Like most nature photographers, I use a variety of filters in the field to assist with “getting it right, in camera” or, at least as close to right as possible. Graduated, neutral density (ND) and circular polarizers (CPL) are all my go-to filters but with there being so many filter companies on the market – and not many places to try them out – it can be hard to decide which brand to roll with. When I first started shooting, I was using Lee Filters but found them to have an annoying blue cast so I soon switched over to Nisi Filters, which I quite liked and have used for years. But over the past couple of years, particularly as I discovered all of the wonderful photography content on YouTube, one brand started to stand out as being particularly innovative – Kase Filters.
About a year ago Kase reached out to me and we entered into some conversations which ultimately led to Kase becoming a primary sponsor of the inaugural Lightchasers Nature Photography Conference. They sent their Canadian Ambassador, Jim Brompton, to represent the brand at the event and Jim provided demos for our attendees. As I was busy running around taking care of the ins and outs of the conference, I didn’t have much of a chance to catch Jim’s demos but the few minutes I did see had me intrigued – near indestructible glass? Magnetic, stackable filters? A wide variety of accessories? Damn. All of this had my curiosity piqued and I was eager to try them out.
A few months later, Kase generously sent me one of their Armour Systems to try – just in time for some adventures I had planned to chase fall colour in some of my favourite locations around Alberta. When I opened the box the first thing I noticed was the presentation of the product. The box was sleek with a pull out drawer that opened as smoothly as an iPhone box. Inside was not only the filters (a grad, CPL and 6 stop ND) and carrying case but a lens cloth, gloves for handling the filters, exposure conversion guide and labels for the interior of the case. The filter carrying case is made of a light-weight, durable, non-leather material (which appeals to me as a longtime vegetarian), has seven soft slots for the filters and another slot on the front. It also has a velcro holder on the back which allows you to attach the filter case to the legs of your tripod. What I really liked about the case was the clear plastic tabs on each slot and the accompanying labels which helps keep things organized and makes finding the correct filters in the field much easier.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible for not trying out and learning about any new gear I acquire before getting into the field. It’s a nasty habit that I’ve tried to break but one that ultimately forces me to learn with a proverbial gun to my head and get very acquainted with my new toys very quickly. Playing with my new Kase filters was no exception. I simply took them out of the box, put them in the case and got on the road without giving them a go on my camera beforehand. And naturally, I needed to figure them out when the light was kicking off and likely going to be short-lived!
Previous to this arguably idiotic moment of adrenaline-filled excitement, I travelled down to David Thompson Country (DTC) to meet up with my friends Sam and Steve from the US. Our first full day was miserable with rain, wind and temperatures hovering around 5C. We spent half the day enjoying the warmth and comfort of the Nordegg Lodge before catching a break in the rain and heading deeper into DTC. The clouds started to break around sunset so we ventured to one of my favourite waterfalls in the area with hope that the light would burst through. Just as we were setting up, the light started to kick off and, you guessed it, here I was with a brand new set of filters to frantically figure out!
It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things. Kase’s filters are incredibly intuitive for anyone who’s used filters in the past and within minutes I was set up. The magnetic adapter ring screws on very smoothly to the front of the lens and from there it’s simply a matter of magnetically inserting the circular ND and CPL filters inside the filter holder and then magnetically affixing the graduated filter to the outside and screwing down to secure. The magnet system is so easy even the most ardent of Juggalos could make it work!
All joking aside, the system really is incredibly straightforward. It’s also very durable. The materials used for the holder and adapter rings seem very high quality and I don’t feel I have to be overly delicate with them. Seeing Jim smash the glass filters together and how they withstood the blows during his demo at the conference also fills me with a great deal of confidence after breaking more than one filter in the field over the years (sorry, Leonard!). The wheel mechanism for turning the CPL in the holder seems well constructed and is certainly much easier to find than the tiny wheels on my Nisi CPL. Overall, when comparing the two, the Kase filter system seems much more durable and efficient and using the magnetic system vs the sliding slot system on my Nisi filters is far easier and less frustrating.
Since that first outing I’ve used my Kase Armour system on three other occasions, chasing waterfalls and shooting sunset at a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains, and each time I find myself more and more impressed with it.
I have noticed a very slight blue cast to some of my images that I’ve captured with my Kase filters but that could also be related to the AWB on my 1DX as it does have a tendency to skew blue in low light, even without filters. When I have a little more time, I’m hoping to do a more in-depth comparison of the Nisi and Kase filters on different camera bodies to see how they compare overall and will update this article once that’s done.
In the meantime, I’m definitely sold on the Kase systems overall and can confidently say that they’re now my go-to filters when I’m out on my photo adventures! I look forward to putting them through their paces and seeing what images they help me capture over the coming years.
Check out Kase Filters below!