A few weeks after I published my ND Filter comparison test Lee Filters launched the Little Stopper ND 1.8 (6 stop) filter. Although I am extremely happy with my Haida filters I was curious how the Little Stopper compares to the previously reviewed filters. So I went out again to shoot some images with the following square ND filters:
The comparison images were taken in Heimbach (Eifel) with the Nikon D800E and the Nikkor PC-E 24mm 1:3.5 D ED. In order to reduce the dynamic range of the scene a Lee 0.9 ND soft graduated filter was used in all shots. The first comparison shows the shots with automatic white balance, as it was determined by the camera. The Haida has a slightly higher density than the 64x specified. Therefore a longer shutter speed was necessary to get a correctly exposed image.
Out of camera the Little Stopper leads to a slightly cooler image. The difference in color temperature is low but very noticeable though way smaller than the color shift of the Big Stopper. The Haida leads to a much more color neutral image directly out of camera. There is only a very slight difference in color to the reference image without ND Filter. The Formatt Hitech ProStop IRND is far behind the two other filters and leads to a significant color shift to green/blue.
Much more interesting than the comparison of images with automatic white balance is the review of the images after correction. I have manually corrected the white balance by using the eyedropper tool in Adobe Camera Raw and picked the front facing roof castle as an almost neutral grey area. After correction the images should all look the same as the light conditions have hardly changed between the shots. Each color deviation from the reference image is due to the gray filter.
After WB correction the Lee Little Stopper delivers a very color neutral result that practically does not differ from the reference image without filter. However, color temperature had to be increased by 1000 K. The Haida provides an equally perfect results compared to the reference image. With this filter only a very slight adjustment of the color temperature and tint is required to obtain a perfect result. Completely cut off is the image taken with the Formatt Hitech Prostop IRND. Even after a strong correction of white balance and tint a reddish-brown color cast remains in the picture. This can be clearly seen in the area of the water in the foreground and the shadow areas in the right and left of the scene.
The Lee Little Stopper is a neutral density filter that allows very accurate and true color images after correcting the white balance. Many landscape photographers have been waiting many years for Lee to launch this filter. And Lee hasn’t disappointed. With the Little Stopper Lee Filters keeps its reputation to be one of the best high quality filter producers.
I would not recommend the Formatt Hitech ProStop IRND 1.8 Resin Filter. This filter is not capable to deliver accurate and color neutral images. To obtain almost acceptable results with the Formatt Hitech, intensive and time consuming tweaks in the color channels are necessary.
Considering the price, my Haida ND 1.8 glass filter remains to be the favorite 6 stop filter out of the three tested filters. With the Haida your colors are almost spot on out of camera and after some minor WB correction this filter delivers most accurate results and best value for your hard earned money.
If you would like to review the original images please download the *.NEF files here (173MB): Download