Tech Talk – Formatt Hitech Filter Review

I have been busy with reviews lately…….but it has been good to get stuck into using some new toys, no point buying these thing and never using them. I am a big fan of the Ice ND1000 Circular filter, I do love them; they are simple to use, give you amazing images and are cheap, however being circular (attached to the lens) you cannot do the whole graduated effect………that can only come with something like the Big Boys use; Lee Big Stopper or Fomatt Hitech range. So with money burning a hole in Moth’s pockets we decided that would be dive in (We’ll just add them to the early Christmas Presents – boy! Santa has been generous this year).

Colby Brown Landscape Kit........images from Formatt Hitech page
Colby Brown Landscape Kit……..images from Formatt Hitech page

We purchased Formatt Hitech Kits,Β  we decided on the Colby Brown Landscape Kit which consisted of the holder, the lens plate and 3 filters; 2 stop (0.6) Soft Graduated filter, 2Β stop (0.6) Hard Graduated filter, and a 6 stop Reverse Graduated filter (for Sunsets). I must admit I struggled at first; I was exceedingly worried that these very expensive glass and resin filters would drop out of the holder…….so far, so good, no such incidences. Now my first effort, I honestly do not know what I was doing wrong, I tried 30 secs exposure (like would have been appropriate on my ICE filter for similar circumstances) ISO 100, f/11, all I got was black………..then I tried 1min, the 2 min, then 3 minute..eventually I got some something, just was not sure what! When I got home and played in lightroom, I had to adjust the exposure right up, but I did get some lovely pics, albeit a bit dark still! There is a bit of a halo due to bringing the exposure up so much I guess.

A week later, we tried again, this time I had more success in less than ideal conditions……this was 30 sec exposure and the camera was set to -5 on the exposure to compensate, I even had the Soft ND Grad filter in as well, and even though it looks much lighter, it is deceptive as it was fairly dark , compared to the available light in the shot above? I do love the soft water and the lovely cloud effects.Β 

So the issues are with me and I need to do some more playing however there are a few key features I do like.

Pros

1/ Focus is much easier, take the filter plate off, focus, switch to manual and put the plate back (no knocking the focus out while screwing a threaded circular ND on.

2/ It makes you look fancy! silly I know but it does look like a cool piece of kit!

3/ Can be used on several different lenses (if you have the right adaptor)

4/ Lovely images (I want to try one of the 16 stops!)

5/ Easy clip on/ clip off plate, also the filters are relatively easy to install

Cons

1/ Cost…………they are expensive and replacement or additional filters cost a fortune too, approx AUD$200.00 per basic filter some are even more expensive

2/ Holder does make me nervous, worried they will drop out

3/ Need additional adaptors (also expensive) for additional lenses. The ICE were cheap so I could get several, or use a step up/down ring as they were very light

4/ Weight, my camera is already heavy, my 18-200mm lens is heavy, now add this; granted it is usually all on a tripod not over my shoulder, but still it is more weight to carry

5/ Big and Bulky – a circular ND Filter is the same size as any other filter and can neatly and securely fit in your pack, and does not take up much room, these big rigs required lots of room, we ended up buying new packs just for the holder, adaptors, filters etc.

6/ Screws can be a little fiddly with cold fingers and /or gloves (but the Circular ones can be worse in same conditions)

Conclusion

Even though there seems to be as many cons as pros, it is a lovely piece of kit, I would really like to get a 10 stop and a 16 stop filter to try as well……….I managed to buy some in the 11/11 sale and it’s entirely possible that they are cheap crap knock offs (supposedly Cokin filters), but hey you never know unless you try right? I will try this as well, as soon as I can. Any performance issues I think are me and not the equipment (Wow how’s that for honesty?) I will keep using them and hopefully get better a judging light etc…….ND long exposures are an artform in themselves, and being in a forest is very different to being at the beach, or being in the City!

Til next time, happy snapping………….

-Julz