Breakthrough Photography filters are built to last with tempered glass

Tempered glass has been used for everything from smartphone screen protectors to car windshields, but now, the durable big bother of plain old glass is coming to photography filters, too. On May 1, the San Francisco-based Breakthrough Photography launched a Kickstarter campaign for the world’s first tempered glass graduated neutral-density (GND) and neutral-density (ND) filters, as well as a dark circular polarizing filter (CPL).

The company is calling the X4 GND both the toughest and sharpest of its kind. GNDs darken only a portion of the image — often used to avoid overexposing the sky — and the tempered glass version is expected to launch in both a two stop and three stop version, each with the option of using a hard or soft transition. A three-stop reverse filter is also launching. The company claims the filters are also the most color neutral on the market, since darkening filters tend to also affect colors.

The graduated filter is also joining a full neutral-density filter made from the same tempered glass, used to reduce the amount of light coming into the camera for anything from long exposures to wide apertures on a sunny day. The filter has the same color-neutral performance as the graduated version, Breakthrough Photography says, and will be available in 1-10 stop densities in 100mm and 150mm square formats.

Both filters are made in Germany from Schott B270 glass, which means the filters are better able to withstand drops than the typical filter — so Breakthrough Photography is even throwing in a 25 year guarantee.

The GNDs and NDs are also launching with a Dark CPL, which combines an ND filter and CPL in one. CPLs affect reflected light for enhancing reflections or simply making a blue sky pop. While standard length lenses can use both a CPL and ND at the same time, with lenses wider than 19mm, the edges of the photo vignette or darken. By combining both the reflection control and darkening effect of each into a single filter, the effect can be applied on lenses as wide as 16mm (35mm equivalent) without that vignetting.

The Kickstarter reached their initial $50,000 goal after only the second day of the campaign, and  Breakthrough Photography says they have already started manufacturing with the funding in place. The campaign is open until June 2, though early pledges are limited. Each filter is selling for $149 on Kickstarter, with the retail value expected to hit between $159 and $199.