I want to share with you the beauty from my back yard during lockdown January 2021. I’ve been recently struggling like many since Scotland went into full lock-down on Boxing day 2020 ( 26th Dec) with my mental health. Theres nothing to look forward to & so much sadness … So ..I decided enough was enough & kicked my butt to do some night photography from home. Here in the far north of Scotland we are blessed with Auroras between September & March. I’ve always been too lazy or ill to photograph, so..no more excuses Jenny, get yourself outside with your best buddy (camera) & enjoy the beauty. I talk away to myself ~ “For goodness sake Jenny don’t you know how lucky you are, what’s wrong with you, why have you never done this before ?”
These images are nothing fancy but the pleasure they have brought me has been immense & I hope you enjoy them too.
I’ll add more as I go … Watch this space ..no pun intended …ha-ha…..;-( .
Winter sunrises are some of the most impressive in my favourite Scottish mountain range right in the heart of the British outdoor capital called Glencoe~ Known for its history, haunting mood & unpredictable weather.
This particular area of the river is locally called the Cauldron as it swirls around in many directions. On arrival, it was still relatively dark but from experience, I knew the sun hits the side of the mountain & often the rewards are fruitful with a lovely alpenglow, this morning did not disappoint. As the light came up I instantly knew it was something special & an unforgettable moment captured in time. It only lasted about five minutes & thankfully I was prepared.
The motto of this story is knowing your location, planning the composition & patience.
Haida M10 filter holder system.
M10 CPL for the water
Red-diamond soft GND 1.2 (4 stop) to darken the sky slightly & increase the saturation of the sunrise.
F11, 0.6s, ISO 100 @17mm
Canon 5D mark IV. Canon 16-35mm f2.8. Gitzo tripod & ball head.
Testing for optimal sharpness, tonality, vignette, bokeh, X-pattern issues, design, functionality, accuracy of stops & colour shifts. Including in-camera video and real time experience from my home in the north of Scotland.
What comes in the box?
One cardboard box with two separate plastic boxes each with internal moulded foam insert to keep your filters protected ..Box (1) One adapter ring and one Magnetic Variable ND 2-5 stop filter. Box (2) One Magnetic Variable ND 6-9 stop filter & one spring loaded Filter cap.
Lets take a closer look. Join me on a Private Highland Estate (non-public access).
What is a Variable Neutral Density (ND) Filter & how does it work?
Basically a Variable ND filter works by using two pieces of polarised glass that darken as they oppose each other, creating the lovely ND filter effect. As you rotate the filter the density is increased or decreased affecting the amount of light that falls through the lens and onto the camera sensor.
Available in various sizes; 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 & 82mm. I’m using is the 82mm as my lens is a Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii). Step up rings also available.
How to measure your lens for the correct filter size.
It may seem obvious, however for newbies just starting out this can be very confusing. So, for the avoidance of doubt- Lens diameter is not the same as focal length. Lens diameter is a physical measurement on the front part of your lens. On my Canon lenses the diameter is etched on the inside of the front of the lens ( image example below). Identifiable by a circle with a line right through the middle with a number at the side, this is the measurement needed to select the correct filter size- Alternatively, you could go old school and get your ruler out to measure the diameter in millimetres.
Why are Neutral Density filters important for video?
In videography theres something called the 180-degree shutter angle rule- which mimics motion the same way a human eye experiences in real life. It helps reduce your shutter speed whilst maintaining proper exposure. For example- your shutter speed should be double your frame rate for smooth motion blur, produces a more natural and professional looking footage- rather than harsh/ jittering/robotic. This is especially commonly seen on fence lines which I’ve experienced myself whilst flying a drone. (By the way as a side note, I’m currently reviewing Haida’s ND filters for DJI Mavic 2-Pro which will be published soon). So, for instance if shooting at 25 frames per second on a DSLR you need to move your shutter speed to 1/50. This is where the Haida Nano-Pro Interchangeable Magnetic Variable ND 2-5 stop filter in particular solves this issue perfectly. Theres a reason why Cinematic cameras are expensive- they have built in ND filters.
Both filters are constructed the same, the frame part from Aerospace Aluminium making it super strong and extremely light weight, in fact its 9g lighter than previous Haida Variable NDs. The glass part is made from high quality K9 optical glass with Nano-Pro coatings on both sides.
Featuring a waterproof NanoPro multi-coating on the filter glass, which helps prevent dirt and smudges from adhering to the glass, reduce reflections, scratch and water proof. Applied to both sides of the filter and helps prevent colour cast while maintaining excellent image sharpness. Highly scratch-resistant, durable, can be used under water and super easy cleaning.
