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Author Topic: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?  (Read 9519 times)

esox

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10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« on: January 09, 2014, 04:48:25 am »

Hello,

I'm shooting landscapes on a Phase One system (P65+ digital back). I need a 10 stop neutral density filter. Lee seems to be reference. But there is a 3-6 month delivery delay... Is the Hightec Pro Stop a good alternative ? In case of yes, I suppose the 1.5mm version (compatible with lee holders) is the best solution ?

Thanks
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 06:03:45 am »

Hello,

I'm shooting landscapes on a Phase One system (P65+ digital back). I need a 10 stop neutral density filter. Lee seems to be reference. But there is a 3-6 month delivery delay... Is the Hightec Pro Stop a good alternative ? In case of yes, I suppose the 1.5mm version (compatible with lee holders) is the best solution ?

Hi,

I have tested the quality of another brand (Haida, sold via Amazon amongst others) ND filter, that I saw rather neutral looking results from, and compared it to the Lee "Bigstopper". These Chinese filters look well made, from high quality optical (Schott) glass, and are much more affordable than the Lee filter although you need multiple filters (or step-up rings) if you need to use multiple lens diameters.

I compared the spectral transmission, and density, of both the Lee Big Stopper and the Haida Pro II version of these 10-stop (ND 3.0, 1000x) filters. Here are the results based on the absorption characteristics of Daylight (6568 k), as a Transmission plot and as a relative Density plot:




As can be seen, the Lee filter transmission is slightly smoother across the spectrum, but both have a similar profile which allows to correct the White balance with a simple Kelvin and Tint correction. Some spectrally very pure colors may be hard to get exactly right without targeted post-processing due to the more bumpy absorption spectrum in the yellow-orange region.

As always, shooting Raw-file data is preferable, also because these filters do introduce additional light fall-off towards the corners (especially on wide-angle lenses), because oblique corner rays travel further through the filter medium and coating efficiency changes, which can be compensated for by a Flat-field compensation or Lens Cast Calibration which is best done in Linear gamma Raw before demosaicing.

I also purchased an ND 0.9 (3-stop, 8x), Pro II coated version.

I've recorded it's spectral transmission characteristics by measuring the spectrum of daylight (6586 k) with and without filter (same procedure as above), and plotted the absorption of the filter expressed as Density (-Log10(transmission%) ), because I wanted to know how accurate it would match the intended 0.9 density. Here is the result:


It shows that there is a slightly warm response, a bit more UV and Blue density (less transmission), and a bit less Red density (more transmission), but overall it hits the 0.9 density pretty well across the visible spectrum. The slightly higher IR transmission will be compensated for by the IR-filter that covers the sensor (combined with the Optical Low-pass Filter, if present). The exact color response therefore depends on the particular camera it is used with, but it looks pretty neutral to me, and the smooth spectral transmission is easily tweaked with a simple Color temperature and tint control.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 10:42:45 am by BartvanderWolf »
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lelouarn

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 07:06:18 am »

Very interesting Bart !
Did you use a spectrograph to do the measurements ? I seem to understand you illuminate the filter with sunlight (or simulated sunlight - so broadband) and look at the output spectrum ? Or is it more like a monochromator (variable narrow wavelength input to the filter, and measurement of output flux).

Thanks !
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 07:24:46 am »

Very interesting Bart !
Did you use a spectrograph to do the measurements ? I seem to understand you illuminate the filter with sunlight (or simulated sunlight - so broadband) and look at the output spectrum ? Or is it more like a monochromator (variable narrow wavelength input to the filter, and measurement of output flux).

Hi,

You're welcome.

I used my EyeOne Pro to measure the main illuminant's spectrum, which was daylight + some ambient reflections from the surroundings (a bit of grass, blue sky, tree trunks, etc.) all diffusely integrated to 6586 kelvin (CRI 96) at my location, without filter first. I then measured the same light through the filter. The resulting transmission differences, only caused by the insertion of the filter, were then plotted with MS Excel at the 10nm intervals that my EyeOne Pro Spectrophotometer offers.

