Blog, Landscapes, review, Tips

The Cokin Z Pro reflection issue

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Aargh! What’s that at the bottom of my image?!

I should start off by saying that this will only happen when shooting directly towards the sun.

So I left home this morning (Sunday) to photograph the sunrise at Bexhill beach as the weather and tide looked quite favourable. Armed with my new Cokin Z Pro filter system I quickly checked the light levels and decided to put on the ND8 graduated grey filter to balance the light between sky and land. The sun hadn’t reached the horizon yet (but I had the camera pointing directly where it would soon appear) so with camera set, I started to happily shoot away. Now, I do look at the LCD screen to check exposure using the histogram often but I don’t constantly chimp the camera to look at the image itself, I just get on with the job of composing and shooting. It wasn’t until I stopped for a brief moment to review my composition that I noticed something across the bottom of my image. What was it? I hadn’t seen it through the viewfinder though it must have been there, perhaps it was just too faint for me to see. However, zooming in on the screen revealed it to be the writing on the adapter ring being reflected back onto the filter. A closer look reveals that the edge of the ring itself is also visible due to the shiny black finish. A huge f-up in the design process that I thought Cokin would have foreseen.

 The only way of getting around this problem would be to shoot the scene unfiltered. Unfortunately in this instance filtration was essential and the two shots I took unfiltered proved this to me. Yes, I could have bracketed to merge later in something like Photomatix but I’ve gone off using this method for my landscape photography and leave it just for my urbex work. Somewhat annoyed and rather cold I packed everything up and headed back home.

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As a person who shoots a lot of landscapes, I believe that having a good filter system is essential to help balance light. So, I have two suggestions on how the folks at Cokin could improve upon their adapter ring design. First would be removing the print from the front of the ring and to print it on the back, or have no print at all. Second would be to use a matte black finish to help cut down light reflection. I’m sure these ideas are not beyond the realms of possibility but until then its off to the hobby shop to buy some matte black enamel paint to sort it myself.

Just so I don’t finish off on a grumpy note, here’s a shot I manged to rescue using the clone tool in Photoshop Elements.

Thanks for reading.

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7 thoughts on “The Cokin Z Pro reflection issue”

  1. What a frustration that must have been! As I consider bying ND Grad filters (plus holder and adapter), I’ll be extra cautious. Thanks for this information, that I haven’t seen in the Internet yet. Everyone is contemplating over colour issues, but noone I read mentioned issues like this one.

    1. No, me neither. I’ve been using the Cokin P system for ages and with no problems, it just seems to be with the Z Pro adapter rings having white text on them. The filters and holder are great and I have no issues with them at all. As for colour casts; I’ve found that this often occurs when stacking cheaper filters together. i.e, if you put two ND4s together to make an ND8. In this case you most likely will end up with a strong magenta cast, though you wouldn’t have so much of an issue using them singularly. Hope this helps. 🙂

      1. Thanks for the hint. 🙂 I don’t intend to use rectangular NDs anyway. If so, I’d buy screw-on ones. For now, I decided to play with ND Grads and Reverse Grads as I have the feeling that these would help me most.

  2. I had the same problem with the P system on a bright day, very frustrating but managed to save one image through cloning also. I have bought a filter housing for it so that any stray light doesn’t enter from the sides but yet to try it out properly and a nightmare to get on and off the filter holder but could help you out.

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