Review First impressions: Kase 100mm filter system used for m43

Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
273
Location
The Netherlands
Real Name
Roel
Some background, I'm mostly a landscape/cityscape photographer (I do some portraits which I enjoy but it's just not my preferred photography subject).

When I switched to m43 and the smaller lenses I opted for round filters (the screw on type) for convenience. These screw-on filters are easy to carry and can provide very good quality for a reasonable price. Quick tip is to get some metal screw-on caps for the round filters and you have a bomb-proof way to store your filters.

I used Hoya ND filters (3, 6 and 10 stops) and have nothing but praise for the quality of the ND's (no color casting and solid build quality). The polarizer I use for m43 is a Firecrest. Polarization is good but the build quality is not up to B+W / Hoya in my opinion (the B+W Kasemann cir pol which I use on the Fuji is much better).

Using screw-on filters I experienced some downsides: stacking filters resulted in vignetting on the Olympus 12-40 2.8 (even going to 72mm size filters using step-up rings). This was using an ND and polariser, which is something I wanted to use for landscapes quite often. And I always end up with stuck screw-on filters (most often with the Firecrest CPL, which as it's a slim CPL is very difficult to remove), but that could just be me.

So I did some research for a different filter system. The main goal was a system that would work for the Olympus 12-40 2.8 and 40-150 2.8 and potentially an ultra-wide lens (probably +/-8mm widest) which I would like to add. It would be nice if it could also be used on primes and my Fuji x100t (with wide/teleconverter).
  • Kase magnetic round filters (72mm to fit my 40-150mm)
  • Lee seven5 / Formatt Hitech 85mm
  • Lee 100mm
  • Nisi 100mm
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm
  • Kase 100mm
The magnetic round filters by Kase are very easy to use but still resulted in vignetting on the Olympus 12-40 2.8 (stacking a ND and CPL and as with the Lee seven5 system, it wouldn't be an option for ultra-wide lenses.

So the 100mm system was the way to go (albeit it looks quite big on m43:blush:).
I did read a lot of comparisons on the Lee, Nisi and Formatt Hitech Firecrest and came to the conclusion that Nisi would be the best pick (no color casting and the recent filter holder got some decent reviews, albeit some people reported that the filters could drop out of the holder which worried me a bit).

Doing additional research (countless hours as I generally tend to overthink substantial investments) I ran into the Kase system (as well as the magnetic round filters they offer) and decided to look further into this system.
What I did like vs the other systems:
  1. very tough glass (scratch-resistant and could survive a potential drop);
  2. sturdy filter holder no reports of people accidentally dropping filters out of the holder;
  3. there is a light seal on the filter holder itself vs on the ND (for example the big stopper from Lee). I don't know at this point if this is really a major advantage but it does works very well;
  4. the polarizer can be placed within the holder magnetically and the option to change polarization with a wheel on the outside of the filter holder;
  5. high optical quality of the filter glass, no color casting even on 10 stop ND.
I bought the Kase K9 Entry level kit consisting of a K9 holder, magnetic CPL 90mm, ND64 filter en GND0.9 (soft graduation) filter and a nice carrying case. And added a set of step-up rings making it usable on all my lenses. The larger kits all include filters that I would not/hardly use, so this was a good starting point for me covering well over 90% of my needs.

Kase offers the filters in 2mm and 1.1mm "slim" 100mm filters. The 1.1mm have a weight advantage but I went with the 2mm which should be a bit more robust and also being able to fit other 100mm filters is a plus. The K9 filter holder does come with 1.1mm replacement brackets which is a nice touch.

This is not a full review (which I will add here in the future) as I have used the system for only a couple of times now.

But based on limited experience I must say I'm very impressed with the system. The filter holder is very well made and having a magnetic CPL makes it very easy to mount/dismount the CPL, the level of polarization is easily controlled by a good size wheel on the outside of the holder vs mounting the CPL on the front like the Lee system.
The 100mm filters are mounted firmly in the holder and I can't see them falling out, which is good. Colors are very accurate when using the filters (no visible color casting using the 6 stops), making it easy to post-process images shot with/without the filters (white balance on a fixed setting).

On the 12-40mm 2.8, it's possible to use one screw-on ND together with the filter holder (at 12mm). So potentially I could go for a 16+ stops ND (10 stops screw-on, Kase CPL and ND64 filter) although that would be an edge case for me as I mostly use 6-stops ND for my images. Obviously this would be the case with every 100mm system and not specifically something that Kase offers. But since I already have a set of screw-on filters that can be mixed and matched with the 100mm system results in a very flexible system overall (e.g. 3-stops screw-on with the Kase CPL). I guess that the CPL does around 1.5/2 stops of light reduction on its own but haven't tested it at this time.

The GND0.9 (soft graduation) filter is a good starting point for a graduation filter, a bit more flexible than a hard grad for everything besides completely straight horizons. But as with all graduation filters, it's only useful in specific situations and a lot can be done in post. The soft grad does works remarkably well on the 40-150mm as a hard grad would potentially be visible in the final images when working with a longer focal range. I do see myself adding a hard grad in the future specifically for wide-angle seascapes. But again a lot can be done in post after capturing some details in the sky using the soft grad.

I do not have enough experience with the system to comment on the durability of the glass (Kase calls it "wolverine glass" and based on reviews it's a lot tougher than other systems). But I hope I never will find out just how durable the glass is ;)

Yes, a 100mm filter system is quite expensive and working with 100mm filters is fiddly. If you do not need 100mm a smaller system like the Lee seven5 or just round filters like the very easy to use Kase magnetic round filters could be a better choice. But overall I'm really happy with this system for my photography needs.

P.s. I will add some photos of the system mounted on the camera later today.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to Kase and paid for the system with my own money, my experiences are based on countless hours of research and looking into and trying different options.
 
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Joris

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
261
Location
Picardie, France
Thanks for that write up, Roel.

I believe that Haida filters hold their own between the best filters of other brands, and so rather regret you didn't take them in consideration. Other than that unverified claim of sturdier glass, Haida seems to offer comparable features to the 5 you listed.

there is a light seal on the filter holder itself vs on the ND (for example the big stopper from Lee). I don't know at this point if this is really a major advantage but it does works very wel
That set up means that while inserting a filter, it will slide over that foam surface. If ever some fine sand dust got stuck in there, it would risk leaving long vertical scratches on the glass.

I do hope you will put your photos of the system up here. As I said in another thread, I am considering moving up to a 10 cm system from the Haida 75 PRO. Do you have a link to a reasonably priced retailer for the Kase system ?
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
273
Location
The Netherlands
Real Name
Roel
@Joris I did have them on the radar when starting out (the 10 stop ND seems very good). I do also like how the polarizer can be installed and removed when the ND square filters are in the holder.
But one criterion I didn't mention in my post was that I did want to try the system in a store. As Haida isn't very widely available in my country (some stores have them on their website but all backorder with unknown timelines for delivery). I dropped them from my short list.

Regarding the break resistance "hardened glass" it is a bit of a marketing claim and I don't know how a filter will hold up if dropped but I did come across a few reviews (also video) where they compared the scratch resistance to Nisi and the difference did really show.

That set up means that while inserting a filter, it will slide over that foam surface. If ever some fine sand dust got stuck in there, it would risk leaving long vertical scratches on the glass.
Yes, that also crossed my mind and is definitely a downside to this approach. It does provide a very good seal and as it is on the filter holder is also available for the less aggressive ND's (as most systems only add the seal to the 10 stop ND). But there is certainly risk of scratching the ND while inserting it.

P.s. I forgot to take some photos of the system, will add them to this post later today!
 
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