People often ask me which filters and filter systems I use for my gear. And honestly, I don’t use filters THAT much. I only use them when I need to. It is no secret that I’d like to solve as much as possible in postprocessing. Therefore I don’t use graduated filters too much. But that doesn’t mean I don’t carry filters with me at all. There are a number of cases where I can’t do without them: Think of cases where I want to control the reflection on a surface like water, where a polariser filter is really useful. Or a moment during the day where I want to use a longer exposure, where I use a full ND filter, usually 8 or 10 stops.
It is also of no surprise that I love to photograph with extreme wide angle lenses. The drawback of this is that I need to use filter systems that are bigger and more ‘hassle’ to carry around. But is it really that bad? I often hear people say that they prefer to not use extreme wide angle lenses because ‘they can’t use filters’ with it, or ‘the filter systems are too big.’ Actually, I used to think the same. But I’m now using ‘bigger’ filter systems for years, and honestly, it’s not as bad as you may think!
In this article I’ll be showing you the Nisi S6 filter system that I am currently using for my wide angle lenses. I’ll be showing you how I use my S6 filter system so that you can decide if it’s ‘too much hassle’ or if it’s actually not as bad as you thought! Further more, I’ll not really go into the details of the filters themselves. The Nisi S6 holders take 150mm filters and the Nisi filters quality speak for themselves. Glass, next to no colour cast and good quality.
What’s in the box
The Nisi s6 kits are available for all extreme wide angle lenses on the market that can’t take screw on filters. When a new lens comes out, Nisi is usually the first to have a filter holder available for it. For example, when the new Sony 12-24 GM was just out, I was in Austria for an assignment. Nisi had the holder available within a week and even sent it straight to my hotel. When writing this article the new Sony 14mm f/1.8 was just out, and Nisi already released the holder for this lens. Now I’d like to note that it’s possible to use ‘back-filters’ for these lenses, but I prefer the filters in front, even though they are a lot bigger. Why? Because you can’t use a CPL on the back, and adding/removing filters on the back is not easy in every environment. Think of using an 8 stop filter for seascapes, where you want to take some shots with and without the filter. You don’t want to remove your lens to change or remove a filter when your camera is close to the waves.
When you receive your S6 kit it comes with a lot of nice accessories.
The holder itself (top right)
A ‘lens’ cap you can put on the holder, so that you can always have the holder attached to the lens if you want to. (Bottom left)
A nice pouch that fits all the stuff
A CPL filter (bottom right)
So that’s some nice bang for buck. You always receive a CPL filter with your kit.
So yes, the kit is bigger than your 100mm kit or maybe you’re using magnetic filters for your lenses. But if you’re going to use (fast) ultra wide angle lenses, there’s no avoiding the bigger filters and holders. And like I mentioned before: I too thought that I didn’t want to go into the bigger filter systems at first. But I am now carrying with me for years, and I simply can’t go back. And honestly, they don’t take as much space in your bag as you may think.
First of all, I’m not using the Nisi pouch when I travel. Yes, it’s a nice design and a very solid pouch, it’s simply too big to bring with me. Instead, I made a separate ‘wide’ and small department in my camera bag, where I store the filter holder which usually has the CPL already in it. Let me show you what I mean:
In this bag, the Shimoda Explore 60 that I use mainly for trekking, I made a small department that fits the holder perfectly. And the few (usually 2 or 3) filters that I bring, I put in a separate department (the brown leather pouches at the bottom of the image). As you can see, it doesn’t really take that much space if you design your bag departments in a proper way. I also have a Mindshift Backlight 36L that I often use at home, that I designed in a similar way.
And then you may ask: But what about filters for your smaller lenses? Good question! I don’t usually carry 2 of those systems. For smaller lenses with screw on filters I have a CPL filter and some super light weight screw on filters (with ring so that they fit on any lens). The extra weight and space for that is next to none.
So all in all it’s indeed a little more space and weight to carry bigger filters and holders. But it’s not as bad as a lot of people are thinking. I was in the same boat at first, but I just can’t live without my ultra wide angle lenses. I simply like them too much :)
In the field
Using the Nisi S6 holder in the field is a breeze. You simply slide it over your lens (as it doesn’t have any screw on), and then lock it with the big ring on the holder so it’s attached in a firm way. The part where you slide in your 150mm filters takes 2 filters (you can stack them on top of each other) and 1 CPL.
The Nisi S6 holder (with CPL + 10 Stop filter) attached to the Sony 14mm f/1.8 lens.
You can attach/detach the part which actually holds the filters. This works with a simple pin locking mechanism.
You pull the pin to detach the parts. And when they’re attached together you can turn the little ring on the mechanism to make sure it’s completely locked so that your filters don’t accidentally fall off.
Theres a big wheel on the holder that you can use the rotate the polarizer filter to control glare and reflections.
And an interesting little detail is the special black foam material on the inside of the holder that removes all internal reflections so that you don’t get weird filter reflections. Nisi calls it ‘Flocking Technology’. A nice touch.
I’ve been using the Nisi S5 and S6 holders in the field of a very long time. I have to say that I only had problems with it 1 time and that was with the earlier versions where I was photographing at the sea with strong winds. The filter part of the filters was apparently not attached properly and fell. After that Nisi immediately took action and added the extra ring to lock the part secure. They sent me the new version and it never happened again. This also proves to me that Nisi is very involved. They act fast if their product has a minor issue and make sure to fix it in the newer version of the product.
Bigger filter holders and filters are not for everyone, but if you love photographing with extreme wide angle lenses like I do, you might want to consider using a bigger filter system. If you’re on the fence wether it’s too big for you, I simply advice you to try it out in a store, workshop, or borrow it from a friend. If you design your bag properly, the system shouldn’t really take much space at all. The Nisi S6 system for bigger lenses (available for almost every wide angle lens without a filter thread) is good bang for buck, as you get a nice pouch, lens cap, and even a polarizer with it.
Some images made with the S6 holders + Nisi filters: