I have long been a fan of ND graduated filters. While they have served me well over the years and helped make some of my favorite and fan favorite images, I have decided to part ways with this older technology. I'm selling my ND graduated filters because I now use multiple exposures and blend them. This post processing technology isn't new, but with my advancement in photoshop, I have workflow that is easy and at least for me fun! ND graduated filters came about in the film days where getting the right exposure with one click was crucial. Since digital cameras came along and post processing has improved, ND filters have become less important, and in my workflow, non-existent. Why have I abandoned the ND Graduated filters? Nowadays I can make as many images as I need to cover the dynamic range of the scene before me. Instead of using a filter with only one exposure option, I can use 3, or 5 exposures and blend them. It allows for more control of the final image output and I am certain to cover the entire dynamic range. Granted I could carry a half dozen filters and a filter holder but that leads me to number two.
I don't have to carry a half dozen filters and a filter holder. They aren't a major nuisance, but when you have 5-4"x6" filters it can add up. Also I don't have to worry about dropping or scratching them, or wondering if they're getting crushed in my camera bag by my 70-200mm lens. It's like a weight has been lifted! Why should I carry something I don't need?
Good filters such as Singh-Ray and Lee aren't cheap. It could set you back upwards of $200 for one filter. Add all that up and throw in a filter holder, adapter rings, special polarizers for your filter holder, and you have a filter system that cost more than some lenses! I could sell my system and buy a macro lens or maybe a 400mm f5.6. With post processing time vs. filter in the field setup time, I think its a wash, maybe even giving post processing the edge in terms of time savings. Saving time is saving money.
Image quality is very high on my priority list! While I do strive to buy products that will improve my images, lets face it, no matter what brand of filter you put infront of your lens, that filter will decrease image quality. It might not always be very noticeable, but it does. This is especially true for lower quality filters. Why should I sacrifice image quality if I don't have to?
With all the reasons listed above, you can see what side of the fence I sit on. I'm not saying you should abandon your filter system. If it works for you then great, I would recommend you stick with it, but for me it feels good to be free of the filters!