- Ed Dozier
Hoya Pro ND1000 Filter Review
The Hoya Pro ND1000 is a 10-stop neutral density filter. If you like those shots with rivers that look like mist, this is what you use to make them. Ocean breakers that transform into blankets of fog become possible with this filter. If you need to reduce crowds around popular landmarks, this filter is just the ticket.
Hoya ProND1000 filter
There are many characteristics of extremely dark ND filters that are difficult for manufacturers to get right. Many ND filters suffer from color shift, usually toward pink or orange. Other filters play havoc with lens resolution. Some filters have poor anti-reflection coatings that cause ghost images. Neutral density filters that avoid all of these pitfalls can get quite expensive.
I purchased an 82mm diameter filter, so it fits the largest lenses I want to use it with. For my smaller lenses, I have step-up rings to use this filter for anything down to 52mm. Step-up rings are really inexpensive and an ideal way to spread the cost of a single expensive filter over several lenses.
I don’t mean to imply that this is the most expensive neutral density filter, but it’s not the cheapest, either. What follows is how I evaluated this filter manufacturer’s claims. I own a couple of other Hoya filters, and I haven’t been disappointed.
Auto Focus Impact
Can a camera still focus with a 10-stop filter on the lens? It’s a real pain to have to remove a filter to focus a lens, so of course I tested auto-focus. I used my D850 for testing, which can focus down to EV -4. Typical outdoor lighting with a low-angle sun is around EV +10. Since EV increments are in full stops, this means that a 10-stop filter will result in an EV around 0, or 4 stops brighter than the D850’s lower limit. Focus is no problem.
Subject Framing without Removing the Filter?
Yes, under most lighting conditions, you can still frame the subject without having to take the filter off of your lens. The trick is to switch to ‘live view’ mode and use your LCD screen if your optical viewfinder is too dark. In bright light, the optical viewfinder may be barely sufficient for framing.
Viewfinder Eyepiece Cover
Please remember to cover that viewfinder eyepiece. Long exposures will cause eyepiece light leaks to ruin your shots. If you’re lucky enough to have an eyepiece shutter on your camera, this is the reason for its existence.
Long Exposure Noise Reduction
You might start finding excessive bright pixels in your shots with really long exposures. Remember to turn on ‘long exposure noise reduction’ to get rid of those speckles. It will take twice as long, but it may be worth it compared to the amount of time wasted post-processing trying to eliminate them at your computer.
Color Shift Analysis
I’ll use a grey card to evaluate the color fidelity of the Pro ND1000 filter. For a completely neutral photo, the RGB peaks on a histogram should perfectly overlap.
I made a white balance preset with no filter, using a grey card. After shooting the grey card, I then mounted the ND filter and re-shot the grey card using the same white balance preset. The only difference should be the longer exposure with the filter.
Grey card with no filter preset white balance
The shot above is a grey card using a preset white balance measured with the card itself.
Grey card with ND filter, same white balance
The shot above is using the Hoya ND filter, with the same white balance as the no-filter preset white balance. It’s a hair different from the no-filter shot, but still quite neutral.
The same grey card shot indicates that the density across the filter seems even as well.
Illumination characteristics seem the same in the shots with and without the filter.
Histogram of grey card with no filter
The shot above is the histogram with the white balance measured right off of the grey card without any filter. I used the white balance as-recorded from the raw file.
Histogram of grey card using Hoya ND filter
The shot above is the histogram using the Hoya Pro ND 1000 filter and the same white balance created from the “no filter” shot. The color transmission isn’t identical to ‘no filter’, but it’s reasonably close.
A good filter shouldn’t cause any significant change in lens resolution. Physics being real, all filters will have some impact on your lens, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be objectionable or even noticeable. I’ll use the MTFMapper program and a large resolution chart to see how much degradation in lens sharpness this filter causes.
Sigma 70-200 at 70mm f/4 MTF50 without filter
Sigma 70-200 at 70mm f/4 MTF50 with ND filter
Comparing the lens resolution results above (on a Nikon D850), there isn’t enough change to be able to visually tell the difference when using the filter. The MTF50 numbers show the barest hint of a resolution decrease with the filter.
Physical Light Reduction
It may seem silly to have to verify such a thing, but does the Hoya Pro ND1000 filter really cut the light level by 10 stops? I’m notoriously skeptical about claims, and just because it’s advertised as 10-stop, that doesn’t make it so. A quick way to evaluate photos is via the “Exif Tool”. I took a pair of shots using auto-exposure in sunlight.
The exif data indicated the no-filter shot was E.V. 10.3 and the Hoya ND filter shot was E.V. 0.3, so the filter is exactly 10 stops after all.
I suppose you could stack this filter with a polarizer or another ND filter if you need yet more light reduction, but 10 stops is enough for most situations.
Filter Thickness and Vignetting
This filter is fairly thick. It’s about as thick as a typical polarizer. Its (metal) mount is 2.0mm thick (not including threads), and happens to be exactly as thick as my Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer. This can cause some vignetting on super-wide lenses, so you may have to crop slightly if your lens only works with “thin” filters.
Speaking of threads, this filter screws on and off very smoothly; the threads are precision. I also noticed that it has about a whole extra thread compared to most filters, which makes it very stable when attached.
The Hoya Pro ND 1000 filter can transform mundane shots into something magical, given the right subject (and given a tripod). Wind is your enemy; you might consider a shot with and without the filter to have options.
I can totally recommend the Pro ND 1000. I wish its mount was a bit thinner, but keep in mind that this filter has to contain enough volume of dark glass to stop a serious amount of light.
For photographers who do landscapes or architecture, a strong neutral density filter should be a standard part of their gear. And, once again, don’t forget that tripod.
Exposure: 13s f/16 ISO 64 in the sun
I confess to using a bit of HDR to make this shot a little more dramatic. It’s the misty water that makes the shot, though. You just couldn’t do something like this without a really dark ND filter.
You don’t necessarily want the longest possible exposure time for water; try a few different exposures to give yourself a selection.
Fountain of mist
Exposure: 30s f/9.0 ISO 32. Yes, my D850 “Lo” can go down to ISO 32. I used my Tokina 11-16 DX at 16mm. The Hoya needed a step-up ring to fit my 82mm filter onto my 77mm diameter Tokina. I had to crop a bit, because this combination causes some dark frame corners on my FX camera.
Luckily, the cloud movement was minimal and the sky retains good texture and depth.
Ghosts around a pool
Exposure: 177s f/10.0 ISO 32. The outrageously long exposure didn’t totally get rid of the crowd around the pool, but it did make about 95% of them disappear. The heavy clouds combined with the ND filter allowed this long exposure time. A light breeze caused many palm fronds to smear; oh, well. The clouds unfortunately moved too much in this long exposure and became featureless. This shot then demonstrates the downside of wind during a long exposure.