Light Craft Workshop ND 500 Review and Sample Photos
As an alternative to the Lee Big Stopper I was looking for a good ND filter that was of good quality and would give me similar results. The catch is I needed and ND filter that could fit on my Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II which has 82mm threads. The only one I could really find that didn't suck was the Lee Big Stopper, but everywhere I looked it was on back order and there was a lot of other equipment you need to buy to fit it onto your lens. After everything you end up spending somewhere around $300 bucks and waiting several months for the back order. So after a bit of research I discovered this ND.
Check Amazon for current prices Light Craft Workshop ND500 MC+H.R.C 82mm I payed about $100.
Reason why I like the Light Craft Workshop ND 500
After reading a lot of reviews about these heavy ND filters photographers were always having to frame up the shot, focus, then put the filter on and shoot. One really cool thing I immediately learned about this filter is you can actually see a little bit through it. Enough to frame a shot during the sunset hour and mid day. Probably not so much at night. I think the reason for this is it's only 9 stops compared to the Big Stopper which is 10 stops. Maybe this is why all the screw on filters are usually only 9 stops. Now don't go out buying this filter thinking, "Alik said you can see through it" and expecting miracles. It's not amazing, I have to put my eye right up to the eye piece and block out any other light with my hand, then let my eye adjust. I actually might just start wearing an eye patch with this filter so one eye is always adjusted to the dark. Just kidding.
I've heard of some people switching their camera into Live Mode and then cranking the ISO. This apparently works as well.
Another thing I really like is that it's just a screw on filter, it doesn't take up a ton of space in my bag and doesn't have any other parts to it. I'm actually really glad I didn't buy the Lee Big Stopper now. That thing just looks like a hassle.
ISO Shutter and Aperture in Mid Day
When shooting mid day at an ISO 100, I can usually get a 30 second shutter with an f-stop of 19 or 22. Usually 19 is fine but can be a little hot. I could see 10 stops from the Lee Big Stopper being slightly better because of this. With that extra stop of ND you could lower your f-stop a little bit while still maintaining a 30" second shutter. You could always go down to 15" if you like as well, but I really like 30. And I don't usually like shooting at a f19 or f22 either. I guess you could always screw on another 3 stop ND if you needed more. This would of course give you more vignetting and probably add additional color shift.
I haven't really noticed any bad color shifts. It seems to make the scene slightly more blue. Which is good and easy to correct. The biggest thing is the extra little vignetting you get while wearing this on your lens. It's not ugly and is feathered nicely which actually gives a decent effect. And I'm also shooting at 16mm with 82mm threads so that's to be expected. Plus I usually add a little vignette to my sunset photos anyway so I don't mind it.
I'll post more sample photos as I go and continue to update the Light Craft Workshop ND 500 Review as I go.