JT Signature Edition Kits Available With Firecrest Filters and various reviews

The all new Firecrest Filters also as part of JT signature Edition kit with 3, 6, 10, 13 and 16 stops ND filters

Formatt Hitech recently updated the best selling Joel Tjintjelaar Signature Edition Long Exposure Kit with the addition of the brand new and most neutral filters in the world, the Firecrest Filters. You can order the new long exposure photography kit directly from their website by clicking here (edition #2 up to 16 stops) or here (edition #1 up to 10 stops).

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This article will describe the various JT Signature Edition Firecrest kits that are available as of now, and I will also give you an extensive selection of 11 reviews I’ve found randomly on the Web and my own review with conclusions. But first let me start with the various Firecrest JT Signature edition kits that have become available as of now besides the still available JT Signature Edition Prostop IRND kits. The big news of course is that not only the Firecrest 16 stops ND filter will  be part of the JT Signature Edition kits but also the brand new 13 stops besides the 3, 6 and 10 stops. This means in practice that you can basically shoot any long exposure photograph without stacking filters anymore in a very neutral way and under any light condition from more darker light conditions to very bright daylight, and keeping in mind that 16 ND stops usually is the maximum number of ND stops you will need for fine art long exposure photography. You can read more on long exposure photography and my preferred settings, preferred amount of ND filtration and preferred exposure times in conjunction with preferred aperture settings in my long exposure photography tutorial Guide to Long exposure photography 2014 edition here on my website or the eBook From Basics to Fine Art  that I co-authored with Julia Anna Gospodarou

Kit #1

The first new kit consists of:

1. 3 stops, 6 stops and 10 stops Firecrest Filters.
2. Filter pouches.
3. Long exposure booklet.
4. Long exposure conversion chart.

You can choose between circular filters or rectangular filters. You can here (edition #1 up to 10 stops) to order the filters straight from the Formatt-Hitech website.

Kit #2

Firecrest Filters

The second kit consists of:

1. 10 stops, 13 stops and 16 stops Firecrest Filters.
2. Filter pouches.
3. Long exposure booklet.
4. Long exposure conversion chart.

Again, this kit is available in either circular or rectangular format. You can here (edition #2 up to 16 stops) to order this kit from the Formatt-Hitech website.

Kit #1 vs Kit #2

What is more practical: kit# 1 or kit# 2? It really depends on your habits and preferences. I like to use exposure times of around five minutes and I do most of my shooting in the afternoon. To achieve such a long exposure photograph I will definitely need some dark glass. A 13 stops or 16 stops light reduction usually does the trick. When it gets darker in the late afternoon, I might need to take a step back and use the 10 stops Firecrest Filter instead. I rarely use a 3 or 6 stops filter. So for me, kit #2 is ideal.

If you rarely use exposure times longer than 1 minute, kit #1 might be ideal for you. If you need a longer exposure time, you can still stack up your filters for 13, 16 or 19 stops of light reduction but stacking filters will also come with increased vignetting. Which is not the case with the ultraslim circular Firecrest 13 or 16 stops filters.

Circular filters or rectangular?

In the past I always preferred the use of rectangular ND filters. It does take more time to setup, light leakage can become an issue, but there is no vignetting. The new Firecrest Filters are so thin that vignetting is almost no issue at all when you stack your filters. With the use of a single 13 stops or 16 stops filter, stacking won’t be necessary any more. No stacking means no vignetting.

So should you use circular filters instead? It depends. It is of course very convenient to travel with just one camera, one tripod and one filter. On the other hand, a small, little filter is easily lost. It can also be nerve racking to try and screw on such a little, expensive piece of hardware onto your camera when you want to shoot a seascape in bad weather with wind and rain. But my experience is that the very thin circular filter let itself screw onto the lens very easily.

