Grad Filter Upgrade

For a while I’ve been using the Cokin P system with a set of Kood neutral grad filters, though with the full frame cameras I’ve run into a couple of issues

  • It vignettes even with the Cokin wide angle holder
  • The Kood filters are NOT neutral
Cokin P Wide angle filter holder vignette on 17-40mm @ 17mm

Cokin P Wide angle filter holder vignette on 17-40mm @ 17mm, and the ‘blue’ sky was flat grey… (unedited)

However like many, a quick look online at the price of a Lee system left me scurrying back to the Cokin/Kood combo, and remembering the Kood grads, Cokin P holder etc all cost me less than the Lee filter holder.

This sunset evening though was the day that sealed the Cokin/Kood fate, I’d put up with the vignette for a while, but shooting the 15mm fish back to back with the 17-40mm, just smacked you in the face with how bad the colours were with the Kood filters, and no amount of time in Lightroom, well OK, no amount of time I’m prepared to spend anyway would fix it.

So after some careful eBay hunting, I picked up a Lee 77mm UWA lens ring & foundation holder, and a few Lee grads to get the kit going. I also picked up a Hitech reverse grad which sounded rather useful for sunrises/sunsets.

So all this neatly fixed the vignette issue, OK nit picks can see a little vignette at 24mm but nothing that needs a crop anymore, and more importantly, a much more neutral grad giving a much truer colour rendition.

Canon 17-40mm @ 17mm with Lee 0.6 Hard Grad (unedited)

Canon 17-40mm @ 17mm with Lee 0.6 Hard Grad (unedited)

On the 17-40mm there’s not even any tell tale vignette at 17mm, in fact the only reason I can swear I took this with the grad is this was on one of the group walks I did with a dozen other togs, which means there’s photographic evidence.

All in all I spent nearly £200 (used) on the holders & 3 filters (0.6 Hard/Soft/Reverse) which is 4x the cost of the Cokin/Kood setup, but the improvements are definitely worth the outlay, both for the fact I can shoot my wide lenses wide, and for the much improved results over the Kood kit, which means I can use them more regularly, which in turn equals less time at the computer fiddling around in Lightroom, which great as the LR grads are, I’d rather get it right, or close to right in the field, than bugger about for an hour when I’m home editing a few files trying to work out which one you can edit the best.

I decided against the standard Hi-tech kit for a few too many murmurs of colour casts on their standard kits, and I just wanted to do this once, so I went for the Lees. That said, I now know one someone shooting with 84dot5 filters and he’s seen no cast (and he’s pickier than I), and they’re half the price of the Lee, so I may be tempted just to fill out some of the lesser used filters with a few of those. I’m still baulking at the price of the Lee circular polariser though, as it’s basically another £200 once you’ve added the required holder.

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