8. Real-world relevance
Now, you’ve seen the haze and the flare issues with the Haidas and how well the B+W performs in this respect. But: Does all this matter at all? For the use cases where you are photographing against the sun, it will. But will it also in an image that has bright highlights in it? After all, in the other aspects, the filters are pretty much the same. Check the following image out. It’s a shot at 24mm with a polarizing filter. As usual, not a very exciting shot, but it has strong highlights in it, which is good for this purpose:
So, if we put the ND filters on the lens (instead of the polarizer) and compare the marked area in 100% crops after white balance correction using the gray card method, this is what you get:
Now if you can tell any flare difference in these crops, then I don’t know. I can’t.
Note that the slight difference in contrast is due to the light having changed slightly between the shots. What you can see is the slight color cast issue. Or can you? Go ahead and guess which filter is which image. Solution: From top left clockwise we have: no filter, Haida MC, Haida Slim (non-MC), B+W.
B+W is still my favorite, mainly because of the flare resistance. Whether or not this actually matters for the image, though, really depends on the motive. I would state than in most cases, it won’t be visible at all. See the above image crops.
Summing it up:
- The Haida filters perform excellent otherwise and offer very good value for money.
- What’s more, you don’t really need to spend the extra money for the coated version of the Haida. The coating will provide a more difficult sepia color cast, while the flare isn’t really reduced, only a slight amount of haze (see section 3). Then again, this isn’t noticeable at all in standard practical application, as you can see above.
- In case you don’t plan on stacking filters, you don’t need the slim version. Even with the standard (non-slim) versions of Haida and B+W, you can get down to 16 mm without the filter frame getting in the image. At that focal length, you’re more bugged by the vignetting of the ND filters, which is pure physics and not a lack of quality (see section 5).
- When stacking filters, the slim version gives you only 1 mm more focal length than the standard version. Since B+W and Haida have the same frame dimensions, this will also be valid should B+W ever release an XS-Pro (=slim) version of their ND 3.0 filter.
Here’s the overview:
110 ND 3.0 F-Pro MRC
Pro II MC ND3.0
SLIM Pro II MC ND3.0
|Cleaning||ok once you get it||easy||easy||easy|
|not visible||not visible||not visible||not visible|
filter frame @16mm
HD Circ-Pol Filter
|Color cast||sepia||stronger sepia||stronger sepia||rather neutral|
|Price tag (77mm version)||€ 110 / $ 120||€ 45||€ 48 / $ 67||€ 34|