A Selection of eleven reviews gathered from all over the Web

The statement ‘most neutral filter in the world’ may sound to many as just a marketing statement. But this statement is also based on various test results from various sources. You can read some of the reviews, including my own review, via the following links below, or just read the conclusions here. Note that I haven’t been looking for just the best reviews, what I present here are the reviews I found through my circle of contacts and the Google Internet search results from the first pages in a random order.

– An independent review by long exposure photographer Stuart Low. His conclusion, but I recommend reading the complete article: “Companies such as B&W* and Hitech Formatt have developed ND filters that surpass the Big Stopper and by some considerable margin. In particular, Hitech Formatt brought out the IRND range and more recently, the new Firecrest 16 stop filter – which has literally been a game changer for me. No horrible colour casts and accurate exposures are now the order of the day and with 16 stops to play with, the Firecrest IRND opens up many possibilities for long exposures in bright daylight. What’s not to like” and “The Firecrest ND is only a few months old and reviews are few at this moment in time so hopefully this will help if you are considering an ND filter. I have spoken with several other photographers who concur with me and are finding the results to be extremely good, surpassing all the problems that occur with the Lee BS. All have told me there is no colour cast in their images and the exposures are consistent with 16 stops of light reduction”

An independent review by fine art photographer Julia Anna GospodarouHer conclusion, but again I would recommend reading the article yourself: “What I want to mention and even emphasize here is how this filter makes me feel. Yes, a filter can make you feel something. And in my case, working for some time with the Firecrest 16 made me feel inspired. It made me see the world around me in a new way, because it opened for me new creative possibilities, making possible some of the things that were not an option before. As I was saying earlier, it solved some practical aspects freeing my mind and giving me more time to think about the creative part of my work.” and “The first impression you have when you hold the circular filter in your hand is to wonder how can this filter be so slim and still cut off so much light. I’m sure all long exposure photographers will agree with me, especially those who started with regular circular ND filters that, if stacked, would give you a quite thick result. (…) The difference in thickness is mind blowing and what this change gives me besides the lack of color cast? It’s the lack of any vignette, no matter how wide the lens I use is. This practically makes your usable image area at least 15-20% larger”.

– An independent review by fine art long exposure photographer Jamal Alias on his blog. His conclusion, but please read the full article: “One look at the Firecrest 16, it looks like any  ND filter that you might already have. However, once held, you feel a considerable difference in weight. It feels so light. All around, construction and quality is definitely there. Another noticeable difference would be the thickness of the filter. It is so thin which prompted me to do a side by side comparison between my other ND filters. What I like about the super thin construction would be using the filter with my CPL filter. As I need to stack the filter, being thin is better” and “I am definitely surprised at how neutral the results were. Here you can see and make a judgement for yourself. I am truly pleased with the results.”

An independent review by blog Vistapanoramica.es, their conclusion after a very extensive and detailed test: “We have obtained a white balance of 6650, +20. Therefore, it is not really neutral but its deviation from the white balance of 1050, which means it’s going to get photos from a slightly cold dominant. What we do see is that there is a deviation towards green color which has required a correction of +38 from the photo 1. But it is much more neutral than the Bigstopper filter, and considering that is 6 stops more “dense” this filter is much more dense than the Bigstopper”

An independent review by fine art black and white photographer Michael de Guzman. His conclusion posted on his Facebook page: “I am no expert in filters nor a product endorser and so this is not in any way an official review because I have no authority in any level on this regard. However, I just want to share my simple test to establish proof that FireCrest 16 Filter being neutral is not a hype. I used Nikon D800 with 24mm PS-E lens. My white balance was set to “Cloudy” on both short and LE shot. Please note that the images are straight from RAW and you can see the shot settings on the corresponding screenshots on ACR. The images were resized to 1024px with 72dpi and converted the color space to SRGB. In conclusion based on this simple test, I believe Firecrest 16 filter is indeed color neutral.”

