Tony Sweet’s field report on Singh Ray’s ‘incredible” 15-stop Mor-Slo ND is all smiles
Veteran fine-art photographer Tony Sweet recently received a preview sample of Singh-Ray’s latest development: the 15-stop Mor-Slo solid neutral density filter. “After several chats with Bob Singh about my need for such a filter, I was really pleased to receive one that I could test. There’s just one word to describe this filter — Wow! “Less than a year after Singh-Ray’s introduction of the 10-stop Mor-Slo ND filter, here comes another technical breakthrough for all of us who work in Long-exposure Land. Many more logical photographers might ask why Singh-Ray’s 5-stop and 10-stop Mor-Slo filters are not enough? Why can’t we just stack them togther? How about stacking the 5-stop or 10-stop on the famous Singh-Ray Vari-ND (with continuously variable density up to 8 stops)? “I can only answer those questions by saying that in harsh daylight with slowly moving clouds, 5 or 10 stops may not be enough to achieve the effect I am looking for. The 4-minute image at the top of this story, with its very slow moving clouds, was made late in the morning on Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smokies. It was shot at f/16 to capture the cloud movement. All the images in this story were made with my Nikon D800E and the Singh-Ray 15-stop Mor-Slo filter. “When stacking two ND’s, I’m always concerned that there could be a slight loss of image quality. In general, my preference is based on feeling that less is better. Now that I’m using my 15-stop Mor-Slo, I will no longer need to stack the 5- and 10-Mor-Slo filters. In the event that I lend my Mor-Slo NDs out to students, I’ll stack the 5-stop Mor-Slo on the Vari-ND to give me up to 13 stops of added density. “I used to shoot these types of scenes at f/22 with my D3X, however, with the super-high-megapixel Nikon D800E, I’ve modified my approach a bit. Here’s what I’m talking about: for me, using the D800E is not razor sharp at f/22. The manual says not to go above f/8 for greatest sharpness, but no one I know is shooting scenics at f/8. I have had success and greater sharpness shooting at f/14 most of the time. The main issue in terms of long-exposure photography is that by shooting at f/14 instead of f/22, I gain about 1.5 stops of light and my long exposure using the 10-stop Mor-Slo is more than cut in half. For example, a 4 minute exposure at f/22 is cut down to under two minutes at f/14. Although, that may not sound like a lot to most photographers, those who shoot a lot of long-exposures know that a 4-minute exposure and a 2-minute exposure can be two completely different scenes. “This next image (above) was shot in mid-afternoon light from our balcony in Sedona, AZ. Using f/13 and the 15-stop Mor-Slo, I was able to record the motion of the very slowly moving clouds during this 8-minute exposure. It looks very different than if I’d shot at 1/60 second without the 15-stop Mor-Slo.