Cheaper Photographic Equipment – Does cheap necessarily result in poor quality?

Cheaper Photographic Equipment – Does cheap necessarily result in poor quality?


I am sure many photographers, like me, watch YouTube Photographic channels for inspiration.  Over the past few months I have however become more and more intrigued by landscape photography, and more specifically long exposure landscape photography.

The smooth mirror-like waterscapes give a landscape image a sense of calmness… and the effect of the almost satin water appears similar to a blending of paints by a painter’s brush.

But after checking local photographic equipment retailers’ websites I soon realised that ND filters, or at least the ones that will give you enough stops to slow down water shot in daylight, like the Big Stopper (10 stop) ND Filter, were not cheap.  A fairly good quality filter would retail in the region of R 1000,00 each, and this excluded the holder and adapter rings.

I decided to have a look on, but I must admit that I was skeptical.   With the poor Rand Dollar exchange rate, I figured I would just be disappointed once again, but decided to have a look anyway.

In a photographic society where the trend is that the more money you spend on equipment, the better the quality, and yes for some equipment that is definitely the case, but not always.

Cutting to the chase…. I ordered a 1, 2, 3 and 10 stop screw-on ND filter, on Amazon, which included a pouch and microfibre cloth, delivered to my door in SA, for a grand total of R 852,00!  And the best of all is that they are all stackable, so in effect I have a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 stop ND filter, depending on the combination I stack them.

I know, you are probably thinking “well sure you may have bought a set of filters at a bargain price, but you get what you pay for and how good could they possibly be?”. My thoughts exactly!

This past weekend I decided to take them out for the first time, and to be honest, I was not expecting much and figured it would just be a learning experience to get a feel for using filters, and if all else fails, I could bite the bullet and spend the R 1000 + and get a decent filter later.

Below are my images from that shoot.  You be the judge…and keep in mind this was my first attempt at long exposure photography and using ND filters.