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!