Fstoppers Reviews the Haida M10 Filter Holder System

Fstoppers Reviews the Haida M10 Filter Holder System

Our regular readers may remember a recent traumatic video for Fstoppers’ founders Lee and Patrick, where Lee’s D850 spent some intimate time with a wave and didn’t come out the same. Today, we’re going to look at the filter system he was testing on the day, the Haida M10.

Haida recently reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in taking a look at their M10 system while Lee’s camera was in for repair. Most of my work is in portraiture. But from time to time, I break out my filters and head down to the ocean for some long exposure work, and any excuse to participate in this meditative activity is a good one. So, I told them I’d take a look. 

We’ll go into details below, but in short: I’ve been ready to replace my current circular filters and Lee Seven5 holder for a while now, so I’ll be filling out my Haida kit shortly. This is a really great system with a couple of unique values if you’re looking to get into the high end of things. 

Build Quality

The Haida M10 holder is made from aluminum and as such, is extremely light while remaining quite sturdy. The brushed finish looks and feels premium to boot. 

The holders for the 100mm filters also feel sturdy and well attached. On the M10 holder itself, there is a thin ring of felt that should help prevent scratches when inserting and removing filters. Just don’t let it get wet! It creates streaks all down the filters and needs to be dried again before you can continue using the holder. 

The quick-release clip for the holder feels sturdy and like it will last as long as you need it to. It has a good amount of tension, so you won’t knock the holder off by accident. More on this clip below.  

Features

The Haida M10 has a similar feature set to many filter holders on the market, but with some different implementations that help it to stand out and possibly be a better solution for many photographers. Let’s take a look at how the holder operates and how well the features work.

Mounting the Holder

After screwing in an appropriate adapter ring (available in 37-82 mm diameters), the holder can simply be clipped on using the spring-loaded tab on the right-hand side of the holder. This tab clips into a groove on the adapter ring that clamps the holder in place. At first, this was a little difficult to trust, as it wasn’t easy to feel that I’d aligned the tab with the groove in the adapter ring. After a few practice runs, though, it became second nature, and attaching or removing the holder now takes less than a second. 

I also thought it might be easy to knock the tab and send the rather expensive collection of filters mounted to my lens toppling to the ground. However, the tab does require quite a bit of pressure to activate, so that doesn’t seem to be an issue. 

Once the ring is attached, it spins freely. This allows you to precisely align graduated filters. One feature I feel would benefit users of graduated filters would be some sort of lock to stop the ring spinning. It can be all too easy to knock the ring while setting focus or sliding other filters in and out. This may be a minor issue for most, but potentially makes it very difficult for those stacking dark filters. 

The Drop-in Filter

The M10 uses a dual drop-in system to allow the mounting of round filters as well as square filters. If you purchase the holder kit, you’ll be provided with a circular polarizer and light barrier drop-in. These can be dropped in and released from the side of the filter closest to the lens. If you’re not using the polarizer, you can drop in the light barrier, which is simply an empty filter ring that seals the rear of the holder to light. To switch these filters, you just need to pinch the two red tabs at the top and lift the filter.

Haida offers several filters to fit this section of the holder including ND, Grad ND, CPL, and their Clear-Night filter. These are much quicker to drop in and release than their 100mm companions, so if you’re looking to quickly and easily make use of an ND or CPL filter, it may be worth investing in these and going for 100mm filters for your graduated options. 

The Included CPL

If you purchase the basic kit (I recommend starting here), Haida includes their M10 Drop-In CPL. This filter is encased in a light-sealed holder and has a simple dial on top to rotate the CPL without moving the rest of the holder and potentially having to re-align your graduated filters. As someone who has always used less-developed systems, this is a feature I really appreciate. 

The 100mm Slots

On the front side of the holder, you’ll find two slots for 100mm filters. Haida also includes a third set of these in case you need to really stack some filters. When I inserted my first filter into the holder, I found that it was a little stiff, and I had to force it somewhat. However, after a few insertions, that became slightly looser, and I can now get the filters in without too much pressure. 

I can only foresee one small issue with these slots, and it would only appear in extreme situations. There is a small (perhaps half-millimeter?) gap between the two filters mounted on the front. In extremely bright or side-lit situations, there may be potential for reflections to occur. So far, I haven’t seen anything of the sort. Of course, you could cover that gap with a piece of gaffer’s tape or simply shield it with your hand if it becomes a problem. 

