Neutral Density filters, otherwise known as ND filters, are designed to cut down the amount of light that comes into a scene and therefore allow you to either use a more narrow aperture or a slower shutter speed. They’re most commonly use with landscape photographers, but are also known to be popular with strobists that want to overpower the ambient light in their scenes.
Breakthrough Photography has been manufacturing ND filters for a little while now, and in many ways, they’re an incredibly innovative and logical company that creates products that simply work. The company’s 6 stop ND filter is simply just that–an ND filter that cuts down up to six stops of light. Though vari-ND filters are much more valuable and useful, lots of shoots prefer a filter that was designed specifically to do an assigned job.
Pros and Cons
– Excellent brass ring design that makes taking the filter off of a lens very simple
– High Quality optics
– Nice case
– Not a major problem when it comes to color balancing
– A vari ND filter would have been much more useful, but this works well too.
We tested the X3 6 stop ND filter with the Fujifilm X Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4; it was stabilized with the Vanguard Nivelo tripod.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing
- 1.8 Solid Neutral Density Filter
- 64x Filter Factor, +6 Stop
- Darkens Entire Image
- Allows Reduced Shutter Speed
- Allows Wider Aperture
- MRC Multi-Resistant Coating
- Nano Coating
- Schott Glass Construction
- 77mm Front Filter Threads
- Thin Brass Filter Ring, Knurled Sides
The Breakthrough Photography ND filter is very straight forward in its design. There is a part that screws onto the lens and an outward area. The outward facing area is different because it has a grippy texture that makes turning the filter easier. In the middle is the glass that cuts down the light.
What we really, really like about the build quality of these filters is the fact that they’re so simple to take off of the camera due to the teeth on the brass filter ring. This makes gripping much simpler and gives you more of a grip overall.
Ease of Use
Since this is just a regular ND filter and not a variable ND filter, all you need to do is screw it onto your camera lens and meter your scenes accordingly. It doesn’t get any simpler than that for landscape and seascape photographers.
Using Fujifilm focus peaking feature, I was able to accurately get my scenes in focus. One of the biggest concerns when using filters is the fact that they can degrade image quality. Indeed, we saw this problem but not enough to make us want to scream and that post-production can’t fix. You lose a little bit of that token Fujifilm sharpness, but it will still make for a great print or a great image overall.
The only people that are going to complain about the image quality loss are photographers. Clients won’t care.
The Breakthrough Photography X3 filter in some ways isn’t extraordinary or reinventing the wheel when it comes to image quality, but the company is doing something incredible with filter ring design. For years, we’ve wanted companies to make an easier solution to getting filters off of lenses and some have solutions, but nothing as practical or low profile as Breakthrough Photography’s.
We rate the X3 six stop ND filter four out of five stars. Want one? Check out B&H Photo’s listing for more.