What I love about the LEE ELEMENTS range is the convenience of the simple screw-on approach that gives you access to high quality LEE FILTERS optics without the need for a filter system. It’s more convenient to use and saves a ton of space in your kit bag, and as I found during the test, I was more likely to take the Big Stopper with me on a daily walk than with the complete filter system.
In this test, I reviewed the 82mm version of the LEE ELEMENTS Big Stopper, and used it in combination with the Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 lens. The combination of the two offers a flexible and practical solution that easily fits in a small backpack, even if I do not intend to do long exposures.
The LEE ELEMENTS Big Stopper immediately established itself as an indispensable filter. I soon realized that I could leave the Big Stopper on the front of the lens for a long time rather than having to dismantle a filter system. Then when I see a shot I want, I can remove the camera, mount it on a tripod and take the shot. OK, unclipping the old filter system didn’t really take long, but with this filter screwed on, you find it’s just ready to go.
One of the other features of the LEE FILTERS LEE ELEMENTS Big Stopper that I found was that the Sony A7 III’s AF system was fully capable of focusing. Using the Big Stopper version of the filter system, I found it best to focus, switch the lens to manual mode, then insert the filter before taking the shot. Otherwise, the Big Stopper could interfere with the AF system.
Now, however, with the LEE ELEMENTS Big Stopper, I have found that the Big Stopper can focus easily in almost any condition. AF became a problem when using smaller apertures or when the light started to dip with very overcast skies. In these cases I simply opened the aperture to let in enough light to allow the camera to focus, switched to manual focus, then closed the aperture .
The Big Stopper is a filter that you would typically use in isolation, however, there is a front filter thread so accessories such as a lens hood, matte box or something else can be screwed into place. This also contributes to the slightly thicker look of the filter.
Using the filter is simple, screw it onto the front of your lens, select the desired shooting mode, make sure the focus is locked and take the shot. I found that keeping the histogram on allowed me to check the tonal information of each shot and helped to properly adjust the settings; then zooming in on the image made sure everything was captured in focus.
Interestingly, in the past I’ve found that using auto white balance rather than daylight produced cool color tints; however, the AWB setting seemed to do a great job. Any changes to the coatings or the distance between the glass and the lens seem to have made a difference to the reliability of the WB and AF.
Returning home and checking the footage, the lack of color cast throughout the sequence was again apparent; I would have really expected some type of distro to be full of these images.
Checking the image quality, images were full of tonal detail with well-reproduced colors; if anything, I’d say there’s been a slight increase in contrast, not one you’ll notice unless you’re looking for it.
Overall, the performance of the LEE FILTERS LEE ELEMENTS Big Stopper was outstanding. The filter is easy to install, smoothly screwing into place and enabling the capture of images that would be impossible without it. On many levels, the LEE ELEMENTS Big Stopper trumps the filter system equivalent simply by being much easier to use and a filter you can always take with you.