One of the biggest disadvantages to circular screw-on filters is the time and attention needed to get them properly seated in the threads and tightened to the lens. The Manfrotto XUME series of filter adapters aims to solve this by using quick-snap magnets instead.
The XUME adapter has two essential pieces to make the system work, and once everything is set up there is no more threading on and off your filters (for example a circular polarizer or a neutral density filter). The first piece is the lens adapter which, as you can probably guess, is fitted to the end of the lens. The other piece is the filter holder, which will screw into the filter. Now, when you want to add a filter to the end of your lens, you just connect the modified filter to the modified lens and the magnets in each keep them bonded together. Note that any brand of filter can be used with the XUME adapters, but obviously it needs to be the same filter size.
If you want to make a full conversion to the XUME system, you would purchase a lens adapter for each of your lenses, and then filter holders for each of your circular filters. The lens adapters run for around $30 and the filter holders cost around $15, all depending on the sizes. B&H Photo sells a number of different kits with different quantities and sizes to get everything converted right out the gate, or you can do it piece by piece separately.
One of biggest concerns I had when I used the XUME adapters is the strength of the magnets. The last thing I’d need is to lose an expensive filter over the edge of a cliff because I accidentally bumped my camera. Good news is that there is a decent amount of force needed in order to take off the filter holder. However, its weakness is definitely side-to-side bumps or sliding if there was one. The magnet is strong enough to where using this weakness is actually how I ended up removing filters faster, since just pulling straight out from the lens is a lot harder to do.
The downside to using the XUME adapters is that they do cause vignetting with wide-angle lenses. Having those two extra hollow pieces added to the end of the lens before the filter does add a bit of depth, and there’s not much to be done about this. Below are two photos, one taken at 16mm with a Sony FE 16–35mm GM where there is basically an unusable amount of vignetting, and then another at 24mm taken with the Sony FE 24–70mm GM where the vignetting is nearly gone and can surely be compensated for in post-processing.
What I Liked
- These are good for using with strong ND filters. I can quickly lock in focus while using a tripod without the filter, and then slap one on quickly to start shooting.
- Swapping between different filters for different looks is simple. If I thought one ND filter wasn’t strong enough or was too strong, I could swap it out for a different one in seconds.
- Works with the filters I already own and trust.
What I Didn’t Like
- Vignetting limits its application on wide-angle lenses.
- There is always an element of extra care in the back of your mind since the filter is not physically threaded onto the lens, regardless of the magnetic strength. Maybe this will relax over time.
Overall, I really like the idea of the XUME adapters. Threading on filters, and those awful times when the filters seize onto the lens, are the worst parts of using circular screw-ons. This is a simple solution, but unfortunately has its own downsides to then consider. Personally, wide-angle photography is an area where I’m most often using filters such as a neutral density, so as much as I love the idea of the product, the execution is somewhat limiting.
All available sizes of XUME lens adapters, filter holders, and kits can be purchased through B&H Photo.
I wonder if you're shooting metal objects with a macro lens, would your subject stick/move due to the magnet? I'm thinking for stuff like product photography.
Probably, but you'd have to be so close to said metal object that you wouldn't be able to focus anyway.
I bought these when they first came out. The are a great idea but the filters keep falling off when it gets bumped and even just pulling it out of my lens bag at times. Maybe this is great for landscape photographers or people who can take time with them but as a wedding and event photographer they were a bust. And so bummed because I bought a full set for all my gear.
Pure junk. Tried them a few years ago and the slightest bump wold knock the filter off. Using polarizers was a pain in the butt because the mount would spin as well. Threw it all in the garbage and went back to the good, old fashioned way- Screwing them in and out.
They also prevent the use of hoods in most cases.
I don't understand why Manfrotto filters require use of the filter holder. I can understand that piece being necessary if you're using a B+W filter or some other third party, but if they want photographers to switch over to the XUME system, why wouldn't they make their filters directly compatible with the lens adapter? It would eliminate or reduce the vignetting issue, streamline the system and encourage photographers to purchase the (more expensive) filters, rather than the holders.
I would think, its because B+W filters are in brass mounts, and would be non magnetic... possible ?
No, my point is why do Manfrotto filters need the filter holder? It makes sense for a third party filter to require it, but if Manfrotto is really creating a filter system that it wants photographers to adopt, they ought to make it more attractive to switch. Produce the filter holder so photogs don't have to ditch their old filters, but encourage them to buy Manfrotto filters moving forward by eliminating the need for the filter holder.
These were not originally a Manfrotto product - a separate company made them and Manfrotto acquired that company.
I have owned Xume for several years now and love it. I purchased from the company before Manfrotto acquired them. The original employees if they are still around were some of the best. I have had only one instance where a filter fell off at that was in the middle of a river where I bumped a progrey 100mm square filter holder. Luckily I found it 400 ft downstream and after washing sand out of it I was able to reuse it. It was stupid for me to use Xume this way; too much stuff hanging on the end of my lens and the vignette was unacceptable. However for round filters I love the convenience and above 24mm see no vignette issues. I trust the magnets implicitly. I even use a canon 500 close up filter which is very heavy. Keep in mind that I am an amateur and not a pro. I take my time getting equipment ready so I don’t grab thing out of my bag. This solution is not for everyone but I certainly like it’s convenince and it improves my workflow.
been using them for a couple of months - no problems and they are super easy to use/swap filter with. The fastest option by far in my experience.
Regarding Vignetting... I actually only use 77mm filters and use step up rings on all my lenses to 77mm. This means I dont have a single lens that vignettes, it also means I have less filters to carry around. But also my widest lens is 18mm and not 16mm so I suspect my method is not for everyone. But im sure even with a Lee Filter system you would get vignetting at 16mm.
The vignetting issue is a deal breaker for me and, with a tripod mounted strap, my new polarizing filter fell of 3 times with a mild knock of the camera against my hip as i walked. If your shooting with a tripod and not moving the camera around much, and need to change filters often, Xume can be helpful, I guess.
Tried them a few years ago. Utterly useless when you need to also use a lens hood and better quality filters weigh enough that the slightest nudge will knock the filter off.
Threw the few I wasted my money on in the garbage and went back to the far more secure screw in filters.
Xume=nice idea in concept, horrible execution.
Two other major issues that I encountered with the XUME system. There is no front thread so you need a special front cap if you want to protect your lens when a filter is not attached. The second, and bigger issue is that it is extremely difficult to remove the XUME adapter from the filter if you no longer want to use the system. My XUME adapters are currently sitting in a bin along with all those other overpriced accessories that just didn't meet my needs.