If you are serious about landscape photography you will soon find the need to buy yourself some ND grads. Now there is alot of options out there ranging from the cheap Cokin to the expensive Lee filters, I stumbled across Hitech filters which were the perfect option not to expensive and didn’t give off to much of a colour cast! Probably the most important thing to me was the price these filters will set you back about £30 each in the 100mm versions or the 85mm £30 for the set. The difference is that the 100mm will not give you much if any vignetting at wide angles where as the 85mm will because there physical size is not big enough to cover the lens at wide angles. So my advice for anyone looking to buy these is if you are considering using a wide angle lens below 17mm then buy the 100mm versions otherwise you will be fixing this a lot in post.
View sample photos and full Hitech ND Grad review after the jump.
So what will the Hitech ND Grads do for my photography?
Hitech Filter On Camera
Hitech Hard filter infront of lens
This is a basic example of what the grads do, As you can see it darkens the area by restricting the amount of light hitting the sensor thus allowing you to have more balanced images and brings out the detail that would otherwise be lost by blown out highlights.
Ok so lets see what the kit looks like!
Hitech ND Grad Filters
Lee Filter Adaptor
Lee Filter Holder
Lee Filter Adaptor on Lens
Lee Filter Holder on Lens
Lee Filter Holder on Lens Top
As you can see from the above images you need a filter holder a filter ring and of course the filters, Hitech offer there own filter holder and at the time of writing costs £ but if you were looking closely you would notice im not using the Hitech holder instead im using the Lee version. Why I hear you asking??? Well this is simply because the Lee system will allow me to build on my setup allowing me to add more slots if I ever in the future want to expand on my kit. Also if im honest the build quality of the Lee holder and ring is more sturdy.
Also above is the Lee Ring adaptor these come in all different sizes and the size will depend on your lens filter sizes, I currently own a 77mm for my Sigma 10-20 and a 67mm for my 70-200L and my Tamron 17-50 2.8. If your unsure what size your lens needs simply read on the side of the lens usually at the top around the thread or near there what size you need.
Finally we have the filters! Ok now im going to confuse you again you have two types of filters (well technically there’s more than two types but for this we are going to only talk about two) Hard Edge and Soft Edge, Ok so what’s the difference I hear you cry??? Well its simple really one is hard one is soft, and I don’t mean bendy!
Hitech ND Hard Edge Grad Filters
As you can see from the image above the hard edge has a hard finish to the grad and doesn’t change in density until it ends. This is great for any scene that has a more or less vertical horizon i.e. Seascapes.
Hitech ND Soft Edge Grad Filters
The soft edge as you guessed has a feathered effect where it starts of with a thicker density and then graduates its way to nothing. These are great for most scenes and tend to be more forgiving if you have anything protruding out of the horizon.
So why did I buy 3 hard edges and 1 soft edge??? Well its because I live on the Gower and I mostly enjoy photographing the sea which is a more or less always a straight horizon and not much putted out of it. But I have used the soft edge a lot as I do find it is more forgiving.
How many do i buy?
Well I went and got the set from Hitech as I had a good deal and was able to collect them from their factory (I dive past every day). But if im honest I would say 1 0.6 and 1 0.9 either hard or soft would be more than enough. These are the two I always tend to reach to when im shooting.
Colour Cast an issue?
I had read online that the Hitech filters will give a colour cast if used in multiples or when the exposure time is long. I will have to agree that there is a slight colour cast with these when you double them up or use a long exposure time. But and a big BUT its very easy to fix in post. And this cast is a lot less than the cheaper Cokins. I would love to be able to say there as good as the Lees but sadly their not but your not paying Lees prices either.
The build quality of these filters are ok they are a resin filter so will scratch easy and you need to be careful when using them and always clean them after use. One thing I will say though is because they are resin based it will attract dust. I am consistently cleaning them and do sometimes miss the odd bit of dust which I then have to fix in Photoshop.
You get holder with each filter and I would recommend you store them in these 100% of the time. Also I am considering buying a filter case but not found one to suite my needs yet.
So overall these are fantastic filters at a great price and I would recommend them to anyone that is interested in landscape photography. I think Hitech have created a product that suits most photographic enthuses at a decent price. Im not saying that if Lee were to give me there filters I wouldn’t use them because I would and I understand that they are a much better bit of kit but at the same time I don’t have that sort of money to pay for there filters.
Less colour cast than Cokins
Bigger than Cokins
Dust is easily attracted
Still a slight colour cast
Im no expert at using these as iv only just started using them myself, What i would add is ND grads should be in everyone Togs bag if your out taking landscape work.
If you found this useful or would like to add anything to this please comment below.