Reviews

Goodnight …Evaluation of Haida M10 round “drop-in” clear night filter.

Introduction

I’ve been curious for some time now – If I’m being honest slightly skeptical if the Clear Night filter actually worked & wanted to find out for myself if this filter really did what it claimed. Initially, I questioned why can’t you simply change the white balance in post production, what’s all the fuss about? Let me walk you through my honest, hand on heart evaluation of the Haida M10 round “drop-in” clear night filter.

Let me start by explaining a little bit about the M10 round “drop-in” filters which were released on the market in January 2019. They come in a wide range of sizes to fit most popular lenses in sizes 49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 and 82mm. Boasting a choice of neutral density filters ( 3, 6, 10 and 15 stops), circular polariser (included in the kit), clear-night (light pollution filter), graduated neutral density filters ( 3 and 4 stops) and ND + CPL ( 3 and 6 stops). Inserting the filter into the M10 filter holder couldn’t be easier, it simply drops between the holder and lens creating a perfect seal from any stray light with its in built light barrier. If you’d like to learn more about the Haida M10 filter holder please feel free to read my in depth test review & video here.  It’s almost like gravity does the work for you, so effortless –  once you hear the click it’s locked in place. If you don’t have the M10 filter holder but would like to try the Haida Clear Night Filter you can purchase the different options below.

  • Nano Pro 100 series Clear Night filter 100mm x 100mm, 2 mm in thickness. (Compatible with many of the most popular 100mm filter holders, including the Haida 100-Pro Filter Holder, and the Lee FK Foundation Kit Filter Holder) more information
  • Nano Pro round Screw-in Filter more information.

Location

This test review was based on a shoot at a remote loch in the county of Caithness in the Highlands of Scotland. Using my Canon 5d mark iv ( full frame camera), Canon 16-35mm USM L lens, Gitzo tripod and ball head. Although I was in a remote area, over 100 miles from the nearest City of Inverness there was still small villages dotted around which caused slight light pollution. My main goal in testing any filter will always be for neutrality & sharpness. I want it to replicate what my eyes see without any strange colour casts which has been an issue for me in the past with a couple of other filter brands.

My photography journey started in 2015 predominantly landscapes but never tried night photography as I’ve always loved my bed too much & staying up till midnight never really appealed to me. Living in the far north of Scotland I knew the milky way & aurora was rocking on whilst I was enjoying my sleep..I guess I took it for granted. After my cancer treatment finished last month its given me a new lease of life, wanting to push my personal boundaries a little more & decided to give this years milkyway season a bash. As a brand ambassador for Haida filter they happily offered me the opportunity to evaluate their M10 round “drop-in”clear-night filter. A few days after it arrived I packed my rucksack & headed north. First night the conditions on a few of the popular apps looked great but ended up in reality too cloudy. The stars were barely visible, I was extremely disappointed to say the least.  Im not a defeatist & refused to let this beat me. The following night I returned to the same location with sheer determination, after spending the afternoon & beautiful early evening/sunset thoroughly scouting the location, experimenting with different focal lens & compositions, eventually I settled on a simplistic scene.

Planning

Experience from my previous night taught me this particular location was extremely dark. My question was how would I remember exactly where to place my tripod? I came up with the idea of placing some stones enabling me to find the exact location for the tripod in the dark. The clouds started to roll in as the sun was setting, the barometer on my watch dropped, I was convinced it would be another cloudy night & went to sleep feeling deflated. About 2am I peeked out the window, to my delight the stars were popping off the sky! Adrenaline kicked in, it was exhilarating & I couldn’t wait to set the tripod on my strategically placed stones.

After keeping a close eye on the histogram & checking the images on the LCD display I wasn’t too convinced & felt yet again a sense of disappointment. What had I done wrong now? How do others make it look so easy & great? Why does it look a flat muddy yellow colour? I decided to try the Clear Night filter, exposed for around 26 seconds & boom …I was smiling from ear to ear. Instant clarity, almost like a polarising effect which replicated what I was actually viewing, incredible true to life colours & rid of the horrible warm tones which you can easily see in the raw file below. The sky appears clearer & stars intensify with the filter on. It significantly improved the colour & quality throughout the whole image. I was back on a high, couldn’t have felt more elated. This was great & super easy to use combined with the Haida M10 filter holder which is a dream to use. 

