Camera filters come in a variety of types; screw in, square, rectangular and even software.
In this buyers guide, we’ll start with the most popular type, the full filter system. This traditional style of filter utilises a holder that attaches to the front of your camera and then enables you to slot in your desired filter. Be that grad, ND, polariser or otherwise.
Tradition Filter systems
This style of system is ideal for landscape photographers. In this test, I’ll look at the starter price for a starter system which will include a 100mm ND Grad and ND, holder and adapter.
There’s a huge choice out there with many manufacturers producing a decent range of options. This type of filter system has the advantage of the flexibility and is available in a variety of sizes and formats to suit your camera type.
All systems in the category work in much the same way, with some slight variations in the design.
The system is based around a holder that with the addition of an adapter screws onto the front of your lens. Once in place filters can be slotted or clipped onto the front.
As this type of filter system has been around for years there’s a huge choice of filters out there and usually an adapter to make the system fit almost any lens.
The most common filters used in this type of system are ; ND Grads, Colour Grads and ND Filters.
Here are a few of the best:
100mm Starter Price: Holder: £55.95, Adapter 77mm: £36.95, Big Stopper 10x: £89, ND 0.9 Grad: £78
100mm Total Starter Cost: £259.90
Sizes: 75mm, 100mm , 150mm
Lee has a long history of producing high-quality premium filters and supplies their range to both the photographic and film industry. The system is simple and easy to use with the ability to stack filters adjust exposure times as you need.
With three system sizes there’s plenty of choice with the Seven5 Micro Filters aimed at Entry level CSC users, the 100mm Filter System at DSLR and Pro CSC and finally the SW150 Mark II filter system aimed at Pro photographers.
Although Lee is an aspirational brand they cater well for all levels of photographer with the premium glass and also an entry-level resin range. Both ranges use the same filter holders.
Lee filters are the makers of the Big and Little stopper, and their latest ProGlass IRND is well worth checking out. See the review here https://camerajabber.com/lee-filters-proglass-irnd-review/
100mm Starter Price: Holder: £45, Adapter 77mm: £0, ND 10x: £100, ND 0.9 (3 Stop) Grad: £130
100mm Total Starter Cost: £275
Sizes: 100mm, 150mm, 170mm
If you think that Benro just makes tripods the think again. The new Benro Filter systems is one of the most impressive new product ranges we’ve seen for a long time.
There’s firstly a choice of three sizes 100mm, 150mm and an extra large 170mm. Not only that but the filters are available in both Glass and Resin.
Benro have also made the desision to release two different filter holders for the popular 100mm format.
The budget FG100 is of an all plastic design and is aimed at those just getting into using filter systems.
Then there’s the FH100 which features an all metal construction and unique filter holder system that enables fast accurate control over the filters.
The new holder clips in the 100mm filters and then using a turn screw enables you to raise and lower them with accuracy.
This system is ideal for use with ND Grads enabling you to easily align the grad with horizons without having to battle with the filters with cold hands.
You can see more about the Benro filter systems here camerajabber.com/benro-filter-range-explained/
Cokin Filter Systems
Starter Price: Holder: £15.99, Adapter 77mm: £15.99, Full ND Kit: £50.99, Grad ND Kit: £61.99
Total Starter Cost: £144.96
Sizes: 67mm, 84mm , 100mm, 130
Cokin are the name that many people will know when it comes to filter systems. They meet that fine balance between quality and price.
Recently the entire range has had an overhaul and the old names, design and quality have all been upgraded to meet the high-resolution demands of the digital camera.
For all familiar with the old system the updates include the introduction of range name changes; A Series is now the Size S, P Series is now Size M, Z-Pro is now Size L and finally, X-Pro is now XL.
Cokin has one of the largest and well-priced ranges and is well worth a closer look.
Starter Price: Holder: £94.95, Adapter: £0, ND 0.9: £142.95, ND Grad: £186.95
Total Starter Cost: £424.85
Now distributed by Manfrotto B+W have a long history of producing high-quality filters.
This new range is relatively limited with only a 100mm size choice and six filters in the range.
The simplicity of the range is aimed at Pro Photographers who know exactly what they need to get the job done.
As you’d expect the quality is high with a choice of four solid ND filters and two grads.
One set for the pro’s only due to the price.
Kase Filter System
100mm Starter Price: Holder: £127, Adapter 77mm: £19, 10 Stop ND: £132.00, ND 0.9 Grad: £137
100mm Total Starter Cost: £415
Sizes: 100mm, 150mm
Kase has appeared from nowhere but their Wolverine filters have quickly found popularity.
They have a decent sized range and the quality of the glass is right up there amongst the best. This quality is also reflected in the price.
At present they offer both a 100mm and 150mm holder and system which will cater for most DLSR and CSC systems.
What’s really impressing people about this range is the ultra-low colour casts created when using the filters which means that landscape colours are well preserved without influence from the filter itself.