If you are in the market for an adaptable filter system that really is top quality, I would definitely check out the H&Y filter system.
With so many different filter systems out there choosing the right one to suit your style and budget can be an arduous and costly task. However, this filter system might be the one that utilizes some of your old glass and brings a new dimension to your photography, without breaking the bank.
Depending on how you work you may prefer drop-in filters, screw-on, or magnetic systems and over the past couple of years, I've had the fortunate opportunity to test out various systems. I always used Lee filters and then I was introduced to magnetic ones, where you screw on the magnetic housing, and then it's a simple click and replace for the filter. These were fantastic to use and my new favorites but somewhere at the back of my mind I did feel a slight disconnect to the whole process of making the image. Then in July, I was introduced to the H&Y K-series which married the two. Magnetic and not exactly drop-in but hopefully you get the comparison.
K-Series Holder & CPL
This innovative system draws its ideas from other filter manufacturers and builds upon them. At the time of writing the article, these innovations are now nothing new, but if you have not considered a system like this I would definitely read on as you may be surprised at how adaptable it is.
Similar to the Lee and Nisi drop-in filter set-up and with a Haida-inspired removable polarizer, the H&Y construction allows you to place the polarizer behind the filter array so that you are not required to remove the front filters to replace the polarizer. They also offer various other filters to drop in this slot including ND filters and a Star Keeper; used to reduce light pollution in the night sky. These can be used in conjunction with the front glass if required.
The front filters are stackable up to 3, and the magnets hold these in place extremely well. The first filter is held in place simply by a small thumbscrew. I've only used the thumbscrew when stacking as the magnets are strong, and it would take quite a knock to dislodge the filter.
Attaching the holder is a simple process of loosening the two thumbscrews (see image below) and placing over the adapter ring on the lens and then tightening them back up. Fiddly the first time you do it then you get the idea very quickly.
Included with the holder are adapter rings, four in total (67, 72, 77, and 82mm) meaning you don't have to splash out even more cash to fit the rest of your lenses. I think more companies should adopt this approach.
A Tactile Experience
Personally, I liked that these filters suited my shooting style. There's a tactility with them that I really enjoy, one that slows you down to enjoy the whole experience. I really like the way that the filters made me feel more involved with the whole process of taking the shot. They don't take any longer than any other filter system to set up but for some unexplained reason, I felt more involved. Can't answer why, I just did. Did it make my images any better? Probably not, only I can do that, but I enjoyed creating them more when using this system and I found myself favoring the H&Y over the others I have.
I do prefer magnetic systems because of their ease of use, and to have that coupled with 100mm and 150mm glass similar to the Nisi and Lee systems set up, just seemed to click for me.
The Build Quality
A lightweight, sturdy aluminum frame and versatile. Versatile from the point of view that I only recently discovered that I can buy a framing system from H&Y for my other systems glass. This means that by adding the framing system to my other filters I can add to my glass for this system without having to go out and purchase more. I do like this idea, as photography is an expensive game.
The filter holder is probably one of the best I've used and everything works as expected with no surprises. The swap out for the polarizer is clean and can only go in one way; with the polarizing adjustment wheel at the left-hand side. It also sits just shy of the front plate so that you can't bump it accidentally. The fact that you don't have to remove the front filters to replace the polarizer is a big bonus.
The glass quality is great and I found no discernable color cast or loss in optical performance when using the filters. To be honest, it's probably the best glass I have used to date. With the filters being magnetized I also found that this greatly reduced the dreaded fingerprint scenario.
What I Liked
- The build quality of the whole system is strong and lightweight and I never felt myself having any problems attaching, assembling, and disassembling from the camera when in use. Finger-tight adjustments hold everything in place.
- Easy adjustments for the polarizer, even with gloves on.
- The carry pouches are robust, but perhaps the Velcro fasteners could provide a little more catch.
- You can stack the magnetic filters due to the strength of magnets.
- You can also purchase outer housing for your existing glass to use with this system.
- Various adapter rings mean that I can use them with all my lenses.
What Could Be Improved
To be honest, it doesn't matter what the product is there is always room for improvement. If anything with these filters I would change the housing of the filters to metal, but that's it. That, in turn, would boost the production cost, which would then be passed onto the consumer. The fact that is plastic probably cushions them better during a fall, so my improvement argument is probably invalid.
For me, this system just clicked. Spending a day on the hills or a day at rivers and waterfalls and given the choice of only one system to take, it would be this one, it's an absolute joy to use. Don't get me wrong I have other systems but when I want to connect with the surroundings this is the one that does it for me. As I've said I can't explain it, it just feels right with me.
There are many different systems out there and you'll probably have the one that feels right for you. However, if you are still looking around to find that system I would ask around to see if any of your photography buddies have this one and ask for a try. You can also find out more about them here and on the H&Y website.