Kase Filters Buying Guide - A guide to the best filters for you
Neutral density filters are an essential part of creating beautiful landscape photography images, but it can be overwhelming trying to decide what filters to purchase. In this guide, we'll help you understand each type of filter so you can make an informed decision for the filters that best suit your camera and lenses and the type of images you want to capture.
There are several factors that should form your decision when you are researching which system is best for you:
When you invest in a good quality camera body and lenses, it's because you want to take the sharpest shots possible. That's why it makes no sense to buy cheap filters because the quality of the glass really makes a difference! It's like buying a $2 pair of reading glasses at the chemist vs going to the optometrist and getting glasses that are fit for purpose, and Kase Filters glass is second-to-none in terms of quality.
The high definition, optical glass also has multiple coatings to repel water and prevent smearing - which is a must-have if you are shooting in misty or drizzly conditions or with water spray from waterfalls and waves.
There's also no colour cast introduced using with Kase Filters - this is important to retain true-to-life colour in your images rather than taking on unwanted colour tones.
Understanding each filter and its purpose
Before deciding on a system to purchase, you need to understand what each filter does and how using each one will improve your images.
A circular polariser is essential to cut reflections and glare, reduce haze and enhance the richness of certain colour tones in your shot. It is particularly useful to use around any forest and river scenes, lakes and where there are cloud layers with blue sky behind.
For more detailed information on using a circular polariser, read Three Reasons Why You Should Use a Polariser.
Neutral Density Filters
A neutral density filter comes in various strengths allowing you to extend your shutter speed for artistic effect, from a few seconds to several minutes long depending on the available light and your camera settings. Some photographers will ONLY shoot long exposures and for that you need a ND1000 or 10-stop or to shoot when it is almost dark.
We find an ND64 (6-stop) the most useful of all the ND filters. It’s strong enough to use in lower light around sunrise and sunset to get between 30 seconds and a minute long.
When shooting around waterfalls or near rivers, sometimes no ND filter is needed as the forest cover often means the light is low enough to shoot quite slow just by adding the polariser. It would be very rare to need more than a ND8 (3-stop) or ND64 in these situations.
If you want to shoot a REALLY long exposure, e.g. 1-2 minutes or more to accentuate cloud movement in the sky, you will need to use a stronger ND1000 (10-stop).
This is probably the filter that photographers would most disagree over.Some photographers swear by it, to help even out the exposure between the lightest and darkest part of your image. It comes in various types (soft, medium, hard and reverse), and in various strengths (2-stop to 5-stop). For more detailed information on graduated filters, read our post Don’t leave home without your graduated filter.
Personally, we wouldn’t dare shoot at sunrise and sunset without a graduated filter. It reduces the dynamic range of your scene significantly making it far easier to edit in post processing by preventing blown-out highlights and underexposed shadows.
So now that you understand the filters, which system do you need? Here’s our review on each system so you can choose the one that best suits your needs:
Kase Filters Square Systems (75mm, 100mm and 150mm)
The square system is the traditional choice for landscape photographers as it allows you to stack up to 3 filters together (a circular polariser, ND filter and graduated filter) without vignetting. The Kase K9 100mm holder is the lightest, best designed 100mm holder in the market, weighing in at only 100 grams with the magnetic polariser attached, and the oversized 90mm polariser means there is NO vignetting. This is great news particularly if using wide angle lenses like the 16-25mm f2.8 GM lens (82mm thread) with all three filters attached in the K9 Entry Level Kit (CPL, GND and an ND filter).
Most 100mm holders we’ve seen are bulky and tricky to operate - often requiring you to remove the holder from your lens to take the polariser on and off - no one wants the hassle of doing that mid-shoot when the sky is going crazy! But you can easily remove the CPL from the Kase holder in a matter of seconds by just detaching the magnet.
For smaller mirrorless or crop-sensor cameras and lenses up to 67mm thread, Kase Filters has a 75mm square system that is an exact replica of the 100mm system, just smaller. Weighing at only 70 grams and with slim 1.1mm filters, it’s the perfect way to use a system that isn’t too big or bulky for these smaller camera setups.
Future proofing your filters
One thing we would point out though, if you are ever planning on upgrading your camera or lenses in the future, you are better to buy the larger 100mm system and use smaller adapter rings for lenses that are 37-67mm in size.
What about lenses that won't work with the 100mm system?
There’s also a larger 150mm system available for very wide angle lenses. This suits lenses that have a thread larger than 82mm, or have a fixed lens hood that can’t fit the standard sized 100mm holder. The 150mm system offers dedicated holders for a range of specific lenses with an oversized magnetic CPL and 150mm size filters.
Pros and Cons of the Square Systems
- Stack up to 3-4 filters using the holder slots without vignetting
- Easily removable magnetic CPL
- Easy to use a graduated filter and adjust for horizon or angle as needed in the scene
- No vignetting even with wide angle lenses due to 90mm oversized magnetic CPL
- The 75mm and 100mm holders can also use other brands 2mm filters if needed
- Bigger and bulkier than the magnetic circular equivalents
- Though Wolverine filters are shockproof, they are less robust than magnetic filters
Is a Square Filter System right for you?
If you turn up to a location and find you aren’t hiking far or moving great distances during a shoot, or you would be lost without using graduated filters and you don’t mind packing your filters away between locations, the square system is our pick for you.
If you want the best of both worlds with a fully professional square system but all the convenience of magnetic, then the brand new Armour Magnetic System is for you! We've been so impressed with this kit that combines all the best attributes of a 100mm square system with the robustness and ease of a magnetic kit.
