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Hitech Reverse ND Grad Filter Review

Hitech Reverse ND Grad Filter Review

This review was kindly offered to our magazine by our reader Danny Linton. You are more than welcome to add your own review in these pages, all you have to do is contact us.

Due to the success and feedback I have received on the review of the Hitech ND Grad’s, the lovely people at Hitech have sent me a Reverse Grad 0.9 to play with. I think it is only fair I write a review on this, as I know a lot of you will be considering if it's worth buying one or not?

What is a Reverse Grad?

Example of FilterSo, your kit bag is full of ND Grads and your Standard ND's but you're now seeing all these lovely sunset photos online popping up and people saying that they are using a reverse grad. What is a reverse grad I hear you SCREAM? Well it's simple, an ND Grad but in reverse.  Instead of the darkest part of the filter being at the top and the lightest being at the bottom of the grad, it's the opposite, you have the darkest part at the bottom of the grad (half way up) and the lightest part at the top.

Simple, yes?

With FilterWhat can you use this for then? Well, in short, anything you want, but what they are great at is anything that has highlights at the bottom of the grad (half way up the frame) that you want to control i.e. sunsets. When the sun is hitting the horizon, the sun is often over exposed on a standard ND grad as the lightest part is at the bottom of the frame, but when you are using a reverse grad you can control the highlights of the sun by placing the darkest part of the grad (half way up) over the brightest highlights and reduce the exposure by however many stops your filter is.

What will a Hitech Reverse grad  do to my photography?

As you can see the reverse grad reduces the brightness of the highlights at the bottom of the graduated area i.e. the horizon, this is very useful for sunsets. (All these images are straight from the camera and haven't been edited in any way, except watermark added.)

Let's see the goods then!

Without FilterAs you can see from the images, I am using the slightly longer version 100mmx150mm which is a great help if the horizon is not in the center of the frame.

Hitech resin filters in general are quite thin, but i have not noticed any effect in their performance compared to other brands.  The filter comes with its own plastic pouch, which will offer you some protection, but it is advised that you purchase a filter pouch to store these in as they scratch easily.

From the images in this page, you can see how the filter is darker in the middle and lighter at the top, thus allowing it to control light on the horizon and not darken the top of the frame too much.  The Hitech Reverse Grad is available in a selection of strengths from 0.3 , 0.6 and 0.9.  I myself would say that the most useful one would be 0.9 when photographing sunsets.

Does Size Matter?

Side ViewThe Hitech Reverse Grad comes in all three standard sizes a 85mm, 100mm and a 150mm.  If you are planning on shooting at wide angels 17mm and below, I would recommend the 100mm or the 150mm as you will be spending a lot of time in post production, editing out the dark edges.  One thing I would say is, if you are buying the 100mm version you may wish to consider the 150mm as you will need the extra bit of flex on the long side to position the filter in the correct place especially if you are shooting wide angle and the brightest part of the sky is more towards the top of the frame.

Colour Cast

The Hitech Reverse Grad is very similar to the standard grads, as it doesn’t give too much colour cast unless you double stack the filter with another or if you use long exposures. The photo to your right is an example of this as I have stacked the Hitech Reverse Grad 0.9 and a Hitech ND Grad 0.6 soft, together and the result is a slight purple tinge to the sky.

In fairness though this is an easy fix in Lightroom or other editing software. I wouldn’t get too hung up about this as I kind of like the colour cast these filters produce when they are double stacked as it brings out the colours in the sunset.

Build quality

Straight From CameraThe build quality is at the same level as their standard grads.  They are still a resin based filter which are easy to scratch if you don’t take care of them (clean after use).  One thing I did read online was that a few people had received wonky ones, which would be rather disappointing if it happened, but as far as I can see Teamwork and Hitech will replace these for you if this is the case.

Verdict

Sample 1Overall the Hitech Reverse Grads are VERY good!  They are reasonably priced for the amount of work that must go into making them. If you are planning on taking photos of anything that has bright highlights on the horizon then you should definitely be packing these in your kit bag.  There are a few little faults with these, such as they are easy to scratch and because they are resin based they can give you a slight colour cast with long exposures, but overall I would say they are worth every penny.

Pros

  • Available in different strengths 0.3,0.6 and 0.9
  • Available in a range of sizes to fit all popular filter holders
  • Very reasonable price tag

Cons

  • Easy to scratch
  • Very slight colour cast with long exposures

Where can you buy them from?

You can buy them direct from Hitech.

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6 Comments

  1. Dennis Bromage
    Dennis Bromage on

    I’ve been using a Singh Ray 0.6 reverse grad for about 5 years now and can testify that reverse grads are VERY useful at the ends of the day. I also own a Hi-Tech 0.3 reverse grad and a 0.6 hard grad and in my opinion they are not as neutral as Lee filters (exactly as described in the review) but they are almost identical to the Singh Ray version which is something like 4 or 5 times the price once you factor in shipping and import duty! Definitely a worthwhile addition to anybody’s kit bag and good value in my opinion too.

    One word or warning they are quite thin so can be a bit loose in the Lee foundation kit, especially if it’s getting on a bit and the leaf springs are getting a bit soft. My 0.3 reverse grad fell out of the holder the other day and now has a huge chip in one corner. Thankfully it is still usable but it was a lesson learned the hard way 🙁

  2. Geoff Howard on

    Very disappointed, consider these to be overpriced, was looking to purchase the ND Grad kit so as the factory is only about 20 minutes away from my home I paid them a visit, was quoted £48 for the kit when I said I'd want extra rings was told they don't come in the kit neither does the mount. My interpretation of 'Kit' is a complete item to fit onto my lens, not a half or third of the kit, sorry this sort of pricing structure is what makes the UK manufacturing world a loser. What has really annoyed me though is discovering these are cheaper in America than in the factory, come on UK get your act in gear, before everyone purchases Chinese products which are not that inferior but are about a fith of the price and include the mounting items.

  3. Hi great review

    I've been thinking about buying one of these for a while, I'm assuming they will fit Lee filter holder ok ??

    Also, If I was going to buy just one of these Reverse Grads what one would you recommend, would have thought the 0.3 wouldn't be dense enough for most subjects, therefore would be down to either the 0.6 or the 0.9.

    Any help would be much appreciated

    Regards
    Stuart

    • Yes, it does fit the Lee holder and as you would use the filter during sunrise/sunset, I would recommend the 0.9 one.

  4. I knew I should have patented using a standard ND grad upside down 🙂 sometimes, when the sun is on the horizon and no cloud around, I have done this, add a 0.6 grad the right way up and then a 0.3 upside down with what's normally the top edge now used on the horizon. You need to open up to f/8 or wider though or the edge is too obvious.

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