In the world of acting it’s often said the best performances are ones in which the viewers are so drawn into the story they forget they are watching actors. The same can be said for filters. Just as there’s often a very fine line between a spot-on film or stage performance and a vanity act, a good set of filters in the right hands can produce photographs that seduce the eye without the viewer even realizing it.
The beauty of the Hitech Filter System is that, when used individually or in combination with one another (when applicable), the filters enable you to charm the viewer by controlling a variety of tonal qualities that together enhance the visual impact of the imagery regardless of how well the existing imagery stands on its own. For reasons of optical purity and neutrally colored light transmission, Hitech uses optically clear CR-39 resin for most of their filters, while some of the circular filters are constructed with Schott Superwite glass mounted in anodized aluminum filter rings.
In addition to a broad selection of color correction, neutral density, graduated and related special-effects filters, Hitech also offers a variety of filter holders, ranging from Cokin P-sized 85mm-wide to their largest, the Lucroit holder, which measures 165mm in width. These holders are designed for use with ultra wide, wide, normal and telephoto lenses from every major manufacturer. Regardless of whether you’re shooting stills, video, or a combination of the two, the Hitech Filter System can be readily integrated into your workflow to enhance the visual impact of your imaging endeavors.
Hitech Warm2Cool Filters
Capturing faithful renditions of color, hue and color temperature of the scene you are photographing is a worthy goal for any serious photographer, videographer or cinematographer. But capturing and rendering the spirit of a scene often goes beyond toying with the camera’s white balance and exposure settings. For manipulating the color temperature of your images, Hitech’s Warm2Cool filters are an excellent choice. They look and work like Polarizing filters, but with an extra twist (figuratively and literally).
In addition to diminishing reflections and saturating color rendition, Hitech’s Warm2Cool filter allows you to warm or cool the color temperature of the scene by simply rotating the outer rotating filter flange until you achieve the degree of warming or cooling effect you desire. For photographing interiors, exteriors and landscapes, Hitech’s Warm2Cool filter can be an invaluable imaging-tweaking tool that takes up little space in your bag.
Consisting of 2 different polarizer foils sandwiched between two layers of optically neutral Schott Superwite glass, Hitech Warm2Cool filters are available 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm and 105mm thread sizes for still and video cameras.
Hitech Multistop Filters
Most neutral density filters are available in fixed full-stop, half-stop, two-third-stop and third-stop densities, which is fine as long as you don’t mind sorting and stacking filters in front of your lens while juggling the arithmetic in your head in order to capture the shot the way you previsualized it.
A sister filter to Hitech’s Warm 2 Cool filters, Hitech’s Multistop Neutral Density Filters feature a rotating outer ring that enables you to dial-in stepless degrees of neutral density by simply rotating the filter as you would a Polarizing filter, or in the case of variable ND fader filters, a pair of stacked Polarizing filters. In order to prevent vignetting when using wider-angle lenses, the outer filter/ring assembly is slightly wider than the inner filter/ring assembly. The outer filter ring has incremental markings around its circumference to aid in setting the degree of density that can be easily and readily repeated.
Because Hitech’s Multistop Neutral Density filters are composed of opposing circular Polarizing filters, they do not eliminate reflections or saturate colors the way single Polarizing filters do. They only act to decrease the volume of light reaching the camera’s imaging sensor or film.
Hitech’s Multistop Neutral Density filters feature an ND range of 0.3 to 1.8, which translates into a full six stops of stepless neutral density. There’s no need to stack filters, which can compromise the sharpness of your image files, and there's no need for a calculator. It’s all done with a single filter and a twist of the wrist.
Applications for Hitech Multistop Neutral Density filters include blurring the motion of pedestrians in street scenes and flowing water; selective focus control at wide apertures; decreasing effective ISO when shooting in bright light; and shutter-speed compensation for cine and video shooters.
To ensure optimal image quality, Hitech Multistop Neutral Density filters, which are available in 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm and 105mm thread sizes, are manufactured from a dyed-through CR-39 resin substrate, which is sandwiched between two layers of neutrally tinted Schott Superwite glass.
Depending on a number of variables, a certain degree of color shift or optical aberration may occur when Hitech Multistop Neutral Density filters are used beyond five stops of ND adjustment, which is not entirely uncommon when using excessively high percentages of ND filtration, regardless of the filter brand.
Hitech Multistop Neutral Density filters are also available as two-filter kits containing same-size Hitech Warm2Cool and Multistop Neutral Density filters. Hitech Multistop & Warm2Cool Filter Kits are available in 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm and 105mm thread sizes.
Hitech Reverse ND Graduated Filters
Unlike traditional graduated filters, in which the density levels gradually fade as you go from one side of the filter to the opposite side, Hitech Reverse ND Graduated filters are center weighted, meaning the center of the filter is the densest portion of the field and gradually fades to clear toward the edges.
Reverse ND filters come in handy when you're trying to capture evenly illuminated sunrise and sunset shots in which the brightness of the centered sun easily overcomes the dimmer light of the outer areas of the frame. Reverse ND filters can also be used for architectural photography in which bright light sources in the central portion of the frame overwhelm the darker borders of the outer portions of the frame, such as when an interior shot features a daylit window.
Hitech Reverse ND Graduated filters, which are made of color embedded (dyed-through) CR-39 optical-quality resin, are available in one, two and three-stop densities (0.3, 0.6 and 0.9) and in a choice of sizes (4 x 5”, 4 x 6”, 6 x 6.7” and Cokin P 85mm) to best meet your particular needs.