An independent review by black and white fine art photographer and educator Ian Barber on his blog. His conclusion: “I have to say that out of all the ND filters I have owned for Long Exposure photography, the Hitech 16 Stop Firecrest in my opinion out shines all the other makes. It’s neutrality is amazing for a filter with such high filtration.” and “Too early to say just yet but going from the only shot taken, the exposure was right on the money unlike the Lee Big stopper which had a tendency to underexpose around 1 full stop.”

An independent review on Reduser.net, a blog for Red cinematography camera users. Their conclusion (seen from a cinematography perspective): “And it looks pretty damn good. Actually, what I should say is I haven’t seen this level of controlled performance from an ND filter set before. This is pretty amazing if you consider the density range” and “There’s no dominant color cast that I can see, which is fantastic. I’ll go out on a well supported limb here and say that these are the most neutral and consistent ND filters currently available.”

An independent and extensive comparison between the Lee BS (10 stops), the Singh-Ray 15 stops and the Firecrest 16 stops on the blog from photographer and educator David Kingham ExploringExposure.com. Their conclusion: “The Singh Ray 15 did not correct well and would require more advanced methods using RGB curves to remove the red cast, a time consuming task. The Lee’s cleaned up quite well, which is due to the blue cast being easy to fix by just warming up the white balance. The Firecrest was also easily corrected using only white balance, quite impressive for a 16 stop filter! For reference the Lee Big Stopper required a large white balance correction, going from a Temp of 5000 to 9300 and a Tint of +5 to +19, the Firecrest on the other hand only needed to go to a Temp of 5400 and a Tint of +1, a very small adjustment.” and “When shooting with a Lee Big Stopper you need to adjust the white balance in camera to 9300 to ensure you do not need to make a large adjustment later on, when using the Firecrest there is no need to set your white balance like this, daylight is very close.” and finally “I was extremely surprised by Singh Ray, a company that typically makes the best filters on the market proved to be a disappointment here. This is good news for the consumer though as Singh Ray is also extremely expensive. The good news is the Firecrest is actually quite affordable and performed exceptionally! I would highly recommend this filter”

An independent review by black and white photographer Tuan Nguyen on his blog. His conclusion: “When I saw that the Firecrest 16 could give me an exposure time of 6 minutes at ISO 200 and an aperture of f11, I knew we would get along real fine despite our earlier gasket issue. The resultant images were even more neutral than my old Pro Stop IRND. It was a great rush to be able to shoot in broad daylight for minutes at a time again. Most photographers fear scratching the coating, with the Firecrest they can rest assured as the coating is sandwiched between the glass.” and “As you can see there is no colour cast, and both look as neutral as I could hope for. I used to use Hoya, B+W and Tiffen ND filters which all had significant colour casting from magenta to blue. If you are someone that likes to have the opportunity to shoot long exposures during the day, and are looking for a single solution then why not take a look at Formatt-Hitech’s Firecrest 16, it could revolutionise your photographic experience.”

A review in partly English, partly Dutch by a Dutch Nature photographer. His conclusion: “The Firecrest ND 16 sets the new standard for long exposure photography. The colors are amazing naturally, instead of the other brands. I always worked with the Lee Big Stopper, but the Firecrest will be my new favorite ND filter. Why? Simple: natural colors, no vignetting. There is only one imporant thing to mention. The Firecest ND 16 is only an interesting solution under light conditions. At more dark, cloudy conditions the exposure time rises to 15 minutes or even longer. A 10 stops ND filter is a better choice then. These are available too in the wonderful Firecrestline”. Note (JT): of course the comment that the 16 stops is only useful at more bright sunny conditions has become obsolete with the new Firecrest 10 and 13 stops filter.

– And finally my own review here on this website, you can take my objectiveness with a grain of salt but I am serious about the impact the new Firecrest filters had on me: extremely neutral and the best filters I’ve seen so far.

If you’re convinced and want to purchase these filters then just go to the Formatt-Hitech website.

