Since I first started getting serious about photography back in 2001 I have owned a circular polarizer and warming filter from Nikon to fit all my lenses. With the advent of digital and post processing I quickly did away with the warming filter as this is easily reproduced. The circular polarizer on the other hand is a must have filter as it's effects of removing glare cannot be reproduced when post processing.
However, I always had my eyes on the Lee Filters for Graduated ND filters and then solid ND filters. Finally, I decided to find some solid ND filters to increase my shutter speeds for some long exposure photography. At one point I had my B&H cart full of Lee filters but before pushing the button I decided to look around at some other brands and stumbled across Breakthrough Photography. They use high end tempered German glass and so I started doing more research.
I began by reading several reviews and watching YouTube videos about the company and their products. They have run at least 3 very successful Kickstarter campaigns and were producing products people wanted. Additionally, Nick Page (be sure to check him out) raved about them for a good bit of time and he eventually picked them up as a sponsor.
Well, that was it... I decided to go with Breakthrough Photography for my filter system and ordered some of their products. While ordering the owner of Breakthrough e-mailed me thanking me for purchase. At this point I took the opportunity to contact him about being a guest on the podcast and he agreed to as soon as he was able. The next day I received an e-mail from a representative asking if I would be interested in doing hands on reviews of their products and after a few back and forth communications they sent out a package.
Since then I have received the products and even did an unboxing video which you can find above. It has been a few weeks and I have had a chance to put some of the products through the paces.
The X100 Holder is my first real experience with a holder. You take an adapter ring sized for the filter threads of your lens and then the holder snaps into place and allows you to rotate the holder. The X100 Holder is well machined and easy to operate. The square and rectangular filters all slide in easily without worry of them falling out. You can tighten the grip on the filters if you wish as well.
I do have to say operating a square or rectangular filter is clunky and forces you to slow down. This can be a pickle if you are actually in a hurry due to failing light. Naturally, this is not a complaint about the X100... It is rock solid.
X4 Neutral Density Filter (6-Stop Square)
This thing is dark... 6 stops dark even. Who would have thought? Anyway, using this in combination with the X100 holder is simple. You screw on the holder ring, compose your shot, get your focus set, and then slap this on the end. Easy peasy.
I have also found the photo app Photo Pills is a good solution to the exposure calculation if you don't want to count stops of light in your head.
X4 GND Filter (2-Stop Soft)
To be honest I was unsure in the beginning about how useful a 2-Stop Soft filter would be. However, it turns out it's great. The Breakthrough Photography 2-Stop Soft is a very gradual transition. If the dynamic range from your sky to your foreground isn't extremely profound this is the filter for you. On a typical day it keeps the clouds from blowing out and adds a natural looking darkening to the sky. Now, if you are shooting in extreme light such as a setting sun you will need something a little stronger and perhaps a hard transition. Which of course Breakthrough Photography sells. There was a slight warming color cast (and I mean SLIGHT) but since I like my landscapes a little warmer it wasn't an issue. If this bothers you you can always adjust the white balance and be happy.
X4 CPL Filter (Dark 3-Stop Circular Polarizer)
First off, the Circular Polarizer is my absolute favorite filter. Couple this with the addition of a 3-Stop ND and you have solid gold for stream photography. Unfortunately here in South Florida I do not have many opportunities for mountain streams (because we don't have any) so my use has been limited so far. My initial impressions of the filter echo all of the products I have worked with from Breakthrough Photography. They are exceptionally manufactured and work perfectly as intended.
The only negative I can say about the CPL is the size of the rotating ring. It is very low profile making it a little more difficult to operate for someone who has slabs of meat for fingers. They seemed to understand this and the ring has divots making it a bit easier to maniupulate. With this said there are benefits to such a low profile such as weight and the ability to still have a lens hood if you want. Adjusting the ring with a hood in place is challenging but at least you have the option.
My final conclusion is this: If you wish to put an additional piece of glass on the end of your expensive camera lens then make sure it is as good a quality as the Breakthrough Photography filters. The color cast and effect on sharpness is minimal just as advertised. There was no vignnetting at 16mm and overall the products are a pleasure to use.
See the Video Review Here