formatt hi-tech long exposure filter review
I’m not a gear guy. My passion for photography remains but the items used to do that are simply the tools of my profession. I avoid conversations that evolve around which camera is better, the latest development etc etc. I purchase tools as I need them, either due to necessity or because I am trying to create a certain look.
Also I don’t write reviews on items that I have just tested. My reviews are items I have bought and in most cases used for years. A tools durability is important especially for those using them in a commercial sense.
Years ago I needed some long exposure ND filters. I did some research, looked at players who were making big stoppers etc. I read other reviews and learned the things to watch out for when looking at this type of filter.
This is not a technical review of these filters, which are readily available online.It is a practical review on using them and the results they give.
I ended up buying the Formatt Hitech long exposure ND filters in 3 stop, 6 stop and 10 stop, the filter mount and the needed adapter rings for my primary lens. I also bought the Firecrest 105mm polarising filter and adapter. The 3 ND’s I bought because I figured those stops would give me the best single or stacked levels I wanted and I also had the polarizer.
This review is based on the use of and the durability of these filters over these years.
My long exposure kit.
The 3 ND filters come with a durable padded folding holder, I always use this holder but I also pack it in a hard box if I am out and about for extra protection (after all there not cheap). The holder is black and I wished they had put a tag on each pocket (still think this is a good idea) so you could mark what each filter inside was (now I just know where each is).
The filters do have individual markings but on the darker ones that can be more than a little difficult to read.
The filters also came with foam box shaped stickers to use on the filters when stacking, to aid in eliminating light leakage between stacked filters in the holder. I attached them but expected that they would not last long, well 3 years later there still looking good.
Filter mount adapter
The first thing I picked up regarding the Hitech mount was quality, the aluminium edges are finished well, and the brass thread work is smooth and precise on the locking bolts and the lens securing screw. The hexed nuts that hold the spacers in place are a little small, a bit tricky if you have large hands and forget it if you drop one, they do the job and I guess they do have to be small.
The spacers work well with stacked filters, a small release on the spacer bolts allows for the filters to be carefully put in. I have had no issues with this using the Hitech mount or attaching ND’s or polarizer.
Firecrest polarizer filter
It’s a large filter at 105mm but due to the distance from the end of the lens it had to cover the widest lens I would be using which is a 24mm without creating vignetting, this it does without and issues .
The quality of the optics of this filter is without question, however this is the one item where I do have a bit of an issue. When using this on the needed Hitech circular filter mount it is easy to attach, however getting it off can be a problem.
I understand there is a need to keep a low profile. But there is only about a 2-3mm hexed area to try and grip the filter for removal. You end up trying to twist it off by using only your fingernail. The threading of the adapter seems to stick a lot, a hell of a lot. I have grinded off quite a bit of fingernail material trying to get it off. At times I have even wrapped string around the checkering in an attempt to aid with its removal.
Now it is possible that this issue has been rectified by Hitech in newer models but it is an issue.
Luckily I live in a warm climate. I can imagine it would be nearly impossible to get off in a cold area with freezing hands.
After using these filters for a few years and very much looking for defects. I checked there performance on areas like distortion, inconsistency of filter density, light leakage and tinting. I have to say they do there job very well.
With all big stop filters there is care that needs to be taken when using them. It will not be these filters that spoil an image, it will be the experience of the photographer.
Below is a sample image using these filters. I took this shot during the day, with slight overcast cloud cover. The wind was very light and after timing the duration I wanted for the effect I set 2 filters. Wanting smoothness on the ocean but a bit of structure in the clouds. I wanted a large depth of field so the clouds were the key factor in timing. I also figured I could get the look in one shot. After setting the camera, timer and covering the camera (I do cover the camera when I can on long exposures, a black velvet cloth covering the rear viewer and lens mount areas, just an extra precaution) etc.
The time I needed was estimated at 7 minutes at 11 stops including polarizer (yeah a lot..lol).
The result is open for your opinion, would i recommend these filters, simply….yes.