My Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra filters review.
So why research filters? Glass is glass right?
Well hell no it's not.
So picture this... you are standing there with your camera, lens, tripod, filters and filter holder all costing anywhere from €1,000 to €10,000 for most of us and this little sliver of glass you purchased for €80.- to €190.- or so has a huge input into your image...
Now just stop and think about that for a second. Yes I mean REALLY think about that..... is this the product you want to be cutting corners on?
Why I believe you should be spending the money on great filters.
Just a few quick things before we get started.
I also have a Review on the new Firecrest Pro range of filters here.
For the sake of transparency, I should add I do receive a slight commission from Formatt Hitech for any sales made with the 10% discount code HAYES10 but you save 10% so it's all positive. Ok, so yes as a Firecrest brand ambassador and featured artist some will say my review will be tainted but I was already using their products anyway and purchased them with my own hard-earned money before becoming an ambassador.
My name and reputation are also worth a lot more to me than anything a filter manufacturer can offer.
So if your looking for a company that wants to produce the best products possible and grow via photographers reviews then read on.
If not then also have a read as I explain why Formatt Hitech is so much more then just exceptionally passionate about their products. They might be a bit obsessed with them.
The best just got cheaper
I am delighted to be able to offer you 10% off all Formatt Hitech products with code HAYES10 , simply enter the discount code at checkout.
This is the best Promo or discount code available worldwide.
There are occasionally some amazing special offers which I post Here. So on top of top quality products you get a minimum of 10% off as well.
To subscribe to my mailing list to get the latest Formatt Hitech Firecrest special offers and discount codes as they happen click Here.
So I thought it was about time I had a serious in-depth look into the Firecrest Ultra range of filters and the results they have produced for me in comparison to their competition.
The Firecrest Ultra range of neutral density filters is supposedly second to none, firstly for their colour neutrality and secondly for their unique design.
I say supposedly second to none as for now we really don't know any of the facts.
So let's have a detailed look and make up our own minds.
Ok, on first inspection the neutrality is groundbreaking, I have tried shots both with and without filters on location and in the studio and can't see any difference at all. The normal Firecrest filters were exceptional but these Ultras seem to be another leap ahead again.
So is this colour neutrality worth the expense of changing to the Ultras?
Well no it's not, the standard Firecrest filter range was great anyway.
So I guess that's it then, what else can a filter possibly do for you?
We all know they are a serious investment and something you don't want to be purchasing too often. So they would need to be something special to loosen those purse strings.
So for me, I had to start all over again and impartially have a look at filters and the two concerns they raised for me.
1. Colour neutrality,
(let's just go ahead and tick that box).
The length of time we expect our filters to last. Something I am always aware of as let's face it they aren't cheap.
3. Yes, I said two concerns there wasn't supposed to be a 3rd concern but then I did my research. Wasn't expecting this one at all it's something I never really thought about.
I can imagine most of you are probably sitting forward in your seats now and saying what the hell is he on about? Now it's just a sheet of glass, glass is flat end of story.
Well, I can tell you I was nearly thinking the same but then I went and educated myself a little.
After a discussion with the ever-helpful technical department over at Formatt Hitech, I can tell you this information on how they produce the Ultra filters...
The hyper neutral filter coating is sandwiched between two plates of bonded glass making the coating impossible to scratch, unlike other manufacturers where the coating is applied to the outside of the glass making it easy to scratch. Well, that's a great design feature for someone like me that works a lot by the coast with sand, sea spray and the odd bit of seaweed flying at me on a daily basis.
The crazy unexpected added bonus of these processes is as the filters are manufactured of two sheets of bonded glass they are more resilient to impact than their competitors. So harder to scratch and more resilient now that already had my wallet open but there is more.
I have to say they really went above and beyond with this final part of the process.
As a photographer I love to be in control of my equipment and treat every single piece of my equipment with both love and hate, we all know the more equipment you have in your exposure the greater the probability of imperfections in your final image.
As I said earlier... we stand there with our camera, lens, tripod, filters and filter holder all costing anywhere from €1,000 to €10,000 for most of us and this little sliver of glass you purchased for €80.- to €190.- or so has a huge input into your image...
Now stop and think about that for a second. Yes I mean REALLY think about that..... Is this really the part you want to be saving money on?
Remember when you purchased your camera and weighed up the pro's and con's of that specific model the minute details we looked into, the model's spec's and if the next step up was worth the €300 or €1,000 premium.
I won't even mention the lens we thought about and drooled over for weeks or months until we finally purchased the one we wanted.
All of this purely because they were just that tiny little fraction better than the rest. Which is money always well spent in my mind. So why not look at filters in the same way?
The performance per pound on high-end equipment is a little disappointing when you compare the difference a good set of filters can make versus an ok set and the price difference involved.
Back to the process...
The final step in the ultra's manufacturing process is something that I struggled to come to terms with for a while if I am really honest with you. I seriously wondered what the hell is that all about.
Once the filters have been formed and by most manufacturers standards ready to ship, the perfectionists over at Formatt Hitech go ahead and run another process known as "lapping and polishing" which involves grinding down the filters to ensure they are completely optically flat.
Yes, you read that right they actually grind down the finished product to as close to optical perfection as possible and then they are polished again.
This process kills off any minute imperfections in the glass making them the sharpest filters and most optically perfect filters on the market today.
Ok, I have purchased and flirted with Cokin filters, Lee Filters the English filter company and Nisi from China but settled for the sheer passion of the Welsh company Formatt Hitech. I am incredibly passionate about my photography and yes I am by far and away not the best photographer in the world but I love what I do and the equipment I use.
This is the sort of attention to detail that I originally loved about the Firecrest filters and where I found kindred spirits.
As photographers, we crave control and try to encapsulate in a single photograph what has appeared in our mind as sort of a warped dream which we dragged kicking and screaming from the reality before us.
This is our passion, our dream and our everything. So for me finding a company that not only gets that but also pushes the boundaries forward helping us to realise these dreams is nothing short of amazing.
So a filter is a filter, right?
Same way as all cameras are the same, it's all just a gimmick.
Well, that's so very wrong, filters come in various shapes and sizes but also more importantly different qualities.
You get what you pay for, like with anything else in life it all comes down to the fact that quality matters.
Take the leap and let the "fire in" you will never look back.
If you interested in Seascape Photography then have a look at my blog post.
Alternatively, have a look at my Long Exposure Photography blog.
Don't forget the discount or promo code HAYES10 for 10% off all their products via their Website at checkout.
I have a blog post up on the Firecrest 100mm filter holder Here if you're interested.
See you out there,
Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra filter review
6th January 2020
Kieran Hayes Photography
Hello and welcome to my photography blog based on my experiences.