Haida 3 Stop ND Filter 0.9 150x150 Review
Not so long ago, the high-end slot-in filter market was dominated by Lee Filters. Sure, there were other options available - like Cokin - however almost invariably these brands were poor performers, either degrading optical quality or adding challenging colour casts to your images. Lee were really the only viable option for a photographer who cared about quality and needed slide-in filters. These days, that status quo is shifting, with several new players emerging on the market in recent times to challenge the dominance of Lee Filters. Today I will look at one such player - Haida, a Chinese filter manufacturer who is starting to become better known outside of their home market. I recently acquired a Haida 3 stop ND filter in 150x150mm size, and I will provide an overview of how it performs here.
The Haida 150x150mm 3 stop ND filter is made of optical glass, reportedly Schott glass, which is the same type of glass used by brands like B+W in their excellent screw-in filters. In comparison, the 3 stop ND in 150x150mm size marketed by Lee Filters is made of resin. Glass vs resin is an interesting and on-going debate; glass being the material more resistant to scratching and one that should, at least in theory, offer marginally superior optical quality. Glass however is also heavier than resin, more expensive and more susceptible to breaking if mistreated or dropped.
Resin filters should not break if dropped, and can likely withstand a little more pressure than glass in your bag (if say for instance your filter case is getting squashed by other gear) as resin will bend rather than outright snap or crack. On the flipside, a dropped resin filter is likely going to end up scratched (and potentially unusable) anyway. For what it's worth, my 100x100mm filters are mostly resin and are largely in good condition despite being several years old, however if you are less careful with handling and storage of filters, glass is probably the better bet for it's scratch resistant properties.
In summary, the Haida 3 stop 150x150mm ND filter is made of a high-end optical glass and is certainly worthy of the price tag in this regard, which incidentally is very competitive.
Optics/ Colour Cast
Regardless of what a filter is made of, if it adds an uncorrectable colour cast or degrades image quality (sharpness / contrast) then it isn't going to be an effective tool in the field. Pleasingly, the Haida filter is a winner in this regard; in my testing I can see no loss of sharpness or contrast against my control images taken without the filter attached, and the minor colour cast the filter does add to the image is trivial to correct in post-processing. Below I have included several images, a scene taken with and without the Haida filter attached, showing a comparison against the control image both before and after post-processing corrections were made. Additionally, I have included some 100% crops to illustrate that there is no loss of sharpness or contrast resulting from the filter.
Image 1: No filter attached versus filter attached with no corrections applied in Camera Raw (mouseover to see uncorrected filter image)
WB in both images is 5500 +10
mage 2: No filter attached versus filter attached with corrections applied in Camera Raw (mouseover to see corrected filter image)
WB in corrected image is 5500 +25
As can be seen from the above samples, the Haida filter adds an easy-to-correct minor green cast which is removed by a simple magenta tint adjustment in Camera Raw white balance. It also introduces a vignette to the scene, which is not uncommon for NDs and this can also be corrected in Camera Raw if you wish. Certainly on the colour cast front I think it's fair to say the Haida is an excellent performer - true neutrality coming out of camera is not expected (of any brand, regardless of what they claim) but what matters is how easy it is to correct; in this case the answer is - easy, requiring only a slight tweak to the tint to achieve the same colour.
Next up I will show you some 100% crops from these images - the no filter version as well as the corrected image, to illustrate that there is no noticeable degradation of sharpness or contrast resulting from the filter. The crop below, taken from the centre of the image is from the frame with no filter. Please mouse over the image to see the corrected version using the filter.
I hope you have found this useful. Haida represents an attractive option in 150x150mm filter size due to the highly competitive price. Locally in Australia, this Haida 3 stop ND can be purchased for around $190 AUD. By way of comparison, the Lee SW150 3 stop ND is approximately the same price; the key difference being that the Lee is made of the cheaper resin, while Haida are using glass. Additionally, the other major Chinese filter manufacturer bursting onto the scene with a splash lately - NiSi - are charging over $300 AUD for their optical glass 3-stop ND in 150mm size. Subsequently, the Haida filter offers exceptional value - glass at a resin price point - and comes highly recommended.