Unlike many ND grads, which are typically available in a choice of hard or soft edges, Hitech Reverse ND Graduated filters are only available in a single, medium-edge variant.
Hitech Prostop Range Filters
Sometimes one has to pull out all the stops in order to achieve maximum impact in one’s photographic efforts, and in the case of Hitech Prostop Range filters, you get a chance to pull six (1.8), seven (2.1), eight (2.4), nine (2.7) or ten (3.0) stops of light in order to make the image you envision.
Hitech Prostop Range filters, which are made of dyed-through CR-39 optical substrate and available in 4 x 4” and 6.5 x 6.5” sizes, are designed for occasions in which you need to reduce the amount of light striking your camera’s imaging sensor (or film) regardless of how bright the light may be. Whether photographing portraits, fashion or beauty at f/1.4 under a bright midday sun is the order of the day, or if your goal is to blur pedestrian or vehicular traffic under equally bright light for editorial or architectural photography, Hitech Prostop Range filters can be indispensible.
Hitech Prostop Range filters are designed to be used with your choice of appropriately sized Hitech or Lee filter holders. To prevent unwanted stray light from spilling through the gap between the filter and holder, each Prostop filter is fitted with a foam gasket perimeter, which creates a seal between the filter holder and lens.
Depending on the brand of filters and any number of variables that can affect the color rendition of images captured during long exposures through heavy density ND filters, many photographs captured in this manner display a red bias, which can be difficult to neutralize post-capture. To counter this problem, Hitech Prostop Range filters have a slightly blue tint, which is easier to neutralize in post production if necessary.
Hitech / Lucroit Wide-Angle Filter Holder
There is a growing number of ultra-wide prime and zoom optics that, due to the form factor of their respective front lens elements, cannot be used with conventional filters. Among these fishbowl-like lenses are the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF, Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM (and its predecessor, the EF 14mm f/2.8L USM), Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Ultra-Wide zoom and 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG ASP HSM II, the Olympus 7-14mm f/4.0 Zuiko ED, Tokina’s ATX 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX and most, if not all of, the third-party 14mm ultra-wide optics designed to fit most popular DSLRs.
A workaround for this problem is the Hitech Lucroit 2-Slot Wide-Angle Filter Holder. Designed to accept both 6.5 x 6.5” standard filters and 6.5 x 8” graduated filters, Hitech’s Lucroit wide-angle filter holder is held in place on the front of the lens by a bayonet mount and a rubber retaining ring. Unlike wide-angle filter holders from other manufacturers, the Hitech Lucroit 2-Slot Wide-Angle Filter Holder will not create vignetting in the corners of your image when used with any of the abovementioned ultra-wide primes and zooms. An adapter ring specifically designed for use with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF is included with each Lucroit filter holder.
The Hitech Lucroit 2-Slot Wide-Angle Filter Holder can also be used with ultra-wide optics that have 72mm, 77mm and 82mm filter threads via optional adapters, which further expands the usefulness and practicality of the Lucroit filter holder.
Hitech Modular Holder and Glass Filters
Manufactured from tough but lightweight nylon materials, and compatible with the same adapter rings as Hitech’s widely used MK4 filter holder system, Hitech’s Modular Filter Holder is about as flexible as filter holders come. Designed for use with Hitech’s extensive line of 100mm (4mm thick) filters, the Hitech Modular Filter Holder allows you the choice of using one, two or three filter slots for use with 4 x 4” filters. Included with each Hitech Modular Filter Holder is all the necessary hardware to add up to three filter slots and spacers for using 4 x 4” filters. The holder comes pre-assembled, and optional spacers and hardware are available for adapting 4 x 5.65” and 4 x 6” filters (4mm thick) for use with the holder.
To complement Hitech’s versatile filter holders, Hitech has introduced a new line of filters that will greatly enhance the work of wedding and portrait photographers. Made from the finest quality, neutral-toned Schott Superwite glass, the new filter line includes the Hitech Soft Center filter (100mm x 100mm). This portrait filter features center-weighted diffusion that goes from grade 3 to grade 1 in a smooth, graduated fade toward the edges to soften skin tones in head-and-shoulder portraits while holding detail in the frame's perimeter. The Hitech Soft Center filter was designed by Hitech for a former President of the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers).
A filter that’s found a niche in the TV production industry (it’s been used on the set of the TV series House) is the Hitech Soft Clear filter. Available in three densities (#1, #2, #3), the Hitech Soft Clear filter is noted for its ability to gently diffuse the image without adding any trace of color warming or cooling.
For the times you wish to soften the image while adding a dash of warmth, we suggest the Hitech Soft Gold filter (100 x 100mm), which is available in three strengths (#1, #2, #3) and does a subtle job of achieving both goals with little, if any, reduction in overall contrast levels. For even subtler levels of warming and softening effects, we recommend Hitech’s Ultra Soft Gold filters, which are also available in a choice of three strengths (#1, #2, #3) and combine the key attributes of Hitech Soft Clear filters and Hitech Soft Gold filters.
For taking the edge off portraits in the most subtle manner, Hitech offers a choice of two filter options: the Hitech Fine Soft White filter and Hitech Fine Soft Bronze filter, which as their names imply, add extra-soft touches of image diffusion in a choice of neutral or warm tonality, respectively.
I've been using grad filters and others as mentioned in this article for years while shooting video. It has always been a task to find things like grads for still cameras, with Cokin being the only choice I've found. Now with DSLR's being used for film style shoots it is great to see more filters coming to market.