This is such a smart setup, here are a few features that set this new system apart:
- Fully magnetic holder incorporates both a polariser on one side and a circular magnetic ND filter on the other
- Extra large 95mm circular filters in the holder means no vignetting even on wide angle angle lenses
- Magnetic frames on the square/rectangular filters allow you to easily attach 1-2 further filters to the front
- Removable magnetic frames mean you can add a graduated filter or other ND filters you might have if upgrading from a different system
- Super strong magnetic grip - you won't believe how strong these are!
For an in-depth review of the new Armour Kit, check out Meghan Maloney's review here.
Kase Filters Wolverine Magnetic Circular Systems
These are Kase Filters best selling systems, and for good reason. People love the convenience of magnetically attaching filters on the fly, and their lightweight, compact setup is a game changer if you are wanting to reduce the weight and size of your gear overall, or if you do a lot of hiking. Attaching a CPL and 1 ND filter is only 50 grams of weight and the whole kit fits in a small leather pouch weighing only 150grams!
If you are considering a magnetic circular kit, buy the kit that works with the largest lens size you have or intend to have in the future. You can always size down to smaller lenses if needed but you can’t size up. If you are worried about any potential vignetting once you stack several filters together, you can always buy a kit that is one size larger than your largest lens.
The sets come with a magnetic adapter ring that screws onto your lens - then you magnetically attach 1 or more filters to this. If you need to use it with smaller lenses, you replace this adapter ring with a step-up magnetic ring which does the same job.
There are several systems available, and the ones reviewed below are the ones we believe provide the best results:
This is the most cost effective kit - coming with a CPL, ND8 (3-stop) and ND64 (6-stop) and is available in sizes 67mm - 95mm. We only stock the ND version of this kit as we find the kit with the soft graduated filter option doesn’t give great results since the graduated filter is not adjustable to your composition.
That’s why we were pleased to see Kase Filters release a Magnetic Holder with a fully Adjustable Graduated Filter in 95mm sizing which overcomes this issue (available in 77mm and 82mm sizes only).
This kit builds on the Entry Level ND kit by adding an ND1000 (10-stop) to the kit to round out all the different strength neutral density filters you might need. Again it can be used in conjunction with the Magnetic Holder if you want to add a GND to your kit now or in the future.
This is a relatively new addition to the Wolverine Magnetic kits and was designed to overcome the fixed graduated filter issue. This kit is really flexible as it allows you to still use a CPL and ND together with the adapter ring and only adding the holder with the graduated filter as/when needed, and the graduated filter can be moved up and down to suit the scene and rotated as well. This kit comes with an ND1000 so if you want to add an ND64 you can buy this separately. Available in 77mm size only (82mm sold out).
This is a different offering to the Wolverine system. For a start it’s a slightly cheaper price point, the main reason for this is because the glass is not shockproof like the Wolverine series. It’s still the same high quality optical glass, but just doesn’t come with the 'shockproof' claim and it's slightly bulkier too.
One benefit of buying the Skyeye filters is that they have both a screw thread and a magnetic option on the front of the filter, which allows you to either magnetically stack another filter OR screw in a standard non magnetic filter - clever thinking if you have other screw-in filters you’d still like to be able to use.
Pros and Cons of the Magnetic Filter Systems
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to take on and off in seconds
- Shockproof and robust design encased in a slim magnetic metal frame
- Using a graduated filter can be problematic (the new magnetic holder option has helped fix this)
- Some vignetting is likely once you stack two or more filters together (unless you buy a kit that is a larger size than your lens)
Is a Magnetic Filter System right for you?
If you enjoy hiking or travel a lot and want to keep your photography kit as light and compact as possible, and you can also live without a graduated filter then a magnetic kit is for you.
What other Filters are there?
That rounds out the series of filters that you put in front of your camera lens. But Kase also has other options too - for example if you are a sport photographer wanting to slow your shutter speed down for panning and you don’t want to have to change filters across multiple lenses. Or you may have a range of lenses which includes one lens that doesn’t suit the traditional setups but you would rather not invest in the bulky 150mm system, then the clip-in sensor filters or rear-mount lens filters are a great alternative.
Kase Clip-in Sensor Filters (for mirrorless cameras)
These revolutionary clip-in sensors have been designed for a range of mirrorless cameras - with options for Sony, Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm. Unlike the square and magnetic systems, these filters can only be used one at a time rather than being stacked - and there is no option for a polariser. Even if you are using a standard square or magnetic system, it’s certainly worth investing in the MCUV clip-in filter to prevent dust spots getting into the sensor - a common complaint with mirrorless cameras.
The clip-in filters come with options for ND8 through to ND1000 plus a clip-in neutral night filter which is handy for using with wide angle prime astro lenses that can't take a standard filter thread, as well as the MCUV filter mentioned above.
Rounding out the filter options are rear-mounted lens filters for specific wide angle lenses - with options for Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Tamron and Fuji. These are a great cost effective alternative when using single filters without needing to invest in a full 150mm system.
Pros and Cons of Rear & Clip-in Systems
- Lightest, smallest and cheapest filter options available
- Allows filters to be used on very specialist lenses that can’t easily fit the square or magnetic systems (i.e. very wide angle with fixed lens hood)
- Can only use one filter at a time
- Risk of smudging sensor or back of lens when installing
- The rear filters only work with very specific lenses and aren't interchangeable
Need Help Deciding?
If you are still unsure which filters or kit to buy or which size would suit you best, please get in touch via our Contact Page. We are here to help you find the best solution for your photography needs!