Last month I got the chance to try out a new set of filters. Since I switched to the Sony mirrorless system last year, I hadn’t really updated my ND filter gear and polarizers. Until now, I basically just bought some step-down rings, and used my Lee system (and my screw-on filters) on the smaller lenses.
So I decided to try out the Vü filter system since I’d heard some really great things about it. And the best part was they have a 75mm system that’s geared for the smaller mirrorless cameras. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I couldn’t believe how much smaller the 75mm system is than the usual 100mm system that I was used to using.
Okay, let’s start out with the good.
(Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland – Sony A7Rii, 24-70mm, f/10, 1.3 sec, ISO 50)
The size – I mentioned it above but WOW! The entire filter system feels so much smaller than the 100mm Lee system I was used to using. Here’s a photo of the 75mm filter compared to the 100mm filters. And with smaller filters comes smaller filter holders. And with smaller holders come smaller pouches and cases to put this stuff in.
The Polarizer – You have to watch this video (link: http://mattyk.me/1ViEXHC) to see what I’m about to talk about. Aside from loving the size, this is what really sold me on the Vü filter system. The way the polarizer works in it. Basically, the polarizer screws in to the filter system at the point that’s closest to your camera (which from what I understand about optics, is where the polarizer should go). This is opposed to the Lee system I had where you had to buy this monstrous 105mm filter that went on the end of the filter holder. Anyway, this was huge. I loved the way this worked and it made working with a polarizer so much easier.
The Filter System Itself – The way the filter system goes on to your camera is really simple and easy to do. That doesn’t sound like a lot, until it matters. Like when the light is changing crazy fast and you need to get your filter system attached. Or when your hands are really cold and you’re trying to screw on an adapter and get everything going. The two screws that secure the system on are different from other filter systems and, to me at least, were the key in making this system really easy to use and secure to your lens. Again, you have to watch the video here (link: http://mattyk.me/1ViEXHC) to really see what I mean.
(The filter system in action)
The Filter Quality – the glass quality was awesome. Now, if you’re like me, how much does that really mean. Well here’s what I can say. First, with longer exposures and ND filters we tend to worry about color casts. The way the filters are made can help a lot with those issues and I really didn’t see much of a cast. Sometimes they were a little blue, but that’s pretty similar across all filters and I ALWAYS adjust my white balance in post, so it’s not a huge deal for me.
Next, the quality of the surface has a lot to do with dirt, dust and debris that gets on the surface. The better made filters (like these) tend to repel dirt and dust better. These were really easy to keep clean.
There’s not too much negative that I can point out here but there were two things
- The Thread Size – The Vü system is built for a maximum thread size of 67mm. For many of the mirrorless systems, a lot of the lenses are smaller so the 67mm size isn’t a problem. And if you have smaller lenses it’s easy to buy a step-down ring (they only cost around $5 bucks) to make the system fit a smaller lens. But… and this is a big but… while most of my Sony lenses are smaller, my Sony 16-35mm lens is a 72mm thread. So the 67mm filter holder won’t fit and I had to resort to using my larger screw-on filters. And it’s not like the 16-35mm is a little-used lens for a landscape photographer. For me, it’s one I use quite a bit.
- I’d love a 6-stop ND filter – Vü makes a 3-stop, 4-stop, and 10-stop drop-in ND filter for their Sion system. I’ve found over the years after using my Lee Big Stopper 10-stop ND, that I actually prefer the little stopper 6-stop more. 10-stops is great for mid-day shooting and extending shutter speeds, but when you get near the edges of the day, your shutter speeds get prohibitively long. And sometimes 3-4 stops isn’t enough. So that 6-stop filter fills a nice gap for me at the sunrise/sunset times of the day. So I’m hoping they have a 6-stop filter in the works.
Should You Buy Them?
Bottom line is this will be my new filter system for every lens that can use it on. But should you buy them? That’s a tough call. I get it… filters are expensive. So here’s a little roadmap for you with my recommendations.
(Blue Ice on the Beach at Jokulsarlon – Sony A7Rii, 16-35mm, 1/30, f/16, ISO 50)
- Used to shoot a larger DSLR and invested in Lee or other semi-expensive filter systems – Then I’d probably just pick up a few step-down rings for now to use with your smaller lenses. You’ve probably already spent a bundle investing in new camera gear, and the larger system will indeed work just fine on the smaller camera. As time goes on, maybe make this a future purchase.
- Don’t have a filter system and you’re using a smaller mirrorless camera – Then I’d absolutely get this system first.
- Used to have a larger DSLR with the larger/more inexpensive screw-on filters, and you’re tight on cash right now – Maybe wait for a while and pick up some step-down rings. They’re cheaper and the screw-on filters still get the job done. Save up some money, and see how much shooting you do with the filters before jumping in to a new filter system.
- Don’t own a mirrorless camera and are using a DSLR, and you don’t already own a filter system – Then I’d get the Vu 100mm system instead.
