Enhancing motion in waterfalls
As I mentioned above, moving water is a very popular option for using filters, because it allows you to extend the exposure time and thus get very smooth, silky water in your image. While most folks do this with a single exposure, I was experimenting with shooting HDR brackets while using a 4 stop ND filter. It worked great!
I was out in the late afternoon while it was still pretty bright out, so I thought that would be ideal for testing the use of Vu filters on extending exposure times in my brackets. I tested out various camera settings and the two images below were created differently. Because there was a good amount of light, using the Vu filters allowed me to capture these longer exposures which would have been impossible otherwise.
The first image was shot at f/22 using the 4 stop ND filter. It is a 3 exposure HDR, shot with auto-bracketing in Aperture mode, and the exposure times were 2 seconds, 8 seconds, and 30 seconds. Having the filter on allowed me to get these longer exposure times which results in a much smoother waterfall. Due to the light I would not be able to get such longer exposures without the filters and it’s possible the water would look choppy as well.
The second image is a combination of just 2 photos taken from a bracketed set and then merged in Aurora HDR. They were both shot at f/9 with the 4 stop ND filter, using auto-bracketing in Aperture mode, and the exposure times were 10 seconds and 30 seconds. In both waterfall photos, the extended exposure times allowed that smooth water to really come through nicely.
And here is that same photo in monochrome.
Shooting a cloudy sunrise
These next couple of photos were taken at the Loop 360 Bridge just west of Austin, TX, which is a local hot-spot for photographers. The two photos below were both shot at sunrise one morning and were captured in Manual/Bulb mode using super-long exposures.
The first photo is a single long exposure, shot at f/22 using the 10 stop ND filter, with an exposure time of 51 seconds. This allowed me to capture just enough cloud movement to give the right look to the clouds as they were approaching.
And of course, here it is in monochrome.
The second photo is a super-long exposure HDR made with 3 different long exposures, all shot manually in Manual/Bulb mode. They were captured at f/22 using the 10 stop ND filter, and the exposure times for the 3 images were 2 minutes, 3 minutes and 4 minutes, respectively. As you can see, these super-long exposures really dragged the clouds out across the image, giving them a very long and streaky look (unlike the 1st bridge photo where you can still detect some detail in the clouds).
Here is that same photo converted to monochrome with sort of a silvery feel to it.
Sunsets are always fun
Our State Capitol in Austin is a monstrous structure and another iconic location for local photographers. I just happened to arrive at sunset and there was this gorgeous pink light in the background. Sadly, there were a LOT of people milling about but luckily the light was fading and I had the Vu 4 stop ND filter ready to go! Using that filter really helped blur out most of the people, because they were generally in motion and the long exposures really helped.
This was a traditional HDR shot in Aperture mode, 3 exposures at f/16, with exposure times of 2.5 seconds, 10 seconds and 30 seconds.
These are just a few examples of the flexibility that using Vu Filters can give you. You can extend your exposure time and still capture HDR brackets in the traditional method (Aperture mode, auto-bracketing turned on) in order to accentuate the flow of water, for example. You can take a single long exposure in Bulb Mode and then edit it to add some dramatic effects.
You can capture some very long exposures of several minutes each and still combine them like a traditional HDR to create a truly interesting and otherwise unachievable look to your finished photo. And of course you can use these longer exposure times to your benefit when trying to blur out crowds, or to create an intentional ghosting effect, or even for light trails from passing cars.
The choices are yours and your options are wide open. The creative flexibility of these Vu Filters gives you unrivaled creative freedom to create stunning images. Get out there and have fun creating!
If you want to check prices and availability, you can do that right here on Amazon or click the Amazon ad below.