[Review] HAIDA 100-Pro Series Aluminum Filter Holder
Photographic filters are a critical component of landscape photography and my personal style. I love to capture moving elements, like clouds, water or sand, using long exposures to transmit the dynamics of the scene.
Haida is a respected filter producer company among the best on the market and with a great price-quality ratio. I personally use their products for several years and I had now the chance to test their new 100-Pro Series kit with a very interesting integrated Circular Polarizer solution.
Here are some images I took with the Haida 100-Pro Series and Haida ND filters.
Before diving into the review, I'll quickly introduce you to the kind of filters that are typically used in landscape photography.
There are two main types of filters systems:
Screw-in filters: These filters attach via the filter thread on the front of most lenses. Screw type filters offer the advantage of using premium quality optical glass, while their small size means they’re easy to store and carry, and use in windy condition. The disadvantage is that each only fit one diameter of lens, so if your lenses require different filter thread sizes, you’ll need extra filters. Using more than one filter together is not reccomended because of vignetting effect.
Slot-in filters: If you plan to use a number of filters or have several lenses, a slot-in system is more practical. You only need to buy one of each type, which can be inserted into a holder attached to the lens via combined proper sized ring. You will need a ring for each lens but swap the holder between them.
The filters that come in these different systems, can be of the following types:
Circular Polarizing filter (CPL) – these are used to boost saturation and also either enhance reflections or remove flares/ glares from water and glass surfaces and also help to increase the color contrast of a scene photographed under the sun. Polarizers usually come as screw-in filters, as to be used need to be turned to be adjusted. They work by cutting particular frequency of the light spectrum and need to be adjusted (rotating them) to find the preferred effect.
Neutral Density filters (ND) – They can be in the form of screw in filter or slot in system. These are used for long exposure effects, they provide those characteristic misty and silky waters and streaking clouds. They act as a powerful pair of sunglasses for our cameras and are an important creative tool that every landscape photographers should know. I often use 6-stops and 10-stops ND for my long exposures photos. "Stops" indicate how much light reduction the filter offers. Every "stop" count as cutting the light by half. This means that a 6-stops filter reduces the light by... 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/64 Wow, 64 times!
Graduated Neutral Density filters (GND) – They are a special version of filters that instead of being completely dark like the ND, have a transition from dark to transparent. They increase the dynamic range of any scene and allow to balance a bright sky while keeping a well exposed foreground. They are available only for slot systems and come in hard edge (abrupt graduation) and soft edge (gradual):
Hard Edge GND: the transition is very hard, these filters are perfect for a clearly defined horizon line, like when we shoot a landscape at the sea. The filter can be adjusted vertically to make the transition line match the horizon perfectly.
Soft Edge GND: the transition from dark to transparent is very smooth. These are perfect to shoot a landscape where the horizon line is not clearly defined. For example when threes or mountains are at the horizon line and the soft effect blends without being evident.
Reverse GND: these are relatively new filters and their particularity is that they have a very strong transition in the middle and become soft going to the edge. They are ideally used especially at sunrise or sunset when the sun is very low on the horizon.
I mainly use 6 and 10-stops ND filters for my photography, allowing me to capture long exposures without overexposing the image and obtaining that beautiful silky water effect. Coupling the effect with a Polarizer allows to cut unwanted light reflections. The image below has been done using Haida 6-stops ND filter and Polarizer that helped making the water transparent.
11mm - f/11 - 30sec - ISO100 - Haida ND 1.8 x64 and Circular Polarizer
In the past 10 years I used, tested and changed many types and brands of filters from companies like Lee, Cokin, Hoya, and Tiffen.
A few years ago I started shooting with Haida filters with their 150mm System (the slot filters have size of 150mm and are needed for Ultra-Wide Angle lenses to avoid vignetting effects, like the Samyang 14mm f/2.8). I loved the neutral color rendition and the sharpness (and the price!) of their filters so I started to build my landscape photography kit with their products.
I now collaborate with the brand to test their products in the field and give direct feedback. I've been asked to test their new 100-Pro Series filter holder, including an integrated Polarizer and some filters. My is a honest review of the following products:
- Haida 100-Pro Series Holder - Haida 100-Pro Series Adapter Ring (67mm)
- Haida 100-Pro Series Adapter Ring (77mm) - Haida 100-Pro Series NanoPro CPL Circular Polarizer 82mm
- Haida 100-Pro Series NanoPro 6-stops ND1.8 64x Optical Glass Filter (100x100mm size) - Haida 100-Pro Series NanoPro Reverse Graduated ND 0.9 Filter (100x150mm size) - Filter pouch
Let’s start with the particularly of this kit: the holder. The package contains the aluminum filters holder that integrates the Polarizer and spaces to hold two slot filters, lens adapters rings, spare screws and one additional rail to allow to mount one additional slot filter.
The holder can be adapted to lenses from 67mm to 82mm. Haida provides them in multiple sizes: 67, 72, 77, and 82mm.
I tested the 67 and 77mm. With my surprise I found (see photo below) that the 77mm one has wavy edge that helps to screw/unscrew it. The edge is much ticker on the 67mm where such solution is not needed as still easy to operate by hand.
