10-Stop ND Filters Compared – Tiffen apeX IR Cut ND, B+W 10-stop and LEE Big Stopper

As I have a few different 10-stop ND filters around I thought I’d do a quick direct side-by-side comparison of the three that I have.

These were all shot on the Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF14mm lens at f/22 ISO200, 30 second exposures.

All shots were taken one after the other as quickly as possible, so they were all taken within about 3 minutes of each other under a consistent light.  Certainly don’t look at these images as prime examples of great long-exposure landscape photography, they were a very quick and simple side-by-side set of test images!

This first set shows the RAW files simply exported from Lightroom with no correction.  In-camera I set the WB to Sunny Day so they could be compared more easily for colour between the three.

The first image is with the Tiffen apeX IR Cut 10-stop screw-in ND

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1

FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

The second image is with the B+W 10-Stop screw-in ND

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

 

The final image is with the LEE Big Stopper system filter.

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

It’s obvious that they all have a colour cast of some sort, the LEE is probably the most neutral, but does show a blue tint, the B+W is a definite magenta tint, and the Tiffen shows a significant green tint.  This isn’t surprising from the Tiffen though as it also blocks IR light (which is red!) and the filter has an apparent red coating.  It is something that Tiffen mention in the sales literature and state that it will need a red shift to get a natural colour balance.  The Tiffen documentation suggests the correct settings for shots taken from the Fujifilm camera RAW files in LR is WB 5400 and Tint +60.

These colour tints may seem like a bad thing, but literally a one-click operation in Lightroom will give all three filters a fairly neutral look, as you can see below.  This was literally just asking LR to auto-correct the WB but can always tweak that yourself if you like to your own taste.  In order, Tiffen – B+W – LEE.

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

 

What you will notice from these WB corrected images is quite a difference in the amount of light stopped by each filter.  Surprisingly, the LEE is the worst performing in this case, despite being the most expensive, with the Tiffen blocking the most light, which can be important especially if it is bright as this can allow for longer exposures.

I had to increase the exposure of the Tiffen image by 1.25 stops and the B+W image by 0.5 stops to equal the exposure of the image from the LEE filter.  That’s quite a significant difference and not something I expected to see as I only started out this comparison to see the differences in colour from each filter.

The final set of images are JPEGs straight from the X-T1 with the camera set to AutoWB.  Again, all shot with the XF14mm lens at f/22 ISO200, 30 second exposures and all shot within a couple of minutes.  Same order as before, Tiffen, B+W and LEE.

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

b+w,fuji,fujifilm,lake district,lee big stopper,long exposure,tiffen apex,windermere,x-t1FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/22, 30 sec, ISO200)

If you’re working with one ND filter and you want the correct white balance straight out of the camera then I would suggest that you figure out the white balance correction and create a custom white balance in-camera, which is pretty easy to do with the Fujifilm X-Series cameras and will result in corrected images straight from the camera.

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