The filter made a terrific improvement in its job;

  • Blocking light rays in the spectrum of sodium lamps & mercury arc lamps between approximately 580nm & 610nm which eliminated the yucky yellow/orange casts, providing a lovely cool tone which is something I prefer to portray for my nightscapes.
  • True to life colours.
  • Unbelievable sharpness.
  • Improved optical clarity & contrast.
  • Blocking the yellow sodium-vapor light often generated from light pollution in the night sky.
  • The blue area of the filter has a 100% transmission rate, green area approx 50% & red area around 90%.
  • Not to mention, made my post processing super easy & fast.

Design & construction

I particularly liked the design of the plastic holder that the round glass sits in, making it ultra easy to drop in and remove from the filter holder without any disturbance to the composition even with clumsy gloves on. Constructed from high quality optical glass identical to the Red Diamond series and feature the same NanoPro multi anti-reflective coatings on both sides which not only produces excellent image quality, total colour fidelity, shock-proof, resistant to dirt/scratches. It helps with condensation from the cold dark night, as any water particles literally bead up & roll off, then any excess is easily wiped off with a microfibre cloth. As with all of the M10 filter range it has a built-in light gasket which seals to the M10 Holder & prevents any unwanted light leakage.

Raw files

Images below showing raw files (Canon 5d mark iv and Canon 16-35mm USM L Lens) @21mm with no filter and with Haida M10 “drop-in” Clear Night filter. Same white balance on both (auto). Demonstrating how the filter has retained every bit of sharpness & made the stars pop straight off the night sky with stunning cool tones.

giff
Without filter ISO 6400, F4, 18 seconds . With Clear Night filter ISO 6400, F4, 26 seconds. Both have same white balance @ 21mm. As you can see in the comparison exif data I have lost around one third of a stop & shows no evidence of any vignetting.

                                Finally post processed in Adobe Creative Cloud

9 jpeg
Caithness, Scotland.

Where are the filters assembled?

All Haida filters are assembled in their own optical workshop located in the beautiful Port City of Ningbo, China.

Conclusion

Overall this will remain in my filter case & used in absolutely every night sky I shoot. Im super impressed the way it added a further dimension to my night photography & would highly recommend to any friends. I now have the dark night sky addiction, already have a few locations planned for when the conditions are good again & will add more images to this review. The M10 round “drop-in” Clear night filter is the perfect companion for night skies, don’t leave home without it. Thank you Haida for saving the day yet again for me.

All the equipment I’ve mentioned above can be purchased direct online from Haida’s European distributor Haida Germany shop  for excellent service.

I hope this provides you some useful information. Please feel free to ask me any questions. More info & my test reviews on Haida’s website.

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About me, Interviews

Interview with Ole Henrik Skjelstad

I’ve known Ole Henrik a few years now, he needs no introduction to anyone in the Landscape Photography world. If you haven’t seen his work, seriously …do look him up. One of my biggest landscape photography inspirations and a genuine human being.

“Jenny’s story is a compelling read about dedication, hardships and overcoming obstacles. She is a true artist whose images stand out as unique, creative and evocative”.

Have a wee read & please let me know.

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Tell us a little about yourself.

Born and raised in the north of England, moved to the Scottish Highlands in my mid 30s with husband and two dogs following our dream to escape the rat race. We live on a farm within a private highland estate in the far north –  I really have never lived anywhere so beautiful in all my life. Always been a bit of a dolly daydreamer. My senior school was set in a rural location with views down a pretty valley and my step father once told a teacher that I’d never get any work done for staring out of the classroom window in my own little world. He was not wrong! I’m a very competitive person but only with myself, I am my own biggest critic, never happy with my images.

 What made you start out with landscape photography?

I’ve always had a passion for the great outdoors and travel, and most of our holidays and free time were either spent long distance backpacking, hiking, climbing or skiing. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease aged 35 which put an end to our adventures and I spiralled into a dark place. A few years later I found solace taking photos whilst walking my dogs in the beautiful countryside where I was lucky enough to be living, using a basic point/ shoot camera. I finally took the plunge and purchased my first Canon DSLR in October 2015.

What do you want to communicate through your photos?

I try to communicate depth by means of interesting foreground, textures, light, different focal lengths and focus. Emotion is never far from my mind when processing, which I hope is something I manage to convey in my photographs. Oftentimes, I will use more warmer palettes to portray happiness whereas more moody cool tones can show the opposite. I never set out with a plan, I kind of go with the flow wherever my mood takes me. I truly find great pleasure inviting the viewer into the scene and the world through my eyes.

What has photography done for you?

