I have always believed that if you are an informed consumer that you could be counted on to make a smart purchase no matter the product.
It was with high expectations that I bought my first Formatt Hitech Firecrest Superslim IRND 4.8 ND filter.
My experience to date has been lousy with both the manufacturer and the product.
My reason for the 16 stop ND filter was to do long exposures. I had a few ND filters kicking around in my camera bag, a Tiffen comes to mind that cost me around sixty dollars. The Firecrest came in at around $170 U.S. quite a jump up from the Tiffen.
Normally I wouldn’t pay so much but I had read a few positive reviews one in particular by Joel Tjintjelaar who happens to have a line of filters named after him. BTW his photos are works of art despite. Worth checking out. http://www.bwvision.com/
When I found the first filter to be defective I contacted the people at 2filter.com and they graciously and quickly sent me a second filter which was said to be from a new batch that was defect free. When it arrived it was packaged differently than the first and was wrapped in red paper with a seal that said laughingly, Firecrest F214 04 Sep 2014 Quality Control.
Assuming that this filter was a great replacement I never bothered to test it out. Bad decision.
Fast forward five months, winter is over and I am out taking photos of grain silos on the prairies. I got an interesting shot on a windy day. The clouds were moving a lot and things looked wonderful in the camera display. However when I got home I could see that one silo was sharp and the second was blurred. I wrote this off as me being sloppy, camera shake, etc.
Curiosity got the best of me and I went out to my back yard to test the lens. The same thing. Sharp on one side, out of focus on the other. I tried different f-stops. Cleaned the filter. Shot without a filter and shot with a different filter. The Firecrest filter was crap and everything including my sixty dollar Tiffen filter was razor sharp.
As a last resort I brought the camera and filter inside and photographed a calendar on the wall. No wind. No camera movement. The result? All of the letters on the right side of the frame are ghosted, haloed or whatever you would call it. It is like having a lighter out of aligned version of the original in back of the first. Complete garbage. This is quality control?
My dilemna? I wrote Firecrest TWICE with no reply.
My advice? Until Formatt Hitech acknowledges their awful quality control and makes good avoid them like the plague.
EDIT: I was contacted by a representative from Formatt-Hitech this morning (Tuesday, April 14). Stay tuned.