Both the Lee (CRI 80) and the Haida (CRI 81) filters introduce a modest shift in overall White balance that is easily corrected with a broadband Kelvin+tint adjustment, just by using a White-balance eyedropper on a neutral reference (e.g. WhiBal or similar)  at Raw conversion. Some other brands are impossible to WB that easily. The only slight inaccuracy that can be expected is with some very specific narrowband Orange/Red colors, rarely an issue in Nature photography.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 07:33:49 am by BartvanderWolf »
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Paul2660

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 07:33:02 am »

Lee is an excellent solution if you are in the US try www.2filter.com.   They may have one.  Lee only makes the big stopper in the 100mm x100mm or 4x4 Hitech makes a resin 10x and now may have it in glass in their higher end line.   However the Hitech pro line is an IRND so it costs a bit more.  Lee claims the their pro line has some IR reducing costing but never comes right out and states it's an IRND like Hitech.  

I have the Hitech resin 10x in the larger 150 x 150mm size and it's a very evenly poured filter with no visible magenta cast.  

Paul Caldwell
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Paul Caldwell
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lelouarn

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 08:12:58 am »

Quote
I used my EyeOne Pro to measure the main illuminant's spectrum, which was daylight + some ambient reflections from the surroundings (a bit of grass, blue sky, tree trunks, etc.) all diffusely integrated to 6586 kelvin (CRI 96) at my location, without filter first. I then measured the same light through the filter. The resulting transmission differences, only caused by the insertion of the filter, were then plotted with MS Excel at the 10nm intervals that my EyeOne Pro Spectrophotometer offers.

That cute ! Do you need some special software to get the direct values from the EyeOne or does it write them somewhere by default ? I never realized that a screen calibrator is a little spectro (although it is quite obvious) ! That opens (perhaps) some interesting tinkering possibilities...
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 08:49:15 am »

That cute !

Indeed, a poor man's monochromator of sorts. Of course a real monochromator is more accurate, but with only varying the light filtration of a given smooth spectrum illuminant, one should get a pretty decent impression from the difference between two measurements. The important thing is that the input/illuminant spectrum is relatively smooth and not too spikey.

The Camera's spectral response is of course a different variable in the total imaging chain, with natural UV cutoff and spectral transmission due to glass lenses and limited sensor UV sensitivity, Bayer CFA filters, and added IR filtration to reduce the sensor's natural sensitivity to Near-IR, so that will introduce slightly different results even with the same illuminant.

Quote
Do you need some special software to get the direct values from the EyeOne or does it write them somewhere by default ? I never realized that a screen calibrator is a little spectro (although it is quite obvious) ! That opens (perhaps) some interesting tinkering possibilities...

I used the EyeOne Share utility, that originally came with the Spectro, in light measurement mode and it produces some of the cumulated (Kelvin/CRI) result feedback  as well as the 10nm interval results, but Argyll CMS should offer similar spectral output at even narrower (5nm) intervals.

Cheers,
Bart
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Torbjörn Tapani

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 11:04:30 am »

Thanks Bart for that info. Seems like the Haida would give similar results to the Lee filters. I have the same Haida 10 stop filter, and for anyone thinking about getting one make sure it is the Pro II version that Bart tested. The first version had a bad color cast.

I have noticed and maybe you could elaborate on this, but in some types of bright sunlit scenes I get a very difficult to remove reddish tint to the image. I suspect the filters are less effective in IR?

But what I really wanted to say was that a square filter holder would probably be a better option for a 10 stop filter. Setting up a shot, focusing and then mouting a circular filter is a hassle. Just sliding in a square filter would be easier I think.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2014, 11:32:36 am »

I have noticed and maybe you could elaborate on this, but in some types of bright sunlit scenes I get a very difficult to remove reddish tint to the image. I suspect the filters are less effective in IR?

Hi Torbjörn,

Yes, the IR transmission of the filter is probably the cause, together with the slightly lower density of the filter for deep Red. Because all Bayer CFA filters are transparent to IR, all three R/G/B channels will be recording IR, depending on the IR reflection or emission of the scene. The IR filter of cameras/sensors can differ in efficiency, so some combinations will be more sensitive to such issues than others.

Quote
But what I really wanted to say was that a square filter holder would probably be a better option for a 10 stop filter. Setting up a shot, focusing and then mouting a circular filter is a hassle. Just sliding in a square filter would be easier I think.

