Photography News Issue 47

Photography News | Issue 47 | photographynews.co.uk

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First tests

LeeFiltersProGlass IRNDrange From£158

Specs

Peek into the bag of many a keen scenic photographer and you will find a Lee Filters system comprising, quite possibly, a couple of grey grads and maybe a Big Stopper. Soon, you may also find one or two of Lee’s latest filters, a ProGlass IRND. This range of glass neutral density filters was originally designed for the movie industry where the need to deliver colour-consistent results from filter to filter in different light levels is important. It has been a big success in the movie world and now there is the chance for discerning still photographers to enjoy their benefits. TheProGlass series is available for all three Lee systems, Seven5, 100mm and SW150, so whether you shoot on full- frame fast aperture ultra-wides or with the smallest mirrorless system, you are catered for. The same applies in terms of density and the range comes in six strengths, from 2EV to 15EV taking in 3EV, 4EV, 6EV and 10EV on the way. So, if you want to cut light down to allow using an aperture of f/1.2 for shallowdepth-of- field portraits, or you want a 16-minute exposure in bright light to make people vanish, it is all perfectly possible. To be honest, none of this is groundbreaking because Lee and other brands already offer ND filters that do the exact same job. Where Lee’s new range is different, though, is that it is precisely formulated to give across- the-range colour consistency and with images free of ultra-violet (UV) and infrared (IR) pollution. Whether you need filter to filter consistency or suffer from UV/IR problems, that’s something only you can answer but I do know getting neutral results from an ND is not as straightforward as it might appear. There are plenty of NDs around that are someway short of being neutral. These filters are made from 2mm thick optical flat glass and designed so that there is no focus shift if a filter is added to a focused-up camera. Theyalso

Prices Seven5 £158, 100mm £180 and SW150 £415 Availability 0.6 ND (light loss 2EV), 0.9ND (3EV), 1.2ND (4EV), 1.8ND (6EV), 3.0ND (10EV), 4.5ND (15EV) in Seven5, 100mm and SW150 sizes. Free app available for smartphone/tablet for easy exposure calculation Contact leefilters.com

Verdict

There is no denying the quality and consistency of Lee’s ProGlass IRND filter range – we only tested two of the six but there’s no reason to doubt the performance of the others. Our test shots showed excellent, lifelike colours even in AWB and if you do need filter to filter consistency, using a manual Kelvin setting should deliver this. Image sharpness was very good too with no diminishing of lens quality when the filters were used. Of course, good though these filters are, they are not priced to appeal to everyone. A 100mm Big Stopper is around £95 while the equivalent ProGlass IRND is £180 so close to being twice the price. You will need to be a dedicated ND user to make the investment. That said, however, there is no denying the very high level of performance delivered by these impressive filters and while they are expensive, it is difficult to argue that they are not great value for money. Pros Clean, colour accurate images, supplied usable case, consistency within the range, optical quality, filter factors spot on Cons Price

perfectly acceptable. The difference is only detectable with direct comparison with the unfiltered AWB shot. A side- by-side comparison between the EV6 and EV10 filter AWB shots revealed a tiny difference too, with the EV10 shot lookingmarginallywarmer. With the Kelvin white-balance settings, both the IRND filters were again very slightly warmer compared with theunfiltered equivalent. However, the key comparison of the two filtered shotsatthesameKelvinsettingsshowed virtually no difference in terms of image colour, so that’s impressive. The factors of both filters is spot- on too producing images of consistent density so no need for any additional correction. WC

As you might expect the ProGlass IRND filters performed really nicely. Starting with sharpness, there was no discernible difference between the with and without filter shots and there was no evidence of any extra flare and ghosting in against-the-light shots. AnAWBmode assesses the light and any attached filter and tries to deliver neutral shots; this can give a variance. Here both filters worked fine with the AWB setting so for pure shooting convenience just shoot in that setting. My JPEGs looked spot on. If I were to use a manual Kelvin on my D810 I’d go for 4760Kand 4800Kon theX-T2. ComparingtheunfilteredAWBshots with the filteredAWBshots showed that the latter were very slightly warm but

come in smart, protective slip cases that are very practical out in the field too. For my test of the Lee 6EV and 10EV ProGlass IRND filters I used two cameras, a Fujifilm X-T2 and a Nikon D810– both areOLPF free. I had to do my shots over a period of a week or so due to unsettled weather. I needed sunny days when there’s much more UV/IR around, and shot the same scenes and a Datacolor test chart with and without the filters using JPEG and Raw. For consistency’s sake manual exposure settings were used with cameras fixed to a tripod. For white-balance I tried AWB, presets andmanualKelvinsettings– the pictures shown below were shot using AWB andmanualWB values.

Nikon D810, no filter, AWB

ProGlass IRND 6EV, Nikon D810, AWB

ProGlass IRND 10EV, Nikon D810, AWB

ProGlass IRND 6EV, Nikon D810, 5260K

ProGlass IRND 10EV, Nikon D810, 5260K

Nikon D810, no filter, 5260K

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