Tag Archives: filters

Kase K8 Magnetic Filter Holder First Thoughts

Stanage Edge, The Peak District in depressingly dull weather. Fuji X-T2, 10-24mm, Kase K8 holder with 0.6 ND Grad and Polarising filter. Even at 10mm there is no vignetting from the filters.

Last week I posted about my recent purchased of a Kase filter holder kit. This was to replace my 100mm Lee Filter holder. Since switching to use the glass Kase Wolverine filters I had been using them with the Lee holder with replacement Kase slots.

But the problem I have with the Lee filter holder is that it vignettes quite badly when using wide angle lenses. This always frustrated me and is caused by the large polarising filter ring on the front of the holder. Attach a polarising filter and the problem gets worse. Being able to use a polarising filter is important so I was keen to find a solution.

First Thoughts

The K8 filter holder is a recent release from Kase and is an improvement on the already good K6 holder. The advantage of the K8 holder is that the polarising filter attaches magnetically to the filter ring. This allows you to easily pop it on and off; much better than fiddling around trying to screw and unscrew filters. Especially when it’s cold.

Kit Contents

The K8 filter holder kit comes with two metal adapter rings, a 77mm, and an 82mm. These adapter rings screw to the front of your lenses allowing the adapter to attach. Also included in the kit are a 72mm to 82mm and a 67mm to 82mm stepper ring. These are standard stepper rings and you can easily purchase other sizes cheaply from the likes of Amazon and eBay. This means you should be able to accommodate most lenses up to 82mm. Beyond this size, you would need to consider using the 150mm filters as opposed to 100mm.

Attaching the Holder

The filter holder locks onto the adapter ring using a tab which holds it very firm. The tab is moved into place using a screw on the side of the holder. In the past I have experiences filter holders popping off the adapter ring, but I can’t see that happening with this holder.

The filter adapter ring that attaches to your lens also has a geared or toothed edge. This interlocks with a geared wheel on the side of the filter holder. You can then use the wheel to rotate the polarising filter to give the desired level of adjustment. All this happens whilst the filter holder stays still and locked into position. It’s very well designed and easy to use.

Holder Construction

The holder itself is made from aluminium and the face has a foam gasket attached. If you are using a long exposure ND filter, this will minimise the risk of any light leaking around the edges of the filter.

The filter slots are made from plastic and attach to the front of the holder. Slots can be removed and changed using a small screwdriver that’s also provided. Additional slots and screws are provided in the kit. I have configured mine to accept three slot-in filters of 2mm thickness. That’s in addition to the polarising filter.

As most filters from other manufacturers are 2mm thick, you can use them with this filter holder. I have tried the Lee 100mm filters and they fit just fine, although I don’t think I will be using them again. The only Lee filter that doesn’t fit is the 10-stop because it has a gasket glued to it, which catches on the gasket in the Kase holder. You can easily overcome this by turning the filter round, so the gasket faces out.

In the Field

At the weekend I headed out with the Kase holder to try it out. Attaching it was very easy and just like Lee holder except that it takes a second longer. That’s because the lug on the side screws firmly into place where the Lee holder is spring loaded.

Once in place, I was able to attach the polarising filter and slot in the Kase Wolverine square filters without a problem. Removing the filters was also easy except for the polariser. It sat so far inside the holder that I couldn’t reach it. Then I realised I could remove the filter holder and the polariser is still attached to the adapter ring and lens. This is a great design feature and means you can use the 86mm polarising filter with just an adapter ring and you don’t the filter holder on the lens.

Removing the polariser from the filter ring is also very easy. Because it’s magnetic you can just pop it off and then back on again. It’s very secure but you do need to be a little careful that you mount it onto the ring properly so that it sits flush all the way around.

But the big question for me was would this solve my vignetting problems. I decided to try the filter holder using the polarising filter and a 0.6 ND grad. It was perfect. Not a hint of vignetting even on the Fuji at 10mm (15mm equivalent in full frame). I also found the rotation of the polarising filter very easy using the wheel on the side of the holder.

Later I also tried out the holder for some long exposure shots. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my Lee 10 stop ND filter and so had to improvise with the Kase Polariser and 3 stop ND filter. By stopping down the Fuji lens to f/16 and setting the ISO to 100, I was able to achieve shutter times of around 3 seconds. Looking at the resulting images the quality is good, and I can’t see any evidence of light leaks or reflections.

