Lee Filters 0.9 hard-edge grad ND: first impressions
Working primarily as a sports photographer, I’ve had little use for any filters beyond a Circular Polariser and UV filters for protection. Neutral Density (ND) filters have always been low on the shopping list, but having recently become more interested in landscape and architectural photography I decided to purchase a LEE Filters foundation kit and 0.9 (3-stop) hard-edge grad ND filter. I did some research and shopped around, and found a very good deal from MediaVision in Gladesville, NSW, which was roughly the same price I would have paid from an American supplier pre-shipping.
At first glance the MediaVision website can only be described as horrible, but don’t let that put you off. It turns out the LEE Filters can’t be bought directly from the website, so you need to call or email to organise the sale which is a much easier process. My email was answered by a fellow called Geoff, who was more than helpful and the next day I picked up my new kit. I also put my name on the Big Stopper (10-stop filter) waiting list, so keep an eye out for that review soon!
First impressions of the system are that it is all very well made, with the 77mm wide-angle adapter ring screwing onto the lens’ filter threads easily, and the filter holder clipping onto the ring smoothly but firmly. I went with the 77mm wide-angle ring as I would like it to work across all my lenses, including my 17-40mm. The wide-angle ring will work on any lens, but positions the filter holder as far back as possible to reduce vignetting on wide-angle lenses. My first shots with it have shown what appears to be a little vignetting at 17mm, however I haven’t done side-by-side shots yet so I may be imagining that.
I decided on the 0.9 (3-stop) hard-edge grad ND as I felt it to be a decent reduction in light that should cover most situations. At about $120 per filter I wasn’t keen on buying all four hard-edge filters! The 0.9 looked to be a good middle-ground choice so I went with that.
I took the system down to one of my favourite shooting spots in Sydney Harbour for a little test run. I took a few shots that night and have included two of my favourites below. The 0.9 turned out to be just right; it just so happened another photographer was at this location with the 0.6 and they were having trouble with it being a little too mild.
I’ll write an in-depth review in the near future once I’ve had a chance to work with them more, but so far I’m very happy with the results!