To filter or not to filter?

That is the question. And a right good one too. We all know what they can do for your images, I’m sure like myself, you have also seen many amazing images of silky smooth water frothing as the tide comes in, and water dancing on the rocks of coasts around the world. Many people contemplate about getting one, and which one to get as there are so many out there. I was on the same boat until I got into the style of Joel Tjintalaar, who uses Luminosity Masks for architecture photography. He has won many awards for his work, and by lord it’s amazing. I tried his technique and it worked well. I purchased the kit by Formatt Hitech, which is a special edition by the man, Joel himself. Since then I purchased another single 10stop filter kit as a backup. I have been using the system now for approx. 1 year, and since then Formatt Hitech have released their new Firecrest range. I already have up to 19 stops available to me if I stack what I have, (10 + 6 + 3) but even by stacking just the 10 and 3 to give me 13 stops is not the best idea. The results are hard to work with as the white balance is thrown off the scale and the filters make the image very soft, which is very disappointing when you get to the computer and see the results blown up. This is where the Firecrest comes in. I was a little sceptical about the 16 stop at first, but I gave in and purchased it from Amazon for approx. £100.

The filter itself feels a million dollars. Its heavy compared to the kit. This is because the kit is made from rugged and light weight resin and the firecast is made from Schott Superwite glass and feature the Firecrest IRND 15 layer multicoating on the outside of the filter. It is also hydrophobic and scratch-resistant.

From their website…—Joel-Tjintjelaar~218.html

Resin ProStop IRND vs Glass Firecrest ND

Resin Filters

There is a misconception that glass is better than resin. Formatt-Hitech’s resin filters are ultra flat, have excellent contrast and are completely transparent to the visible light spectrum. Formatt-Hitech’s resin has the highest scratch resistance of any non-glass optical material and it’s resistant to most solvents, chemicals, aging and material fatigue. Because of the ruggedness, light weight and portability, resin filters are a great choice for photographers and HDSLR filmakers. Resin filters are dyed using our exclusive Absorbing Cell Technology process.

Firecrest Filters

Firecrest is a multicoating applied to glass and is far-and-away the most technologically advanced filter manufacturing process on the market. Firecrest filters remove dye from the equation completely. Firecrest is a carbon metallic multicoating that is applied through an electrolytic process and then sandwiched between two pieces of Schott Superwite glass to protect it from scratching. Circular Firecrest filters also feature a multicoating on the front of the filter that is hydrophobic, anti-reflective and extremely flare resistant, which increases contrast and visual acuity in challenging lighting conditions. Most importantly, Firecrest technology gives our chief scientist unprecedented control over modifying specific frequencies of the light spectrum. The result is hyper-neutral NDs, with tailored reductions of ultraviolet, visible spectrum light, near-infrared and infrared spectrum.

The main question we all want to know is if there is any hue or tinge in the image, how far has the white balance shifted. To simply answer that, not much or at all. I hear many people talk about other brands in the same if not more expensive price range talk about a blue cast on their images. Now this is no big deal as one of great wonders of shooting in Raw is being able to correct this easily. But what if you took an image and saw almost NO COLOUR CAST! When I used this for the first time and saw the results my jaw dropped. I sat looking at the image for 10 minutes before taking another shot. The shot was taken at Malham tarn and was a 360 seconds exposure, 6 minutes.

The first image is straight out of camera.

Here are the two adjustments made to each image side by side.



After Before


My verdict.

I have used many different types of filters from extreme budget ones that give you such a terrible colour cast you wish never wasted £2 on them to hi end blue casting ones, and i have to say nothing, nothing comes close to this filter yet. I am usually quiet open to trying out new systems and finding the one that works, and this is the one. I will be replacing my current resin system for the Firecrest 10 stop ones. I jusy wish they made better cases or boxes for the filters, and the plastic ones are too big. They do protect the filter well though.

More images can be seen on my other blogs.

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions. If you like what you read then why not give it a share…

Many thanks and hope to see you soon!

*The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the manufacturer, images are copyright © Photography By Imran, i do not get paid or endorsed by any of the companies for my opinions.

1 reply
  1. Nadia Hussain
    Nadia Hussain says:

    As a new photographer I’ve always struggled to decide what brand filter to use but this blog has helped me a great deal. Thank you for this info and keep the blogs coming.

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