Breakthrough Photography X4 Neutral Density
Field review of the X4 Neutral Density Filter
I’ve had my eye on Breakthrough Photography for a while, a few years in fact, all before purchasing the X4 ND Filter. The X4 used to be the X3, there was trademark issues with the name so it was renamed X4. Version history is the X1, X2 and X4 filter lines. If you’re really shopping reviews, many say X3 was upgraded to X4, not true.
A Company Backed by Passion
I’ve purchased all kinds of camera gear in my life, all but just a few of those companies really take pride in the overall experience from purchase, packaging, and registration of a product. Once my X4 ND arrived I had a few questions so I called, communication with support/sales was excellent. After I registered my filter and received this email:
We just wanted to let you know that your 25 Year Ironclad Guarantee activation was successful. You’re all set! If you ever have any problems with your product simply contact us with your serial number and email address.
Breakthrough Photography Team”
I believe in consumer experience, it matters when you’re going to drop dollars on gear! Now speaking of customer service, let’s talk product experience.
X4 ND Build Quality
The X4 comes in 3, 6, 10, 15-Stops, and lens size ranges 49mm, 52mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm. There is a magnetic option for 95mm, 100mm Square, to 150mm Square.
This filter is a finely tuned elegant piece of glass, Schott Superwite B270® optical glass to be exact. The housing is a rugged deep cut brass ring, design to keep it from slipping free of you hands. The X4 ND features SCHOTT Superwhite B270® optical glass, which is an ultra clear crown glass. It is produced by melting high purity raw materials and then made using the continuous draw process. The result is excellent transmission in the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared spectrums, and a high surface quality that accepts our state-of-the-art MRC and nanotec® coatings exceptionally well.
X4 ND Glass Coating
Just like the previous X3 line, Breakthrough Photography still uses the Schott Superwite B270®. Why change what already works right? The X4 has eight coats of MRC (multi-resistant coating), which is an ultra hard hydrophobic substance design to reduce glare, protect the element from dirt, and moisture.
Who wants to test dust and water on their brand new filter? Not me… Okay, but I did! I shook a blanket for high static dust, and spritzed a water bottle to simulate waterfall back spray, and all removed easily without issue. Always use blower thoroughly before wiping off dirt, sand or glacial silt, or a gentle rinse before wiping.
Performance Results of X4 ND
I should begin and end this review with what Breakthrough Photography has on their website:
“Worlds Sharpest ND Filter. 100% Guaranteed” and also as “…the most color neutral ND filter for the discerning landscape photographer”.
It’s a bold statement, but after using this filter I quickly realized they weren’t kidding. The X4 ND Performance regarding Vignetting, Sharpness and Color Cast is outstanding in comparison to other filters I’ve used.
There’s no doubt I could ramble and pontificate on how great the X4 ND filter performs, but the heavy lifting in comparing X4 to other filters has already been done by my friends at FStoppers. Below the video I’ll also provide images I shot using the filter along with my feedback.
Fstoppers does an excellent job at breaking down the technical aspects through these filters by putting through the workout in studio. The photos below are un-edited and shot using the Breakthrough Photography 6 Stop X4 ND Filter, I think the results in the field were not much different. I pulled focus with the ND filter on, no vignetting, or color cast.
This wasn’t a review after all, but more of a testimony to a fine piece of glass. Breakthrough Photography has established themselves as a serious player in ND’s and also Polarizers, which I’ll review later. The X4 isn’t cheap, retailing for $139.00, but the design and function of this ND will appeal to photographers, not enthusiasts. When I look at the spectrum of photography gear, few things lately in photography have excited me. Breakthrough Photography has really opened up my creativity without much worry about sharpness, vignetting, or color cast.