Last weekend I finally took my newly ordered Lee Filters SW150 mark II filter holder along with a big stopper out on a test.
My Nikon 14-24mm is my favourite lens for a variety of purposes – the clarity on the lens at even the outer edges at its wide 14mm end, along with the consistency in the shots when taking timelapses and the fact that you can also use this lens on a modern 4/3rd frame video camera make this an all-round good purchase. The only thing missing was the ability to use filters… until now.
Lee filters have responded to the market by producing the SW150 mark II filter holder with an adapter ring for the 14-24. I won’t be going into this product so much as there are plenty of other reviews out there. All I will say is that the holder itself has a very sleek design and fits onto the camera nicely. The ring means it’s harder to put the lens cap on the lens, but that’s what tape is for.
My main question is: how does a big stopper work on the 14-24mm lens? Some people have wondered – why would you WANT a lens for the 14-24, but it’s quite easy to understand the benefit of being able to use a big stopper when taking landscape shots – especially if you’re somewhere coastal or with waterfalls. I’d also be interested in trying graduated filters for timelapses on the lens but that’s for some other time.
On the first day I took it out to one of my favourite places within close distance to see waterfalls – the Pontneddfechan waterfall centre in Wales. I was hoping to go for the autumnal feel with the sun hitting the leaves – so ideally a 30 second exposure in fairly bright light. I know that’s a lot to ask for.
My first image was fine, but this was probably because the sun was facing the wrong direction, but after when it was out, even with my back facing it, there was really bad lens flare across the centre of the lens (almost halfway down). And I had this problem with flare again and again, even when it wasn’t very bright – with the flare always being in the same spot. Maybe there’s a particular place on the filter holder prone to light leaking in, and it’s also really deceptive to even tell if it’s there when you’re shooting against a dark background because the bright daylight might make you miss the purple lines across the image when looking at your camera screen.
I was a little bit disappointed by this at first – one of my favourite filters was still not quite useable on the lens. The next day I decided to push on with the lens and took it somewhere local to test the flare again. I immediately got quite a lot of flare straight off, and then took two more test shots as a narrower angle. Sure enough, the more you zoomed in the less flare you got. Which is a solution, to some extent, but also slightly defeats the point of having a 14mm lens.
My final shot I took without any direct sunlight with the clouds having closed in and I didn’t really get any flare at the 14mm end.
After this test I would probably approach the filter with caution when using it, and always thoroughly check my image for any purple lines across the image. I still have uses for the both the filter holder and the big stopper, and it’s certainly an option at dull light. But if you’ve got direct sunlight, using the filter at the widest end at a 30 second exposure might be pushing it. No solution exists yet for the use of this beautiful lens for that yet, as far as I’m aware.