A while ago, I received the Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter. Since that time, I’ve been using the filter for some landscape photography, for portraits, and during a wedding. In this article, I will share my thoughts.
The Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter was something I heard about, but I never knew what it was for, until I received a sample filter from Haida. It was time to dive into the world of such filters. It looked like an ordinary soft focus filter. But it’s not quite the same.
The filter is more than just a soft-focus filter. Although it will soften the image, the effect occurs mainly in the highlights. The contrast in the darkest parts of the image is preserved, hence its name, black mist.
At first glance, the filter looks like clear glass. But if you look up close, you’ll notice the diffuse texture with small black specks. These specks are responsible for preserving that contrast while making the highlights more diffuse.
These filters are mostly used for filmmaking, but they’ve become increasingly popular for photography as well. And that is what I’ve been using it for: some landscape photography, portraits, and a wedding.
Use It With Strong Highlights
The Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter works best with strong highlights. It creates a nice diffuse glow around the highlights. The stronger the highlights, the more obvious the effect becomes. The haze isn’t affecting the sharpness, though. Shooting wild orchids during sunset clearly showed the hazy effect, like there is a thin mist over the landscape.
If there are no highlights in the frame, the effect of the Black Mist becomes less obvious and you might want to remove the filter on those occasions. Unless the hazy effect is something you like, of course. In a way, the filter acts as a sort of live Orton Effect.
How Aperture Influences the Effect
I did a little test with the filter mounted onto a Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM with the Canon EOS R5. I took a couple of pictures of a candle, with and without filter, and an aperture of f/2.8. Besides the hazy effect, the bright flame is causing a ring-shaped flare when the filter is mounted, something that is absent when no filter is fitted onto the lens.
I was curious how the effect would change when stopping down the lens. Although the effect is still present at f/8 and f/11, the ring-shaped flare is gone.
The effect of the Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter is subtle. You need to compare it with a similar image without a filter to see the difference. At the moment the effect becomes obvious, the effect is too strong I think. If the image has a dreamy effect, without a clear reason for how it is achieved, the effect is at its best, I think.
My Thoughts About the Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 Filter
The Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter is giving the image a cinematic effect, spilling highlights around edges while reducing the overall contrast. At the same time, it preserves the darkest parts in the image, so the softening isn't affecting the whole image.
The effect works best when there are highlights in the frame or a light source just beyond the corner of the frame. I found the filter effect to be at its best when the light in the frame is allowed to creep around the edges. If there are just lights, like the photos of Ilke at the fair, the effect becomes a glowing soft-focus effect. The photos of Sanne in the meadow are under better circumstances for a black mist filter.
The wedding photos with the filter were shot with an overcast sky. There were no real highlighted areas, just dull, even light. The effect is subtle, and you wouldn’t know it is used. Still, if the filter was removed, the photos would be much sharper, as if these were shot in a harsh light situation.
I love the effect of the Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter. The effect is not too strong, although it may vary per situation. It works best with strong light sources in the frame. Only then will it form a mist-like area around the light source. Be careful when using the filter with a wide aperture. The ring-shaped flare may not be everyone's cup of tea. But I also noticed the absence of the flare when the light source is bigger.
What do you think of the effect of a Black Mist filter? Do you like it, or do you prefer a clean image, retaining all details and contrast? Please let me know in the comments below. You can purchase yours here: Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter.
I would like to thank Haida Filter for providing the Haida NanoPro Mist Black 1/4 filter.