Overall, I’m delighted with the K8 holder. I think this is going to allow me to use a polarising filter much more frequently in the future.

The Kase K8 Filter Holder Kit including Polarising filter currently retails for £110.00 and can be purchased from my website (https://lenscraft.co.uk/k8-kase-filter-holder-kit-100mm/).

New Kase K8 Magnetic Filter Holder

Derwentwater at sunset, The Lake District, UK.
Derwentwater at sunset, The Lake District, UK. Fuji X-T2, 50-140 f2.8 lens, ISO200, 1/20″ at f/22.0. Kase 3 stop Soft ND Grad filter. Tripod Mounted. Try doing shooting something like this with a resin filter and you will understand why I switched to Kase Wolvering glass filters.

Last year I made the decision to switch filter systems. At the time I was using the Lee 100mm system and the Lee Seven5 system for smaller cameras (I still use the Seven5 with Micro43 cameras and my pocket camera because of the size). I had been a long time Lee Filter user and had been happy with the filters. What changed my mind was the cost of the filters when you consider how easily they scratched. And it wasn’t just large scratches that I’m talking about, it was micro scratches on the surface of the filter. Often you couldn’t see these until you started to shoot into the sun, when everything became obvious and the photos would often be ruined by flare.

Because of my experience with the resin filters I had been considering a switch to using glass. At the time Lee didn’t offer glass filters other than the big and little stoppers. And my experience with those had been poor due to a strong blue colour cast but also having smashed a couple of them when they popped off my camera; I still have no idea how. This experience had left me wary of using glass filters although I knew in my heart that it was probably the way to go.

Then I had an experience which made up my mind in an instant. I tried a friend’s glass Nisi filters and the results were amazing. It was as if someone had wiped my lenses clean, but I didn’t switch to Nisi. Instead I switched to Kase; that’s because the Kase filters are shatterproof and scratch resistant and I think that’s a big deal.

Now these glass filters aren’t cheap (but I honestly believe they are worth it) so initially I bought a couple to try them. I also didn’t want the added expense of a filter holder so decided to use my Lee 100mm holder and switched the filter holder inserts that hold the filters in place. The standard Lee holders aren’t strong enough to hold the slippery, heavier glass filters in place and they can easily slide through.

With the new filter inserts in place the Kase filters worked fine, and I quickly realised the Kase Wolverine filters were what I had been looking for. I bought a couple more and then a few more, but I continued to use the Lee 100mm filter holder with them. But, there was one niggling problem remained with the Lee holder and that was vignetting.

The design of the Lee holder is such that the add on ring for the polarising filter sits on the outside of the holder. Despite this being a large 105mm diameter it can still cause vignetting with wide angle lenses, even without the polarising filter attached. Add the polariser and you suddenly restrict the field of vision considerably. The Kase filter holder by contrast has the polarising filter built into the holder and it sits almost flush to the face of the lens, in line with the filter adapter ring. Result – no vignetting.

When I recently visited the Photography Show in Birmingham I called by the Kase stand to take a closer look at the Kase filter holder. The vignetting issue with my Lee holder was becoming a major problem and had prevented me from taking some shots that I felt sure would be great. When I looked at the Kase K6 holder I was immediately impressed. It’s well engineered from aluminium, it’s smaller than the Lee holder (but still takes 100mm filters), it’s lighter and most importantly it’s thinner. By thinner I mean that it doesn’t protrude as far from the lens so the risk of vignetting with ultra-wide lenses like the Fuji 10-24 is minimised. In all the excitement at the show though I forgot to place an order.

Fortunately, when I did place an order the Kase K6 holder had sold out as there had been so much interest at the show. I say fortunately because Kase has just launched the new K8 Magnetic filter and when I heard I switched my ordered that instead. One of the benefits with the K8 holder is that the polarising filter attaches to the filter holder magnetically. This allows you to pop it out rather than unscrew it if you don’t want to use a polariser. This may sound minor, but when it’s cold and your fumbling around outside, it can be a significant advantage.

I’m planning on heading out with the new holder in the next few days and hope to be able to share a full review on the blog next week.

For the sake of openness and honesty I should tell you that I do sell Kase filters through my website. This came about after I bought my first set of Kase filters. If I didn’t think these were great filters, they wouldn’t appear on my website. I only recommend what I use myself and truly believe in.

