10 Stop Filter Test

Comparing 4 different 10 Stop ND Filters

Neutral density (ND) filters are a great tool in a photographers tool kit to help create unique images. From silky waterfalls and rivers, ultra smooth lakes and oceans to hiding people from a scene ND filters are a must have for any photographer. 

How does it work? An ND filters act like sunglasses for your camera by blocking the light that enters your lens and hitting the cameras sensor. To counteract the ND filter the best way is to do a longer exposure to get the correct exposure.

One thing which is hard to understand is why there is such a price difference between the various brands of filters. In this test I have a price range from $20 all the way to $270. That is obviously a massive variation in price so what is the difference? 

The filters on test:

  1. RISE ND1000 - $20
  2. B+W 77mm SC 110 Solid Neutral Density 3.0 Filter (10 Stop) - $150
  3. Breakthrough Photography 77mm X4 Solid Neutral Density 3.0 Filter (10 Stop) - $270
  4. LEE Filters 100 x 100mm Big Stopper 3.0 Neutral Density Filter - $239

When using a ND filter there are 4 keys things you need to be aware of when picking a filter. 

  1. Colour Cast 
  2. Sharpness
  3. Vignetting
  4. The actual density of the filter. 

Colour Cast

When using these dark filters they are blocking a large amount of light which can and most often does effect the final colour tones and white balance of the final image. If you don't shoot in RAW already this is something that you should be doing as this can be fixed in post processing. 

Sharpness

When you have a nice camera and lens the last thing you want to do is put a thin piece of glass in front of your lens that makes your images excessively soft. 

Vignetting 

Vignetting is another distracting result of a poorly made filter. This can be fixed in post processing but ideally there should be only a small amount of vignetting.

The actual density of the filter

Does the filter actually block the amount of light that the label says and why is this important? There are lots of phone apps that help you calculate the exposure time when using ND filters (Photo Pills is my choice). If your filters rating is out by 1 stop this can result in minutes of time difference when doing long exposures. 


Photo Pills

This app is one on the tool I use on a regular basis. It's helps with location planning, moon phases, exposes calculation, plus many other useful features. 

Below are the sample shots from the test I performed with descriptions on each image. I will let you decide what images look best but have added a short conclusion at after the sample images. 

My conclusion

If you are new to long exposure photography I always recommend getting a cheap ND filter to learn with as it's a low investment and if you don't enjoy it you have only lost $20-$30. Once you get the hang of this form of photography and decide it is something you really enjoy where to next? If you simply want the best ND filters on the market Breakthrough Photography filters are very hard to beat. They have almost zero colour cast or vignetting and do not seem to effect the sharpness of the image. 

CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

Capturing memories forever