A Brief Review of Formatt Hitech Filters for Mirrorless

By Jason Row / April 23, 2015

My recent move to a mirrorless system using Fuji X series cameras has been a smooth and enjoyable transition. One of the items of kit I had decided to get for the new system was a square filter system. The king of the squares is, of course Lee and they have recently introduced their new mirrorless filter system, Seven5. As befits the quality of Lee, the Seven5 is an expensive piece of kit so I went looking to see if there were any cheaper alternatives. The obvious candidate was the Cokin A series, recently rebadged for mirrorless but in my experience, the quality of their filters tends to be poor and they acrylic seems to scratch very easily. I did, however with a little more research come across a small British company producing good quality square filter systems. Like Lee, Formatt HiTech have a background in cinema lighting filters and have used their knowledge to apply it to photographic filters. They have also recently created a small square filter system for mirrorless based on their 67mm filters.

Not knowing anything about the company and having some concerns about delivery, I emailed them on a Sunday afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply within a few hours with the offer to work with me to get my order delivered. Encouraged by this I made an order for an Aluminium filter holder, two adapter rings, a set of 0.3/0.6/0.9 hard edge neutral grads and a six stop ND, an equivalent to the Lee Little Stopper. The prices were significantly cheaper than Lee equivalents, on a par with Cokin A series

Delivery was quick and well packaged. The biggest and most pleasant surprise was the quality of the aluminum filter holder. Despite it’s low price, it is a well designed and sturdy piece of kt, certainly well above the Cokin equivalent. It contains slots for two filters with thumb adjustable screws on the front of the holder. A spare set of these screw were also provided The filter holder drops directly onto a lens adapter which is secured by a single screw. The whole assembly is very quick to move from lens to lens and indeed to rotate on a lens.

The filters themselves are made from high grade acrylic and come in their own individual pouches to keep them from scratching. The name of the filter is also etched into the corners, helping identification. The quality feels very good and they slide very easily inside the filter holder. Although much thwarted by the British weather, I have had some opportunity to use the hard edge grads in the field, particularly to add some definition to the dull London skies.

2014-08-22 London x1-397
Here a 0.6 Hard ND Grad helps the leaden London Skies

My initial impressions are very good, the color seems neutral the graduated section not shifting in any noticeable way even using the 0.9 ND. For cityscape work I find the hard edge grads perhaps a little too hard so I will make a further purchase of the soft edge graduated kit as well.

2014-08-31 London x1-100
Here, the hard grad is a little too hard, clipping into the clock tower

I have not had time or any luck with the weather to investigate the 6 stop ND as yet. Hopefully during an upcoming photo tour of Belgium I can get to try this out. The few shots that I have done, whilst not demonstrating the ND effect very well do not seem to have any obvious casts. One thing I would say is that the 6 Stop is only really effective when the light levels are relatively low anyway. In brighter light the shutter speeds, even at smaller apertures are generally to high to get the full “big stop” effect. Formatt-Hitech do, of course have a ten stop ND in their catalogue too.

2014-08-31 London x1-168
Using the 6 Stop Full ND filter

2014-09-05 Ghent x1-173
Another example of the 0.6 Hard Edge ND Grad

Some other items that may well be on my shopping list are a reasonably price circular polariser. This drops into a special 67mm adapter which in turn allows it to slot into the filter holder. A series of their color grads may also be a purchase, helping liven up the dull skies of the approaching northern fall and winter.

Overall, in the limited time and despite the poor weather conditions, I have been very impressed with the quality from this filter system. Given the price, it certainly seems to be several notches above the Cokin equivalent, using higher grade materials and better engineering. If you do not have a budget for Lee filters, then Formatt-Hitech are defiantly worth a look, not only for their mirrorless systems but also for their DSLR and medium format square systems.

You can find Formatt-Hitech here: https://www.formatt-hitech.com

About the author

Jason Row

Jason Row is a British born travel photographer now living in Ukraine. His images have been licensed to companies such as Cunard, Ethiad and Virgin Atlantic as well as multiple newspapers and magazines. As well as shooting stills he is now creating travel stock video in 4K. He maintains a travel stock photography site at Jason Row Photography You can also catch up with him on Facebook at Facebook/TheOdessaFiles

  • Ulv Teridge says:

    Do you find the 67 size is big enough? Which lenses are you using? FormatHitech recommended the 100mm for my XT10; and many Fuji forumns suggest the 85mm. However I would like to use it with the 23/35/50 F2 trilogy, and use handheld, so smaller size (and price) is more attractive

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