It’s helped me with mental negative demons, and in a way it’s given me back the old part of my life in the great outdoors without debilitating hip pain. Whether I’m on location or post processing, it will take me to another world. I’m not sure if others will relate to this but it’s like I’m able to escape the chaos of life and zone out in my own little world. Not to mention the genuine friendships I’ve made through photography, the generosity I’ve encountered continually astounds me.

How would you describe your work, and how has it evolved since you started out?

As much as I’m known for a lot of post processing, I do feel over the years I’ve learnt to tone it down a wee bit. In the early days I thought saturation and heavy vignettes were the best thing ever, whereas these days I try to be more selective and use it to lead the eye into key areas. Studying light has been a game changer for me, knowing where your light source is and where the light / shadows will fall is a must. I’ve learnt a lot just by spending time in nature – you soon learn what colours work best … you can’t beat nature’s own colour wheel. Also I give myself more time these day on composition, searching for patterns and leading lines, whereas I never use to give it much thought.

I suppose most of us have periods when we seem to lose the fun of photography. Have you developed any strategies to keep the fire burning?

Absolutely! There are most definitely times when this happens, I need time away mostly from my computer and usually spend extra time on family road trips. Especially to the west coast of Scotland – famous for rain but once it stops and the sun comes out there is such amazing light playing on the land that it’s hard not to feel exhilarated and then I can’t get the camera out fast enough! It’s like an itch that needs scratching and I’m back before I know it. I’m very fortunate to have such a supportive husband, he understands when these times happen but will never let me give up when I’m throwing a tantrum (usually in post processing) – he’s always there championing me on which really does help re-igniting the flame.

Have you ever been severely criticized for your work? And in that case how did you handle it?

Oh yes ….!  It sure happens, especially in my early days and I didn’t handle it well emotionally and took it to heart. The purists often criticise my creative licence but I am not here to appease them, my art is selfishly for myself. I’ve learnt over the years to take it with a pinch of salt and move on as photography is subjective and you’ll never satisfy everyone – the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same thing. These days if I see a negative comment on social media I literally ignore it. Gone are the days where I try to reason with them and at the end of the day they are quite entitled to their opinion. After saying that categorically I can say that I’ve never criticise anyone else’s work, even if someone directly asks me for constructive criticism I still struggle, it’s not in my nature. My gran always taught me if you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all. 

Have you any hobbies besides photography?

Not sure if it’s a hobby but it sure takes up time! This past year I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time with seven horses on our farm whom I’ve become very attached to and seem to connect with on an emotional level, it’s really quite bizarre in a heartwarming and calming way. Also I enjoy reading and watching far too many films.

In which direction do you believe landscape photography is heading? 

In all honesty reflecting on the past 20 years in the mountains of Scotland I’ve witnessed huge environmental damages. I feel social media is like a virus to landscape photography. So many people travel the globe to iconic places just to post on social media to gain more likes and/or followers, it’s really very sad what’s happening to these beauty spots. Don’t get me wrong-  I accept wholeheartedly that anyone has the right to go where they wish, we’re all guilty of that up to a point. For me travel is about adventure and fun, not letting Google direct you to a location you’ve seen on Instagram. For example 20-30 years ago the famous Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye only had a few daily hill walkers, there wasn’t even a car park, not many people knew about it, people would simply park on the roadside and for the odd few cars doing this it really didn’t matter. Unlike the past 10 years where it’s snowballed to craziness on a whole new level with endless streams of tour buses all year round. It really hurts me seeing the erosion caused not only to the roads but footpaths too and literally scarring the vistas. I don’t know if people are plain selfish or just don’t realise this damage is permanent! Even if everyone stopped going from today it would take many hundreds of years to return to its former glory. I honestly don’t know where it’ll all end.

What is the most amazing place you have visited? Is it possible for you to articulate why it made such a huge impression on you?

In 1994 my husband and I rented our house out to fund a road trip for a year travelling fourteen countries in Europe and Scandinavia. There was one very special country we never wanted to leave which was Norway, it left a huge impression especially the enormity of the turquoise waterfalls and Troll Wall, such a beautiful country in so many ways. We were able to take our watches off and mostly didn’t know if it was day or night as it was summer time and never went totally dark. 

What inspires you?

It’s got to be the moody Scottish weather. Some say it’s not great due to all the rain but for me there’s nothing better than after heavy rain fall when the sun pops out often revealing great light rays. Also foggy mornings make my heart swell when the mist slowly lifts from a river or loch, it really does make for interesting photography.

You have been severely ill. How has that affected you as a person and your photography?