The all new Formatt Hitech Firecrest 16 Filter review – part 1

The new Firecrest 16 stops (IR)NDFilter is the New Black (glass).

Formatt-Hitech recently released a brand new series of long exposure photography ND filters specifically aimed at more advanced  long exposure photographers: the Firecrest 16 stops ND filter. This is a single Infrared Neutral Density Filter that reduces the light with 16 stops – which is a worlds first by the way. As per usual you have the option of a 100mmx100mm square filter or a circular screw-in (72mm, 77mm and 82mm). I’ve already mentioned the existence of this filter in the book I wrote with Julia Anna Gospodarou “From Basics to Fine Art” but had not tested the filters at the time of writing the book.
In this review I will test the 77mm circular screw-in filter only and compare it with the very reliable and trusty B+W ND filter that always has been the to go filter in a time B+W and a few other brands like Hoya and Singh-Ray were leading the market. I will test the rectangular Firecrest filters in part 2 of this review when I will test the filters compared to other ND filters on typical architectural subjects. Part 1 of this review will be focused on seascape subjects.

Firecrest 16 - Front

Firecrest 16 stops circular filter, front view

Firecrest 16 Square (2)

Firecrest 16 stops square filter to be used with a holder like the one from Formatt-Hitech or the Lee filter holder.

 About Firecrest

This is what Formatt-Hitech says about Firecrest, you can read it all on their website here:

(…)
Firecrest IRND is a revolutionary new type of infrared-attenuating neutral density filter from Formatt-Hitech. Firecrest is a 15 layer multicoating process that is applied directly to the glass through a vacuum-formed, hard-coated, electrolytic process. Firecrest filters are anti-reflective and extremely flare resistant, which increases contrast and visual acuity in challenging lighting conditions. They are also hydrophobic and scratch-resistant.
(…)

A very thin 16 stops solution

The first thing I noticed about the circular Firecrest 16 stops filter is its thinness. It is only 5.5 mm thick. This means that it is thinner than the B+W 10 stops and the Formatt Hitech ProStop 10 stops IRND filter that I have been using up till now. Lee filters doesn’t produce any circular 10 stops filter, only the rectangular filters.

Firecrest vs B+WFirecrest vs Prostop IRND

On the left: B+W 10 stops vs the Firecrest 16 stops.
On the right: IRND ProStop 10 vs Firecrest 16 stops.
Notice how slim the firecrest filter is. Keep in mind that if  you want 16 stops of ND filtration with the B+W or IRND ProStop you would need to stack them, making them even wider as a whole while the Firecrest is just one slim filter.

The Firecrest 16 stops really shines when you compare it to other 16 stops solutions.

Firecrest 16 - Side

Firecrest 16 stops circular filter attached to my 17-40mm Canon Lens while shooting the first test shot. I had no issues at all screwing the filter onto the lens: since it’s thin and very lightweight it’s very easy to screw it on without unintentionally adjusting the focus of the lens.

16 stops ProStop

Formatt Hitech ProStop IRND 10 and 6 stops stacked to have 16 stops. As you can see stacking the filters makes for a much more massive whole of filters altogether and hence increasing the chance on vignetting.

 

B+W 16 stops

My trusty B+W ND 110 and ND 106 stacked for 16 stops. The same here with stacking the filters: chances of vignetting are much higher with this setup. Screwing on the two filters is a bit more cumbersome than when screwing on just one thin and lightweight Firecrest filter. Looks like a minor detail but having screwed on and off filters hundreds, maybe thousands of times, it will make a big difference in the end. Especially when it’s cold. The small difference in weight and the difference in thickness makes a big difference in the end. Chances of dropping your filters are less higher with a thin and lightweight filter like the Firecrest. And keep in mind that unscrewing 2 stacked filters can sometimes be quite a frustrating activity.

