NiSi Versus Lucroit / Formatt-Hitech for the Canon 14mm f/2.8 L II

nisi q150 29 400x266 - NiSi Versus Lucroit / Formatt-Hitech for the Canon 14mm f/2.8 L II

The choice of a filter system for Canon 14 mm f2.8 L II is not an easy task, few alternatives exist and compatible quality glass filters are even more rare. Having spent hours last year searching forums and reviews i ended up choosing the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest, for me the best (almost !) neutral quality glass filter, and after several months of use i can say i’m very satisfied. However i have never really been seduced by the Lucroit holder that has a few flaws, but has the merit to exist.When i was presented with the opportunity to test Nisi filters i was intrigued, i had read some positive reviews on the internet, and their holders seemed well designed, but what were they worth compared with the Firecrest / Lucroit system ? Being looking for a second set of filters for my other lenses i jumped on the opportunity to compare the two brands.

So I had the pleasure of receiving a nice package on the part of Nisi for my 14mm, with the 150mm holder, as well as 150mm CPL HD and ND1000, and even a leather hard case and cleaning pads, it’s like Christmas time, thanks Nisi 😀

When I opened the packages my first impression was excellent: all the elements are presented carefully, each filter is packaged with silk paper and its individual leather case, classy ! The filter holder is all metal, very solid, and perfectly fits my 14mm. It is secured by 2 screws on the sides that tighten the collar encircling the objective, it’s simple but effective, and once installed it no longer moves and you can manipulate filters without worries. The body of the filter holder rotates easily to set the filters level, and it is possible to install up to 3 filters simultaneously, all without vignetting on the 14mm. Beautiful gear !

1 - NiSi Versus Lucroit / Formatt-Hitech for the Canon 14mm f/2.8 L II

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In the field the system is very easy to remove and set on the camera between shots, even in difficult conditions – say perched on a rock surrounding by waves for example 😉The back of the ND1000 is equipped with foam areas fitting the filter holder to prevent light leaks. I pushed my tests up to 2 min exposures under various conditions, and the system works very well. The filter slides in its slot smoothly and stays firmly in place, which is nice.

The CPL HD filter is thicker and takes more pressure to insert, but once in place it works perfectly, and the filter holder allows to easily adjust its inclination. However the back of the filter is not equipped with foam like the ND1000… and unfortunately light leaks are inevitable ! After some hiccups i was forced to use duct tape to fill the spaces, no more leaks but it is still tedious, too bad…

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I was immediately seduced by the results, the ND1000 is of excellent quality and my first shots confirmed that with no (or little) alteration of the colors – images are sometimes colder, but it is subtle, and frankly negligible to my taste. I have noticed no loss of sharpness, and the anti-glare treatment is very effective. CPL HD works perfectly and polarize as it should. The images are sometimes a little bit warmer, depending on light conditions, and i did not notice any loss of sharpness. The combination of the CPL HD and ND1000 on the 14mm produce spectacular images 😀The images below are examples with and without the Nisi CPL and ND1000 shot on 5Dmk3. Each image is composed of 3 shots taken at 8s, 30s, and 120s exposure, all other parameters are identical with and without filters. The images are then processed in Photomatix with the same settings, and then simply aligned in Photoshop, with no additional effects applied.

Nisi CPL & ND1000 (move the mouse over the photos to see the versions without filters) :

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Nisi ND1000 (move the mouse over the photos to see the versions without filters) :

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Nisi vs Formatt-Hitech Firecrest

 

Finally after a few weeks testing the two brands i can say that the Nisi is as good as the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest. Both are very close with (almost) no color cast or sharpness loss. I did some comparative tests with the two filters, and the resulting images are so similar that it is hard to tell which is which.
From the hardware point of view the two filters are resistant, but the Firecrest was scratched in the first month of use, apparently a problem caused by the transport case, however the filter still works correctly. After 2 months of use the Nisi is still intact, however areas of the back foam tend to delaminate over time.Nisi on the left, Firecrest on the right :

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Conclusion

 

Nisi and Formatt-Hitech both offer filters producing excellent images, but that differences are elsewhere:
The Formatt-Hitech filter is massive (165mm) and scratches more easily, but especially the Lucroit holder system is much more hard to use, it’s difficult to set and filters are hard to insert. The filter holder is certainly good quality plastic, but inspires less confidence.
The Nisi system is solid, much more convenient to use because it’s easy to set and remove, the filters fit smoothly, and the ND1000 foam is very effective.
In addition the two filters are for me of comparable quality, and the Nisi CPL, although imperfect, fills a lack of the Lucroit system which does not offer (for the moment) polarizing filters. It would be perfect if Nisi could add the same foam system on their CPL 😉
To sum it up i would say this : i took the two systems everywhere with me for several weeks, and i naturally ended up adopting the NISI system.
A big thanks for the review goes to the Author :Hdr Skies.

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