[Review] Haida 10 Stops Neutral Density Filter

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THE OVERVIEW

Website : Haida ND3.0, 1000X Optical Glass Neutral Density Filter
Get from eBay : Click here
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Price : About USD 90

Build
Excellent optical quality.
Usefulness 
Landscape staple.
Value 
Decently priced.
Average
Mighty decent ND filter, well priced.

THE BLACK GLASS

ND filters have always been a staple to landscape photographers. While the “usual suspects” have always been 1 to 3 stops ND filters, some use a very dark ND filter of 10 stops and above for long exposures, even in broad daylight.

This is what I call “the black glass”, an interesting filter that allows slow shutter speed in daylight. Why would we want slow shutter speed in daylight? Well, flowing clouds, silky smooth waters and motion blur. There are so many things you can do with it.

ALTERNATIVES

There are many contenders for ND filters in the market, to name a few – Hoya, Marumi, Lee, B+W, and Tiffen. This filter that I am reviewing, is one of the more affordable alternative, a Haida 10 stops ND filter.

The reason why I looked for a cheaper alternative was, a Lee Big Stopper broke in my bag somehow. All while inside a hard case? It was a painful break, and I really couldn’t afford to buy another big stopper… which might break in my bag again.

Speaking of alternatives, there is another reputable ND filter by a brand called “hitech”. Yes, high tech… or maybe they meant hello tech. I have no beef with hello tech, but I choose Haida because a friend has it, and figured it was good enough after a free test drive.

IMPRESSION

The Haida ND3.0 filter measures 100 mm X 100 mm, a square piece of glass filter. Yes, glass and not plastic. They do have larger 150 mm square pieces and 150 mm x 100 mm rectangular pieces… but those costs quite a bit more.

Haida 10 stops ND filter
Just a piece of square black glass. Nothing much to see here.

This definitely does not feel like cheap flimsy glass in hand, but a solid piece of glass. Optics wise, I have not spotted chromatic aberrations nor ghosting till date. Haida claims that there is no color cast with their 10 stops ND filter. But you decide for yourself. I can definitely spot hints of magenta on the use of the filter.

For those of you expecting this to be some cheap knock-off, rest easy. It’s not. Even the packaging for the filter is pretty nice too. The box and carrier case seem pretty professional, and you will not find a hint of “cheap”.

SAMPLE IMAGES

These are taken with a Nikon D800E and 16-35mm f/4 Nikkor lens.

Left to right, top to bottom –

1) Taken without filter… an overcast day.

2) Taken with the Haida 10 stops ND filter, RAW image, unedited.

3) Taken with the Haida 10 stops ND filter, edited image.

4) Another edited photo taken with the Haida 10 stops ND filter.

These are 90 seconds exposures, but there is not much wind. So there is not much “cloud rush” and the water surface looks calm.

WORKING WITH THE BLACK GLASS

This is not an “easy” piece of glass to work with, as in, you will need to add a couple more steps into your usual shoot routine. The 10 stops ND filter is so dark that once you slap it on, you pretty much can’t see anything. So this is my shoot process while using the Haida.

  • While on hand-held, eyeball and do a rough composition.
  • Deploy the tripod, mount and frame.
  • Focus, do the adjustments and take a test shot.
  • When ready, attach the filter holder and 10 stops. Plus the GND if necessary.
  • Switch to manual focus, manual settings mode.
  • The settings guessing game, since the camera’s metering is probably wack with the 10 stops.
  • Shoot, review, change the settings, repeat until perfect.

This is definitely not a filter for the impatient or lazy.

CONCLUSION

I gave Haida a chance and yes indeed, it performed well. It is not amazingly good of course, but this is a filter that offers excellent value for money. Sure, Haida is a Chinese company, plagued with many rumors of “cheap knockoffs” and “bad quality”. Not for Haida. This is definitely one good alternative that is worth your money.

So if you are lower on budget and looking a good alternative that costs less, this is one filter that you should take into serious consideration. Forget about the bad “Made in China” myth, this is one mighty decent filter.

THE GOOD

  • Good optics, good build.
  • Square filter, does not introduce vignetting.
  • Covers all lens diameter to 100mm.

THE BAD

  • Requires a separate lens holder.
  • Clearly not a filter to be used with hand-held… unless you have the ninja skills hold absolutely still for at least a full minute.
  • Slight color tint, which can be fixed with Photoshop easily.
  • Made of glass, which might shatter in hands full of buttery fingers.

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