Dibs Photography

Firecrest Pro ND Grad Filters

Here we are with another of my hard to read blogs/reviews or whatever you like to call it. As always sorry about the poor grammar etc etc etc

It was great to receive an email just after I had got back from a lovely trip around Wales and then the North of Scotland that had a subject of ‘Firecrest Sample’ back in October. I was further delighted when I read it said it was one of the new Pro range of the Firecrest filters they would like to send me… 

The filter as it comes in its box

To be completely honest the 1st thing that crossed my mind was how the heck do you perfect perfection.  I have used there filters that I have paid for with my own hard earnt cash for years now, so I know what they produce is second to nothing

But upon reading up on everything it soon became very clear that the small subtle changes had indeed made things that little bit nicer.

Fast forward a week or so and I had an ever so lovely 0.6 or 2 stop soft grad filter sat there waiting for me. The biggest thing upon inspection you will notice is opening the smart new designed box up, your filter is now stored in a hardback magnetic close nylon material case for protection and comes with a small catalogue of all the products, that’s all marketing I know, the real bits you want to know about are how the heck does this filter perform out in the field.

Well… With the new black sealing around the edge of the filter itself you now get no light leak through the sandwiched layers of filter that form its construction, something the older Firecrest filters and most others on the market are prone to unless you throw a lens cloth over them while shooting, inevitability creating micro blur in the image due to the movement this creates.

The filters have now got a new top layer coating on both sides, thus making them more resistant to scratches from the sand and other debris us photographers manage to find on our travels. This is something that I have longed for as mine was always getting a little scratched from use, as I spend a lot of time on the coast, much like the morning when I tested out the filter, the wind was blowing at a fresh 45mph at sunrise, so the coating was well and truly tested, and upon inspection when I got home there is not one mark on it all now.

So When I got to the location to shoot, I set up as I would on any other day, normally I set my white balance, but I decided to shoot auto to see what my camera (Fujifilm X-T2) would think of it.

Shooting landscapes, I would not really say the 2 stop soft grad is one of my most used filters, my go-to filters would have to be the 6 stop ND and the 4 stop grad, perfect for the sunrise and first light of the day, my favourite time of day to be out shooting, the same filters can be used for sunset as well though. If I am then going to shoot longer exposures then it’s time to get the 10 and 13 stops out, but those first two filters I could not do without…

The screen grab here will show you, there are no messed up colours that should not be in the shot and the golden sunlight that is blasting in from the right is transitioning as expected through the frame in the clouds. On closer inspection you can even see it on some of the wooden posts and the water, the biggest thing to notice has to be the detail in the shot, everything is so sharp it just amazes me. The glass quality here is just second to none. I will be replacing my filters with these when they need swapping out

Lowestoft pier with Hightlight and shoddows adjusted to show all details and how true the colour is in it

This next image is the one from above edited. I was using the 3 legged Thing Albert Tripod as it was as windy as it gets and I wanted some serious stability.  You can see on the post, where the whites on the sign should be white, they are white, where the sunlight has illuminated the foreground a slight golden colour the colour has stayed as it should, this is why you spend money on the right gear that gets you the right results. The camera was the Fuji X-T2 and the 10-24mm lens and 14.5 mm. The Exif for the shot is just below it.

ISO 200, f/10 for 3 seconds with the  2 stop soft grad and 6 stop ND

The next shot again was taken with just the filter I had been sent in place. As you can see I favour the slightly shorter exposures so you are left with this feeling of movement within the shot. Again you will see that the colour runs exactly as expected from the shot, no nasty casts at all, but the most important thing is the detail retained within the shots.  In particular, you can see in the water movement between the rocks, the water is white, not a funky purple or pink like you get on budget filters. When you look in at the rocks you can see the texture, it feels like you are there. This amount of detail being captured is very important is, especially for those that use the higher megapixel cameras or even the medium format users out there. If you want to get the max detail out of your shots, you need to be using these filters.

Shutter speed 2 seconds, F/9 and iso 100 with the 2 stop soft grad and 6 stop ND

As always there is no better proof than testing something out for yourself. Those that have been on my workshops will know I always lend out my gear, so you can get that real try before you buy experience, so if I ever bump into you along the coast just give me a shout if you want to have a go on something I have talked about on here. And remember that when grabbing your filters of the Formatt-Hitech website to use the code DIBSM10 for an immediate 10% saving on your order

ISO 200, f/16 for 60 seconds with the  2 stop soft grad and 6 stop ND