Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: Hoya Intensifier Filter For Fall Foliage Photography

Hoya Intensifier Filter
I recently purchased a Hoya Intensifier Filter, which is sometimes called a Red Intensifier or a Didymium Filter. It was actually difficult to find in the 58mm size that I needed for my lens. It cost me $40, which is moderately expensive for a filter.

Hoya makes quality filters, and the Intensifier is not my first of theirs. When it comes to filters, there are better ones than others. Whenever you are placing glass in front of your lens you want it to be good quality or else you are risking a negative impact on image quality.

The main purpose of the Intensifier Filter is to enhance red, orange and brown colors (without effecting other colors). An obvious application, and the one this filter is most commonly used for, is fall foliage photography. But does it work? Is it worth the price? Should you use the filter this autumn as you photograph the changing leaves?

Let's examine a couple of real world examples. They were captured using a Fujifilm X-E1. I made sure the settings were identical, with the filter being the only difference.

No intensifier filter:
Autumn On The Wasatch Range - South Weber, Utah
With intensifier filter:
Autumn On The Wasatch Range - South Weber, Utah
No intensifier filter:
Autumn Forest - Huntsville, Utah
With intensifier filter:
Autumn Forest - Huntsville, Utah
The differences between the images with and without the filter are subtle but noticeable. The reds, oranges and browns do look "deeper" or enhanced or intensified (or however you want to put it) with the filter. The overall color cast of the photographs looks different, too.

The filter makes the images look a little more cool. It throws off the white balance just a little. And I wonder if this is why the reds, oranges and browns look different. Is it a simple color cast trick?

I don't know exactly how the filter does what it does. Maybe the "how" doesn't matter. But either you think the photographs are made slightly better by this filter or slightly worse. My opinion is that the filter's positive effects are nullified by the negative effects, but neither the positive nor negative are significant.

One thing I will say is that the filter is unnecessary. You can accomplish the same thing (or something even better) with careful post-processing. I would only buy this filter for fall foliage photography if you like the way it makes the photographs look. Otherwise, don't bother.

There is another common use for the Intensifier Filter: photographing stars. In night photography, the filter reduces the effects of noise pollution. Stay tuned for my review of the Hoya Intensifier Filter for astrophotography!

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