“The Buccal” …also known as Buachaille Etive Mor. It’s been my playground the past thirty odd years, I know these mountains very well having climbed, back-packed & skied. There will always be something very special deep in my heart that draws me back. For those who have never visited Glencoe/ Rannoch Moor area, let me tell you it’s one of those places your forever looking over your shoulder, not because it’s unsafe but your constantly thinking someone is behind you. Kinda spooky which is of no surprise when you think of the Glencoe massacre 1692 when Clan MacDonald were slaughtered in their sleep!
Welcome to my test review of the Haida round “drop-in” Circular Polariser and Neutral Density 1.8 (6 stop) combination filter and Haida Red-diamond soft graduated neutral density 1.2 (4 stops).
If you enjoy landscape photography I cannot stress the importance of investing in a good quality set of filters. Im well aware of what it feels like having a restrictive budget and fears of making the wrong decisions buying new gear. This is where I hope I can help by providing my hand on heart honest opinion. Haida are not the cheapest filters on the market but by no means the most expensive for the optical quality achieved, you really do get a lot of bang for your buck! We all strive to buy the best lenses so why scrimp on a cheap filter and ruin optical quality, it makes no sense to me.
Haida M10 round “drop-in” CPL+ND 1.8 (6 stop)
When Haida offered me the opportunity to test their M10 combination-filter with built in light barrier I was intrigued to say the least, questioning myself what the downfalls if any would be. Whilst stacking filters can work and something I do regular, however this practice is not optimal for a couple of reasons;
Forcing light to traverse through more elements, therefore more likely to get slightly refracted, possibly resulting in softness or even chromatic aberration.
Increased risk of light flares.
The more I thought about it the more I couldn’t wait. Initially I planned waterfalls for this particular test. Although I could see it being very useful after a midday rainstorm which happens a lot here in Scotland when the sun bursts out it’s great to slow down the exposure a wee bit and allow the filter to do the work. Rainfall hasn’t been great the past few days so I headed to the beach at sunrise instead.
Inserting the filter into the Haida M10 filter holder is incredibly fast, it simply drops between the holder and lens creating a perfect seal from any stray light. Oftentimes in the past I’ve struggled with the issue of light leakage and had to resort to putting hats or cloths over the gap between filter and lens, not an ideal situation unlike any of the Haida M10 round “drop-in” filters such as this combi filter which have a built in light-barrier.
This is a ND 1.8 filter meaning it will lose six stops of light. But don’t forget it has the added CPL which generally loose between 1-2 stops of light, collectively this will provide a total of almost eight stops. For me personally, I like a six stop ND for moving water as it doesn’t blur everything to oblivion like say a ten stop would. A six stop shows slight movement which I prefer to portray. A neutral density filter should be exactly what the name suggests “neutral” in every which way and let me tell you all the Haida NDs I’ve ever tested are all neutral, no crazy coloured undertones, no vignetting and no loss of sharpness from corner to corner. What you see is what you get.
If your not wanting the polarising effect you can simply rotate the small dial (three gear linkage design ) on the mount independently, very smoothly to reduce or completely remove depending on the scenario of the scene. Once you start turning, you’ll instantly see the polarisation intensify on your live view screen. I tend to always rotate a CPL 360 degrees first to check the availability of contrast, saturation, and reflection. The strongest effect takes place at an angle of 90 degrees from the sun, ie make sure your line of sight is perpendicular to the direction of the sun. The filter is easily removed or exchanged by gently squeezing the red plastic tabs on the top and lifting it out without disturbing your composition. The choice is all yours and easily very adjustable.
Image of raw file with filter on, zoomed in 100% in Lightroom to demonstrate maximum sharpness of the rocks. Its clear to see the quality is second to none, excellent detail even in the darkest of shadows at blue hour.
For this very demanding scene above with the bright sunrise and dark foreground you need the best support from your gear. Let me tell you this filter made my job very easy, provided excellent control over the whole dynamic range, ultimate sharpness, no color cast or vignette, and really made me smile. Constructed from high quality optical glass the same as the Red Diamond series, each filter has ten layers of anti-reflective coatings, shock-proof and scratch-proof, provides the best clarity, includes the famous nano multi-coating to reduce reflection, waterproof (meaning any droplets of water literally roll off like beads, no ugly smears) and the dreaded fingerprints wipe off easily with a soft microfibre cloth.