Vignetting

I have tested this holder with everything out to my XF 10-24mm (around 15mm equivalent) using the included adapter rings and have not seen any vignetting at all. This is a great feature, as even LEE require a special wide-angle adapter ring to prevent vignetting. I am currently waiting for my 82mm adapter ring and 86mm-82mm step-down ring to arrive so I can test this with the Laowa 17mm f/4 for Fujifilm GFX (review coming soon!) and will update you if that one vignettes. 

Pricing

The M10 is not the cheapest option on the market and naturally is going to be compared to the LEE100 for its value proposition. At its base configuration (just the holder, no adapter ring, no filters), it comes in at a few dollars more than the LEE100 and of course, significantly more than entry-level options like the Cokin P system. Which one you go for is going to be down to your use case and the filters you want to buy.

If you want to get the best deal on the M10, I recommend going for the basic kit, which comes with the drop-in CPL and an adapter ring of your choice. From here, you can start adding 100mm filters to the kit. Haida also offers an Enthusiast Kit and a Master Kit if you're looking to go all in and want to save a few extra dollars. 

A quick long-exposure test at Lang Co Lagoon in central Vietnam. We'll be taking a look at the Haida Red Diamond Series ND 3.0 filter in the next few weeks as well.

In Conclusion

Overall, this is a great kit that sits well and truly at the premium end of the market. The M10 holder itself makes quickly setting up for a shot and then changing filters on the fly an absolute breeze. Haida’s filters (we’ll take a look at some of those in the coming weeks) are also of exceptional quality. 

What I Liked

  • Durable construction
  • Drop-in circular filters as well as square filters
  • Ease of use
  • The drop-in CPL
  • No vignetting, even on my XF 10-24mm f/4

What I Feel Could Be Improved

  • Light-sealing for 100mm filter section (perhaps a clip-on cover?)
  • A lock to stop the holder spinning if required
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11 Comments

I stopped at "Just don’t let it get wet!" A lot of the best landscape photos are taken in adverse weather conditions and I wouldn't want to have two filter systems for different kinds of weather.

I wouldn't say that's a deal-breaker at all. It just means you'd want to shelter the holder as you insert square filters to make sure the felt strip doesn't get wet. You'd want to do this anyway to make sure your circular filter doesn't get water drops on it and even the square filter. Not an issue that's going to change based on which filter system you use.

I'm not comparing it to circular filters but in any case, you can easily dry your filter but you made it sound like a persistent problem for the entire shoot, if that felt gets wet.

What I said was that it could be if you're not careful. It's the same with anything in inclement weather. You need to take precautions. This wouldn't stop you from using the holder, just from inserting a square filter in the first slot. The holder takes circular drop-in filters as well and the front slot would not be affected by this. It's a simple case of being careful as you would anyway.

I have owned this filter kit for about two months now. This review is horrible. This is fantastic filter holder system. I have owned in the past progrey USA, Cokin, and Lee. I like the progrey quality but the CPL solution was okay. I didn’t want to reinvest in their arctic magnetic system so I tried Haida. The vignetting is negligible through 24mm. I have not tried beyond. The CPL has little to no cast and works as advertised. The drop in and rotating wheel is a breeze. The attachment trigger is solid and filter holder rotation holds it position fine. I do think you need to be careful with attaching; on a couple of occasions I thought it was on when it wasn’t. The entires unit is very compact and good build. Some have complained that the first filter slot seems to close, but It has done nothing to my glass or resin filters.

Overall the system is exactly what a travel landscape photographer needs ( i.e not necessarily for the ultra finicky landscape shooter that buys $500 CPLs). The drop in feature alone is worth it. I wish I didn’t already have a 10 stop otherwise I would buy the drop in. I may buy the cpl + 3 stop for convenience ( the 6 stop would seem to be difficult to see the change in polarization through the viewfinder but maybe not). As far as the felt getting wet and streaking I think this argument is a little nit picky. I wish the professionals would step up their game and really review these things. My observations are not too technical ( like really measuring color cast); why do their articles always read like lifted comments from a chat room before they head out the door to a party.

I'm interested to hear what you think is "horrible" about this review. I've mentioned all the points that you did about the holder system and given my thoughts on them (keep in mind that it's a review of the holder, not the filters). Please do elaborate.