Indeed, one square filter in a holder will serve multiple lenses, and can be more simply removed for focusing and composition between shots. Do make sure that the filter is protected from light entering from the side though. The Lee filter has a gasket to seal the rear/side from light leaking in. Also make sure you cover your viewfinder, to reduce the risk of light entering the mirror box of an SLR camera from behind.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 11:34:21 am by BartvanderWolf »
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Ellis Vener

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2014, 04:24:35 pm »

I'm experimenting with B+W's ND 3.0 (10 stop) filter  and so far I like it.
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jmlphotography

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2014, 08:29:17 pm »

I just posted in another thread about my change from B+W circular filters to HiTech's.  I liked the circular filters because they are easier to carry but the HiTech's are easier to get on and off and are more neutral.

I would also like to comment on the colors, specifically red streaks. The HiTech IRNDs have a "gasket" that prevents light leaks between the filter holder and filter or between filters if you mount more than one.  If you are using another brand, you may need to throw a cloth over the filter and holder to block light during long exposures.  The biggest stray light source for me is when I forget to close the shutter on my eyepiece.  My previous camera didn't have that luxury and I used to just put tape over it.  Seeing the tape on my camera always reminded me to put it on.
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Paul2660

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 09:03:02 pm »

The Lee big stopper has the same type of gasket but they don't put the same gasket on the pro glass NDs or CLPL and this would be a nice feature.  (100mm x 100mm size)

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
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niteart

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 12:40:29 am »

I bought Formatt/Hitech 4x4" HD Neutral Density (ND) 2.4 Glass Filter a couple year ago and it has a horrible unrecoverable blue cast. Which reminds me to post a review.
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jmlphotography

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 11:34:32 am »

It's interesting that Lee, in their advertisements used to boast that the blue cast inherent in their filters "enhances" most scenes.  They also pointed out that removing the blue cast if you don't want it is easy using any product with a white balancing tool. Now they just mention that color casts can be easily removed.   I'm not knocking Lee, it's a great product.  I've used both brands and find the HiTech new IRND filters are more neutral.  In any case, not sure HiTech still makes the filters you want to "review". 
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Paul2660

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 04:39:32 pm »

In my experience the earlier Hitech/Format filters did have some color cast issues.  Resin blue bad glass magenta.  The newer Hitech filters in resin I have are very good with what I see as very neutral grey.  Basing this on holding the filter against a Phase One LCC white card.

The Lee CLPL will give a warm blue color if used with the letters toward the user. 

All the Lee glass ND  and big stopper I have appear visually to have no color cast.  But they do seem to add a bit of warming to shots in bright light.  This is evident in the LCC shots I have taken. 

Paul Caldwell
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bcooter

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2014, 08:47:55 am »


It's a love hate thing with Lee.   The resin filters really scratch easily and the compendium shade and/or filter holds use to be well made, but in the last 5 or so years even new ones will break easily.

That little copper spring loaded thing on the tops breaks easily, I've gone through three of them.

But they do have a comprehensive system.

For ND filters I prefer screw ons and have one in most of my lens diameter.   They are obviously slower to mount, though secure and don't get knocked off in production.

B+W are great filters, same with Tiffen, especially Tiffen for cinema use.

The problem with Tiffen 4x4 glass filters are they are very heavy and you really need a cinema matte box rather than a still type filter holder.

My vote for ND is screw in Tiffen.

IMO

BC
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Paul2660

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2014, 02:24:46 pm »

+1 on the Lee hood attachment spring loaded clamp.  My hood appears well made no light leaks etc.  but Lee needs to figured out a better clamp i.e. One that locks.  If you affects the 105mm polarizer to the front it really adds some weight.  The clamp will release by just barely touching it or just a slight pull forward.  I wrap a thick rubber band over mine that gives a bit more security. 

Paul
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NancyP

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Re: 10 stop neutral density filter, Lee or Hightec ?
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2014, 08:20:57 pm »

www.2filter.com has the Big Stopper in stock as of last Friday, when I ordered one. It showed up Monday - now that's service! Happily, the Big Stopper comes in a padded metal box which looks like a fine way to transport it in the field (I would rubber-band it as extra precaution).
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