Formatt Hitech Firecrest Pro filter review.
I have an update to this blog post here https://www.landscapephotographyireland.com/firecrest-pro-filters
I received a sample set of Firecrest Pro filters from Formatt Hitech on Friday the 26th of October for the purposes of this review. I tried to get them earlier but the demand was just too high.
While I am a Firecrest brand ambassador for their products I treat every product with as much scrutiny as I always did.
As an official Formatt Hitech brand ambassador and Featured artist, I am delighted to be able to offer you this fantastic discount code. Just apply the code HAYES10 at checkout in the promo code box and get 10% off.
This is the best Promo or discount code available worldwide.
Unusually I am going to give you my conclusion before I even start this review.
If your considering buying these filters then just do it. It's as simple as that. Incredible value for money and they leave my old Lee and Nisi filters looking very bad indeed, they even make the older Firecrest filters look bad.
The Firecrest Pro range of filters has to be the best-kept photography secret in the world.
If you want to know exactly why and how I came to this conclusion or to see images taken with the filters and what's in the box with them then please read on or watch the short video below. The updated video will be released shortly.
Colour neutrality has always been a big issue when it comes to filters, well that and vignetting.
The two photographs below were shot only 8 seconds apart. It takes me that long to change settings and take off the filter.
With regard to colour neutrality, I think you will agree there is absolutely no difference between the two raw shots. One with a filter and one bare lens.
As regards vignetting the shot with the filter has actually less vignetting!!!
With regard to colour neutrality, these are every bit as good as the Ultra filters, they are without a doubt the best filters I have ever tested!!! Read my review of the Ultra Filters Here.
The below shot are straight out of the camera with no editing involved, they were taken with... Nikon D850, Nikkor 16-35mm F4 lens at 16mm & F11 ISO64 with a Firecrest Pro 10 stop Neutral Density Filter in the Firecrest filter holder at 30 seconds.
The below shot was Taken with... Nikon D850, Nikkor 16-35mm F4 lens at 16mm & F11 ISO64 at 1/30th of a second with no filter.
The above are not beautiful photographs and completely unedited with identical settings apart from the shutter speed.
There is no vignetting at all in the filter shot, in the non-filter shot there appears to be a very slight vignette.
When I said above go buy these filters I was incredibly serious.
Via the Formatt Hitech website this filter is only £98.99 which with postage comes to £103.99 but take your 10% discount via HAYES10 and it's only £94.09 delivered direct to your door.
That's incredible value for money.
So back to the filters.
They are not only groundbreaking but sharp as a tack also, with no colour cast.
So on first inspection, the filters come with a really nice filter case which seems to have a plastic sub-structure to it making it very rigid and ideal for busy camera bags, during my review I was very rough with the filters while they were in the case and they comfortably put up with a lot of abuse.
The case has a nice magnetic catch on it and a soft suede effect inside lining which will help protect your precious filters.
They also provide an exposure chart and a filter cleaning cloth with each filter. Now that is a really nice touch.
The below shot was captured with a 6 stop pro filter and a 3 stop graduated filter, it was shot in Raw on a Nikon D850 with a 16-35mm F4 lens at 16mm. This is the unedited shot.
This shot was never intended to be posted anywhere I just took it while trying out the filters but the results speak for themselves.
Below is the processed shot. Which needed a few tiny little tweaks in Lightroom to bring it back to the way I saw it.
Now I have to say I am not sure which version I prefer more. Considering this was shot in Raw and unedited is staggering.
Even looking at the sharpness and detail in the shot, it's just incredible.
So getting back to the filters and how did I get on?
Well on first inspection I actually couldn't tell the difference between the Standard Firecrest filters and the pro range. Which was a little disturbing.
These are sample filters, the production models will include their name "Pro" etched on the glass as the Ultras have.
Holding both filters up to the light you could see the Pro's were incredibly colour neutral and were a step ahead of the Firecrest standard filters in that regard.
So using them on the camera, was like any other filter they worked and I clearly couldn't see anything different.
It was only when I returned home from the none eventful sunset that I spotted the difference.
So are they better than the standard Firecrest filters?
Yes, clearly sharper and more colour neutral.
How do they compare with the Ultras?
That is the real question and something I am going to take a few days to look at. Knowing Formatt Hitech the Ultras are possibly slightly better though.
Before you buy any Formatt Hitech filters you really should read this.
The cheapest place to buy any Firecrest filters, kits or holders is directly off Formatt Hitech's official website and using the discount code HAYES10 at checkout you get an instant 10% discount off everything they sell.
Check Amazon and eBay they are both a lot dearer!!!
For example, let's take the Firecrest 100mm filter holder.
