A little more than a year ago I changed from my Cokin filters to Lee, just because I wanted to use ND (graduated)filters which were more color neutral. Cokin is knows of its Magenta color cast. Especially with long exposures you can see the problem. I also bought a Travor ND8 (3 stops) filter which I used with my Cokin ND grad filters. The color cast you have with this combination is terrible. As you can see in the picture (no post processing) underneath there is way to much red in the picture. You cannot remove these kind of color cast in e.g. Lightroom wihtout doing any damage to the picture.
Later that evening I borrowed a set of Lee ND grad soft filters from my friend to shoot the scene that evening (you can see the final result over here). This was for me the moment to go to the shop and buy me a set of Lee filters. I also wanted to have set of hard grade filters (Cokin only has soft grade filters), because the contrast of these filters is much better in the wide landscape pictures as I shoot.
Unfortunately Lee had huge delivery time when I ordered my filters. Delivery times of 4 or 5 months were pretty normal at that time, so I had to be patient and wait for the “candy” very long. As I also had the problem of vignetting at 17mm with my Cokin P-serie filters I couldn’t wait and wanted to have a set of bigger filters right away. After a little search and comparison between Lee, Singh Ray and Hitech I chose for Hitech. These filters are less expensive than Lee and Singh Ray, so they were good as a set of spare filters besides my Lee filter set which I am going to use in the future. I have to say I am still pretty impressed of the quality of the Hitech filters. They are reasonably neutral and the contrast is good of these filters. Even now I have my set of Lee filters I often get my Hitech set to take some pictures.
As a user of both Lee and Hitech filters I wanted to compare the two filters brands which I did a little while ago. I knew Lee had to be more neutral, but was this the case? At my trip to the Port of Eemshaven I decided to do a little test and use both of my filter sets in the same circumstances. This is the result:
Both of the pictures were taken with my Canon EOS 5D mark2 and a Canon EF 100-400 F4-5.6 L IS lens with a Hitech and Lee 0.9 Hard Grad ND filter at the same circumstances and the same ISO, Aperture and Shutterspeed. For these pictures, no post processing is done. They are straight out of the camera converted from RAW to Jpeg in Lightroom.
As you can see Hitech has a more Magenta color cast than Lee. Lee is more color neutral. I notice even a little green color cast in the picture taken with the Lee filter. As you can see the color cast of the Hitech filters is way better than the Cokin and Travor filters. You can easily remove this colors cast in e.g. Lightroom without any damage.
I looks like the contrast of the Hitech filter is a little more harsh. You can see the difference on the water. The water in the picture taken with the Hitech filter is a little lighter than the picture take with the Lee filter.
Both of the filters are resin filters. Filters of this material scratch easily and attract dust, so be careful when using these filters.
As you can see the Lee filters are more neutral and the contrast is more smooth. At the other hand, when you are a starter at landscape photography or you want to have a good spare set of ND Grad filters, Hitech is a good choice. They are a lot cheaper than Lee filters and they are also available in hard grade and soft grade filters.
These are my experiences with using Lee and Hitech filters. If you anything to add, feel free to comment this post below.
Have fun out there!