Lee Big Stopper and Hitech Pro-Stop ND filter review

Lee Big Stopper and Hitech Pro-Stop ND filter review

Lee Filters have recently released the ‘Big Stopper’ 10 stop ND filter. This Proglass filter is Lee’s answer to Hitech’s 10 stop ND filter. The ‘Big Stopper’ will retail for around £94 which is in line with other ND filters in Lee’s Proglass range. In comparison the Hitech 10 stop ND retails for around £48, although this is a resin filter and not glass.


The Big Stopper comes in Lee’s normal padded material pouch. Along with the filter is a small booklet and a handy, business card sized, exposure guide. This is very useful as once the filter is on the camera, metering is very difficult.

Lee Big Stopper packagingLee Big Stopper

The Hitech 10 stop ND filter comes in a plastic sleeve. In use I find the sleeve very tight to remove and replace the filter. In fact I got so fed up with trying to force the filter in and out of the sleeve that I ended up using a spare Lee pouch to keep the filter in.

Hitech 10 stop ND


The Big Stopper is part of Lee’s ProGlass ND range of filters.  This is what Lee have to say about them…

‘The ProGlass ND is an extremely high quality glass ND filter optimised for use with digital cameras, but equally useful for film.

This brand new filter uses a surface coating made from evaporated metal, and therefore provides very even absorption across the visible spectrum and through the UV and Infra Red regions. Using an ND filter can prolong exposure times to blur water and capture movement in clouds and the sky, but the excess UV and IR can cause colour problems in some lighting situations. The ProGlass filter reduces any chance of false colour casts, and also provides a result described as punchier on digital and film because the light forming the image is more specific to the requirements of the film or sensor.

The filter also features a foam gasket all around the inside of the perimeter of the filter, which when the filter is placed in the Lee holder in the slot closest to the lens creates a lightweight seal to cut down the chance of light leaking around the side of the filter.’

This is a picture of the Big Stopper fitted in the Lee filter holder.  As you can see the foam gasket does not fill in the whole of the gap between the top and bottom of the filter holder.  Even so, my tests showed no evidence of light leakage due to this.

Lee Big Stopper in Filter Holder

The Hitech 10 stop ND is made from CR39 dyed substrate.  This is a resin filter which is slightly thinner than a  Lee resin filter.  This makes it slightly more flimsy but in use there isn’t much of a difference.


I tested both filters on a few different days in different conditions.  The first tests were taken early evening/ sunset.  This was good for testing as the low sun made conditions difficult.  All these test shots were taken on a Nikon D300 with a Tokina 11-16 Ultra-wideangle zoom.  i chose the Tokina specifically because it is a lens which can have problems with flare.  Also another reason I decided to use this lens was because it is a lens I use a lot for landscapes and I wanted a worse case scenario for these filters in conjunction with this lens. In all these images, the top and back of the camera was covered by a piece of black cloth to eliminate the chance of any light leakage coming in through the viewfinder.  I also used a Lee 3 stop soft ND grad along with the 10 stop filters as this is another combination I use a lot.

This first shot was taken using the Big Stopper and a Lee 3 stop soft ND grad.

Big Stopper & ND grad

The same image taken with the hitech a couple of minutes later.

hitech 10 stop & ND Grad

As you can see the hitech suffers badly from circular flare spots. Also the semi circular flare ring in the centre which seems to be a particular trait of using the Tokina 11-16 with the hitech filter. Also note the colour of the seaweed in the bottom left. This looks like IR build up causing a magenta cast on the seaweed.

As usual both images are straight out of the camera, no processing or white balance adjustment, only what the camera has chosen.

Another image to show how good the Big Stopper can perform. This is a composite of the reference image and the Big Stopper image. The reference images white balance is ‘as shot’ and the Lee has been corrected using the ‘auto’ setting in camera raw. Notice how close the two images are for white balance. There is hardly a difference. In fact, I might have got it closer if I sampled somewhere in the image to get a white balance. A big plus for anyone who has tried to remove the huge casts that can sometime occur with the Hitech.

