Camera filters have improved a great deal over the last decade. It wasn't that long ago when it was completely acceptable for filters to produce blue-cast images with a significant loss in detail. We now have manufacturers producing highly innovative filter systems, such as the new Kase Wolverine IV Magnetic filter system.
Over the last couple of years, I've reviewed many filters from several manufacturers. What I look for in a good filter system is good usability, sharpness, and most importantly, color neutrality. Any shifts in color created by the filter system are a huge problem because colors are infinitely more important than how sharp a filter system is.
For example, if a filter system applies a magenta color cast onto your images, then this can have a difficult-to-correct impact on the green tones. If you're shooting landscapes or any scene with greenery, then this is a problem.
The green tones can start to look gray, and if you try to recover them, there's a high chance that the green tones end up looking animated. This is just one example, but colors are more important because they're one of the fundamentals behind what makes a good image. Aspects such as sharpness and usability are less fundamental; however, I'll still cover those points in this review.
The Kase Wolverine IV magnetic system is the best filter system I have ever used when it comes to usability. Nothing comes close to how straightforward and easy this system is.
There are two ways to use this filter system. The first is with a static circular adapter ring that attaches to the lens. This static ring is small, lightweight, and screws on with the filter threads on the front of most lenses. Once it's screwed onto the lens, you can attach multiple circular filters via the magnets in the filters and adapter rings.
The polarizing filter that comes with the pack doesn't have the common dual circular feature that allows it to rotate once attached. Instead, because it's being attached via the magnets, it's never fixed in place and can therefore be rotated to whatever orientation you need.
Additionally, you can attach ND filters on top of the polarizing filter should you need to control the exposure too. In my experience, most people tend to want the ability to shoot with one ND and one polarizing filter. This smaller, static adapter ring offers this ability in what I think is the most user-friendly manner I have ever experienced. It is, without a doubt, the best-implemented filter system I've ever used.
The only downside is that you cannot effectively use graduated ND filters with the smaller adapter. This is where the larger filter holder comes in handy.
The larger filter holder attaches using magnets too; however, it uses a larger adapter ring that is attached to the lens via the filter threads. Once attached, it operates in almost an identical fashion, however, the larger holder allows you to move the filters across the plane of the lens. This is obviously useful for graduated ND filters, so you can control how much of the effect is applied. The larger adapter can also accommodate a polarizing filter and an additional ND filter. Although, with three filters in front of the lens, you may see some loss in image quality.
Personally, I find graduated ND filters to be less useful now due to the high dynamic ranges available in most modern cameras. Due to this, the smaller circular adapter is likely to be more useful for anyone people shooting with most current cameras. A demonstration of how the filter adapters work can be found in the video linked above at 1:05.
Sharpness and Color
When it comes to filters, results are what matter the most. Photographers have been known to tolerate extremely difficult systems as long as they can get the results they need. So, sharpness or the impact on detail is what we will be looking at now.
The filters that were tested the most were the polarizing filter, the 10-stop ND filter, the 3-stop graduated ND filter, and the 6-stop ND filter. The polarizing filter is quite possibly the best on the market.
Not only does it have virtually no impact on color, but there is also no visible loss of detail even when shooting in controlled situations. Of course, as with most polarizing filters, you will lose some light, and the Kase polarizer loses about one stop of light when in use.
Other than that, there is virtually no negative impact on the results this filter produces. It is quite simply the best polarizing filter I have ever used.
The 10-Stop Filter (ND 1000)
The 10-stop filter is arguably the most important filter for a photographer. This is the filter that can essentially make or break a system. Although the usability features of any filter system are important, the results are probably what photographers are interested in most. With that in mind, I'm happy to report that the 10-stop filter from Kase is the best one I have reviewed so far.
The results produced by the 10-stop both in controlled environments and real-world situations were second to none. The filter produced results with virtually no loss in detail and managed to control colors extremely well. This filter effectively has the least impact on the results your camera and lens can produce.
In the comparison above, you'll notice that even when zoomed in, the difference between the control image and the filtered image is minimal. However, keen-eyed viewers may discern a slight shift in color. This shift in color is, however, the least I have experienced from any filter system I've used so far.
It's, for this reason, I would recommend this 10-stop filter over most others, even if you're not a fan of the overall system.
The 6-Stop Filter (ND 64)
In stark contrast to the 10-stop filter discussed above, the 6-stop filter is one of the worst I have used from any manufacturer. The filter presented results with a noticeable color shift and loss of detail. The color shift was immediately apparent. Even without zooming in, one can quite clearly see the significant magenta shift in the image when compared to the control image.
In regards to the loss in detail, although this does require a slightly closer look, one does not need to pixel-peep in order to see the difference. On a well-calibrated monitor or even in print, you'd probably be able to see the softer result from the 6-stop filter.
This is disappointing because almost every other aspect and feature of this system has been fantastic. And despite the fact that a 6-stop filter may not be the most popular option, it's a useful filter to have. This is especially the case if you plan on stacking filters without extending exposure times to unreasonable levels.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that the 6-stop filter is already pretty poor in performance, it's probably not a good idea to stack it with other filters. It's likely that a combination of filters that includes the 6-stop will produce results that some may consider unusable.
What I Liked
- Easily the best system when it comes to usability.
- The two ways to mount filters make working with this system much easier.
- The best 10-stop filter I have ever used both in terms of color and sharpness.
- Lightweight system and easy to carry.
What I Didn't Like
- The 6-stop filter is probably the worst filter I have ever used.
With so many filter systems on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which is best for you. As photographers, many of us have our own personal preferences. Despite this, I find it difficult to imagine anyone disliking this system. Aside from the poor performance of the 6-stop filter, the Kase filter system comes closest to perfect overall.
The polarizer and 10-stop filter system are true standouts amongst many of the options available on the market. Coupled with the fact that this system is incredibly easy to use, it makes for what could be the best option on the market.
You can purchase the master kit using this link here.