Product Review: Haida Filters
By: David Johnston
I've been an outdoor photographer for ten years now, and I've never used filters in my in-field workflow (apart from circular polarizers for waterfall photography). In fact, I would actively discourage photographers I taught from using neutral density (ND) and graduated neutral density filters. The reason for this is simple: I have never found a good filter system that wasn't clunky to use in the field or didn't take up too much space in my camera bag. However, all of that changed when I started using the Haida M10 Filter Holder System and the Haida Red Diamond Filters.
In this post, I'm going to walk you through why I think the Haida filter system is the best I've ever used for outdoor photography, and why I'm going to be adding them to my in-field workflow.
Like I said before, I've never found a filter series that was even close to being usable. I would fumble with filter glass and the lens rings. The Haida filter system as well as their Red Diamond Filters are so easy to use, interchange, and switch. Let's start with the M10 Filter Holder System itself.
The M10 Filter Holder System starts by connecting to your lens ring. It's extremely easy to screw onto your lens and it connects all their filters to the M10 Holder. So, instead of buying multiple expensive polarizers and ND filters for every lens ring size you own, you just have to buy the filter ring for your lenses. That saves you a lot of money. Once the ring is attached to your lens, the M10 Filter Holder System is very easy to remove and attach again thanks to a release lever on the right side of the system.
The bane of my existence has always been changing out filters in the field. However, I found it extremely easy to switch my Red Diamond Filters in and out of the M10 holder. To change your filters out, you simply have to pinch the two release points at the top of the filter and pull it out. If you want to replace that filter with a different one, you pinch the release points on the filter you want to add and insert it into the M10 Filter Holder System.
If you want to use multiple filters together, you can do that too! The M10 has a section for rectangular graduated ND filters as well. To use them, slide them into one of the two rectangular filter holders. Now, I've always worried that my rectangular filters would slide through the holder and shatter into a million little graduated ND filter pieces. I don't worry about that with the M10 Filter Holder Series because it held the filters firm enough to keep them in the slot, but easy enough to adjust the filter as the light changes.
The speed of usability of the M10 Filter Holder System from Haida is a game-changer for me and my outdoor photography. It's truly the fastest and most functional filter system that I've ever used in my workflow, not to mention extremely durable.
If I'm putting a piece of glass in between my camera and an amazing sunrise, I want to be one hundred percent sure that the filter is not going to ruin the photograph. Some filters have a reputation of changing the color cast of a photo instead of simply darkening the scene or removing glare off the surface of the water. I was curious to see how well the Haida Red Diamond filters did in some difficult lighting situations.
One of the places I used the filters was on the Gulf of Mexico. I've found that the beaches on the gulf have some of the best sunrises I've ever seen. They glow yellow for hours and have so many subjects to use in foregrounds. Plus, I'll take being barefoot in the sand over muddy boots in the rain any day.
I wanted to try the graduated ND filter here because I wanted to darken the sky against a shadowy foreground. Before I used the graduated ND filter, I wanted to see the before and after results of shooting the scene with and without the filter. Spoiler alert, my camera failed miserably without the graduated ND filter.
The image above was the beach landscape without any filters applied.
The Haida Red Diamond Series graduated ND filter was easy to set up and it did a tremendous job darkening the sky accurately to allow me to balance the bright sky against the shadowy sand. I used to rely on my post-processing workflow to correct bright skies against dark foregrounds, but now I'm excited to rely on Haida filters to fix that for me to get the shot right in the field.
I also wanted to shoot some really long exposures using the Haida ND filter. An ND filter is basically a filter that darkens your lens tremendously to allow you to photograph extremely long exposures even during a bright day. I tested the filter on the waves moving and crashing on the shoreline.
The ability to use filters to shoot creative photographs with long exposures is huge for my photography. Long exposures are beneficial because they take a seemingly typical scene and transform it into a peaceful and ethereal image.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed by the Haida Red Diamond Series filters and how they performed in some very difficult lighting situations. I was still able to shoot beautiful, crisp colors and subjects while using them.
Let me be very clear, I do not like to give up a lot of room in my camera bag for anything other than cameras and lenses. In fact, I'll gladly reduce the number of clothes I take on a trip if it means I can fit one more lens into my bag. Who needs that extra pair of underwear anyways? I wasn’t at all deterred from packing the Haida filters or holder into my bag thanks to the small and light cases they came in.
I was using the M10 Filter Holder, a circular polarizer, an ND filter, and a graduated ND filter (all of which were Haida Red Diamond filters.) The M10 Filter Holder fits into the case for the circular polarizer and the ND filter while still attached to the lens ring mount and with one of the two filters inserted into the filter holder. The graduated ND filter was kept in its own metal case since it is rectangular.
The packing was slim, lightweight, and compact. I could easily throw it in the top compartment of my F-Stop Gear Tilopa camera bag and hit the road without reducing any other gear I took with me.
The cases for everything were also extremely durable. I was never nervous about any of the filters or the filter holder getting damaged. They are extremely well packaged with plenty of padding the protection.
Not only did I love using the Haida M10 Filter Holder System as well as the Haida Red Diamond Series filters, but I'll definitely be recommending them to anyone who wants professional photography results with filters. Usability, Quality, and Packability are the most important aspects of filters to me as an outdoor photographer. I had never found any filter system that checked all three of those boxes until I used Haida Filters.
About the author: When David Johnston isn't leading photography workshops and tutorials or hosting his popular photography podcast, Photography Roundtable, he can be found traveling the world taking photos to awe and inspire his viewers. David has a passion for sharing his knowledge of photography and has many educational offerings designed to help photographers improve their work.