ND Filter – Who makes the best neutral density filters? Part 1

Who makes the best neutral density filters? This is part 1 of an unplanned 2 part series on ND Filters. In this video, I begin my comparison to what I believe are the two leading ND filters on the market. First, the ND Filter I have been using for years, the Formatt Hitech Firecrest line. Then, the newer kid on the block, who puts science, quality and care into every product they make, Wine Country Camera. I have used neutral density filters from Lee, Formatt, B+W, Promaster and many others. More recently I’ve been using the Firecrest neutral density filters from Formatt Hitech inside of my Wine Country Camera filter holder. But now is a direct comparison between the two neutral density filters themselves.

Transcription was done by Rev.com’s automated transcription service which means it’s an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain spelling, grammar, and other errors, and is not a substitute for watching the video.

Before we begin, you need to know that although I am wearing the hat and I have a tee shirt, wine country camera is not sponsoring this video at all. He, this is Scott Wyden Kivowitz, a storyteller with the camera talking about all the things photographers like you and I are thinking about in this video I’m going to be talking about wine country cameras, Blackstone filter, so I am a big fan of the wine country camera filter system. I have a video, two videos actually that I’ve made about it. I have a whole course on long exposure photography where I show how to use the wine country camera system with long exposure photography and much more real, I mean I’m a just a big fan of what they’re doing over there. Now, one coach, your camera is owned by my buddy rod, who did include the hat and the shirt in with my purchase of this filter and the reason why I purchased this filter is so that I can use a just a regular screw on neutral density filter with videos outdoors for just better videos outdoors.

Now I don’t have any Blackstone filters before this one. The filters itself that I am using with doing long exposures are actually from formatt Hitech, which rod used to work for. I have the firecrest neutral density filters for the, for my long exposures and I use that inside of the wine country camera filter kit. I do use the wine country camera polarizer though with the filter kit. So I’m very excited to not only uh, test out this for video work, but I’m also excited to just do a deep dive into how good these really are. So although this has meant for me from my purpose for video, I’m going to test this out compared to the formatt hitech neutral density filter. This is a three stop filter and I’m going to test it against the formatt high-tech firecrest three stop filter. The, the formatt Hitech firecrest will be a slide and filter in the wine country camera filter kit.

This black zone will be the screw on filter, so there’ll be different filter types, but really the glass is the glass and that is what I want to see the difference on. So first things first, I just want to show you the packaging first. Look how gorgeous this is. Look up professional looks, how elegant it looks. It looks like it’s been well, well crafted and what not. So the front says Blackstone nd filters, that has a beautiful landscape on it, which my guess is that it’s from grantee to a national park and just made it to a graphic. I know rod likes going there. I do too. And then there’s this gorgeous wine country cameras sticker that’s on the bottom and it has the barcode. You can buy these I think at like Bnh and stuff. So he needed to assert barcoding, these. And then the back also has, you know a little bit about the filters.

They are hundred plus tested. They are fire polished, they are VDC, nextgen glass. So I’m gonna open it up. Let’s open up into the inside first. My first impression of this, just like the rest of his products, the packaging is just gorgeous. The materials are good. There’s no skimping on quality anywhere. So now we’re in sort of your typical filter case. Um, it comes in this plastic case that you can unscrew and then pop off the cover and it’s just the clean, a clean to density filter. Now this is actually a 72 millimeter because the lens I’ll be using on the Nikon Z6 or the Nikon Z6, however you want to say it when it arrives, uh, will be a 72-millimeter filter thread. So that is why I got a 72 millimeter. And that means if I use a smaller field, a smaller Lens, I that I could use a step-down ring or if I need whatever, I can’t go bigger of course, but I could have purchased a bigger one.