As you can see the 16 stops Firecrest is slimmer, more portable, more easy to attach on your lens (and hence reducing the chance of unintentionally adjusting the focus ring of the lens) and also more elegant than the stacked filters solution. The same applies if you would compare the rectangular slide-in filters stacked together. Very often I cover the opening between the two stacked rectangular filters to eliminate light leakage coming in from the small gap between the stacked slide-in filters. From my experience I know that the gasket on the rectangular filters can’t stop all the light from leaking in.

Stacking and vignetting – problems of the past

Those who have been following this blog and my work know that I believe that a long exposure photograph should ideally be about five minutes long. I explained this in my Ultimate Guide To Long Exposure Photography and also in my book “From Basics to Fine-art”. To achieve such a long exposure you will need at least 16 stops of filters. This used to mean that you had to stack your filters. If you are using circular screw-in filters, this would also mean unwanted vignetting. With the Firecrest 16 stops filter, vignetting, due to stacking filters, is no longer a problem. One of the main reasons I mostly use square filters, is because of the vignetting caused by stacking circular filters. I might actually reconsider going back to circular screw-in filters. One little screw-in filter is also much more portable than a set of multiple square filters and adapters and holders in your backpack especially when you’re travelling.

The Firecrest 16 is stackable though. If you are mad enough, you could try stacking two Firecrest 16 filters. An average exposure time would be around a week. Or you could just stack other filters, like a polariser, a very light ND-filter or an ND Grad filter.

Test data and testing conditions

I really love the idea of a single 16 stops filter, but this means nothing if the results are not okay. I compared the Firecrest 16 with the B+W ND 110 + 106 and the Formatt Hitech Prostop 10 + 6.

Testing conditions
Weather: cloudy, with the sun occasionally peaking through
Time slot of test shots: 19:50 – 20:27 // 7:50 – 8:27 p.m.
Sunset: 21:31 // 9:31 p.m.
Set-up: 16 stops of ND-filters
Camera: Canon 5d mark III
Lens: Canon EF 17-40 f/4
Camera settings: ISO 100, f/8, 330 seconds – I used these settings for all of the long exposure photo’s. The sun was setting and every now and then blocked by thin layers of clouds. This explains why some photo’s look darker or lighter.
Stopping light leakage: I did not use anything to prevent light leakage. ALL images suffer frome some leakage at exact the same location because I did not cover the sockets and openings on the sides of the camera, see images below. I talk more about preventing light leakage in another tutorial.

Important note regarding the exposure time:

As you can see from the data above I started shooting with the filters 1.5 hr before the sun would set. This means that you would have to take into account that light will disappear quite rapidly during the time I would need to take the test shots: approx. 45 minutes. The first meter reading without the filter at around 8pm, indicates 1/500s at f.8 and ISO 100. That would mean an exposure time of around 2 minutes and 11 seconds with 16 stops. I guessed that a last meter reading without the filters, taken after all test shots have been done, would read something like 1/100 s at f/8.0. Counting with these data I anticipated that if I would take meter readings during the test shots I would have an exposure time of between 1/200 and 1/250s without the filters. That would mean that you would need an exposure time of around 5 minutes and 30 seconds per shot with the 16 stops ND filters attached. Makes sense, right? So all shots were 5 minutes and 30 seconds with the first shot taken with the Firecrest 16 stops, more exposed to the right than the last shot with the F-H Prostop IRND filters. That’s why I took another shot with the Firecrest 16 stops as a last shot. First and last testshots therefore are Firecrest 16 stops filters shots at ISO 100, f/8 and 5min30s.

Light leakage

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The socket opening on the side of the camera that I didn’t cover when taking the testshots and causes light leakage

 

light leakage covered side

Cover the sides of the camera with black tape to avoid light leaking in from the sides. Or use a hat (my preferred option) to cover the whole camera.

 

Photo 03-08-14 19 05 24

Don’t forget to tape this side of the camera as well. Light will surely leak through this opening too. See images below.

