With smaller mirrorless cameras becoming more popular for traveling photographers, smaller and lighter filter systems are becoming the appropriate choice for many more people. While 75mm square filters are nothing new, there are some great options being made for them, and today, we'll take a look at Haida's new M7 Filter Holder kit.
Haida has been fleshing out their filter holder offerings over the last year with the M10 and M15 coming in 2019. These are 100mm and 150mm holders, respectively, and cover most use cases well. However, those looking for something a bit smaller for a mirrorless travel kit will likely love the M7 holder.
As previously, the M7 holder and a selection of test filters were provided to me by Haida for review purposes. No strings were attached to this, and an honest review was requested. All thoughts below are based on my four weeks of testing this new holder in various situations.
The Haida M7 maintains the high-quality build of its big brothers while being significantly smaller and lighter. The aluminium construction feels sturdy despite being so lightweight.
The holders for the square filters are also equally as well made as the larger units. They hold the filters firmly with a good amount of resistance felt when inserting and removing them.
The new drop-in filters are my favorite design from Haida so far. The plastic ones (check these) from the M10 system felt cheaper than the holder's construction and the magnetic ones from the M15 system were a little cumbersome because of their size. The M7 drop-in filters are made from the same aluminum as the holder and feel like they're a continuation of the system rather than an afterthought.
The quick-release clip to take the holder off the adapter ring has changed slightly as well. This clip does not protrude from the holder on the M7 and needs to be pushed in rather than pulled like the larger holders. As with the M10, when I first used this, I was somewhat worried that it would be too easy to knock the release clip and send the filters falling to the ground. However, since the clip is flush with the edge of the holder, it's actually not a problem.
Size and Weight
Reduced filter size means a smaller holder, and the M7 is significantly smaller than the M10 system. So, for users of small mirrorless cameras, this holder may make a lot of sense. It fits snugly in even a lens partition of most camera bags. Haida provides a hard case with this holder as they do with the M10 holder, but I’ve found myself just wrapping it in a microfiber towel and tucking it into my bag with a couple of adapter rings.
Not that the M10 was heavy, but the M7 is even lighter again and doesn’t really add any noticeable weight or bulk to even a small shoulder bag. This has been great while cycling the city with my X100F. I've been able to toss this in my satchel with my X100F, a couple of filters, and my Manfrotto Pocket Tripod and make some long exposures over the river when I have come across some interesting scenes.
Just like Haida's larger holders, both drop-in and square filters can be used with the M7. The drop-in slot comes with a light barrier out of the box. In front of the drop-in filter, 75mm square filters can be mounted. Out of the box, you have two slots, but Haida includes a third set of clamps for anyone who might want to stack an extra filter.
Mounting the Holder
The M7, like the M10, mounts onto an adapter ring screwed into your lens' filter ring. Due to the smaller size of the holder, the largest available adapter ring for the M7 has a 67mm thread (I wish they could have pushed this to 72mm, as it would mean almost all Fujifilm XF lenses could be used with it). This squarely aims the holder at users of smaller mirrorless cameras. Once the adapter ring is screwed in, the holder can be attached to the groove in the ring. This process is as simple as inserting the tabs on the left side of the holder into the groove, then pushing in the quick release tab to clip the right-hand side on. Once the holder is attached, it rotates freely to allow you to level graduated filters with the horizon. As with Haida's larger holders, I wish there were a way to lock this in place and stop it spinning. Too often, I find myself knocking it or accidentally rotating it when I insert additional filters.
As with all of Haida’s holders, the M7 has a “drop-in” filter slot closest to the lens. Since Haida’s CPL is designed specifically for the holder, it includes a small gear to rotate the filter without disturbing the holder or any graduated filters you may have mounted (this is also true for their CPL + ND combo filters). It also means you can stack a few filters on a wider lens before you start to see the holder in the image. When not in use, this slot can be filled with the included “Light Barrier” to prevent any light leakage.
Another concern I had with the small size of the holder was vignetting with ultra-wide angle lenses. So, my first port of call was the widest rectilinear lens on the Fujifilm X system, the Laowa 9mm f/2.8. When the holder is mounted perfectly straight, there is a slight darkening of the extreme corners, but the lens cannot see the holder. However, if you rotate the holder off angle, you do start to see it in the corners. Overall, you shouldn't have any issues with vignetting, even on the widest lenses.
Haida’s offering in this size is priced reasonably at $75. This puts it slightly below Lee's Seven5 System (significantly once you factor in filters) and a ways above the budget options. With the quality of filters, the M7 has an excellent value proposition in this space.
Haida have created another great holder for their excellent filters. There really isn’t much to fault here, so if you’re in the market for a smaller kit, this one is certainly worth a look. I've been enjoying its minuscule size when paired with my X100F and a Mindshift Filter Nest Mini to hold the filters.
What I Liked
- Small size is great for small mirrrorless cameras
- Light weight
- Overall build quality
- New circular filter build quality
- Excellent quality filters, as we expect from Haida
What I Felt Could Be Improved
- Inclusion of a lock to stop the holder rotating
- Wish a 72mm filter ring were possible