Breakthrough X2 Infra Red Filter Review

Shoot surreal scenes with the IR screw-in filter

Breakthrough Filters IR
Review

Price when reviewed

£75

$75

Our Verdict

Designed as a screw in the X2 Infra Red filter takes seconds to attach to your lens, then once in a place, you're ready to capture infra-red. When it comes to capturing images with the IR filter make sure that you're shooting on a bright day, otherwise, you won't see much of an effect. Essentially you need the power of the sun to push out the infra-red light waves. After a few photography sessions out in the sun and a card full of IR shots, a quick review shows some impressive results. Ultimately the X2 is non-invasive, easy to attach and does the job that any good IR filter should do, enable you to capture otherwise invisible light.

For

  • Premium quality
  • Easy to use
  • Textured frame for easy fitting

Against

  • Requires a different approach to focus

What is the Breakthrough X2 Infra Red Filter

The X2 Infra Red filter enables you to capture IR images with your camera, no complex conversions or other specialist equipment.

The filter screws into your lenses front element and then your set to go, simple as that.

Follow the link to buy the Breakthrough X2 Infra Red Filter and get 5% by using the code CAMERAJABBER

Introduction

Capturing infra-red is a popular photographic technique, and has been since well before the advent of digital. Originally specialist IR film was used and then as we all migrated to digital, there were a host of companies making the IR conversion.

These early conversions were invasive, stripping away the IR filter from the front of the sensor. The sensors IR filter essentially blocked the IR light, doing the exact opposite job of the X2 we’re looking at in this review.

Once these early conversions were made to a digital camera, such as the old Nikon D200 which was excellent for this, it was time-consuming to put the filter back.

Breakthrough Filters IR

Now, with digital well and truly bedded down that are far less invasive techniques for capturing IR images, primarily using a standard screw-in filter with the right IR coatings.

The filter essentially blocks all light going through the lens except for Infra-Red.

The cameras own IR filter stops just enough IR light hitting the sensor under usual conditions, but with the X2 Infra Red filter in place enough IR light gets through for the camera to capture an exposure.

Specification

  • Diameter: 49 – 82mm
  • Construction: CNC machined aluminium and AGC glass
  • Coatings: Each side has 4-layers of Multi-Resistant Coating to reduce flare and ghosting, Breakthrough Nanotec Nano Coating to repel dirt and water

Features

The filter takes the standard screw-in form and is available in thread sizes from 49 to 82mm.

8 MRC layers with multi-resistant coatings eliminate flaring, ghosting and low contrast. The front element is also nano-coated to help repel dust, water and other dirt from sticking.

To ensure the highest optical quality Breakthrough use AGC glass that is known for its clarity and is made under strict guidelines in Japan.

Read our guide to the best ND filters

Breakthrough filters are instantly recognisable always featuring a textured outer ring that makes the filter easy to attach and remove. The frame itself is ultra-slim at 3.5mm and is made from aluminium.

Breakthrough is confident about the quality of their filters and as such offer a robust 25-year warranty on all of their filters.

Build and Handling

I’ve been using Breakthrough filters on and off for a few years and have been impressed with the quality and design. Here the X2 IR meets the quality I have come to expect from the company, and both the case and the filter itself feel of premium quality.

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Carefully screwing in the frame to the front element thread of the lens and the rotation is smooth and clean. What stands out is the texture on the outer frame that enables decent purchase as you rotate the filter to screw it in.

It’s worth noting that the removal of the filter is equally easy, the slight texture enables a good grip despite the thin 3.5mm profile.

Overall the quality and build of the X2 Infra Red Filter is excellent.

Performance

As soon as the filter is on the front of the lens you can see just how dark the filter is with a slight red hue. A quick look through the viewfinder confirms that the exposure times will be greatly extended.

In the test, I realised that a tripod would be necessary in order to get sharp images. At the start of the test conditions were wet and cloudy which is far from ideal when capturing IR.

Breakthrough Filters IR
Here’s how the image looks directly out of the camera. As you see needs a touch of processing

Looking through the viewfinder and I had to wait for the light to pick up to be able to find focus due to the darkening effect of the filter. The light, at any rate, is needed to capture an IR image; otherwise, you’ll get a minimal effect.

Breakthrough Filters IR
Sample of the effect of the IR after adjustment in Lightroom

After a few journeys out, the sun finally appeared at its full strength, and the effects were dramatic. I still needed a tripod to ensure a steady base for the longer exposures, but the difference in the images captured was spectacular.

Breakthrough Filters IR
In order for the IR filter to work you need to have some good strong sun light.

The most dramatic effect is on greenery and although the full impact won’t be seen until after a bit of processing in the digital darkroom, the red image captured does start to give you some idea of what the final image will look like.

There is a significant difference between IR and standard photography, both in the way the image is captured and the way you need to process it. Back in the digital darkroom, the photos do need adjusting, after all, you’re forcing your camera to capture an image that it has been designed to filter out.

A quick tweak in Lightroom and the effect is dramatic and surreal.

The aesthetic look of the image is spot on; standard colour is stripped away and replaced with a new colour palette that usually goes unseen. Looking over the pictures and it looks like I just about got the focus right, on most of the shots, and the need for a tripod was obvious.

Image quality overall was good, you can see the effect of the filter on the finer detail and tonal graduation, but then these are very different images.

One area of note is that the slim profile does do its job, its something that Breakthrough highlight in their marketing that the 3.5mm profile helps to avoid any vignetting, and here it seems to have the right effect.

Breakthrough X2 Infra Red Filter Verdict

Aside from a UV filter bolted to the front of my lenses to protect the front element I’ve never, until recently, been a huge fan of the screw-in filters.

I just like the whole process of a filter system, swapping and changing filters in a holder. However, there is something far more convenient about a screw-in.

The build quality and design of the Breakthrough X2 Infra Red Filter is exceptional. It’s well made, and the 77mm version that I used was excellent quality.

In use, the filter performed well, and while the photographic technique of capturing altered from a taking a usual image, a little experimentation with setting up the camera and adjusting exposure times quickly enables a decent balance.

The final results were spectacular, and the fact that there was no need for dramatic surgery on the camera made the experience even better.

If you’d like to capture IR images, then this filter is the best way to go about it. There’s little to fault if anything, it’s a good quality filter.

Follow the link to buy the Breakthrough X2 Infra Red Filter and get 5% by using the code CAMERAJABBER

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