B+W-lightleak

Light leakage spots on exact the same location, indicated with the blue circles, due to not covering the sides of the camera. This is an example with the B+W stacked 16 stops ND filters. Below is an example with the Formatt-Hitech ProStop 10 plus 6 stops IRND filters stacked. Also indicated in blue. This is therefore not caused by the filters and will happen with any filter setup!

 

Prostop-lightleak

Light leakage indicated with the blue circles on a testshot taken with the Formatt-Hitech 16 stops ProStop IRND filters. Again: this is not a filter issue!

If you keep the light leakage and the cause of it in mind and try to ignore that, then let’s look at the results.

Results:

All images presented below are unaltered, unprocessed, original raw files. The horizon is a bit off, the composition is totally uninspiring but that wasn’t the objective here. You can download all raw files to play with it and to see if you like it and to come up with your own conclusions. My conclusion is that the 16 stops Firecrest filters are very neutral and are also easy to modify if you need some color correction in LR for example. 

Image 1: the scene without using any filters.

The following shot is to take a meter reading without the filters. The first meter reading for a correct exposure without the filter at around 8pm, indicates 1/500s at f.8 and ISO 100. This would mean an exposure time of 2 minutes and 11 seconds with 16 stops of ND filters attached. But please read the important note on the exposure time above.

Oesterdam - No Filter

Click on the image to enlarge or click here to download the original RAW file.

 Image 2: Test shot #1 with the Firecrest 16 stops IRND.

Shot taken with ISO 100, f/8 and 5min30s. This was the second shot right after the meter reading without the filters. Shot has not been cropped or modified in any way. Notice the neutrality of colours and the correct exposure, indicating the filters are quite accurate. Correcting the colours in Lightroom for example using the AWB feature was very easy (if needed at all since they were very neutral to me) and resulted in a very neutral looking image. This is less the case with the Formatt-Hitech ProStop IRND filters, although these filters are already very neutral. For a pure Black and White photographer, correcting colours is not an issue but this is valuable information for the long exposure colour photographer. Note also that there’s no vignetting at all in the corners of the image. Something which is very likely to occur when using circular filters. And again, note the light leakage, as explained above, as well.

Firecrest 16

Click on the image to enlarge or click here to download the original RAW file and draw your own conclusion.

 Image 3: Test shot #2 with the B+W ND 110 + ND 106 stacked

Shot taken right after the test shot with the Firecrest filters, with ISO 100, f/8 and 5min30s with the B+W 6 and 10 stops stacked. This shot has not been modified or cropped in any way. Notice the enormous and warm colour cast and the heavy vignetting in the bottom corners of the image. Something that has been anticipated due to the use of circular filters that have been stacked. I also tried the remove the colour cast in Lightroom using the AWB feature and it was much more cumbersome to get the colours right and remove the colour cast. Again, for a Black and white photographer this is no issue, but it is for the long exposure colour photographer.

B+W ND110 + ND106

Click on the image to enlarge or click here to download the original RAW file.

Image 4: Test shot #3 with the Formatt Hitech Prostop 10 + 6 stacked.

Shot taken after the test shot with the B+W filters (see image before this one) with ISO 100, f/8 and 5min30s with the ProStop IRND 6 and 10 stops stacked. This shot has not been modified or cropped in any way. Again, due to the stacked filters there’s some noticeable vignetting and the exposure is less accurate, also due to continuously changing light conditions and since it was also getting darker. Compared to the Firecrest shot this has less neutral colours but far more neutral than the test shot with the B+W ND filters. Colour correction in Lightroom using the AWB feature is far more easy than compared with the B+W ND filters but it takes a few more manual actions compared to the Firecrest filters.

Formatt Hitech Prostop 10 + 6

Click on the image to enlarge or click here to download the original RAW file. 