The M10 round “drop-in” filters are available in a selection of: ND 0.9, 1.8 3.0, 4; CPL; Clear-night; GND-0.9 1.2; ND+CPL 0.9 and 1.8.
Images below showing straight-out-of-camera (Canon 5d mark iv and Canon 16-35mm USM L Lens) @19mm -With-without-M10 round “drop-in” CPL+ND 1.8 combi. No post processing on either, other than lens correction in Lightroom.
Finally post processed in Adobe Creative Cloud
Haida Red-diamond soft GND 1.2 (4 stops)
Earlier this year I tested the Haida Red-diamond medium 0.9 (3 stops) read review which totally stole my heart, since then it’s rarely been off my lens and I can’t wait to tell everyone how thrilled I am in using it. My love affair with this series only intensified, I had to try the Red-diamond soft graduated neutral density 1.2 (GND 4 stops) filter. Packed my kit and off I went to Aberdeen for sunrise to see how the soft grad stood up to the medium and let me tell you I was not disappointed.
The main purpose of a GND filter is to balance exposure in an image that contains a bright sky and darker foreground. As you can see from the photos below this filter is rectangle in shape and sized 100mm x 150mm, providing flexibility to move the filter up or down within the filter holder for ultimate control. Providing such a beautiful soft progression from dark at the top where you would place over the sky to clear at the bottom in a neutral manner and achieving endless creative possibilities.
What makes this series stand out from its predecessor and other brand filters are listed as follows:
Shock resistant, low risk to any accidental damage.
Scratch resistant, the perfect partner in demanding weather.
Zero colour cast.
Waterproof, oil and fingerprint proof Nanopro coated surface.
Improved optical glass.
R5 rounded corners – makes it easier to slide in and out of the filter holder, no sharp corners.
K9 optical glass.
Ultra-thin nano multi coating.
Easy to clean.
Double the strength of other glass filters whilst at the same time retaining ultimate sharpness.
Still retaining 2 mm in thickness making it compatible with the Haida 100-Pro filter holder and other brands the same size.
The Red Diamond series is double the strength of a normal glass filter. You may have seen online the Haida Red Diamond drop test video? Where it’s thrown onto a concrete floor and no sign of damage to the filter. If you are accident prone this would be the perfect filter series for you.
Images below showing straight-out-of-camera (Canon 5d mark iv and Canon 16-35mm USM L Lens) @35mm with no filter and with Haida Red-diamond soft GND 1.2 (4 stops). No post processing on either other than lens correction in Lightroom. As you can see the soft GND significantly transforms the quality of the image.
Finally post processed in Adobe Creative Cloud
All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China.
My overall conclusion is both filters are superiorly optically and I have absolutely no hesitation is recommending to anyone whether beginners or advanced and using for my own portfolio.
I hope this provides you some useful information. Please feel free to ask me any questions.
My first trip to the world famous Calanais Standing Stones on the beautiful Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. I’ve been wanting to make the trip for a couple of years now and finally I made it.
The stones are arranged in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle for ritual activity dated back to the Bronze age and actually older than Stonehenge in England.
On arrival approx 6pm the light was bouncing all over the place, it had been one of those typical Scottish days where you get all four seasons in one day, this can prove to be very successful for landscape photography as it seems to bring the purest of light, what I call magic light. However this can bring difficulties with light management …You need to be in control of the light, not the light controlling the image with dark shadows and/ or crazy blown out highlights. To do this I firstly used a Haida M10 CPL which is my go to filter to control highlights and lift some beautiful saturation. This still wasn’t quite right so I upped the game by using my Haida Red Diamond Medium 0.9 ( 3stops) … I was almost there but not 110% happy. I decided to expose for the foreground, stones, sunstar, skyline and clouds in separate manual exposures, knowing I could easily blend in post processing when back at my computer. Doing it this way also meant I could nail the focus better resulting in sharpness from front to back, I prefer this method rather than just going for one at say F16 or F22.
The sky didn’t pop as much as I hoped due to the time of year and day time temperatures. I stayed till dusk quietly watching the sun dip below the horizon, all very peaceful.
