Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gear : Filter Holder

People who have met me, or may have been out with me while shooting landscapes, notice that I use filters quite often.  Truth be told, I probably use filters 90% of the time while I am shooting on a tripod, which is most of the time.

After a couple of recent Google+ (Follow Me) photo walks, several people have contacted me to inquire about the filter system I use, so I have created this post that outlines that system, and more specifically, what configuration I have evolved to using when I am out photographing.

First, I am in no way affiliated with any gear company, or online store - so you don't have to worry that I am trying to drive traffic anywhere for personal gain :)  The links provided below go to various online retailers - but the same products may be available at whichever store you choose to send your business.

Azure's Filter Rig
Pictured with 2 Singh-Ray ND graduated filters and a B&W CPL

This setup consists of:

  • Lee Foundation Kit:   I use a 2 slot arrangement because I often shoot at 17-19mm on my Canon full-frame 5D Mark II, and the 3rd slot cause noticeable vignetting around the sides.   This kit holds standard 100mm wide filters - either square or rectangular.

  • 77MM Wide Angle Adapter Ring:   Attaches the filter holder to the lens.  Again, the Wide angle version sits closer to the lens and reduces vignetting.  If you have use lenses with different filter thread sizes, you can either buy additional adapter rings, or (as in my case), use a step-down ring to attach the 77mm adapter to whichever size lens I am using.  My widest lens is 77mm, so when stepping it down to us on for example a 70-200mm f/4, vignetting is not a problem because I am no longer shooting wide angle.

  • Lee Front Thread Adapter Ring:  This is simply a set of female 105mm threads that is very thin, and attaches to the front of the foundation kit.  It allows me to use a normal 105mm circular polarizer (CPL) at the same time that I am using neutral density (ND) graduated filters (grad).  I chose to go this route over using a CPL attached to the lens and _then_ attaching the filter holder to the CPL.  Again, less vignetting.

When I use this setup, at 17mm, there will be a small amount of dark vignette at the corners, which is easily corrected with cropping and lens correction.  Here is an example of that:

17mm (full-frame), 2 slot Lee Foundation Kit, 77mm W/A adapter ting, 105mm front thread + 105mm CPL
No lens correction or cropping applied.
I have found this to be most versatile way for me to get the most use out of a single filter holder.  It holds up to 2 100mm (4") wide filters and allows me to usa a CPL at the same time.  The 100mm size is the same as the Cokin Z-Pro, so less expensive filters are available.  Singh-Ray also has a nice line of filters that fit in this setup.

My personal favorite, Formatt-Hitech also sells filters in this size as well!  They are usually always available and arrive at my doorstep quickly.  Not the cheapest, but they are excellent products!

Get out there and have fun shooting :)


  1. Thanks for taking the time to share this Joe. I almost never (like 99%) of time dont use filters. So having this info available to me is wonderful. Thanks again for taking the time to share you knowledge with the world! Peace!

  2. Usually i don´t use filters too but this was interesting post. And perhaps i some day test it!

  3. Very cool, and something I'll definitely look into, Joe. Thanks!

    I'm curious, though, how you handle lens flare with this type of filter setup... The only filters I currently use are the ones that screw into the end of my lens, so my lens shade covers them... I guess working with a tripod leaves hands free to block the sun, huh? Just curious--I really want to try this kind of filter setup.


  4. Good stuff. Keeping this for reference down the road.