I have been using my ‘bullet proof’ Formatt Hitech 100mm filter holder for years now. It is solid aluminium, well made and has survived over 8 trips overseas and countless falls onto jagged rocks. Unfortunately, the attributes which make it almost indestructible, also make it both bulky and relatively heavy.
I recently came across product photos of the Haida 100-Pro Series filter holder system. I wasn’t planning to replace ‘old faithful’, but from the product images this holder seemed much lighter and smaller, which is always a benefit to a landscape photographer. Curiosity got the better of me and I headed over to Photo Images, the local agent for Haida here in Malta to see the holder in the flesh. I was impressed, the Haida 100-Pro holder was in fact much smaller and also felt a lot lighter than my Formatt Hitech holder. Before I knew it, I had bought a whole new holder system!
Eager to see how the new Haida system compared to my older Formatt Hitech holder, I put both systems side by side to see the difference in dimensions of the holders, the polarizers and the the lens adapter rings. I then put both systems on the scale to compare the weight.
As you can see from the above photos, not only is the Haida system significantly lighter (Less than half the weight), its also much smaller and therefore takes up less space in my filter pouch and camera bag. Although a couple of hundred grams might not seem like much, if you can save a couple of hundred grams across different bits of equipment in a camera bag, you can end up savings a couple of kilos in total, but more on weight reduction here.
Using the new holder on location
I bought the Haida filter system just before travelling to Italy on holiday with Christine. This was a ‘holiday holiday’, not a photography trip, so I was limited to amount of shooting I could do, and where I would be able to take photos, but based on the locations we were visiting, I knew that I would have some great opportunities to test the new filter holder.
If you want to read about what filters actually do and see comparison photos both with and without filters, you can read this blog post.
This pier at Lago di Garda was the perfect first place to try out the new holder. When I got there, there were loads of people sat on the pier and walking along the pier, this was a nightmare to photograph as it meant that loads of people would be in my photo. The people walking along the pier were also causing the whole pier to vibrate and shake ever so slightly, which would result in the photos not being tack sharp, luckily though, a quick rain shower led to everyone running for shelter whilst I remained there shooting this scene and wiping my lens / filter to ensure there were no water droplets on the final image! Using a Haida 10 stop neutral density filter enabled me to increase my shutter speed to 4 minutes. This completely smoothed out the water and clouds as you can see below.
The next place I got to use my new Haida filter holder was in the stunning Val D’Orcia, in Tuscany! These gorgeous cypress trees had been on my ‘List’ for years, and I finally got to capture them! This was the first sunset that I shot in Tuscany, and although I had some absolutely stunning side light, there weren’t any clouds in the sky. I was hoping for clouds as I have envisioned using the 10 stop filter to give me an exposure long enough to blur and smoothen the clouds.
Since there weren’t any clouds though, I just used a 3 Stop soft graduated neutral density filter to help retain as much detail in the sky and the Haida Nano circular polarizer to help make the colors pop a little more and add some contrast to the scene. The result is the below image.
The last place I would get to test the great little Haida filter holder was the quaint little seaside town of Manarola! I set up in this position about an hour before sunset to ensure I could get the best sunset light and also waited through the blue hour for the town to light up for the night. In this case, I used my 10 stop filter to get an 8 minute exposure, this led to the sea looking completely smooth and the little fishing boats and their buoys being slightly blurred as they moved around during the exposure.
The new Haida filter holder is significantly lighter than the my previous Formatt Hitech filter holder, it is also smaller and the built in polarizer means it takes up less space and there is an extra slot free in my filter pouch to carry a different filter if need be. The new holder work slightly differently to my old one, it takes a bit of getting used to, but once set up, is much more stable and there is less risk of dropping a filter whilst rotating from landscape mode to portrait and vice versa.
Needless to say, I won’t be carrying my Formatt Hitech holder and rings in my camera bag anymore, as the Haida 100-Pro filter holder has made my old holder obsolete!