But it’s a mirrorless camera with a compact Lens. So I didn’t want to go too big on the filters. So this is a three stop filter. If I put it over here, you’ll see that it is much darker where I am right now. On the outside you can see first, you can tell it’s just nice quality metal, there’s no bend to it. It does see say why cc for Wine Country Camera. It says Blackstone and d three stops 72 millimeter. So what I really like is that instead of saying 0.9, which a lot of the filter companies do, he actually did say three stops. So it’s easy to just figure out which filter to grab. That’s the filter. So what I’m gonna do is I’m going to throw it on a lens that I have that I’ll be using with a Nikon d at 50 that has 72 millimeters and we’ll do some video and some stills and you can see how this looks.

And then I will also switch it out for the formatt high tech firecrest filter that Tulsa three stops. So you can see the difference. The main thing I want to see is not the exposure difference. The main thing I want to see is the color difference because poor quality filters will produce a color shift. And from my testing, up until now, the format, high tech firecrest filters had been the best white balance, the best color of any neutral density filters. So I’m excited to see how Blackstone takes it up to a new level. And from what I’ve understood, what I’ve, uh, I want to understand from speaking to rod directly, what I understand from seeing other people’s reviews on this is you do absolutely no color correction when you use one of these filters. So I’m excited. Let’s do this. So I’ve been trying to record the rest of this video, uh, to compare the wine country camera three stop neutral density filter to a formatt high tech firecrest three stop neutral density filter.

I’ve been trying to record this comparison for months and every time the weather gets nice, it’s either too windy and it’ll mess with the mic is still kind of windy today. It’s overcast and it’s probably going to rain tonight. So it’s, uh, it’s getting a little darker ready and it’s still the morning. Um, there’s lawnmowers going on down here. I was thinking about going to a nice area with water that I realized it’s not about, it’s not about the water, it’s not about the long exposures in this video. It’s about the two different filters and the, what happens to the colors between these two filters. When the exposure, it gets long. So I decided to just come outside. Just do it today. It’s a little cold. I’m wearing shorts but a sweatshirt miked up and hopefully you don’t hear the wind. If you do, I apologize.

I’ve been, like I said, I’ve been trying to do this for so long and it hasn’t worked out. So here we are. Uh, and uh, let’s let’s dive in. I’m going to get behind the camera first. We’re going to start with the formatt high tech neutral density filter cause that’s the one I’ve been using for so long. I’m going to drop my ISO as much as possible. I’m gonna Close Up to like almost f 22 maybe just so I can get a longer shutter speed cause I just want to see what happens to the color in the format. High tech versus the wine country camera filter when the shutter is extremely long. So again, this is not about the long exposure is about the colors. So let’s see what happens. I’m going to go behind the camera and let them do this thing. First things first is with the wine country camera system.

I, it’s what I use for holding my neutral density filters when I do long exposures is I need to get on the actual adapter. Even though I’m using a formatt high tech filter, the the holder system is wine country camera. Uh, there is a polarizer in here so I need to pop that out so that it doesn’t mess with the, put the data basically messed with this review is comparison. So I’m popping out the CPL from here and I put it in the pouch and then I got to get on the adapter ring, which I have adapter ring. And we’re going to put this right on. No, we just slide on.

The filter holder and never get out. We get out of the filter inside of my mind. Should filter hive. I’ve got a three stop filter. This is the firecrest filter. Hopefully we’ll see if you can read that. This is the format, uh, firecrest three stop filter. It’s a 0.9 nd filter. It’s inside of the wine country camera filter holder and I’m just going to slide it in. Okay. So as you can see, it got very dark. If I lift this back out, you can see, look how much darker got with three stops. Now I did say I want to make this a long exposure, so I’m going to close up to try f 20, and we’re gonna open the shutter up and the most as camera can go and video is 30th of a second. So I’m going to have to stop the video switch to photo mode and then I’m going to use the my ops, uh, mobile in order to do the actual long exposure using my phone.

