Earlier this month NiSi sent me their latest filter holder to review and to be honest, I wasn’t that excited. I’ve been an avid screw-on filter user for a few years now due to the simplicity; why would I consider going back to a drop-in filter system?
One thing that piqued my curiosity was the new True Color circular polarizer, which they claim reduces a yellow color cast that many other polarizers exhibit plus more vibrant colors without looking unnatural. They have also updated their filter holder to be effortless to use and it will not fall off the front of your lens due to the new secure design.
Let’s start with the filter holder itself. NiSi has updated the locking mechanism of the V7 holder where it is now integrated with the release knob for straightforward operation. You simply give the knob a twist to lock or unlock it, and then you can pull the knob outwards to release the filter holder assembly. I’ve found it very secure when the knob is tightened down and only takes a few twists to release.
The V7 holds three filters, so you can stack your ND filters. Let’s say, for example, you only have a 3-stop and a 6-stop filter; you could easily stack these two to achieve 9 stops of ND while still having room for a graduated ND filter on top of those. In addition to this, you can still quickly take all the filters off. For example, when you need to change your composition or re-check your exposure settings without the ND filters, then just as quickly put them back on, and everything is still in place.
Now let’s look at the circular polarizer (CPL). The True Color CPL is a unique design that integrates with the V7 holder. It has three white marks that coincide with marks on the V7 holder to help you align the CPL with the holder. When you place the CPL in the holder aligned with these marks, you can turn it a small amount to lock it in place. It isn’t loosely held either; when you turn it, the CPL is locked into place but just enough to hold it and not make it hard to remove. This ensures your CPL will not fall out while attached to the camera, a nice touch. You do have to hold the little gears (which I’ll mention next) in place that hold the CPL while locking it in, which is slightly cumbersome. This is the only tiny complaint that certainly doesn’t bother me that much, especially since I won’t be removing the CPL all that often.
Like many modern filter holders, the CPL can be turned to set polarization via little gears on the outside of the holder. There are three of these gears equally spaced so you can reach them easily no matter what position the holder is in. The gears spin the CPL very easily making it simple to adjust the amount of polarization.
The holder also comes with a nicely designed lens cap so you can leave your filter holder on the camera and still have it protected in your bag. It also comes with step-up rings for different size lenses. The adapter itself is 82mm, and it comes with step-up rings for 77mm, 72mm, and 67mm lenses. You can always buy other sizes as well.
Finally, the whole system comes in a well-designed, durable pouch to hold the V7 holder along with all your filters.
There are only a couple of cons I can come up with for this system. The biggest one is a theoretical one that I haven’t encountered yet, but I’m reasonably confident it will happen. The step-up ring sits deep inside the adapter ring, making it very hard to get a good grip on the step-up ring when you need to remove it. So far, I’ve been able to get just enough grip to get it off, but if you’ve ever used any screw-on filters, you know over time, they can become a bit sticky and hard to get off, especially when a little grit gets in the threads. Because of the design, I’m unable to get a filter wrench on the step-up ring to remove it either, so I do have some concerns about this in the future. That said, all of my lenses either have 77mm threads, or I use another step-up ring to make them 77mm, so I’m okay with the 77mm getting stuck on there since it’s all I will ever use. Again, this is just a potential problem that I can’t say if it will even happen.
The other con is related to any drop-in filter system; they’re bulky. I have been using screw-on filters for years because of this. But as with anything, there are tradeoffs. While screw-on filters are nice and compact, they are also a bit of pain when you need to adjust your composition or double-check your exposure without the filter on. It takes a lot of turns to get them off, plus you’re likely to move the camera or the lens if it is the type that extends the barrel. It’s because of this that I’m seriously considering switching over to the drop-in system despite some additional bulk in my pack.
I am thoroughly impressed with the new V7 filter holder system from NiSi. The entire system is well thought out in its design and very easy to use. Will I switch over from screw-on filters? I’m tempted because it is so easy to take the filters on and off and the new True Color CPL is quite nice. My only hesitation is that I already have a set of screw-on filters, and the additional investment of square ND filters will be hard to justify. That said, there is an exciting new filter coming for night photography next month that will only work with a filter holder. I’m excited to give this a try and will be reporting back!
If you don’t have any filters or are thinking about upgrading I would start with this. This system gives you a lot of flexibility to use different filters, stack them, and fit on almost any lens without vignetting. I have been exceptionally pleased with the quality of NiSi’s products and their customer service. It’s a great company that I’m grateful to be working with.
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