Having Fun With an Insane 16-Stop ND Filter

When you think of ND filters, you probably think of 3-stop or 6-stop filters or maybe even a 10-stop if you really want to go extreme. But what about a 16-stop filter? This fun video shows what it's like working with such an insane filter. 

Coming to you from Anthony Morganti, this fun video follows him as he shoots with a Formatt Hitech 77mm Firecrest ND 4.8 filter, which reduces exposure by a crazy 16 stops. For those of you interested in the math, that's a factor of 2^16=65,536. In other words, a normal 1/200 s daytime exposure will become an astounding 328 s (5.5 minutes) with the filter attached. For reference, even a relatively extreme 10-stop ND filter would only turn that exposure into one just a smidgen longer than 5 seconds. Of course, with a piece of glass that is practically black attached, focusing is pretty much impossible, so it's best to pre-focus, then attach the filter. And furthermore, it's definitely overkill in a lot of situations, but that's half the fun of playing with it, and depending on the situation, you can create some truly unique images and turn just about any turbulent body of water or sky into silky smooth flows. Check out the video above to see what it's like using it. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I totally have to get one now.

Not gonna lie, I'm picking one up myself lol.

Doesn't seem to make sense? Stacking several 5 sec exposures with the 10D will produce the same result with less noise. When is it actually paramount to use this? Maybe video?

It would be paramount to use it if you want to get the shot in a single frame. The same applies for stuff like graduated ND filters... Not everyone is into compositing or exposure blending.

I don't see a situation where you would use a 15-stop filter for video because you don't really get long exposures for video (it's always repeated exposures at 1/24, 1/30, 1/60, etc.). Unless you're trying to film the sun, you're probably just going to end up with a black screen when shooting video with a 16-Stop ND.

I have two circular ND filters I that I stack for long exposure B&W shots. One is a Hoya Pro ND64 and the other is a 10 stop from SRB Photographic and combined they cost less than £100. Stacking gives me the exposure times I'm looking for to get the clouds streaking, usually around 4 minutes.

"This fun video shows what it's like working with such an insane filter."

Let me guess... The same way you do with a 10 stop filter or every other ND filter?!? (compose, focus, calculate exposure time, screw filter on, expose... Have fun while waiting)...

I have a Nisi 15 Stop filter. Haven't had the opportunity to use it yet. Was in the kit.

I don't see the point of using ND filters when you can just shoot Svema Super Positive ISO 0.8 film

Simple. Add the filter, count in reciprocity failure, and you can end up with insanely long shots (like over 24-hours) with lighting that can't really be replicated by any other means due to the movement of the sun through the sky in a single frame.

I had fun for a while with my 15-Stop ND filter, but then I realized that there's only so many practical uses for it and all of the images start to look the same after a while. There's nothing that will replicate what it does, but it's a pretty niche tool.


I remember stacking my 10-Stop on top of my 15-Stop one time. I regretted it around lunch time... LOL

You guys should check out the ICE brand on Amazon. I bought a kit that came with 16, 10, and 6 stop ND filters for like $80. Buy the biggest thread size, and then step up or down rings for your smaller lenses. No color cast whatsoever. I've been using their 10 stop for years.

I've been looking for a inexpensive ND filter that wasn't total crap. Thanks for the heads up!

https://t.ly/lDyJL For sale
10 Stop with Polarizer 77mm ND1000 QuartzLine Solid Neutral Density 3.0
$210. Unused (cost 249.99+tax & shipping) <i20871@verizon.net> type filter in subject line.
I have receipt.

Or you can just stack two 10 stop ND’s together