Just recently I, and also Alan, were invited by Haida Filters of China to test and review some of their products. Having heard only good things about the quality of their equipment I jumped at the chance. Haida began production in 2007 and specialise in optical glass filters for photography, making a range of high quality screw on, square and rectangular format filters and accompanying accessories. They offered to supply me with the following pieces of equipment to use out in the field;
Within a few days of discussing and arranging, the box with all of the above was delivered in record time to the house and I proceeded to open it excited to find out what the equipment was actually like. First impressions with the packaging were extremely good. Aesthetically it was very pleasing indeed, well put together, neat and tidy and explaining clearly what was in each box. No faff and jargon everywhere, just very clean and uncluttered. As I opened each box to reveal the individual pieces it was clear that a lot of thought had been put into the presentation of the items. Each of the glass ND filters that had been sent to me were beautifully presented in sturdy brushed aluminium cases, every one with a white foam insert inside giving excellent protection. Little cut outs in the sides of the foam inserts meant that getting the filters out was very easy, and due to the type of foam used there was absolutely no slippage either, eliminating any fear of dropping the items.
The CPL filter was presented in a smooth plastic box, again with a foam insert, and again with the well thought out cut out for handling. To put together the CPL and holder ready to place on my camera was a complete doddle. There was no messing around, just three simple aluminium alloy pieces which screwed into one another very satisfyingly. The pieces are also machined in such a way that the edges are slightly curved in and out to enable a much firmer grip when putting everything together, once again taking that element of fear about dropping them. Mounting the whole set up onto any one of my lenses using the lightweight but sturdy aluminium adapter rings was equally as simple, no faff at all. And all of these items, including the CPL and filter holder, fit very nicely, and with room, into the lovely thickly padded pouch when not in use.
I was keen to test out the CPL first on my wide angle 10-22mm lens, as this is my favourite and most used of all of my lenses. I’ve seen similar CPL mechanisms from other companies used before, and many seem to have suffered with a certain amount of vignetting when used with a very wide angle such as this, and I was at first a little unsure of whether this would be any different. I really needn’t have worried at all. Not an ounce of vignetting in sight! I was obviously really quite overjoyed at the prospect of not having to sort out in post processing this little but highly irritating matter. A big thumbs up from me for that. I did find with the CPL though that there was possibly a teeny tiny bit of warmth to it, but, it is barely noticeable to the point where I really didn't feel the need to adjust in post processing. A handy little feature of the CPL filter also is that it has a little gripped knob on one side, this makes life so much easier when you want to move it around and adjust it, especially if you’re wearing gloves at the time. The filter holder, once again sturdy and well made, was a cinch to fit to the CPL. It has a bayonet fitting and it’s as easy as lining the arrows up, slipping it on, twisting it round and then tightening the thumbscrew on the side of the holder to put it firmly in place where you want it. You still have freedom of movement of the CPL that’s behind it, as this works completely independently from the filter holder itself. The filter holder also has a foam gasket to stop any light leakage and two rails for the filters themselves. Haida also include a spare rail in the kit if you wish to add more. A really lovely set up which feels, and is, very secure but freely manoeuvrable. And yes, again, there is no issue on adjusting even with gloves on.
I might just add that being able to use this equipment easily whilst wearing gloves is actually really quite important to me, as the last thing that I want to be doing in chilly conditions is taking them on and off to make fine adjustments and freezing my fingers off. I want to stay comfortable out in the field. This kit really did enable me to do so, so it’s worth mentioning I think. So the next test of course was what would it be like adding the ND filters to the set up. Would that dreaded vignetting pop up on my wide angle lens? Not in the slightest. The set up is such that even with using more than one filter, for example an ND and the ND Grad, there was still absolutely no vignetting on any of my shots whatsoever, even at 10mm! Impressed? Well of course I was. ND Filters - As a lover of the Intentional Camera Movement method, having the choice of the the two ND filters I was given was great. They’re handy in bright conditions to help bring the shutter speed down just enough to enable you to get your creative side going. I was out and about working on a project of mine regarding trees in my local area and had blue skies and bright conditions in the middle of the afternoon, so, it was the perfect time to test out the NanoPro 0.6 ND Filter. It of course did the job regarding shutter speed for me, but what I was most impressed with was the colour rendition. It was as near to perfect to the eye as it could possibly be. Superb!
I then decided to test out the NanoPro 0.9 ND Filter at the beach. This time at sunset, but it was an extremely clear sunset so lots of light about and I needed to slow the shutter speed down a bit to smooth out the water the way I wanted it. I was shooting some of the pebbles on the edge of the tideline as the waves came in close to them, and once again, the filter did it’s job superbly without any kind of colour cast at all. Yes, I was once again very impressed indeed.
The NanoPro Soft ND 0.9 Filter – Now, I’m usually a Medium and Hard grad user when it comes to my landscapes and seascapes, so getting to try out the soft grad I was actually looking forward to. It was really rather soft indeed, but this allowed me to use it in all number of situations and I really enjoyed using it to be honest. Once again this filter performed beautifully. The shots came out lovely and sharp and again there was no visible colour cast. Below are some images that I've taken recently around where I live in Devon using this lovely filter.
One thing that I must also mention is the nano coating on all of Haida's filters. This wonderful feature reduces reflections, scratches, smears and beads any rain that lands on your filters beautifully. Whilst using the filters there was many an occasion where I had to wipe them off for varying reasons, and every single time without fail there wasn't a streak left behind. It certainly did make things so much easier in slightly more difficult conditions.
In summary, when using these filters I honestly found there to be no colour issue at all with any of them where usually you might expect a little at the very least, they really are as spot on as you can get and are colour neutral. They are solid, sturdy, beautifully made items. You certainly don’t feel like they’re fragile and going to break in your hands. They slide effortlessly into place in the wonderfully made holder, and working independently to the CPL there is never any issue with having to faff around with the equipment, so easy to use even in difficult situations. The quality of glass is really top notch resulting in wonderfully sharp crisp images, there’s absolutely no softening at all when using these filters unlike others I’ve used before. I found there to be almost virtually no reflections or flare when using them in most situations which was absolutely brilliant, and what can I say about the way that they shed any kind of dust, dirt, water and even sea salt! That nano coating is pure genius! With one gentle swipe of the soft cloth the sea salt was gone without any marks at all……..you wouldn’t have even known it was there in the first place. The whole set up is extremely sturdy in very windy conditions. I felt completely confident that none of the equipment was going to move, rattle about or shake resulting in unwanted effects to my images. It stayed perfectly put and without so much as a quiver. Plus, and this is something that is important to many of us, they're not the most expensive on the market either. For the pricing you really are getting a lot for your money. I think what strikes me most of all about these filters, is the absolute superb quality. It slaps you in the face the very moment that you set eyes on the boxes and before you even glance at the filters themselves. Everything about Haida's equipment is very well thought out, very well designed and beautifully made. Am I impressed? Absolutely I am! I’m actually really quite taken with them in all honesty, and after having had plenty of time to use them, I would now more than happily recommend Haida’s NanoPro series and equipment to anyone!
If you would like to see more of Haida Filters range of equipment please visit www.haidaphoto.com for more details.