Lee Big Stopper and Reference shot comparison

Another couple of images to show what happens when you shoot direct towards the sun. As you know this is a hard test for any filter. The Lee has really shown up the quality of the glass filter. There is only 1 flare spot in the image. This is a really good result considering that the Tokina 11-16 bare on it’s own would probably show the same thing if it was pointed towards the sun like this shot. The Hitech has not fared so well. There are multiple instances of flare with a magenta cast. In fact this is the difference between an image from the Big Stopper that could easily be fixed in post processing and an image from the Hitech that is just unusable due to the massive flare and cast.

Lee Big Stopper direct into Sun

Hitech 10 Stop direct into Sun

As before both images are direct from the camera with no adjustments.

The next test was to compare the filters side by side straight from the camera to show the different colour casts and how easily they were removed.  The first image clearly shows the much cooler White Balance of the Big Stopper compared to the Hitech.  Another point to note with this is that the Hitech is nearly 3/4 of a stop less than the Big Stopper.  Getting filters to be exactly 10 stops is difficult, so it’s hard to say which one is correct.  This isn’t that much of an issue as you would get a feel for exposure times using your own filter.

Big Stopper and Hitech 10 Stop ND White Balance comparison

The next image is the same image but letting Adobe Camera Raw fix the White Balance by selecting the ‘auto’ setting.

Big Stopper and Hitech 10 Stop ND White Balance corrected

As you can see the results are very close.  Both images are accurate and no flare or light leakage was visible using both filters.


Both filters can give great results.  Unfortunately the Hitech 10 stop is a bit unpredictable.  Depending on the conditions, you can get a magenta cast on some plants, seaweed etc.

There is also the issue with flare spots and light leakage. One way that I have found to try and minimise this is by making a fabric ‘sleeve’ which fits over the lens barrel, the filter Holder and filter to try and stop light leaking in around the edges of the filter.  This can be successful but a bit finicky.

The Big Stopper on the other hand gives reliable results time after time.  With Lee’s inclusion of the foam gasket, there is no problem with light leakage and due to the glass used on the filter, flare is not an issue either.  The Big Stopper does have a blue cast to it but this is very easily corrected in post processing as I have already shown.

The Lee Big Stopper may be nearly twice the price of the Hitech 10 Stop ND filter but it is money well spent.  The old adage ‘buy cheap, buy twice‘ comes into mind here.  If you bought the Hitech and liked the effect that you got from the long exposures then you would probably end up deciding to buy the Big Stopper in the end.  My recommendation is to buy the Big Stopper straight away and save the bother and hassle of inferior results.


Well it had to happen.  I was well aware of the extra care needed due to the fragility of the glass filter.  I managed to forget it was in it’s pouch in my pocket and knelt down and snapped the filter in two!  Obviously I was a bit annoyed but unfortunately there was no-one around to blame  but myself!  So if you do manage to get a ‘Big Stopper’, take extra good care of it!

UPDATE  28/08/10

I have managed to find a UK supplier with stock of the ‘Big Stopper’. So I just had to purchase another!  There are obvious batch differences between my original filter and my new filter.  The new filter has a much deeper blue cast and now requires a custom white balance to totally remove the cast instead of just changing the setting from ‘as shot’ to ‘auto’ in Camera Raw.  This is not that big a deal but as you can see from the  image below there is a bit of a difference.  As before this has had no processing and is straight out of the camera with the camera choosing the white balance.  The good news though is that it is still easily correctable in Camera Raw.

New Big Stopper


Update 06/05/11

Hitech have sent me a new version of their 10 stop ND filter for review.  The review will follow in a couple of weeks once I finish testing it.  The Hitech Pro Stop 10 Stop ND Filter


Update 29/05/11

Well it took a bit longer than planned but at last the review of the new Hitech Pro Stop filter is finished.