Amazon is £166.05 + £9.99 postage total £176.04
eBay are currently £165.00 + £12.00 postage total £177.00
Formatt Hitech website price with my discount code £146.22 including postage.
So go direct, use my voucher code and save almost £30.-
That's just about 20% cheaper than Amazon and eBay.
To see today's best Formatt Hitech special offers or discount codes please click Here.
I will be comparing the new Firecrest Pro filters to the Firecrest Ultra filters and also the now old "standard Firecrest" range of filters.
Really curious to see the difference between the different ranges.
Every filter I have in my bags was bought with my own hard-earned money, so I know any bit you can save on buying new filters really helps.
Firecrest Pro filters spec's and how they are different from the Ultra filters.
So the main difference between the Firecrest Ultra's and the Firecrest pro filters is the final stage of production where they lap or polish the filters.
This is explained fully further down in the official press release.
This basically means there is no tolerance for imperfections with the Ultras.
The Pro filters will be as completely colour neutral as the Ultra filters, now that really is excellent news.
The Pro filters have a new addition though...
The edging of the filters is also coated.
This means on graduated filters there is no possibility of light leaking in from the sides of the glass.
What Formatt Hitech have said so far about the new pro range.
The Firecrest Pro builds on the history and success of the Firecrest Brand.
Our filters are manufactured using a rare earth metal coating, which is applied directly onto the glass using our advanced multi-coating technology. This is then bonded between further layers of the finest Schott Superwhite optical glass to provide industry-leading scratch resistance and longevity.
For complete light leakage protection, a component on blackout edging is applied to completely alleviate the risk of light leak that can occur through unprotected filter edges.
The Firecrest Pro 2mm range is available in 100x100mm 2mm Standard NDs and 100x150mm 2mm Graduated NDs.
A Short History of Firecrest
Firecrest were the first photographic filters to use multiple layers to achieve neutral coatings, bringing unprecedented neutrality to the market. To ensure the filters were as durable as possible, they bonded the coating in the centre of two pieces of optical grade polished glass (using a very precise amount of an equally neutral bonding agent, developed in their own laboratories.) This process gave the filters two vital areas of protection:
The critical part of the filter, the Neutral Density coating was shielded from wear and tear, instead of a coated filter where one piece of glass is coated on the outside and protected with an anti-scratch treatment. No matter how good the anti-scratch coating, it’s not as tough as glass.
They have more structural strength than a single piece of glass.
That’s not to say that coated filters don’t have their place in the market. They are considerably cheaper to produce and so can give similar optical results as bonded filters for, in theory, a much smaller price; the only sacrifice being durability.
So what is ‘Ultra’ about Firecrest Ultra?
At the same time as they launched Firecrest 2mm to the photographic market, they also launched Firecrest 4mm for the cinema and broadcast market. They were similar in construction to Firecrest 2mm, however, had a second polishing phase, crucial to the needs of motion pictures.
After bonding and polishing, these filters undergo an additional process referred to as “lapping and polishing”. This involves grinding the filters to ensure they are perfectly flat, and then highly polishing the outside to ensure complete clarity. This is essential for video capture as any minute waves or imperfections in the glass, would manifest as a ripple in the image when the cameras are panning (an exaggerated version of this effect can be seen when looking through very old windows.)
Formatt-Hitech have now improved the Firecrest range so that the new Firecrest Ultra filters undergo this same process. As a result, Firecrest Ultra filters were the first bonded, then lapped and polished filters available in the photographic market. They have a lower reflectivity than earlier filters with the clarity and sharpness, even at longer focal lengths; unprecedented in photo filters, whilst still delivering the neutrality that made Firecrest so popular in the first instance.
The Firecrest Ultra product was already profiled last year, in a limited way, as their ‘Eclipse’ filter range. The quality and clarity helped them to outsell all other filters in the marketplace for the full solar eclipse in North America last year. These filters were made in the highest densities ever seen in the photographic market – up to 24 stops – and these high densities are being retained in the Firecrest Ultra range, for use as extreme long exposure filters.
The Firecrest Pro Filters builds on the history and success of the Firecrest brand. The filters are manufactured using a rare earth metal coating which is applied directly onto the polished glass using their advanced multi coating technology. This is then bonded between further layers of the finest Schott Superwhite optical glass to provide industry leading scratch resistance and longevity.
Furthermore, for complete light protection, a component of blackout edging is added to assist in alleviating the risk of light leak that can occur through unprotected filter edges.
Kieran Hayes Photography
Formatt Hitech Firecrest pro filter review
A complete review of the Formatt Hitech Firecrest pro filters and why I think they are the photography industries best-kept secret.
6th of February 2020
Kieran Hayes Photography
Hello and welcome to my photography blog based on my experiences.