And, at last, we have Park Photos (Tests 9-12) of the light-pollution filters, and my conclusions. To return to the first part of the article and the City Photos (Tests 1-5), please click here. To view Town Photos (Tests 6-8), please click here.
TEST 9A: From the park, a wide-angle image of the Milky Way showing some of the light pollution affecting the area.
TEST 9B: Same images as Test 9A.
TEST 9C: Same images as Test 9A adjusted universally.
TEST 10A: Narrower view of the Milky Way as seen from the park with a 35mm equivalent lens.
TEST 10B: Same as 10A, with WB set to fluorescent.
TEST 10C: Adjustments made to the unfiltered image and then applied to the rest.
TEST 11A: Normal view of the Milky Way from the park, with a 50mm equivalent lens.
TEST 11B: Same as 11A, with WB set to fluorescent.
TEST 11C: Adjustments made to the unfiltered image and then applied to the rest.
TEST 12A: A telephoto view of the Milky Way from the park, with a 105mm lens (158mm equivalent).
TEST 12B: Same as 12A with WB set to fluorescent in Lightroom.
TEST 12C: Adjustments made to the unfiltered image and then applied globally to the rest.
As you can see in the above tests, the effects of the various light pollution filters are subtle, but the image is affected.
- None of the filters had any effect on image sharpness, and none were noticeably sharper than the others.
- The Ice, Haida, and NiSi filters all gave the image a nice bluish tint that looks more natural, in my opinion.
- If maximum light-gathering is your mission, the Ice, Tiffen, Haida, NiSi, and Kenko filters all darken the image a bit—the Kenko by a full stop.
- The Kenko filter only performs well when you push past a 135mm telephoto on a full-frame sensor. If you are shooting wide-angle starscapes, this filter is not for you.
- In what was obviously an unfair test, the rooftop Milky Way image with the brightly lit building—Test 5—shows that all the filters struggled with reflections—some more than others.
These four images appear in the tests above, but I am showing them side by side to help with the comparison. Here we have the difference between a no-filter image and an image with the NiSi filter, taken 3 minutes apart.
The first pair is unedited from capture with the WB of the camera set to Auto.
And here, I have neutralized the WB. The filtered image looks a bit richer and the sky is darker, even though the exposure of the buildings is constant between the two frames.
What has your experience been with light-pollution filters? Have you always been curious about them as well? I welcome your comments, below.
I would love to see comparisons with the clip in filters from STC Optics and Optolong.
I would love to do that review as well! I have been thinking of getting narrow-band STC filters for some nebula photos with my Fujifilm...but have not pulled the trigger yet!
I was going to get the NISI filter, but after seeing this test, the ICE filter, for 1/5 the price does just about as well. For the subtle impact, the ICE filter makes a lot more sense to me.
While the NiSi filter does have nice performance, if you are on a budget, the ICE filter's performance is impressive, and is very much worth considering.
Good series of tests! Wish it was available when I bought my Haidas. As your results illustrate, the effect is subtle. Next stop for me will be either a CLS or UHC clip-in filter. Too bad B&H doesn't offer those. I shoot DSOs from the suburbs.
Sorry about the timing, Norman! Actually, a few new filters hit the market right after I wrote this!
I recently got the NiSi filter (before reading this review) and have been happy with the results. After reading this, and seeing the comparisons to other filters, I'm even more happy that I got the NiSi filter.
I may or may not have purchased on as well...after the tests. :)
I am glad you are enjoying yours!
Thanks for stopping by!