Filters are an essential accessory for good photography and photography in general. There are a whole plethora of different filters available for different scenarios. The most well-known of these are Neutral Density Filters and Graduated Neutral Density Filters (GND). In this article, I’ll review K&F Concepts graduated neutral density filter and holder and describe my experience with it.
Why are GND filters important in landscape photography?
Graduated Neutral Density Filters are important in photography to help even out the light within a scene. The best times in the day for landscape photography are early morning and late afternoon.
These periods are known as the “Golden Hours” that occurs after sunrise and before sunset. During these times the sun is low in the sky which causes a very bright sky and darker foreground.
If you take a photo to ensure the sky is exposed correctly (i.e. not clipped) your foreground will be too dark. Do the reverse and expose for the foreground and it will be highly likely that your sky will be so bright that you will have clipped white areas.
Graduated Neutral Density Filters to the Rescue
A GND filter is darker at one end and slowly fades to clear at the other end. So, when placed in front of the lens it will help darken the sky without affecting the foreground.
This will give you an even exposure across your image.
But not all light nor even a scene that you are photographing are the same. Sometimes you will need different levels of darkness in the sky.
For this purpose, there are different GND filters which increase in density and darkness.
The degree of density of the filter is referred to in terms of the number of stops of light which the filter blocks. So, for example, a GND4 is the equivalent of 2-stops. A GND16 is 4-stops and so on.
K&F Concept Products
Filters are available either as screw-in (they screw onto the front of your lens in the same way as a polarizer or UV filter) or as square filters which slide into a holder in front of your lens.
I was recently given a K&F Concept soft GND8 (3-stop) filter along with their square metal filter holder and adapter rings (which comes with seven different size rings) to test out.
At first glance
The holder and Graduated Neutral Density filter arrived beautifully packaged in a hard cardboard box. The GND filter was inside a leather wallet wrapped in paper. The adaptor rings arrived in individual clear plastic bags.
Filter Holder and Adaptor Rings
The filter holder and adaptor rings are metal and feel very sturdy. For the purpose of this test, I screwed in the 77mm adaptor ring on my lens.
To attach the metal holder to the adaptor ring there is a very useful metal latch release button you have to press. You place the adaptor ring rim under two small latches, press the button and the latch opens and closes over the ring, securing it tightly.
Once attached securely I tried to push the adaptor ring off by force and it couldn’t be done. This means it will not just fall off!
To release the adaptor ring from the holder, you press the same release button and the adaptor ring pops off quickly and easily even when attached to the camera.
K&F Concept Graduated Neutral Density Filter
According to K&F Concept Made the filters are made from optical glass, and the material is waterproof, oil resistant and scratch-resistant. The 2mm thick glass feels tough without the possibility of being bent in any way.
Weighing in at 47.5 grams (1.7 oz), you certainly feel like you are holding a premium product.
The filter slides into the holder effortlessly and is very secure with no movement or rattling which is useful in windy conditions.
The subsequent images taken using the filter were free of any color casts (but whether some do appear if multiple filters are used remain to be seen). There was no effect on the image sharpness and there were no unwanted reflections or vignettes.
The first image below was taken without a filter. The red areas highlighted indicate clipped whites (i.e. they contain no detail or information).
In the second image, as you can see the graduated neutral density filter has darkened the sky bringing out the details in the clouds and also removing the clipped areas. But it has meant a little bit of clipping of the shadows as indicated by the blue highlights in the bushes.
This didn’t concern me as it was easily recoverable in post-processing. Using the GND filter means that overall there is a much better exposure across the entire image (middle image below).
The last image (bottom one above) is the version using the GND filter with a little bit of post-processing to brighten up the shadows and boost the saturation.
Cost of the K&F Concept Filter System
At the time of writing this review, the graduated filter was priced at $99.99 which is approximately the same cost as the equivalent Lee filter but considerably cheaper than NiSi filters. The filter holder and 7 adaptor rings are $29.99.
OR you can buy the filter holder with a 10-stop regular ND filter for $69.99 (or add the GND filter and pay only $129.94 for the set which is a great deal – just scroll down until you see this.
I must confess that when I was first asked to review these products by K&F Concept, I was skeptical.
I thought they might be cheap and not very good quality. But having tried them out I have fully changed my mind.
In fact, I would go as far as saying they are as good as anything I have tested!
They are of fantastic quality and represent great value for money. That’s everything from the packaging and presentation to the quality of the product, it is all superb.
Verdict: 5 Stars
So if you’re looking for a good graduated filter system, one that won’t break the bank, you might want to consider the K&F Concept set.
Can we get your input, please?
On another matter, I’d love to get your input on something. I am considering offering some new services to provide extra help for improving your photography.
Can you please take a minute to fill in the survey form below and tell me which, or any of the following you’d be interested in if I offered it?
Thanks – Darlene