Image 5: Test shot #4 another shot with the Firecrest 16 stops

To make up for decreasing light and to make comparison more objective, I took another shot with the Firecrest 16 stops IRND filters. This was the last test shot with the ND filters I took in this testing session. Shot again taken with ISO 100, f/8 and 5min30s exposure time and that resulted in an image that’s a bit more underexposed compared to the first shot in this testing session with the Firecrest 16 stops but more correctly exposed than the test shots before this one with the other filters. This indicates to me that this filter is more accurate than the other filters. Notice the increased vignetting at the bottom but far more acceptable than in the previous test shots with other filters.

Shot 2 with the Firecrest 16

Click on the image to enlarge or click here to download the original RAW file to draw your own conclusions. 

Image 6: test shot #5 this final shot shows the lighting and weather conditions at the end of the shoot

The very last shot of the day after all test shots with the ND filters have been taken, without the use of the ND filters to take a final meter reading. Shot taken with 1/100 s at f/8.0 and ISO100 to have a correctly exposed image.

Final shot - no filters 

Click on the image to enlarge.

Final conclusion review part 1 – seascape long exposure images

Looking at all the observations and the test shots it’s clear that the Firecrest 16 stops IRND filter has almost no vignetting due to the thinness of the filter compared to a stacked filter setup like the B+W ND filters or the circular Formatt-Hitech ProStop IRND filters. Also I find that there’s almost no colour casting at all and if any white balance in Post production is needed in for example Lightroom, then this is a very easy thing to do but much more cumbersome with the other filter solutions. If you add to that the size,  its light weight, its usability and the user friendliness of this filter and its portability (you don’t need to carry around a set of filters and filter holders and adapters) then the circular Firecrest filters are now my preferred ND filters and I personally have never used any other ND filter solution that performed better and is allround a better choice than the new Firecrest filters. But I encourage you to download the RAW files yourself and draw your own conclusions. Next and final review will be with the Firecrest rectangular filter on typical architectural subjects.

Update:

If you’re looking for other independent reviews on the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest filters then I can recommend this review by Black and White photographer and educator Ian Barber and have a look at the feature on Firecrest filters on the B&H Photography website.

Joel Tjintjelaar

The Formatt-Hitech Prostop IRND Long Exposure kit – JT Signature Edition – order here!

The Formatt-Hitech Prostop IRND Joel Tjintjelaar Signature Edition Kit available here

The Formatt-Hitech Prostop IRND JT Long exposure Kit recently became available for customers worldwide and you can order them here: click here to order.

Important note: any discount codes provided by me are only valid using the previous link to the Joel Tjintjelaar affiliate product page.

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In this short article I’ll show you the contents of the box, how to use the filters and a SOOC comparison with B+W  and the Formatt-Hitech ProStop Filters.

Circular and rectangular

There are basically two choices when it comes to these filters: circular or rectangular.

Circular filtersRectangular filters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each JT SE kit comes with a 3 stops, 6 stops and 10 stops Prostop IRND filter. This way you can shoot either with 3, 6, 9, 10, 13, 16 or even 19 stops! The days that 10 stops was considered enough are long over. In order to create the smooth almost ethereal effects on water or sky in your long exposure photographs, you usually need to have exposure times of 3 minutes or longer. I prefer something around 6 minutes in combination with an aperture of f/7.1 or f/8.0. This means that stopping the light down to 16 stops would be necessary most of the time in bright day light.

Also included in each kit is an exclusive technique booklet and a LE conversion chart.

Differences

Some people have trouble deciding which kit to buy. Let me give you some tips on that. If you want to know more then head over to the long exposure tutorials on this website.

If you like to travel light and don’t mind the hassle of screwing your filters on and off every time, the circular kit is the way to go. I’ve used circular filters for a few years. The main problem I found was that it’s sort of tricky to screw the filter on to the lens when weatherconditions are far from optimal. Even the steadiest of hands can get in trouble when there’s a strong breeze and rain. Setting up a shot gets especially difficult when you have a rotating front element.

