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LEE Filters ND Grads: Banding and Discoloration

Until recently I always stored my LEE ND Graduated filters in the Lee wraps inside the Lee pouches provided, i.e. until I start noticing some discoloration and banding in them. The discoloration and banding were more pronounced on the 0.9/0.6 ND Grad Soft/Hard filters [both Xpro and standard] and clearly seen with the naked eye.

Lee ND XPro Grads Banding and Discoloration

LEE XPro ND Grads with banding and discoloration from prolonged storage in LEE’s microfibre wraps

The banding matched the pouch pattern, i.e. the top part of the filter that, only covered by the wrap flap is less affected and the top of the pouch [where the fabric is doubled on itself and stitched] coincides with the banding and in the inside of the pouch there is transfer of the filter material that matches the gradation of the ND Grad. Since I never washed the wraps [maybe I should have] the issue of me introducing aggressive chemicals in the fabric as a result improper washing does not apply in my case [unless of course they were introduced during manufacturing].

Transfer to Lee Wraps

Transfer onto the filter wrap’s fabric

I promptly contacted LEE customer service in the UK and they told me to return the filters and wraps to them for inspection, which I did. The end result was that LEE agreed to replace the filters but warning that they should be stored in their pouches [not necessarily in their wraps]. LEE did mention that under certain conditions [which conditions exactly?] the microfibre wraps can have a detrimental effect on the filters and should not be used. The new wraps are different from the old in both design and material but it is not completely clear to me if one can/should keep the filters in them for prolonged storage. I would assume it is but then I assumed it was ok with the old wraps, so…

Lee Wraps [Left: New, Right: Old]

Lee Wraps [Left: New, Right: Old]

I have to give a big thumbs up to LEE’s European customer service, they were both very friendly and fast and within 10 working days I received the replacement filters as promised [they even paid for the international shipping].

In conclusion, if you have LEE ND or ND Grad filters stored in the old microfibre wraps inspect them at once and consider replacing the old microfibre wraps by the new ones [which are better] for storage? and field use even if there is no visible damage to the filter(s). If you really must use the old microfibre wraps at least put the ND part of the filter towards the bottom of the pouch. The problem is that most of the on-line shops who stock LEE Filter products have not updated the product images and do not mention if the wraps are the old or the new design, so don’t forget to ask before placing the order.

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17/09/2012 - Posted by | Tips | , , , , , , ,

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