(Disclaimer: I’m not related to 84.5mm, this review is not sponsored and I bought the filters with my own money)
Continuing my series of reviews today I present my thoughts about a reverse graduated filter manufactured by 84.5mm in Slovakia. Their filters have great quality at an accessible price, but first some basic data:
- What is a Reverse Graduated ND Square Filter? Is a filter that can be made of glass or resin with a half part totally clear and the other half darkened, this dark half usually is darker in the top and less dark in the end of its half, but in a reversed filter the darker part is at the bottom. It’s square so it needs a holder to put in front of the lens; ND stands for neutral density so it shouldn’t deform the colors of your scene. In short it’s like put a shadow in part of the front of your lens.
- Do I need a Reverse Graduated ND Filter? If you shot landscapes, sunsets, sunrises… yes! Because the camera cannot see what your eyes can see in terms of highlights and shadows. If your camera is old then absolutely, but if you have a camera manufactured in 2014 or 2015 with a big sensor then not so much, you can simulate more or less successfully the effect with any modern raw converter.
- Which one to buy? The cheapest you get is probably to be unusable for you. The cheapest ones have magenta casts. There are brands like Lee that sells them but they are expensive to my budget so I canont say much about them, the only problem with the most of companies that make them is that they are mostly made of resin and they always get scratches. I can say that 84.5mm’s filters are of quite good quality with a great price but they’re also made of resin (optical glass) and recently Chinese companies have real glass reverse graduated filters that I want to try next to reduce the costs to be buying one new every year.
- Why you don’t use a soft or strong graduated ND filter? I can use my reverse filter to replace those filters, I’ll explain it with more detail.
The filter in the camera
THE 84.5mm REVERSE GRADUATED FILTER IS IDEAL FOR ME TO
SUNSETS AND SUNRISES
I don’t use soft or hard graduated filters because they are darker in the upper part, and the sun never is going to be in the upper part in sunsets and sunrises.
Also I prefer to use graduated filters over digital techniques like HDR because in that part of the day usually there is wind or movement. And it feels more honest, of course every photograph here was shot in RAW and processed, but with the goal to get a photograph closer to what my eyes saw.
TO BE CREATIVE
If you use this filter just to avoid clipped highlights then you’re using it just mechanically, you are not exploding the creative opportunities this filter opens for you. You can add drama shadowing parts of the scene, highlighting other parts. It can helps you not just to reproduce an scene but to say what you want to mean.
I CAN USE IT AS A SOFT FILTER
What happens when you use a reverse grad on a landscape that is not flat? usually something unnatural like this:
For comparison this is the same lanscape without the filter. More natural… but now the clouds are overblown. In this case you need a graudated soft filter:
The trick is quite simple: buy a reverse graduated filter whose dark part is bigger than the diameter of your lens so you can invert the filter and align the middle (the darkest part) with the top of your lens and the top (the less dark part) with the bottom. Then it would be similar to another filter called attenuator. That way I make photographs in landscapes with hills.
THIS FILTER (OR ANY SIMILAR) IS NOT FANTASTIC FOR
QUITE IRREGULAR SHAPES
A shape in “V” is quite complicated to resolve with graduated filters. Perhaps HDR could be useful but that’s another complication I don’t want to introduce into my shots.
WIDE ANGLE LENSES
In wide angle lenses the line of these filters is more noticeable, a way to reduce it is reducing the aperture to f8 for example. Here I admit that a soft gnd would be ideal,
but I can live without it (2019 update: I ended getting a soft gnd from 84.5mm hehe, they are useful /n\).
- High quality filter with no color casts.
- Very affordable prices with regular promotions.
- They send worldwide (I live in Peru)
- Several lines for cokin P size and professional size.
- Resistance to flares.
- Durable considering the material.
- They’re made of resin, durable but they scratch anyway. These days Chinese have lines in high quality glass.
- They don’t sell a box to storage them, in their package they scratch with the time and to the size I choose, taller than the square Cokin P filters but with 84.5mm of width hence the name, there is no box were to reduce the damage.
They are the best alternative in relation quality/price I got. So I bought one the last year and another one this year. But this is a hobby to me so I cannot justify to buy every year again and again, in my personal case I’m going to buy a Chinese one, a bit pricier but not so much. If you are used to resin filters I can recommend warmly these filters for you.
*UPDATE: You can see the official page of 84.5mm with the e-shop here.