Tag Archives: Lee Filters

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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Well Done Lee Filters

Sony RX10 image with 0.3 Lee ND Grad filter on the sky
Sony RX10 image with 0.3 Lee ND Grad filter on the sky

A couple of weeks back I was in the Lake District enjoying some walking and photography. It was during this time that I came across a rather high contrast scene so reached for my filter kit. Regular readers may know that I am a huge fan of the Lee Seven 5 series of filters which are ideal for Micro 43 cameras. The filters may be expensive but the kit is very well engineered with high quality materials.

Anyway, I pulled out my filter holder and tried to slot in one of the ND grads. At first it seemed to fit but then I noticed it was lose. On closer inspection I found out that one of the screws which secures the blades into which the filters slow was missing. Now the blades were lose and so was the filter.

Back home I decided to email Lee Filters to see where I could find a replacement screw as I have never seen these being sold. Result! There was a very fast response from the Lee Customer Service team asking for my address so they could post me a replacement screw.

What I didn’t mention in all this is that I left it quite late to contact Lee Filters and was now facing my next trip without a usable filter holder. Fortunately Lee acted on the email very quickly and the day after my sending my postal address an envelope arrived containing not 1 but 4 of the screws together with the 4 plastic spacers which are also used in the filter holder. What great customer service.

A big thank you to the team at Lee for acting so quickly. You saved my trip.

And in case your wondering, here is the B&W conversion.
And in case your wondering, here is the B&W conversion.