Photography News | Issue 32 | absolutephoto.com
50 First tests
Lee Filters 100mm ND grads from£86 Neutral density filters are
Prices &availability Seven5
Medium grad single filter (0.3ND to 0.9ND) £62.25 Medium grad single filter (1.2 ND) £93.38 Medium grad set (0.3ND, 0.6ND & 0.9ND) £166 100mm Very Hard and Medium grad single filter (0.3ND to 0.9ND) £86.23 Very Hard and Medium grad single filter (1.2 ND) £130.63 Very Hard and Medium grad sets (0.3ND, 0.6ND & 0.9ND) £215.60 SW150 Very Hard and Medium grad single filter (0.3ND to 0.9ND) £95.64 Very Hard and Medium grad single filter (1.2 ND) £143.46 Very Hard and Medium grad sets (0.3ND, 0.6ND & 0.9ND) £258 Contact leefilters.com
aperture gives a more obvious tonal transition than at a wider aperture or a longer lens at the same aperture value. Thus, now if you want a stronger effect with a telephoto then you can slide in the Very Hard grad. Alternatively, if you need a smoother transition with a wide- angle you can try the Medium. I tried the 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9ND Medium and Very Hard sets. A soft three-pocket pouch comes with each set, which helps protect the filters. Resin filters can mark or scuff quite easily so the pouch is very welcome. In terms of performance the filters work as described, giving effective results without impacting on lens quality or white-balance. Obviously it depends on what you actually like to shoot and personal taste, but I found I was getting most use from the Medium set and it does fill that gap when the Soft grad isn’t enough and Hard too much. The Very Hard grads are handy too, but the sharp transition needs careful use and scene selection. I found them especially useful when shooting with telephotos. WC
incredibly useful whether you shoot rural or urban scenes and Lee Filters is the brand of choice for many keen photographers. Lee’s grads are respected for their optical quality and consistency. They are hand dipped in its facility in England and it is because of this production method that the company can offer bespoke filters such as Medium and Very Hard grads in addition to its standard Soft and Hard versions. These were available to anyone who requested, and presumably paid, for the privilege. However, demand has encouraged Lee to make Medium and Very Hard grads available as standard offerings in its range and they’ve arrived for each of its various systems. The exception is Very Hard in the Seven5 system – the Hard grad has the same effect as the Very Hard version due to the smaller image size. It is a good move by Lee because the new options give photographers that extra creative control when the Soft grad transition is too subtle and the Hard grad not hard enough. This means you can darken the sky whether the horizon is clean and unbroken or if trees and buildings are protruding into it. It also means that you have more options when it comes to your aperture and lens choice. A wide-angle lens used at a small
Images The Medium and Very Hard grads join Lee’s Soft and Hard filters to give scenic photographers even more options.
Having the extra creative options provided by the new Lee ND grads is very welcome and they will certainly prove popular additions to the filter collections of many photographers. For me, the Medium set is now a constant companion in my camera bag.
Resin filters can mark or scuff quite easily so the pouch is very welcome
Pros High quality, neutral, work as described Cons Price, resin filters mark easily
Right To give you an idea of the pictorial effect of the new Lee ND grads we shot the same scene with six of the new filters. You would normally tailor filter choice to the scene but here we stuck to one scene. The shots were taken on a tripod-mounted Nikon D810 with a 24-120mm zoom at 70mm and a manual exposure of 1/50sec at f/11. These are out-of-the-camera JPEGs and white-balance was set to sunny daylight preset.
Very Hard 0.3
Very Hard 0.6
Very Hard 0.9
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