June 26, 2022
Another magnetic filter holder system option for landscape photographers. Let’s take a look at how this can improve your shooting process out in the field.
The game of landscape photography is constantly evolving. While new methods and approaches to photographing landscapes are emerging, new innovations in the important accessories that we use are also developed. The aim is either to make new approaches possible or to simply make old approaches easier, more convenient, and more efficient.
The technology for filters is not spared from this constant evolution. Not too long ago, choices for filters were much more limited both in variety and quality. A decade ago, resin filters were the staple and unwanted color casts were just part of the challenges that we had to settle with. Nowadays, most filter brands in the market make use of more color-neutral glass material that is also much more durable. With that as a major development, the only thing left to improve was how we mount and use the filters.
The Kase Armour Magnetic Filter System
The Kase Armour magnetic filter system is one of the more recent responses to the challenge of improving user experience in using filters. The aim of this innovation is to allow landscape photographers to easily set up their desired filter combinations in a much faster and more secure way. This is of course achieved with the use of magnets.
Build and Design
The Kase Armour magnetic filter holder system is made up of various layers made entirely of metal. This metal build is an immediate enhancement when it comes to durability and protection compared to older filter holders that make use of plastic pieces.
To mount the holder onto the lens, an adapter layer is necessary. For most lenses with traditional screw-on threads, the adapter is a simple thin layer of metal that will attach to the magnets of the main filter holder, similar to traditional square filter holders. For lenses with special construction such as lenses with bulbous protruding front glass element such as the Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master and similar lenses, there are customized adapter rings available that mount through friction on the barrel of the lens instead.
The all-metal filter holder can accommodate up to two circular filters in addition to the square filters that can be stacked to as many layers as the significantly strong magnets can hold. The first circular filter mounts onto the rear of the filter holder. This can take in either a circular ND filter or a circular polarizer. This first slot is accompanied by a side gear or dial that can be used to rotate the circular polarizer without having to reach into the actual slot. On the other side of the holder is another circular indentation that can take in another filter. Just like the first, this can accept both an ND filter and a CPL. However, this slot does not have a rotation gear so using a CPL on this slot would mean there wouldn’t be a way to rotate it as you go.
On the frontmost part is the dedicated slot for square and rectangular filters. This part can be used for both neutral density and graduated neutral density filters. Multiple filters can be stacked together without being limited by physical slots since the magnetic filter frames connect to each other. However, I was not able to test how many filter frames can be mounted with the strength of the magnetism since I only had two layers to try.
Mounting and stacking filters, however, require following the polarity signified by a magnet icon on the surface of the filter holder and magnetic frames. The U-shaped magnet symbol on the filter holder should face the U-shaped symbol on any of the filters. This means that the symbol on the holder actually has the opposite polarity as the one on the filter since they actually match. Placing the filter the other way will cause the magnets to repel each other and since the magnets are pretty strong, there is a tendency to drop the filter if placed incorrectly.
Efficiency and Ergonomics
The use of magnets definitely increases the efficiency in setting up for a specific shot and perhaps the most efficient part of the process is installing the square filters. The use of both sides of the main filter holder for magnetic circular filters is unique compared to other magnetic filter systems and while this technically saves on space, it can affect efficiency and the tendency for flares.
While installing the two magnetic circular filters is pretty straightforward, it would be removing or replacing them that would take some time and a lot of hand movement. If a filter setup with both circular and square filters is being used, one would have to remove the square filters to get access to the front circular filter. On the other hand, to remove or replace the rear filter means removing the entire setup. Compared to drop-in style circular filters that can be swapped out without touching the other layers, this dual-side magnetic circular filter mounting can be a bit less efficient.
Optics and Flares
This review mainly talks about just the filter holder system since this still uses the same glass from Kase’s Wolverine filter system which we reviewed previously. Nonetheless, the filters exhibit considerable color neutrality and do not significantly degrade the image quality and sharpness. Using the filter holder system with ultra-wide angle lenses (at least with two square filters in front) does not have any visible vignette thanks to the relatively thin width of the holder and the filters themselves.
When the filter holder slots are fully occupied, virtually no space is left between the glass layers. This, along with the firm adherence of the magnetic frames lives little to no room for light leak and flare. However, in a setup wherein square filters are used without any of the circular filter slots being occupied, there is a lot of space left open between the front element of the lens and the closest glass filter layer, and when shooting towards the sun or any other directly hitting harsh light source, the reflection of light back and forth between that space can result in a more pronounced flare.
The Kase Armour magnetic filter system offers a convenient way of mounting multiple filters, both circular and square format. The magnetic filter frames offer not just efficiency but also additional protection from impact in case the filters are dropped hitting the edges. While there are aspects of the overall ergonomics and modularity of the system that can still be improved, it is a faster and more convenient way to use filters compared to traditional slot-in and screw-in filter holders.
What I Liked:
- Magnetic mounting
- Protective metal filter frames
- Relatively slim setup
What Can Be Improved:
- More tendency for flares
- Hard to access the circular slots when using square filters
- Non-modular layers