Update 25/8/11

If you are struggling removing the colour cast on your filter, then I have written a how-to post on removing the colour cast on a Lee Big Stopper or Hitech Pro-Stop



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  1. admin 27/05/2010 at 4:03 pm #

    A guide to making long exposures is posted here

    A small buy­ing guide to assist you in mak­ing the right pur­chases to pho­to­graph day­time long expo­sures. Using strong neu­tral den­sity fil­ters will allow you to shoot 1–5 minute expo­sures dur­ing the day depend­ing on the con­di­tions. If you’re bored with pho­tog­ra­phy, neu­tral den­sity fil­ters are a great way to reju­ve­nate your hobby and get pas­sion­ate again. It can be reward­ing but also some­times chal­leng­ing as you’re forced to look at a scene from the per­spec­tive of how a long expo­sure will trans­form it.

  2. admin 27/05/2010 at 4:25 pm #

    Another review of the Big Stopper is posted my Matt Lauder here…


    Well after pouring rain and then totally clear sky’s all the right elements fell into place to put the Lee Big Stopper to the test and to compare it to the B+W 3.0 (10 stop) ND screw in filter.

    With my initial review on the filter I have based my testing on the images produced during the middle of the day and I just wanted to show the filters basic difference from the B+W 3.0 (10 stop). Also I have shot the images with the Canon 5D MkII on the 24 – 70 f2.8 lens so I may make the odd reference to some of the systems with that camera setup. All my testing is done on my hardware calibrated monitor. So you may have different results if your not calibrated.

  3. Obturations.com 20/01/2011 at 4:15 pm #

    I do not have this blue cast like you with the big stopper !? which camera do you use ?

  4. admin 31/01/2011 at 11:36 pm #

    I use a Nikon D300 but shoot all images in RAW which means that I set the white balance not the camera.

  5. danny linton 08/03/2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi mate love this post i been looking at getting one of these myself but am going to try the welding glass approach instead. ( £2 instead of £130 ) 😉 lol

    Anyway iv just posted a review on the Hitech filter system on my blog if your interested http://www.dannylintonphotography.com/blog/2011/03/07/hitech-nd-grad-filter-review/

  6. admin 08/03/2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Hi Danny,

    An interesting read. The welding glass is a good cheap option and if you get some decent results then for £2 you can’t go wrong!

  7. danny linton 08/03/2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Yea i cant wait for it to arrive im gona have a play and post some results. Il keep you informed 🙂

  8. Dan Brian 28/03/2011 at 2:51 am #

    Hi Robert,

    Where did you buy your hitech 10 stop nd filter? Can you suggest an online retailer?


  9. admin 28/03/2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Hi Dan,

    Purchased direct from Formatt (makers of Hitech Filters)

  10. Odille Esmonde-Morgan 07/01/2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I have a Lee 10 filter holder which is very sturdy (like a small book) and would prevent the breakage problem, I think. A big stopper is on my wishlist and I’d hate to break it . . .

  11. admin 07/01/2012 at 7:35 pm #

    The 10 filter holder is very good for protecting the filter along with the Lee three filter pouch too. Just dont use the standard pouch and forget it’s in your pocket when you bend down. Take it from me, it does not protect it 🙁

7 Trackbacks

  1. […] […]

  2. […] about it on POTN: http://photography-on-the.net/forum/…&highlight=lee Here's a review: http://blog.robertstrachan.com/archi…filter-review/ Thanks a ton for the links, i'm going to give them a thorough read before i purchase them. It's […]

  3. […] ND filter to arrive after I ordered it from 2filter*, I was browsing the internet and came across a great review of the filter at Robert Strachan’s blog. He’s lucky to live in the UK, where Lee, the company that makes Lee filters, is based. I […]

  4. By Hitech 10 stop Pro ND Filter on 06/05/2011 at 10:05 pm

    […] filter and the ‘Big Stopper’ will follow in the next couple of weeks.  The original Hitech 10 stop vs Lee Big Stopper review is here. This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged big stopper hitech, formatt, hitech, hitech 10 stop […]

  5. […] Review Comparison between Hitech and Lee Big Stopper (the glass filter from LEE) filters. Lee Big Stopper and Hitech 10 Stop ND filter Review __________________ Anindya ======================================== My photographs : […]

  6. […] unwarranted (ie; Matt Lauder ) but that is just one review, other say they are very happy with it (Robert Strachan & Lee Duguid) […]

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