The 10-Stop ND filter is one of the favorite filters of most landscape and urban photographers, as it extends the exposure time and makes possible achieving different results. The filter market is growing and NiSi is quite popular these days. So I decided to test NiSi 10-Stop ND filter with V5 holder system to see if it is a good option.
NiSi has recently updated its 100mm V5 filter holder System with the new V5 Pro System, with an improved filter holder and a new circular polarizer. While there aren’t any significant improvements on the material and the design overall, with the new filter holder, it is easier to attach/detach the integrated circular polarizer and it is also easier to put on the filters with less effort. With all these improvements, NiSi discontinued its V5 System, for going on with the V5 Pro in the filter market. Despite these changes on the holder system, Nisi continues to sell the same glass square filters.
First of all, this filter is made of real glass just like the rest of NiSi filters. If you’ve ever used resin filters, you might probably know the importance of the material when it comes to image quality, and ease of cleaning. Also, glass filters are scratch resistant in comparison to resin filters. At this point, NiSi raises the level with the Nano coating on both sides of the filter, which makes the glass water repellant as well. The filter has a subtle purple tone on both sides, which is visible under powerful light source. On one side of the filter, a foam padding frame is installed and while it holds the filter steady in the filter holder, it prevents light leaks between the lens and the filter. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to test its durability, as you will guess, it is glass and it is fragile. Besides, all NiSi filters come with leather envelope-shape protective leather case straight out of the package, but if you buy the any of the kits, you will get a free hard case, which is a better solution for protection.
For testing the image quality, I used the filter under different light conditions; with and without the NiSi circular polarizer, attached to the Nikon 16-35mm F/4G ED VR lens on Nikon D810. I mostly tried to shoot at the widest focal length of my lens, as is known, 16mm is the critical focal length that most screw-on filters start causing vignette over the image. Luckily, square filters are large enough to cover the lens and I didn’t see that usual dark vignette due to filter use. The overall sharpness was reduced slightly because of the extra glass on the lens, however, it was like a 5% loss, and it is barely noticeable even by a pixel peeper like me. Moving to the color tone, I experienced slight color cast over the image and there was a tint between magenta and red. Interestingly, this color casting problem didn’t occur on all images that I took in different locations. But, I made another test at home under a stable light source, and unfortunately, the image with the ND filter turned out to be slightly red and magenta.
Stacking With Other Filters
During my test, I added another filter, the NiSi 100x100mm Nano IR ND64 – 6 Stop ND to my filter holder and tested it during the sunset in St. Kilda Beach, Victoria. With one circular polarizer and two ND filters in total, my exposure time went up to 10 minutes. The raw image was relatively under-exposed in comparison to the single filter results, but thanks to the high dynamic range of D810, it wasn’t hard to fix in post-processing. Also, NiSi offers a better alternative such as 20-stop ND filter in their line-up, for those who do not like stacking filters.
Recently, NiSi launched the Exposure Calculator App for iPhone and Android devices, and it simply allows users to calculate the shutter time easily when using ND filters. I gave it a try during my test process, and quite frankly, it worked well. You can still calculate the shutter time manually or via another similar app when doing long exposures, but this app saves a great amount of time with the built-in timer.
What I Liked
- Durable glass material
- Nano coating
What I Didn’t Like
- Magenta and red color cast
- Expensive price
The filter market is getting crowded each day, and NiSi made a quick rise. This ND filter is really good with its material and the results are really sharp. I wish the color cast didn’t exist, but as we all know nothing is perfect. Other brands have similar issues as well, but considering the price point, users may expect more. For those, who don’t want to deal with fixing color cast, there are other alternatives to thick big glass filters, such as ultra-thin screw-on filters, but you will have to get different filters for different lenses in your bag. Having a complete square filter system may be still expensive for most photographers, but in the long run, considering the variety of your lenses, this investment might be better.
Have you ever used NiSi 10-stop ND filter? If not, which one is your favorite ND filter? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.