And uh, basically, yeah, that’s where we were going to do. So I know you can’t see me very well right now, but I just want to tell you, I went to go use the my apps mobile remote and there was a firmer updates. I’m doing that update because, uh, I’m hoping that actually fixes a problem that I had with the Myob to mobile remote, which I read. I talked about in a previous video and two birds, one stone. We’ll see if they fixed the, uh, the only issue I’ve had with it. Okay. Now I just readjusted the settings. Hopefully you’re seeing through the neutral density filter. Okay. Uh, I wound up going to the low, the lowest ISO. This is beyond the native ISO, so it’s actually lower than 100. And that way I got a over a second exposure, still not very long for a neutral density filter, but they should still give us a good idea of color shifting so far. And uh, I’m about to switch it from the firecrest filter to the wine country camera filter, which is right here. And uh, we’ll see how that goes. My guesses with this shutter speed that the colors will be about the same. So if they are, I’m going to have to Redo this test when it get dark out so that I can get an even longer exposure, a longer shutter speed. So let’s see

now the main difference between a slot in style filter and a screw on style filter. It’s a slot in style. You have to screw on these adapters in this kind of stuff. Like what I’m taking off right now and a screw on style filter, you’d literally just put it on the front of your Lens and you don’t have to worry about, you don’t have to worry about any adopters or anything, but uh, they’re more of a hassle when you want to switch between filters fast cause now you have to unscrew something up, put something else on,

Okay. So right now I’m recording with the wine country camera filter on. Uh, I think my hypothesis is correct that the shutter speed is not long enough to really see a good difference between the two. So I am going to have to do this at night, so hopefully I get a good night soon to finish this video for Ya. Um, until then, well it’s getting cold out so I’m headed back in. I can’t even test out at the, my ops remote has fixed the problem that I had because their shutter speeds your long enough to test it. So we’ll see what happens. I will tell you this though. I’m so used to having a mic on top of the camera that right now the fact that I’m a wireless Lee laughed. It’s nice cause I don’t have to worry about any excess noise cause it, you really should only be hearing me maybe a little bit of the background. So that’s pretty cool. Okay. So I had an idea. Instead of me waiting till night, I’m coming back to the studio, turning off the lights and I’m going to do my long exposure here practically in the dark. I will put on one light behind me just to have a little bit of on beyond and then going to what we’re gonna do the longest border that way. Cause I’m tired of waiting for a good day or good night. I’m just going to do it and get this roof, this comparison done. So here we go,

Strange exposure. That first photo that you just saw was the base exposure for this scene. That is basically, I’ve got a window where there’s a little bit of natural light coming through, but the blinds are closed. So there’s not much natural light in here. So this is with a almost pure dark room, 32nd exposure that I’m about to throw it into density to make it about four minutes and four minutes on the dot. So that was the base exposure at a 30 seconds. And now you’re about to see it with the formatt Hitech firecrest filter three stop at four minute exposure. Here we go.

Okay, so both finished and now it’s time to see. Go to the computer and see what’s better. The formatt Hitech firecrest filter or the wine country camera filter between a daylight and then a dark photo, uh, with a very long exposure. I had four minutes and I had, uh, one second and we’ll see. You know, even for minutes may not be enough to really determine cause some long exposures are like 20 minutes long. So we’ll see what happens. It’s often not a very attractive scene, it’s just my set down here. So we’ll see it as a bonus. It turns out that the my ops remote issue was fixed. The only to do a video on that, let’s head over to the computer and take a look.

so as you can see, the photos don’t look very different. They, if anything, the wine, country camera, the colors are a little bit richer. But uh, as my hypothesis, as I said, I don’t see a big difference in the color, the white balance itself. So I have a feeling I’m going to do a part two of this review and go in the dark somewhere to take some photos and uh, and finalize this review finally is, so I’m going to, my plan is to do that this week. The day that the rain stops cause it’s parading now for two days straight and tis the season. It’s spring, you know, what are you going to do? It was winter when I started this. It’s no spring and summer. I’ll be here before I wait. Hopefully this review done by then. So here we go. Stay tuned for part two, which will be much shorter because I’ve already did part one. So get all the interest of part to get right to the nitty-gritty.

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