Why Filter, Why Haida
Author: Julian Olmedo
Filters are an important complement for every landscape photographer. I do not always use them, on the contrary, most of my images are made without filters, but they become vitals when the picture needs a longer exposure (ND filter), or reduce a reflection (polarizer).
The neutral density filters (ND) simply serve to darken the photo, so that you can give the correct exposure by decreasing the shutter speed. For example, if the values for a correct exposure give us a shutter speed of 1 sec, with a 4-stop filter we will have to shoot at 16 sec. With this filters we can give that classic silk effect to the water, add movement in the clouds or even eliminate people from a photo.
Polarizing filters basically polarize the light. It modifies the light rays so that they can not be reflected in the direction we saw them reflected. In other words, we eliminate reflections that we do not want in the shot.
I asked myself this question several times a few years ago, before choosing my first quality filter. Choose Haida or more expensive brands with more reputation? Luckily I decided to base myself on comments and experiences, and chose a Haida Pro II slim 1.8 77mm. Today I can say that with that filter I made many of the photos that I like the most and it is still my favorite because of the number of light stops it reduces.
Haida Pro II Slim 1.8
In the following tests I will be answering the question of why Haida, or at least why I continue to choose the brand. I want to be transparent and objective, show the advantages and disadvantages of using these filters before and after in each of the photos. The pictures:
- They are not edited
- They are JPG exported from RAW
- If they are compared, they have the same white balance values
Nano Pro ND 1.2 77mm - 4 stop
On the right, the same photo using the filter with a shutter speed of 1/3 of a second. The filter gives in this photo a perfect water effect. In fast waters such as waterfalls, more slower shutter speed could generate a much more noticeable silk effect, in this case it adds dynamism and movement.
Comparing both pictures I don´t see any sharpness decrease, neither any color cast.
Expanded to 100% it is perfectly seen that there is no loss of sharpness.
Can´t notice any difference in color.
Pro II ND 1.8 77 - 6 stop
Now is the turn of my preferred filter. Because of the number of light stops it reduces, it is the most versatile option.
The water is already beginning to look different, much softer. With the 6-step filter and the first morning lights, the shutter speeds are a bit longer and create different climates. In this case I hot 1.3 seconds.
The sharpness seems not to be affected, although we start to see a little yellow color cast.
Comparing them to the maximum approach, the sharpness looks perfect, without variants.
The hue towards the warm ones becomes a little more noticeable, especially in the snow and the sky. To be fair, it is still very very low for a 6-step filter.
Nano Pro ND 3.0 77mm - 10 stop
Not to bore with the same comparison, same stones, same mountain, I make a change of location.
We continue with the filter that moves clouds. While it is good to have it since it can give very interesting effects in any situation, it can ruin a perfect moment, that ideal moment that lasts a few seconds. The exposure times in good light conditions with a 10 stop filter tend to be very long. Without going any further, during sunrise or sunset we will probably shoot at speeds between 1sec and 1 / 50sec. If we add a 10-step filter to the 1-second shot, we will have to work at 17 minute exposure, for the case of 1 / 50sec = 20sec
Generally, 10-step filters generate a lot of color cast. The better the quality, the less color cast they are likely to have. Many photographers find the solution by modifying the white balance in an extreme way, but it is not ideal, highly contaminated colors are difficult to recover.
Although this Haida filter has a small tint to the blue, it is really very little and perfectly recoverable. I must say that I expected a different result, on screen the difference is minimal.
To my surprise, I do not see the loss of sharpness at all. It is be impossible for me to differentiate them.
Nano Pro Polarizer
Finally, the filter that can not be missing in the kit of a landscape photographer, a good polarizer. Although I have not used it for a long time and it is the one that has been less often in front of the lens, it saved me in situations where the reflections were very noticeable and ruined the photo.
With polarizing filters we eliminate reflections that we do not need. The particularity of this is that it is impossible to imitate it in the post processing, if the reflection appears in the shot there is no other way to remove it.
Many photographers also use them to contrast the image. In my case I do not usually use it for this, since the same result can be obtained very easily in post processing.
In the comparison you can clearly see how it works, and how in this case it would have resulted in a "lost photo". While there is some reflection (because of shooting in front of the sun), the effect is more than satisfactory. Not only did it eliminate the reflections, but it also added contrast to the foreground and some rocks in the middleground, but not to the sky.
Polarizing filters generally work much better when the source of light that is being reflected is on the side of the shot, and not in front or behind. That is, if we were shooting towards the North, it will work better if the reflected light comes from the East and West.
I apologize, you see a part of my glove in the unfiltered shot! :)
Filters are very important for every landscape photographer. Their effects may not like everyone, but it is always good to have at least one or two of them to create more dramatic/softer climates, or even save a shot of a reflection.
The ND will give us the possibility to darken the image, and expose for more time. I always try to recommend a 6-step filter, for the number of light stops it reduces is the most versatile. In the case of need more light, you can go up one or two steps of ISO (today at ISO 400 there is no noise), if more exposure time is needed we will close the aperture a bit more than normal.
In the case of polarizers, we have already seen their essential function. It can be the one you use less, but when you traveled hours, you walked kilometers, carried heavy backpacks, spent a lot of money and a reflection ruins the photo, do not blame your luck!
Haida is one of the most recognized brands of photography filters with excellent quality and very competitive prices. One of the first reasons when choosing them was their price, today I continue to choose them for their quality. I prefer them because of their color management, I had the chance to try other brands with greater popularity and price, and Haida's result convinces me much more.
In round filters the top of the line are the Nano Pro line, which have nano coating and anti-scratch protection (price arround $ 80). At a lower price and practically without differences in the comparatives, the PRO II line (about $ 50).
In the case of square filters, there is an even higher line, Red Diamond, which in addition to having nano coating, supports falls and very intense treatments (about $ s170).