Filter News

Wastwater sunset in the Lake District. Captured using the Fuji X-T2 and 18-135 lens. Handheld with 0.6 ND hard Grad filter. RAW conversion in Lightroom.

If you read my blog or website I’m sure you will know that I regularly use filters in my work. I know I can easily blend multiple exposures, but for me there is a pleasure in taking a single shot and getting the exposure right in camera. And that’s one of the reasons why I like to use filters, or specifically Neutral Density Graduated filters. Another reason is that they give my image a look that I struggle to replicate when blending shots. This is particularly true when using smaller sensor cameras, where the sensor doesn’t have the same exposure latitude as a full frame camera.

Using filters does though have a downside. For one, they are expensive and the speed I seem to damage mine is increasing. For a long time, I used Lee 100mm filters and more recently the Lee Seven 5 series. These filters are good and produce the results I want, but I have a habit of scratching them. I find their surface is quickly covered in tiny micro scratches which often causes flare in bright light.

It’s these points together with a few others I haven’t mentioned, that lead to me search for a new filter provider. My aim was to switch from resin filters to glass. Hopefully these would be more robust providing I don’t drop them.

Broken glass Lee filter when the holder popped off the front of my lens. No idea what caused this as I wasn’t near the camera at the time.

Having looked at a few options from Hitech, Lee and Nisi, I have switched to a brand I hadn’t previously seen – Kase Wolverine. What swung my decision was not just that the filters are scratch resistant but that they are made from toughened glass that won’t shatter when you drop them. That’s fortunate as I have dropped one of them twice now.

Initially I purchased three new Kase Wolverine 100mm glass filters; a 0.9 (3 stop) soft graduate, a 0.6 (2 stop) hard graduate and 0.9 (3 stop) hard graduate. I’m currently using these with my Lee system holder which I modified using stronger filter inserts (provided free with the filters).

My initial reaction on using the filters was wow! These filters are so neutral and there is no flare, even when shooting directly into the sun. When they get wet, the water just runs off them. Best of all, my Fuji long lens focusses correctly when I use these filters (read this blog post if you haven’t seen the problem). This makes the filters very flexible and a joy to use.

The only problem I have experienced was the white lettering around the inside of my Fuji lenses reflecting onto the surface of the filter when the sun is at certain angles. I soon fixed this by placing black tape over the writing. It’s also a problem that I have seen with other filters and it’s not restricted to Kase.

In short, I was so impressed by these filters that I have been in discussions to act as an agent in the UK and have added them to my Lenscraft shop.

It’s great to find a product that works so well.

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More Lightweight Noise Reduction

Image

In a previous blog (Don’t Let Noise Kill Your Images) I wrote about the steps you could take to minimise noise in your images. It’s long been recognised that cameras with small sensors have higher levels of noise than they would if they had a larger sensor as a result of packing more pixels into less space. Whilst there have been great advances in this area, it can still be a problem.

If I look at the images produced by my GX1 (16Mpixels) and compare these to images shot on my GF1 (12Mpixels) both of which have the same sized sensor, I can see real improvements in the GX1 both at base and higher ISO levels. I would say that I am examining the images in great detail for any trace of noise in case you think these cameras are poor performers. To give you something to compare against, when I do this for check with my 5D MkII I can also pick out noise at ISO100 in dark areas and in the Blue channel. So what do you do if you find you can’t avoid capturing noisy images?

In the past I have used a noise reduction tool called Neat Image but to be honest it’s quite a lengthy process to get good results and whilst it has a batch mode, I prefer to fine tune the software to each image (hardly a lightweight processing workflow). This weekend however I decided to download a trial of DeNoise from Topaz Labs and the Noise reduction plug in from PhotoWiz (I already use Contrast Master, B&W Styler and Focal Blade plug-in and rate these highly). The results were a bit of a surprise.

I found both solutions did a better job than Neat Image however the PhotoWiz product took some time to process my sample image, something I want to avoid. Comparing this with the performance of Topaz Labs DeNoise solution I found a huge difference. DeNoise was incredibly fast to process my image but it also gave the cleanest and most lifelike results. Finding the right level of reduction was as simple as moving one slider but it was then possible to further fine tune the results. It gave me lots of control in an interface that was very easy and fast to use.

I want to experiment further before purchasing, but early results look very promising.