In this review, I take a look at the 82mm Haida ND 3.0 1000x, a Chinese made, 10 stop neutral density filter that is often compared positively to other industry leading ND filter manufacturers such as those offered by Format-High Tech, Lee Filters and the ‘Big Stopper’ and Singh-Ray with some reviewers even going so far as to call the Haida ‘the new “star” of the [10 stop] filters!
The Haida ND 3.0 1000x 82mm is a stunner which lives up to the praises of its bigger brother!
I believe that getting out in the field and running each item that finds it way into my camera bag, through a series of tests on my own an essential step to understanding how all my gear performs. More importantly it can save hours of time in post, as mistakes that could have been corrected or fixed in the field are more likely to be avoid. I also believe the manner with which one performs these tests isn’t nearly as important as simply ensuring it gets done. For me I prefer more of a scientific approach, shooting in series and eliminating as many variables as possible. For those like minded individuals I explain my testing methodology towards the end of this article.
The Price Point
If all the high praise that the Haida ND 3.0 has been receiving is too be believed, perhaps its biggest selling point is the price. This was in fact the reason I purchased my 82mm Haida ND 1000x of my own, though I was skeptical on just how well it would perform optically. I’ve compiled a small table comparing the price of the Haida ND filters to other leading 10 stop ND filters. An interesting side note, when compiling this list it was also became apparent that the availability of Haida filters on ebay was much greater than the other brands.
100mm (square) – $80 USD
82mm – $50 USD
77mm – $40 USD
100mm (square) – $140 USD
Circular ND filter not available
100mm (square) – $100 USD
82mm – $175 USD*
77mm – $118 USD*
100mm (square) – $415 USD
82mm – $390 USD*
77mm – $$350 USD*
Note: prices above are based on current ebay prices unless the item was not available at the time. In these cases prices (marked by as asterisk) reflect the prices on B&H’s website at the time of writing.
First Impressions, Build Quality & Vignetting
The Haida filter is packaged is in a plastic filter case with a foam liner that then slides into a cardboard sleeve. It is in my opinion a rather nondescript package (though the newer models come in far more modern box), but functional. The snaps shut plastic case is functional, though it leaves much to be desired aesthetically but can become bulky if you have a number of filters.
In terms of build quality the Haida ND 3.0 is a sturdy piece of kit that does its job with minimal fuss.
The filter itself seems well made. The metal is sturdy but not overly thick and the glass is mounted securely inside. Unlike many other cheap filters I’ve used it doesn’t have any play and won’t spin when cleaned. Having owned the filter for just over a year now, it has never become stuck to a lens, and the threads show what I would consider to be minimal wear. It has also remained scratch free and the 10 stop rating also appears to accurate. In terms of build quality the Haida ND 3.0 is a sturdy piece of kit that does its job with minimal fuss.
It was also a little disconcerting that the ebay bought filter appeared to be a gray market product.
Additional research did reveal however, that newer versions of filters from Haida include an ‘Anti-counterfeiting Code’, which can be checked on Haida’s official site. Though you should remain cautious of some ebay purchases, don’t panic if your filter doesn’t appear in Haida’s Anti-counterfeiting database as this is relatively new addition to their products and doesn’t apply to older versions of their filters.
Perhaps my only complaint with the build of the Haida ND 3.0 is the vignetting it creates. My first shots which a used a 77-82mm step-up filter to mount the 82mm Haida on my Canon 17-40mm F4L came out with so much vignetting that at first I thought the filter was cutting out more than 10 stops of light. On closer inspection this turned out not to be the case and I began to wonder if the step-up filter on such a wide angle lens was the culprit.
Changing lenses to a Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 (which has an 82mm filter size), I ditched the step-up ring to see just how bad the vignetting from the Haida is. Though improving significantly, even on the 82mm front element of the Tamron vignetting remains pronounced.
Zooming into 50mm, vignetting is minimal and its all but gone at 70mm.
Colour casts from darker or stacked ND filters (especially 10 stop filters) is simply a fact of life, and to be frank it is not something that bothers me terribly much. Typically solid ND filter colour casts can be quickly removed from digital photos as opposed to graduated ND filters or GNDs, which can require some finesse. Keeping in mind my relative indifference towards colour casts, I must say that the Haida performed admirable. In the images below (both of which are straight out camera), shot at 35mm with a Canon 6D using a 17-40mm F4L and set to daylight white balance, the magenta cast is rather noticeable.
Correcting the colour cast literally took a second and was so easy a trained monkey could do it.
However, correcting the colour cast literally took a second and was so easy a trained monkey could do it. Moving the Green/Magenta slider about 30 points to the right in Lightroom, and the cast is reduced to what I would consider to be more than an acceptable amount.
It should be noted that Haida has released a slim version of this filter called the Haida SLIM PRO II MC ND 3.0 1000x which should benefit from reduced vignetting.
Image Quality (IQ)
I’m not proud to admit it, but I have a bit of experience using cheap filters. While these filter such as the variable Fotga 77mm Fader ND have had their strengths (especially given their rock-bottom price tags), they’ve all seemed to have had a similar weakness; Poor sharpness at longer focal lengths. As I do like to use an ND filter at longer focal lengths on occasion, for me this was the most important test for the Haida ND 3.0
The quality of the Haida held up with no loss of sharpness or contrast in both the centers and corners of the images.
Starting at 24mm image sharpness and contrast from center to corner between the SOC shot and the one with a the Haida ND 3.0 was indistinguishable.
I then ran the same test with Tamron lens at 50mm and 70mm, getting identical performance from the Haida before switching to my Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 DG HSM and shooting tests at 100mm, 135mm and 200mm. Pleasantly, the quality of the Haida held up with no loss of sharpness or contrast in both the centers and corners of the images. Unfortunately, the test did show just show soft the Sigma is in the corners and at 200mm.
An impressive IQ performance from the Haida (not so much from the Sigma).
Unless otherwise stated all shots were taken on a Mefoto Globe Trotter, using manual mode, at F11, ISO 100 and auto white balance. Shutter speed was adjusted to control exposure and then dropped by 10 stops using the ND Filter Calculator app. Focus was set manually in Live Mode. Straight out of camera shots were shot first and then the filter was screwed into place (the camera was not refocused at this point). To reduce shake the Canon 6D’s 2 second delay mode was used. A 77-82mm step-up ring was used with the Canon 17-40 F4L and the Sigma 70-200 2.8 DG HSM.
No post processing was done, with the exception of cropping for the ‘100% crop’ images and the in colour cast correction image (which was mentioned in the article).
The Haida ND 3.0 1000x 82mm is a stunner which lives up to the praises of its bigger brother the 100mm square filter (read Achiem Siger’s review of the 100mm Haida ND 3.0 here) and is by far the best I’ve purchased to date. Let’s quickly recap the pros and cons.
- More affordable than its competitors
- Appears to be more easy to obtain on ebay than some of its competitors
- Fantastic image quality (little to no drop in contrast and sharpness at all focal lengths)
- Easily correctable colour cast
- Glass filter
- Resistant to sticking when mounting on or removing from a lens
- Significant vignetting at ultra wide focal lengths
- Noticeable magenta colour cast
- Cheap plastic case
- Currently not available through B&H’s or Adorama’s websites
- Made in China (although this doesn’t bother me in least)