March 2018 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and my world came crashing down. Photography definitely inspired me to overcome my fears for the biggest fight of my life. My consultant told me I’d be out of action for a year with surgery and treatments. Luckily a few weeks after diagnosis a fine art gallery south of Glasgow approached me to display some of my work. This gave me mental balance, something positive to focus on and true hope. It took a few weeks after surgery to get back to doing some post processing, and I was only able to use one hand. Sadly I wasn’t able to hold my camera, let alone use it as I was so weak and sore. Cancer might have put my life on hold but there was no way it was controlling my love of photography. Within this time I wrote a full post processing tutorial of one of my images from start to finish for a photography magazine and also had a selection of my work published in a hardback coffee table style book.

 Photography helped to shut out the reality of the outside world, and took me to another world full of magic, with a sense of calmness and happiness. It gave me the confidence to hold my head up high, I was alive! No matter what I had to face my escape was always my art, I buried my head in my own little world where anything was possible. Eventually I got through surgery, 5 months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and albeit a little battered and bruised, I survived! It’s the old cliche that you often hear after a life-changing diagnosis –  “the world looks different now”. It’s so true. Before my diagnosis I would shy away from certain opportunities but now I want to grab life and live it to the fullest. I received many messages of support from fellow photographers who told me their stories of how cancer had touched their families. Photography has been my saviour and still continues to help rebuild “me”.

Do you have a piece of advice for young aspiring landscape photographers?

Be true to yourself, do what makes you happy and don’t worry what others may think. Don’t follow the crowds or chase the followers – it will become stressful and dull your creativity. Take inspiration from others but don’t copy. Try to find your own unique style which in return will give you more abundance. Never compare yourself to others, it’s a slippery slope of despair. Social media can of course be inspirational but at the same time can leave you with a feeling of lacklustre and loneliness and can quickly lead to unhelpful comparisons. If this happens take some time away even if just a couple of hours and do something completely different – for it can suck the life from your creative flow. And finally, practice, practice and more practice, it’s the only way. Oh… and don’t be too hard on yourself –  it’s about having fun!


 

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© Jenny Cameron 2019.

 

 

Reviews

Haida 100 Filter Series Review by Jenny Cameron 

My first review of the Haida 100 Series ND 3.6, ND 4.5, Pro Round Circular Polariser (CPL), Adapter Ring and Pro Holder as their UK Official Photographer. Using my Canon 5d mark iv with Canon 16-35mm USM Lens in the Northern Scottish Highlands.

When I first started my Landscape photography journey I bought a budget range of filters, but couldn’t understand how my images actually looked worse than without any filter, but other photographers who I looked up to were producing great work. The only difference I found were different brands, eventually I upped my game, bite the bullet, bought a better quality set of filters. It’s like the old saying goes, “buy cheap buy twice”, which is very true! Never skimp on anything Optical, you’ll never be happy.

Adapter Ring

The Haida adapter ring is made from good quality Aluminium with no rough edges and very sturdy. This easily screws onto the filter holder where they can stay together permanently if your using the same lens. I particularly found this a great innovation as my previous filter holder and adapter ring were separate which meant more time screwing together which isn’t always easy in freezing temperatures with gloves on, or needing to move quick as the light changes. The particular size I used was 77mm for my Canon 16-35mm USM Lens, but they come in an array of different sizes ( 49mm – 82mm) to suit most popular lenses.

100 Pro Holder
The Haida 100 Pro Holder  feels solid in your hand, very fast and easy to mount. Made from the highest quality Aluminum,making it extremely robust and strong unlike some other filter companies who tend to rattle around loosely. It easily screws together with the Adapter Ring and comes with two filter slots. If you need more Haida who think of everything kindly provide spare brackets and thumbscrews so you can add more if you so wish. Not forgetting the lovely fabric pouch it comes in to keep your holder secure.

Pro Filter Holder
Showing Haida 100 Pro Filter Holder

Circular Polariser (CPL) 
The Haida Round CPL, a vital piece of kit every landscape photographer should have, I rarely shoot without.

I found from my testings it lost roughly two stops of light. Its very slim and made from the highest quality glass to provide great optical clarity. Not to mention the fabulous Nano Coating on both sides which gives not only protection but also improves light quality.

Comes in a very neat plastic box with padding internally for extra protection whilst on your travels. Also available in a selection of sizes ranging from 49mm – 82mm.

There was no vignetting at all even at my widest 16mm on a full frame camera, which you can clearly see from the image below. Your able to rotate the edges of the filter with the metal dial at any time and instantly see the effected light changing.