I hope you enjoyed my thought process and final image named “Ritual”.
If you live in the UK and looking to purchase any Haida filters, please contact Haida’s agent in Germany …. Pro-Photoshop/Timetrends24, Mercatorstraße 18, D-21502 Geesthacht, Germany. Tel: 49 4152-136 03 17. www.haida-deutschland.de
Thought I’d share this one with you all. Ryan DeFreece-Dyar one of my biggest inspirations in Landscape Photography posted about “a piece that represents best what they constantly strive to make… a defining moment in their own history when everything comes together and falls into harmonious place.”
My image “Elysian” instantly came to mind. I’d like to share with you the story behind it.
After a morning of heavy rain and patiently waiting in my car with a flask of peppermint tea I really thought I’d have to turn around and go home. You know when the kid in you wants to stamp your feet and have a tantrum? Thankfully only thirty minutes from home but my heart was sinking. Then suddenly, something switched inside me, almost determination saying feck it to the world, it’s only rain I won’t shrink! I gathered my waterproofs, rucksack and went for it.
Sat at the top of a peak with all my gear set up under a large golf umbrella and generally feeling rather sorry for myself, black mascara running down my face to complete the look! Then suddenly out of nowhere the clouds opened like they were saying hello and welcoming me.
The beautiful sunlight peeped out, I was scrambling for the remote and Haida Filters in a real fluster with wet hands. Finally pressed the remote, let the camera/filters do their job whilst I sat back & let the light flood in.
Such a beautiful moment, it seemed to last forever but in actual fact only 152 seconds exposure.
I drove home in more rain with the biggest smile ever on my face. Scottish weather isn’t the most predictable, but it sure gives great mood.
I chose this image to share with you as literally there is part of my heart within. I do hope you like my story/image and can relate somewhat. Would love to hear your stories too?
Equipment/ settings used …Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm @16mm. ISO 100, F11, 152 secs. Haida Filter N.D 3.6 (12 stop).
The moral of this story is don’t be defeated by the weather!
Best wishes to you all from a cold and windy North of Scotland in the middle of August, how rude!!
Buachaille Etive Mor known locally as “The Buachaille” is a Scottish Munro at the head of Glen Etive. Driving up the A82 from the south your suddenly in awe of this majestic peak. I remember 20 yrs ago a climber had a horrible accident ..I was heading back to the car after a hike over Rannoch Moor when a guy approached me asking for help, one of his climbers were suspended on a ledge almost at the top of the Buachaille & could I drive him to the Hotel ( not many people had mobile phones back then & even if they did they wouldn’t have a signal). I’ve never driven so fast in all my life, we finally got there & phoned for Mountain Rescue. It seemed to go on forever waiting for the Helicopter to arrive, I think about 2 hrs plus it was going dark. The Climber was rescued & taken to Fort William Hospital, his knee caps were all smashed, they said he would never walk again. The following summer I heard he was back on the same mountain climbing again … Such an inspiration, never give up!! This area is in my heart and soul .. I truly love it, my happy place.
On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond …There’s a song in there somewhere, will probably drive you mad all day singing it in your head.
Woke up to a gorgeous frosty morning at Duck Bay the light was so soft and perfect looking to me. Loch Lomond, Scotland’s first National Park, “The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park”, located off the A82, approximately two miles north of Balloch.
I felt like I was still in my bed dreaming. There was no time for breakfast, couldn’t bare the thought of losing the soft light shining on the Ben (Ben Lomond Mountain), producing an epic reflection on the Loch. I’m not normally a morning person but when you see such beauty it gives me a big kick up the ass and I can’t wait to get out there shooting. It’s a bit like the feeling you had as a kid on a Christmas morning, you never know what to expect but excited at the same time.
Light moves fast and so do you if you want “that shot”. Sometimes I panic so much that I forget things, it’s quite the adrenalin rush. Questions racing through your mind, should I place the Tripod here or there? What Focal length should I use? How should I angle my lens? Which filters if any? So many others as they flash through your thoughts, all happening in nanoseconds.
Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 70- 200mm USM Lens, Gitzo Systematic 5 series Tripod, Gitzo series 5 Off Centre Ball Head, Haida ND 3.6 ( ND 12 stop) Filter, Remote timer.
Adobe Photoshop CC.
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