You should be able to give technical specs that the layman who simply buys it and comments cannot provide. Michael Maven recently did a review of filters ( albeit he is also promoting his product) that was extensive in its effort to provide measured observations. The fact that you didn’t discuss the various drop ins or red diamond rectangular offered no insight about the overall system’s capabilities. Lastly I did not get the sense that you went out into the field extensively and tried to break it. How does it work with gloves (landscape photographers work in extreme conditions). Sand? The CPL is a different material. is it glass or a resin? What size s the CPL ( I believe it’s 82mm). it’s not whether I repeated your observations ( although I do feel I added a little more color commentary); it is more about what you didn’t say that you as the professional reviewer should be investigating. Even tell us who Haida is, how long have they been in business, what is their reputation. I am not trying to bash you. I want you to grow as a reviewer. As a consumer I desperately want deep reviews before I buy expensive pieces of plastic. The website that does this well will get my attention and in return your advertisers will seek you out. I hope this is helpful. Have a good week. Sorry that I was somewhat strong in my opinion.

Thanks for writing back, Kent. "Horrible" is indeed a strong word and I wanted to know what motivated you.

As I mentioned, this is a review of the holder, not the filters, which somewhat limits how many words I can spend on listing the filters available with the short articles we write here. Thus not much space was given to the CPL - which is an option if you buy the kit. I also mentioned that I will be taking a look at the red diamond ND filters (and I also have the clear night, which I'm looking forward to testing).

For now, I haven't had any issues with sand and it's summer here, so gloves haven't been required. These are good points, however, and I'll certainly update the review if and when these become issues. I appreciate you chiming in and will keep in mind that there may be interest in company history, etc. when it comes to reviews.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Just about any filter holder relies on a spring-loaded tab, so not sure the shape of the tab should be considered a unique feature perse.

Drop-in filters are not really faster than dropping in a 100x100 filter, while a nice solution for rotating the CPL, lack of locking the holder makes it still very possible to move the holder while rotating the CPL. Wine Country has implemented geared rotating CPL better.

As for material, the holder (not the filter guides) are made from the same material as most adapter rings. Which is good it's sturdy, but if dropped it can be scuffed and it will bend easier than one made out of a composite material like the new LEE filter holder.

Please read first my earlier comments so that you understand that I fundamentally like the m10 but I perhaps have discovered a deal breaker. I went out into the field the other day and added my hitech reverse grad into the nearest slot; it slid through. Luckily I hold onto things to make sure they grab, otherwise I would have had a filter lost in n the canyon. I tried the outer slot and it was better.

When I got home I switched out the extra third rails with original inner rails. I also tightened the screws pretty tight. This seems to be better but I am not 100% confident. I had been storing a 10 stop Haida filter in the inner rails earlier; maybe this expanded the plastic which did not spring back.

I contacted what I thought was Haida. I received an email back from 2 filters.com instead. The indicated that Haida filters are 2 mm and hitech are 1.8mm and this is the problem. They referred me to the dealer which is amazon for alternate rails; good luck with that. I am trying right now to get more directly in touch with the manufacturer. I have owned several filter holder systems and never had this problems, at least not with expensive filter holders.

Dylan, this is the kind of stuff I wish reviewers like you would check out more extensively to help protect your readers. If somebody had provided me this insight I may have not purchased. Losing stuff like filters is a deal breaking issue to landscape photographers; it’s tough enough as it is.

Here is a followup to this story:

Haida’s customer service has been outstanding and responsive. They immediately sent me new rails, but more importantly their engineers wanted to understand more about the secureness of my filters. To be fair they asked for pictures of the unit with the looser rails but I choose not to provide them because I already had replaced them with the third rails and for now that was working ( I don’t want to keep unscrewing and screwing them with the potential of stripping - I tightened them with the hopes that this would make the thinner filters hold).

I really don’t know if the replacement rails will be significantly different, and for now I think Haida is sticking to the design with the caveat that slightly thinner filters such as the Formatt-Hitech reverse grad ( which has been stated to be1.8mm versus the supported 2 mm even though I measured 1.9-2mm) may not be as compatible. Regardless I appreciated their concern for me as a customer and their willingness to listen.

It may be somewhat strange to hear that I purchased the CPL+ ND 0.9 considering this challenge with a few of my filters, but this represents how much I like the system and am committed to it. It vastly improves the speed and awkwardness of managing filters in remote and sometimes dangerous conditions (I.e. Arizona cliffs). It also creates better workflows for pre focusing when using dark ND filters. I didn’t mention before that the holder is very compact and lightweight. I would still recommend it especially for those buying a filter set new rather that retrofitting like I am.