I should also mention how it gave amazing contrast, cutting through some of the haze especially on the clouds and foliage. Removed almost all the glare from the water, added some beautiful saturation and gave an overall instant pop to the image. Without using a CPL it would be virtually impossible to replicate this effect in post processing.

What do CPL’s do? 
It works by blocking certain light wavelengths from entering the camera sensor. To achieve a maximum effect I’ve found it best to make sure your line of sight is perpendicular to the direction of the sun.They are ideal for anything with non-metallic surfaces such as glass and cutting through reflections on water. You know when you see images where you can see the rocks/stones on the river bed through the water. If a polariser wasn’t used then you can end up with one huge mess of blown out highlights. The only downside with a CPL is being careful not to take it too far, you end up not even seeing the water, I’ve had this happen in the past, not a great look.

The image below, taken without a filter and with the Haida CPL at the distinctively curved Kylesku Bridge that crosses Loch a`Chairn Bhain in Sutherland, Scotland. Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm USM. No CPL, ISO 100, F11, 1/10 @16mm and with Haida CPL, ISO 100, F11, 1/4 second.

Before-CPL-(jpeg-for-web)
Showing Without Haida CPL and With Haida CPL
©Jenny Cameron 2017
Post Processed in Adobe Photoshop
CPL
Showing the Haida CPL in the 100 Pro Filter Holder

Haida ND 3.6 (12 stop) and ND 4.5 (15 stop) 
The Haida ND filters come in beautiful individual chunky Silver metal boxes with padding internally for protection. You may be thinking come on Jenny it doesn’t matter what the filter comes in, it’s the actual glass that matters. And, yes to be fair you’re quite right, but don’t you think attention to detail should follow through from the packaging to the actual Filter? I sure do, it gives me faith in the product that the company has taken into consideration every minor detail.

Made from quality Optical Glass, sized 100mm x 100mm and approximately 2 mm in thickness. I experienced no vignetting and very low colour cast.

I expected some slight lack of sharpness with using both these ND Filters, but as you can see from my findings there really is none at all, they gave an impressive definition.

They also come with a spare gasket if you should ever need it, this can also help with light leaks. See I told you, Haida really do think of everything! I left the gasket off as the filter slotted into the holder very snug and there was no sign of light leakage as you can see from the images below.

From past experience I’ve found it best to always insert the ND Filter in the first groove as close to the lens as possible, this really helps with the possibility of any light leaks. Not forgetting to close your viewfinder, as I do with the rubber piece attached to the Canon neck strap. I believe Nikons have a little blind you can pull down, or simply use some black electrical tape.

What do NDs do?
They allow you to lengthen your exposures in both light and dark conditions. Adds motion blur to moving subject such as water to give a smooth silky look and streaky effects to clouds. It works by reducing the amount of light from reaching the camera sensor. Therefore your able to leave the camera with a higher aperture for a longer amount of time. The results give the photographer more artistic control.

Please see the image below taken without a filter and with the Haida ND Filter 4.5 (15 stop) at Ardvreck Castle in Sutherland. Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm USM. No Filter @32mm, ISO 100, F11, 1/100 .With 4.5 Haida ND Filter ( 15 stop) ISO 100, F11,
226 seconds.

With-15-stop-filter-4-Gif
Without Filter and With Haida ND 4.5 (15 stop)
©Jenny Cameron 2017
Post Processed in Adobe Photoshop
arvreck 4.5 nd
Showing Haida ND 4.5 (15 stop) Filter

The following images were taken from the beautiful banks of Loch Assynt, looking across to what we locals call Pine Tree Island. Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm USM. No Filter @34mm, ISO 100, F11, 1/125 .With 3.6 Haida ND Filter ( 12 stop) ISO 100, F11, 131 seconds.

With-Filter-Sunday-Gif
Without Filter and With Haida ND 3.6 (12 Stop)
©Jenny Cameron 2017
Post Processed in Adobe Photoshop
3.6 ND Tree island
Showing Haida ND 3.6 (12 Stop) Filter

NanoPro Coating 
Another admirable feature is the NanoPro coating. Whilst conducting this test the weather was harsh and against me with rain, strong winds and water splashing up from the Loch. What amazed me was the way the glass repelled the water, it simply beaded up and rolled off. Unlike other glass filters Ive used in the past which take forever to clean and smear when you try to wipe away any excess water. This is due to the NanoPro coating which gives great waterproofness, scratch resistant and super easy cleaning.

In a nutshell
Genuinely, hand on heart Id highly recommend Haida Filters, the quality and sharpness truly are outstanding. Well done Haida, great work!

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