- Are really lose with money, and you love to buy the newest gear then just buy them. They’ll be nice to add to your collection 😉
I hope that helped out if you’re in the market for any neutral density filters. Have a good one!
I have a Canon 5DMIII. I have a 16-35, 24-105 and a 100-400. Will the 75mm system work for these lenses? I can’t find anything that tells me which system is best. Which filters would you buy to cover most situations for long exposures? Any other advice? These filters are expensive, so I want to cover my needs in the most economical way possible. Which polarizer should I get with the system?
Hey Matt. You need to buy the one that fits the lenses you have. If I recall, some of those cannon lenses are 82mm thread size which means a 75mm system won’t work. The 75 system is meant more for mirrorless cameras. As for the polarizer, I have the Sion one. Thx
Thank you for this review. I am trying to figure out what system to buy. I have a DSLR and just recently purchased the Sony A7R11 and the 16-35 lens for landscape. I am trying to lighten my load to save my back. The smaller compact is appealing. In turmoil over which filter system to purchase. What do you use for your 16-35 lens? Like you said, it’s a big part of your work? Right now the 16-35 F4 and Canon 24-70 2.8 are my main lens I use for landscapes. Do you carry both filter systems on a trip? I want to start shooting more long exposure during the day. Also, the new 15 stop from Lee is appealing. But with the Vu, I love the whole polarizer set up. I already own the 82mm screw on. . I’m so confused! Any advise would be greatly appreciated! I’m a big fan of your work and have learned so much from your tutorials. Thank you soooo much! I’m really happy for you and your choice to break out on your own!!! Kudos!!!
Hey Matt. Thanks for the review. I purchased the Lee Seven5 holder and the Little Stopper before I was aware of the Vu system. After only using the Seven5 3 times the holder popped off my lens and the Little Stopper fell and broke. I like the idea of the Vu holder which seems more secure and the CP system of Vu. Therefore I am trying to decide if I should go with the Vu or just buy another Little Stopper. Could I buy the more secure Vu holder and use a Little Stopper with It? Vu not having a 6 stop filter makes me hesitate. Do you know if a 75mm Little Stopper will fit into the Vu holder?
Hi Terence – it fits but it’s pretty snug. I’m not sure it’s meant to and I don’t know how it’ll respond to long term use. Thx
Great article, thanks Matt, I am very interested to purchase VU 100 mm filter holder, I have two graduated filters from Lee, just wondering if I am going to be able use them in VU holder, thickness wise, thank you ;Verdon!
Hi Matt, Thank you for te review. I am looking at this system right now. What are your comments on their CPL quality? Did u try to loosen the screws to make the fitting of Lee filters easier?
Thanks for your review, Matt. I thought to begin with a couple of 77 mm screw-on ND vu filters which I can use with my Leica M9 and eventually with some of my Canon glasses.
My doubt is if Vu screw-on filters are stackable.
They are indeed stackable. There’s 3 slots in the holder.
Hey Matt…Great read and I plan on picking up the 100 as I’m still shooting on a DSLR. Any idea if the 100mm Lee filters will still fit in this system? I’ve got some soft grads that I’d love to use, but need a new filter holder and these look great.
Hey Rich – I tried getting my Lee Little stopper in to the system. It was a tight fit, but it did go. Not sure the longevity of doing it and how it’ll affect things though.
Great read as always Matt, have you tried the app within the camera for smoothing? I just hate putting them on and off when you are on the go 🙂
Check out this link 🙂
From the VU video link, the Circular polarizer is attached first to the lens before the filter holder. While in Lee filters, the polarizer comes last. That is the big stopper is first inserted, then the grad and lastly the CP. What’s the difference and what’s your take on this? I’ve been using the Seven5 for a year now.
Manny – from what I’ve read both systems work well. For me personally, having used both Lee and the Vu system, I prefer the Vu. That said, if I were invested in the Seven5 system already, I don’t think that small difference would make enough for me to spend the money to switch.
I mean to say the difference in the effects when the CPL is in the different position. The Vu link shows the CPL is near the lens before the filter is attached, while the Lee filter adapter is first attached to the lens (big stopper is nearest the lens), where the CPL is in front.
Not sure if this would work but since it looks like it can hold multiple filters, could you stack the 3 and 4 to make a 7 equivalent???
Hey Gary – yep, it’s got 2 slots so they’re stackable. I guess I’m just lazy 🙂
Interesting read Matt, thanks for sharing. I bit the bullet and went for the Lee Seven5 system and couldn’t be happier. It accommodates up to a 72mm thread, which is great as this will cover me for when I move up to the Sony FE mount lenses (currently using E mount lenses on an A6000 with maximum lens thread of 67mm). I have the Little (6 stop), Big (10 stop) and have ordered the new Super (15 stop) Stopper for the super bright days. I didn’t know about Vu until you brought it to my attention, I’ll be sure to check them out if I’m in the market for a new ND system in the future.
Hey Andy – the Seven5 System looks great too. Happy shooting! 🙂