The holder allows to stack up a total of 3 slot filters (2 by default, the rails for the additional one are provided in the package) plus one Circular Polarizer at the same time (more about this feature below).
The holder comes with a carrying pouch that has space for both the holder and some filters. Altough I won't recommend carrying them together to avoid damaging the filters, but rather use the pouch for the filters only. The aluminum holder can be stored in a photo bag without needing any additional protection.
How the Polarizer is held inside the holder is a particularity of this kit. It is integrated in the aluminum holder itself, closest to the lens and can be easily rotated through a small lever, even when the slot filters are mounted. It’s a very clever solution to spare space and don't use any of the standard slot rails, reducing at the same time the possibility of vignetting effect and keeping the system very compact.
The Polarizer used in the kit has 82mm size and can be removed from the holder when not needed nor wanted.
Haida produces a Polarizer filter also in the 100x100mm slot format (see photo below). This was used in the previuos version of this kit that didn't have the integrated 82mm Polarizer and by other brands that produce similar kits. Still offering great optical quality, this solutions has two problems: the polarizer takes one slot space that cannot be used for another filter and requires the holder itself to be turned to tune the polarization effect making making impractical (almost impossible) to use a GND at the same time (remember that the GND typically gets to be aligned with the horizon line).
The new Haida solution of integrating the Polarizer frees up space allowing the use of one more slot filter in the holder and allows the use of GND filters.
The Haida 0.9 Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter is a farly new type of filter that allows to capture well litten skies when the sun is very low on the horizon. I never used the standard GND filters too much. I always managed the difference in luminosity in a scene doing multiple exposures at different shutter speeds and blending them afterward in post-production. But this filter solves a critical problem for landscape photographers! As we love to shoot during Golden Hours at sunrise and sunset, when the sun is very low on the horizon, this kind of filter is perfect! It's darker in the middle, where we would align the horizon, and lighter on top where is less needed. After testing this one from Haida I'm happy to add it to my every-day photo kit!
The 6-stops Haida ND1.8 64x filter comes with an handy exposure card that helps to find the equivalent shutter speed when using it. As explained previously, a 6-stops filters attenuates the light passing through it by 64 times, therefore might be difficult for beginners to use the right settings right away. Using the card is very easy: before mounting the filter, just compose the scene and set the camera exposure as usual, for example Aperture f/16, ISO 100, and Shutter Speed 1/2 sec. Take note of the shutter speed and mount the filter.
Look now at the card and search 1/2 sec for the initial shutter speed, the card will tell us that the equivalent shutter speed, when using the filter, will be 30 sec!
We can do this calculation also on our own: knowing that 6-stops means that the filter reduces 6 times by half the light, we can increase the shutter speed by doubling it 6 times! So in our example, from 1/2sec we will have: 1/2 -> 1 -> 2 -> 4 -> 8 -> 16 -> 32
That's our equivalent ~30sec shutter speed with the 6-stops filter!
The NanoPro coating
The 6-stops ND and the Reverse GND filters in the kit feature the new Haida NanoPro treatment.
What does "NanoPro" mean? The particularity of this is the extremely thin (nano = one billionth of a meter) cotaing which covers the glass surface of the filters, is to give resistance to dirt, scratches, stains and reflections. Thanks to this coating the water drops that typically end up on my filters while shooting on the shore can be clean out easilly with a tissue as the drops come away very easily. Same happens with oily and greasy substances that might end up on the glass surface of the filter.
Let's take a look as some comparative images to understand what you can expect from these filters. On the left you have the photo taken without any filter, on the right you can see the effect using the Haida 6-stops ND that allowed to get a long exposure of around 30 seconds.
I took this photos in Italy during my last Sardinia Photo Tour landscape photography workshop. If you want to discover an amazingly beautiful island and learn to master your photography skills, you can join my next tour in Spring 2018. For more info and to find out the still available dates, check out the Sardinia Photo Tours page.
The Haida 100-Pro Series Filter Holder solution impressed me for its built quality and the clever solution of integrating the Polarizer into the holder itself, allowing to:
- free up a slot for other filters
- allow to tune the Polarizer itself even when using GND filters (a standard/traditional Polarizer filter in slot format couln't be used in this case, as tuning the Polarizer would require to be rotated and interfere with the GND alignment with the horizon).
The aluminum holder itself feels very sturdy, but light, and very stable. The kit gives the feeling of high level of craftsmanship and the aluminum material used by Haida is of high quality.
The quality of the NanoPro version of the 6-stop ND, the Reverse GND filter and the Circular Polarizer in this kit is just excellent. The color rendition is very neutral as already appreciated in other Haida filters tested in the past, and the NanoPro treatment represent a very welcome innovation from Haida. The treatment makes the filter easier to clean as dirt and liquids don't stick to the surface.
Where can I buy them?
If you live in Europe check out your country Amazon store.
For the USA market check out the official Haida store.
Wanna find out more about long exposure photography?
Follow my page @mixyourmind on Instagram to discover my daily captures and travel the world with me. If you want to learn how to use filters and at the same time boost your photography skills you can join me on one of my Photo Tours around Europe (check-out the amazing upcoming tour in Sardinia, Italy) or Photography Workshops (in English) in Zurich, Switzerland.