Testing Haida holder for Nikon 14-24 f2.8 lens and 150mm 10 stops ND filter
Since quite some time, even before buying my Nikon 14-24 (the famous ultra wide lens), I was looking into a filter system for this lens. There are few options in the market with their pros and cons and very contradicting reviews. Some people say one is perfect while the other say it really sucks. So its very difficult to make a proper decision without giving a try to a system or another, and given the price that is usually quite steep, any decision would involve substantial risk taking.
For the "normal" lenses I am using a Lee system with lee and Hitech filters and I am extremely happy with their quality. But the 150mm Lee system, on top of being hugely expensive also had some major light leakage problems: there is some small space between filter and the holder that is not properly cover and allows light leaking in and reflecting on to the sensor. While doing my research on this topic I stumbled into a new player in the market, the Chinese producer Haida. I contacted their support to ask if it is possible to test their system and after few emails they kindly agreed to send me the system and a 150mm 10 stop ND filter for free, to test and review it.
First impression was extremely good. The filters arrived less than 48 hours after they have been send using DHL express and when they were delivered, Carmen called me extremely impressed by the build quality and the way they were packed: nice box for the holder itself similar to the ones you get for phones and a metal box for the filter. They clearly know how to present their products, which is always a good start. To make the impression even stronger, during the same period I received a reversed grad filter from Hitech: a cheap plastic pouch between 2 pieces of carton for protection. Far from the nice packaging of Haida although Hitech is the one that lots of people are praising loudly in the online medium.
The opportunities for testing the system and filter during end of November and December were very reduced due to a string of hostile factors: the day is currently very short here i with no light when I am leaving work, lots of rainy days (especially wekeends), our holiday to Thailand where we couldn’t carry this system due to fact it is not complete (still missing some gradient density filters and smaller NDs), me catching a cold right after the return to Denmark.So I got the chance to test the system and filter in a window of clear sky, one week before we left for Thailand, plus a bit of indoor testing, especially for light leakage.
What I am interested and wanted to test are the following things:
1 light leakage between the filter and the holder.
2 sharpness of the image due to filter added on the lens
3 flare resistance of the filter
4 color cast
5 vignetting, caused both by the holder and the filter
So here are my conclusions after the tests I performed so far. I know they are not very comprehensive because I haven’t covered lots of shooting conditions, however I am planning to add more informations to this review when more testing will be performed.
1. During the test I have performed, having sun on the side, in the back or in the frame, I haven't noticed any light leakage in the image. To stress the holder even more, I have shot indoor and pointed a flashlight right between the holder and the filter, where the light usually leaks. Still no leakage visible in the image. The cause of this is the nice padding on the holder that seems to fill nicely all the space. The guys from Haida also provided some additional padding that can be attached if it turns out that more foam is required to fill the gaps.
2. No loose of sharpness was noticed during the tests and no decrease of image quality.
3. Shooting into the sun, the flare patterns look very similar with or without the filter, so I can’t say that filter is flare prone
4. A slight bluish tint was noticed in few of the images, while no visible color cast was observed in the rest shooting with the Haida 10 stops filter. The image looks very natural and the little blue cast is not really important as it can be removed easily in post-processing. More, all the 10 stops ND filters (and some 6 stops) have a blueish/radish cast.
5. Some vignetting when using the filter comparing to image shot without it (holder on the lens in both cases, so definitely the filter is producing the vignette). I rotated the filter, to make sure it is not uneven, but the vignette is still there However, my Lee Big Stopper filter is also vignetting when used on my 16-35 lens and this is rather normal optical effect hen using ND filters on wide lens, because of the way they are optically built. The light from the corners is hitting the filter in a different angle than the one in the center, hence the amount of light reducing is different in the ND filter. To avoid completely this effect, the filter should be convex and not flat.
The filter seems to be somehwere between 10 and 11 stops according to my tests, but once you know the exact factor, you have no problem using it correctly.
A few words about the holder and the way it sits on the lens: it consists of 3 pieces: the holder itself with 2 spaces for filters (the package is coming with screws and plastic parts for adding an additional space for filters), a lens adapter that gets installed on the mounted shader of my 14-24 lens and a locking ring, that needs to be inserted from the rear of the lens and that gets screwed with the lens adapter, to lock the system on the lens. The locking ring requires taking the lens out of the camera or keeping it there all the time (since I am not using the system with any other lens, I would probably leave the lens adapter and locking ring on the lens and attach the holder when needed). This looks overwhelming at the beginning but the package comes with a assembly instructions (English and Chinese) with detailed pictures.
One extra thing that needs to be mentioning, is that the lens cap will not sit correctly on the lens if the adapter ring is on. This could be a problem for the protection of the lens front element, however I am planning to use some rubber and an old lens pouch to engineer some tool to keep the lens cap in place. That (or a custom lens cap) would be an extremely cool addition that engineers from Haida could design and add to the package, reducing the stress of the photographers using 14-24 lens. I know that photographers using other holder systems are having the same "issues", so solving this problem could add up to an already excellent product and help Haida stand up from the crowd.
The conclusion of this review is that , despite the limited testing time, I am very satisfied with the holder and filter from Haida. The holder is extremely well thought and professionally built, with all the small details being considered. It can be used with other 150mm filters as well. The filter is on par with other 10 stops filters in the market; I have no complains about it after the tests I have performed, although I am usually very picky in terms of my photo gear.
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