The rectangular filters are more bulky, so you can’t carry them around that easily. They may lack in portability, but it makes up in practical use. It’s just so easy to fit the filters to the lens. Preparing the shot is no problem at all, even if you have a rotating front element.

In the end it just depends on your personal preference: portability or ease of use?

The circular kit

This kit comes in the following options: 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82 mm.

The rectangular kit

Here you have the option of 100mm or 165mm, with or without holder.

Inside the box

Contents of the box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured above is the 100mm kit with holder.

There are 2 adaptor rings included: 77mm and 82mm. Further included is a 100mm aluminium filter holder, a technique booklet, a long exposure chart and of course the 3 filters.


Setup with the 100mm kit

Setting up a shot with the 100mm kit is really simple, let me demonstrate.

Step 1: attach the adaptor ring to your lens. Since I’m using a 77mm lens, I’m attaching the 77mm adaptor.

Step 1 - Adapter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: attach the holder to the adaptor ring. By the way, if you already have the Lee filter holder system, then this one can also be used for the Formatt-Hitech filters.

Step 2 - Holder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: after you’ve composed your shot and set the camera to manual focus, simply slide the filter(s) into the adaptor. Make sure everything is screwed tightly!

Step 3 - Filter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B+W vs Formatt-Hitech ProStop IRND

Here are some comparisons between the Prostop IRND and B+W filters. If you want to see a comparison between the Prostop IRND and the Lee Big Stopper then check the review on this website by Charles Paul Azzopardi. These photo’s were taken with the Canon 5d mk III and the Canon 17-40 lens. They’re all straight out of the camera.

I used the B+W 6 and 10 stops circular filters and the ProStop IRND 6 and 10 stops 100mm rectangular filters. Note that the B+W filters have been my preferred filters for many years and I won many awards using those filters.

This first set of pictures show a comparison with the 10 stops filters (click the image to enlarge)                                 

10 Stop Comparison finished

 

 

 

 

This second set shows a comparison with the 6 and 10 stops filters stacked (click the image to enlarge).

16 stop comparison

 

 

 

 

There are quite some differences as you can see. The B+W filters have a red colorcast, where the ProStop filters look more neutral with a more blueish colour cast, similar to the Lee filter colour cast. The colour cast in both cases are easy to correct in post processing.

There’s definitely more vignetting on the B+W filters, especially when the exposure time increases.

Another thing that struck me was the difference in quality between the images shot with the B+W 16 stops of filters and the Formatt-Hitech 16 stops: as you can see from the comparison below of the same images as in the previous comparison but now zoomed in at the background at 200%, there’s more noise and artefacts in the B+W image and also look at the amount of details in the Formatt-Hitech IRND filter shot, there’s just more to see.

Prostop-zoomed

 

 

 

 

 

 

BW-zoomed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rod Clark on filters

Rod Clark recently did an interview on ND filters for long exposure photography and of course the Prostop IRND.

Answers to filter questions for Long Exposure, Fine-art Architectural photography. from Formatt-Hitech on Vimeo.

Ordering filters

The ProStop IRND filters are to me the most neutral filters out there. The great thing about these filters is that they are widely available – this in contrast to some other brands. You can order them through this link: order right here.

Formatt-Hitech LTD releases Joel Tjintjelaar Signature Edition IRND Long exposure kit

Formatt-Hitech LTD releases Joel Tjintjelaar Signature Edition IRND Long exposure kit

Today’s a great day. It’s the day that Formatt Hitech Ltd released the Joel Tjintjelaar IRND Long exposure kit that comes with a set of filters in different sizes, circular and rectangular, with or without filter holders, but always with aLong exposure booklet with some tips and techniques that I wrote personally, an exposure chart and more! I’m very proud to have MY name on those great ND filters. You could have your copy of this SE kit as well, take a look at the new Formatt-Hitech website here where you can start pre-ordering the kit as of today.

joel-box-cover