Home Forums Q&A Forum Best ND square filters?


This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Martha 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #9614 Reply


    Hi everyone,

    Inspired by the following comment by Viktor, in my post on best super-wide options for A7r, I thought it might make a good topic on its own:

    Viktor says, “…LEE is making best neutral filters IMHO, in terms of their “neutral” color behavior. So called Big stopper, does shift colors to the blue tones, but that is way better than BW screw-in 10 stop, which is shifting them toward red.”

    Actually, I think there’s a new kid on the block. Firecrest ND filters from Formatt-Hitech are supposed to be more neutral than Lee. It uses a different technology – instead of dyes, it coats glass with a rare earth metal using an electrolytic process.

    From all the reviews I’ve seen, it seems to produce the most neutral ND filters on the market.

    Here are a few reviews:


    In trying to find comparisons, I came across another new filter brand: Breakthrough Filters, and they claim to be even better than Firecrest. Trouble is they currently only make circular filters.

    X4 ND Performance Gallery

    Does any one have experience of Firecrest vs Lee or other brands and is prepared to comment?

    #9616 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic

    Anthony, thanks for the links.

    I am aware of many “new” manufacturers and there are also many “old” proven ones such as Heliopan or Singh Ray. With those new kids on the block, we would need to have some time passing, in order to evaluate their true quality. Color consistence among the range, color persistence at different temperatures of atmosphere and light, and their steady performance over years of intensive use.

    I do believe that new filters and technologies will come, but I will be much more cautious before I replace my LEE set.


    #9621 Reply


    Hi Viktor,

    I think you are right to be wary of new technology, because we have no data on how these products age.
    Will they degrade slowly over time or not?
    Will they degrade after interaction with plastic sleeves?
    Are they robust enough to not be affected by cleaning with microfibre?

    I’m in the fortunate position of needing to upgrade my cheap £30 filters (rather than expensive Lees). As things stand, I’m happy to take my chances and be a guinea-pig.

    Regarding your use of hard 0.6 and 0.9 ND grads to create a reverse ND grad for dawn/dusk photos, presumably this will work even better with soft grads? Does one stop really make that much of a difference? Would a 0.6 and 1.2 be better?

    #9622 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic

    Hi Anthony,

    if you go with some of those Hi-tech filters, let me know how are you satisfied. My experience with Cokin-Z who claimed to use nano coatings were really bad…

    To serve the purpose of reverse grade using method I described, you can’t use soft grades, as they are loosing density toward area of overlaping. I am not sure I xplained it well, so let me try again:

    You take 1 0.9 (3 stops) and 1 0.6 (2 stops). Hard grades should have similar dnsity in its full coverage. Rotate (180* rotation) one of the filters and put it in the second slot of the holder (0.6) than put another filter from above in the first slot. When they start to overlap they will create 1.5 (5 stops) in that area. What we have now is -2 EV bellow, -3 EV on the sky and -5. EV in the overlap area which we can move above or bellow to match the horizon. Basically we are getting -3 EV compesention toward foreground and -2 EV toward sky, and 5EV on the brightest horizon, which in my experience works best.


    #9703 Reply


    Viktor, thanks for the detailed explanation on how to use two hard grads to create a reverse ND. I like the way it can be used to adjust the width of the dark strip…not just for the composition, but also for different diameter lenses.

    I’ll definitely give it a try in future!

    I’ll let you know how it goes with Firecrest filters, but so far December has been terrible for daytime photography in the London area. The most I’ve been able to do is some night photography. At least we have Christmas markets and I find gluhwein helps improve every aspect of my photography!

    #16036 Reply


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