With the filter being on a wide angle lens I did wonder if the dreaded X-pattern (produces hatched areas on the actual image) would be more pronounced especially on the 6-9 stop, but thankfully its not appeared at any focal lengths tested from 16-35mm at approximately 2mm increments. I really did try to push it through its paces as curiosity got the better of me secretly wanting to see what it actually looked like in real life so to speak. Sure I’ve seen it on-line with other filter brands but nothing beats reality. I think what really helps with this particular issue is the way Haida have thoughtfully placed accurate hard stops at each end making it impossible to push the ND effect too far past the weakest or strongest points.
The innovative design of the magnetic attraction provides not only ease of use and speed but also the added bonus of no light leakage whatsoever, which often-times is problematic with strong NDs, usually from 6 stops upwards. No vignette from two stops right up to six inclusive.
Absolutely loved the ability to control shutter speed in ever changing light conditions without stress of fumbling in my filter bag trying to select what I thought would be best then discovering a different strength would have been better. Now, I could simply rotate from 6-9 or remove in literally one second & replace the 2-5 stop ND which I kept handy in my pocket neatly wrapped in a lens cloth for add protection.
Ideally suited for all types of photo &/or video genres including portraiture. I will definatly be using it for my animal work. All in all, I really do love and have thoroughly enjoyed this evaluation. Haida made it very easy with exceptional quality in not only the sleek design and smooth as butter rotation but followed right through from speed of use, incredible sharpness/tonality & contrast with no colour shift (neutrality) in the final raw file. What I did appreciate & use all the time now is the handy filter cap- Personally thought that a really nice final touch. It allows you to leave the filter on the lens packed away in your bag, then you’re all set up and ready for the next location.
I’m still undecided if I would have preferred an adjustment peg on the side to make it a bit easier to rotate from stop to stop without getting greasy fingerprints on the glass from my clumsy fingers or if it’s best without. Certainly not having it makes for a super sleek design which I really do like, not only visually but for storage & less weight. Over time I have gotten used to moving it without intensely watching where every stop is. Other than this I see no other downsides, what’s not to love? If I was being really picky there is ever so slight vignette from 7-9 stops inclusive, but certainly nothing to worry about.
For the traveller in mind.
If you’re tired of hauling around lots of different filters on your travels and need to go lightweight this could well be your answer.
Comparative images below at the bridge- taken with Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii) lens on Gitzo tripod. Settings used; Without filter = ISO 100, F8, 1/15– With Haida Interchangeable Magnetic Variable ND filter @ 9 stops; ISO 100, F8, 30 seconds @16mm. Both raw images (straight out of camera). Location- Sutherland, Scotland.
Comparative images below at the beach- Taken with Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii) lens on Gitzo tripod. Settings used; Without filter = ISO 100, F14, 1/4 sec– With Haida Interchangeable Magnetic Variable ND (2-5 stops) filter @ 5 stops; ISO 100, F14, 08 seconds @16mm. Both raw images (straight out of camera). Location- Sutherland, Scotland.
Comparative images below of the bridge- Taken with Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 16-35mm F2.8 (ii) lens on Gitzo tripod. Settings used; Without filter = ISO 100, F8, 1/15– With Haida Interchangeable Magnetic Variable ND (6-9 stops) filter @ 9 stops; ISO 100, F8, 30 seconds @16mm. Both raw images (straight out of camera).
Very pleased to tell you my field test was successful in checking the stop numbers are accurately placed.
On location- Behind the scene images below
Variable ND filters seem to be trending at the moment. Having never used one before I was quite sceptical the quality wouldn’t be as good as a traditional single stop ND filter. I was pleasantly proven wrong and really fallen in love with this option. Having the magnetic part is a total bonus, making this super fast and easy to set up. In the past there’s been times when I’ve been a bit lazy and not bothered with filters as it’s such a faff, not so much the past couple of years but certainly before it was slow going and fiddly.
All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China. “Haida” in English translates to “All rivers run into the sea, all rivers flow to one”. If you’d like to visit their website &/or Facebook .
The most versatile filters I’ve ever used, certainly the fastest and most practical system. The innovation and thought gone into the design/ build, coupled with the high quality optics makes this filter an incredible piece of kit and serious contender in the photography/ videography marketplace for many types of genres.
All in all this latest innovation from Haida has very much impressed me.
I hope this provides you with some useful information. Please feel free to ask me any questions or contact me below or Facebook Messenger.