Review: Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

Landscape photographers on the market for a reliable graduated ND filter should check out Haida’s Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

When photographing long exposure landscapes, a common challenge many photographers encounter is the drastic difference between the amount of light in the sky and below the horizon. This is where filters like the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter come in handy. Soft, graduated neutral density filters allow you to expose for the darker areas of your frame without blowing out what’s in the sky.

Constructed from K9 optical borosilicate crown glass, Haida’s Red-Diamond series is an improvement upon their existing NanoPro series of ND filters. The Red-Diamond filters are said to be shockproof and feature large rounded corners for easy handling. The Red-Diamond are also coated on both sides with nano-coatings designed to eliminate color casts, provide waterproofing, and minimize reflections and scratches. The Haida Red-Diamond Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter provides 3 stops (0.9/8x Density) of light reduction on its darker edge and transitions smoothly towards the transparent edge. Additional graduated ND filters ranging from 1 to 5 stops are also available. We’ve been testing the 3 stop version with Haida’s own M10 Filter Holder System. Check out our results after the jump.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Useful when shooting long exposures in scenes with brightly lit skies
  • No discernible color cast
  • Industry-standard filter size that can be used with most filter holders on the market
  • Nano-coating on both sides keeps the filter waterproof and minimizes reflections, fingerprints, dust, and scratches

Cons

  • Nothing with the ND filter itself, but we’d prefer a more sturdily built storage case that’s less prone to scratches and scuffs

Gear Used

We tested the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter using the Haida M10 Filter Holder System, the Sony A7R III, Sony A7R IV, Tamron 24mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F051), Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053), Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master, Gitzo Mini Traveler Tripod, and MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition Tripod.

Tech Specs

  • Ideal for Photos with Bright Skies
  • Rectangular Filter Size: 4″ x 6″ / 100 x 150mm
  • Neutral Density Type: Graduated ND
  • Density: 0.9 (3 stop)
  • This Red Diamond SOFT graduated ND filter is a 100x150mm gray gradient filter that can be used in the HAIDA 100 Series / HAIDA 100-PRO Series holders or similar 100x100mm holders from Lee, Cokin, Hitech
  • Made from optical glass, with a Nanopro coating and hardened through a specific production process makes this filter the most durable in the entire Haida filter range. The wafer-thin nanopro coating protects the filter against scratches, water, oil and fingerprints. The filter is also easy to clean because of the coating
  • The Red Diamond is very resistant to shocks and glass breakage
  • An R5 rounding of the filter angles ensures excellent handling when placing in a filter holder
  • The filter has no detrimental color cast (Color Cast) and belongs to the elite of the ND filters
  • This ND filter is ideal for use in landscape photography
  • The Red Diamond series is the choice of the professional photographer or of the photographer who strives for optimum quality and durability in his choice of materials

Ergonomics

The Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter comes in a branded clamshell-style metal storage case, seen above alongside Haida’s own M10 Filter Holder.

Opening the metal storage case reveals the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter. The inside of the case is foam padded, with a precision cut opening to help secure the filter stored within. As an added bit of protection, there is a circular foam disc inside the storage case’s lid that helps keep the filter in place when closed.

The Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter is seen here attached to a Sony A7R IV using Haida’s own M10 Filter Holder. It’s also compatible with most industry-standard filter holders that accept 100mm wide rectangular filters.

Build Quality

We got to really put the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter through its paces throughout the last few weeks. We took the filter with us to a number of different shoots around New York. Keeping the filter stored within the metal storage case, we tossed it into a various camera bags that wound up in the trunks of cars or in overhead storage on trains. While the storage case itself saw some scuffs and dings, it kept the filter free from harm as we made our way from one location to the next.

We accidentally brushed the filter against low hanging branches as we were walking around with it attached to our camera. Luckily, the nano-coatings on the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter worked as advertised and we didn’t find any scratches on its surface. The coatings also made it very easy to wipe away any fingerprints and dust particles on the filter.

Ease of Use

The Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter works like any other rectangular graduated ND on the market. Simply attach your 100mm wide filter holder of choice onto the front of your lens, slide the Red-Diamond Graduated ND filter into said holder, and start shooting. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, you’ll want to switch your camera to Live View so you can make adjustments to the filter’s orientation and position.

Image Quality

Having tested inexpensive filters made from plastic or low-quality glass, the resulting images suffered a loss in contrast and had muddy colors or unwanted color casts. Thankfully, the results we got when shooting with the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter exhibited none of those issues. We didn’t have to deal with annoying color casts or loss of fidelity. This made post-processing the resulting long exposures a breeze. Here are long exposure examples of two different scenes photographed with and without the filter. The slight adjustment in perspective in the first scene was the result of having to relocate the tripod thanks to the rapidly rising tide in the area.

Additional Image Samples

Here are some additional long exposure images shot using the Haida M10 Filter Holder System and the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter (0.9/8x Density). These images were processed with Capture One 20, ranging from color grading, cropping, levels adjustment, and/or perspective correction. As a matter of ethics, however, none of the sample images seen within this review have been retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images produced using this filter system for yourself.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Well built
  • Easy to clean
  • No color cast to worry about
  • Works with most 100mm wide filter holders available on the market

Dislikes

  • Honestly none

If you’re a landscape photographer in need of a graduated ND filter, the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter (0.9/8x Density) is worth considering. It’s not the cheapest graduated ND filter out there, but its price is on par with competing offerings on the market at US $169. You’re paying for consistency and reliability, and this filter delivers. Unlike “bargain” filters, you don’t have to worry about weird color casts or loss in sharpness in your images when shooting with this graduated ND. The filter’s nano-coating makes it easy to clean and gives it a fair bit of scratch resistance as well.

The Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter earns five out of five stars. You can pick one up for yourself from Amazon for US $169. It’s well built, easy to maintain, and works reliably. The Haida Red-Diamond series of Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filters also comes in the 150 x 170mm size, with other densities available ranging from 1 to 5 stops.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.