How does a $10 filter stack up against a $360 filter?

There are tons of filters out there with big variations in color cast, sharpness and overall quality. But how much of a difference is there?

Matt Granger has uploaded a video where he compares 15 filters. They all range in cost from $10 all the way to $360. Everything shown in the video is real world results. So Granger wants to show you what you’re getting before you buy.

When speaking about filters, Granger says that while not every situation requires a filter, for “certain applications” they can be fantastic. For the video he got 15 10-stop neutral density filters so he could compare them and see if there is real justification for the big difference in price.

Not just for knocking down your exposure a little bit so you have more control over your aperture, 10-stop NDs take out more than 999 out of a thousand of the light. “It’s really knocking down your exposure,” says Granger. 10-stop filters allow you to get longer exposures in daylight.

He tests the filters down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass in New York where he set up a shot gazing at the piers. Everything he shoots is “straight out of the JPEG,” according to Granger. “This isn’t about getting an amazing final image.”

The camera he uses for the shoot is a Hasselblad x1d. His reasoning for picking that camera is because he believes the image quality is unbeatable in the situation, it has an unlimited timer, and it has a “really cool color picker.”

The results

When testing the $10 filter, Granger sees an obvious cool color cast and an obvious loss of sharpness. However, what is key here is Granger believes that the $10 filter is the same filter as more expensive versions; they are just rebranded and sold at a higher price.

Blue filter over camera shot of city
This $10 filter matched other more expensive filter options exactly, according to Granger

“I think it and two or three others are actually the same filter, but rebranded and varying in price,” Granger says.

Also, Granger has to use his filter remover because the $10 filter wasn’t a perfect fit. When you buy higher quality filters, you will find that the build is typically more precise than those on the more cheaper side.

However at the end, Granger says that the filters somewhat reflect their prices. “ … to an extent, you get what you pay for,” Granger says. While there are some overpriced filters, when comparing the bottom quality to the top quality filter, there is a big difference.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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