In this episode, I am comparing my former filter holder system with my new one and explaining to you what lead me to switch. You may remember the episode on the Neutral Density Filters I published in May 2012. Back then I used the Formatt-Hitech 85mm filter system which is the equivalent of the Cokin P series.
In this article, I am not going to cover the specificity of filter holders in general since I already did. Both brands are visually and technically equal and therefore fully compatible (meaning the ring used is the same and work independently of the brand).
Cokin P series system
The reason I went with Formatt-Hitech instead of Cokin was based on some test I had run where I found the first being greatly neutral whereas the latter produced some warm colour cast in the resulting image. That being said, over the years, sometimes have I noticed some purple colour cast with the Formatt-Hitech filters when stacking them has shown in those unedited photographs I have taken on the Isle of Skye in Scotland:
But most of the times those filters have enabled me to capture some amazing shots:
Price wise both systems are also equal with a set of 3 filters (0.3, 0.6 & 0.9) being around £30-40. The filters are made in resin, and while they do tend to get micro scratches quite easily, those have no real impact on the resulting photograph.
The main trouble I found with those filter holder filter is how cumbersome it is to clip it onto the lens. When I had bought the filters, my budget was fairly low, and my lenses were not what I have the chance to own today, so I had decided to go for the best among the affordable options. That also meant the filter size had to be the small 85mm since the bigger you get, the more expensive you gotta spend. Within the past two years, my budget has thankfully evolved, which enabled me to upgrade my lenses and my filter system. I wanted wider filters as 85mm is almost as wide as a 24-105mm lens and wide-angle lenses.
For many years I have dreamed of being able to acquire the Lee filter system. Not only the Lee filter system is much easier to use and feels more robust, but the filters themselves are favoured by many pro landscape photographers for their neutrality (no colour cast) and resistance. But this divine quality product comes at a price. The holder system only cost about £60 and the ring you need to attach it onto your lens is around £15-£20. While Lee offers different filter size options, I went for the 100mm version which ND graduated filters are 100mmX150mm.
Lee 100mm filter system
Here are a few compelling photographs made with the Lee filters:
One great advantage of using ND Graduated filters that are 150mm in height means you can use them regular ND filters (non-graduated) on many lenses since the diameter of the lens will fit within the half of the filter height.
Over the next weeks, i will answer one question which I am often asked as to why in 2014 would we want to use ND Graduated filters instead of relying on the digital tool of our favourite retouching software (i.e. Adobe Lightroom). I will also show you how and when to use the polarising filter and the Lee Big Stopper. Stay tuned!