This is how you use filters on wide angle lenses; Haida M15 filter holder review

Tips & Techniques

If there is one thing I have grown to love about photography, it is the ability to capture, control, and manipulate time.  Photography is giving us the option to see things in ways that are impossible to achieve with our naked eyes. This opens up a whole new world of creative options.

While cameras do offer us a fair amount of control using ISO, shutter, and aperture, we sometimes need to look at other options to get extremely long exposures. This is particularly true where there is a lot of light around. Add that to the wide shots you can get with a  Sigma 14-24mm weird construction, and you soon realize the need for something like the Haida M15 filter holder system.

Why a special filter for the 14-24?

If you want maximum control of the scene, there really is no getting around the benefits that a good filter holder brings to the game. Ultra-wide-angle lenses often have no filter threads. This takes circular filters out of the equation. The only option is to use large 150mm filters and a specialized filter holder.  You can see the lack of threads here on the Sigma 14-24 f2.8 DG DN ART.

Luckily for us photographers, filter manufacturers have been developing and improving filter holders systems for a while now. Enter the Haida M15 filter holder kit

The M15 holder is designed to hold 2mm-thick, 150mm-wide filters. It can be adapted to fit many wide-angle lenses, like the Canon 11-24mm F4L, or Nikon 14-24mm 2.8G. There are also adaptors for variable filter thread sizes from 52mm up to 105mm. This kit can work on almost any lens you own. That said, the size and weight will make it impractical on some lenses.

You can find a full list of supported lenses and adaptors on the Haida website, but I took the time to write down the currently supported wide-angle lenses to make things a little easier.

Build and features

The holder itself feels well made and has a few nice features worth going over.  The main feature is the rear magnetic filter holder. This magnet works with eight (currently) filters by Haidas that “snap” on the magnet. Those are extremely easy to mount.

The Magnetic slot also has two rotating dials at either end of the M15 filter holder allowing you to rotate any filters placed in there, particularly useful for CPL filters.

Along with the magnetic filter slot,  you have the 150mm filter guides on the front with a nice little ring of velvet-like material to act as a light seal.  This is ideal, as it saves the use of foam shields to block stray light from entering the shot. This is particularly useful with strong filters.

The M15 holder comes with one set of filter guides pre-installed. This allows for one 150mm filter to be slotted in. The M15 does come with additional guides though. You can attach those to extend the number of filters you use simultaneously. So stacking two or three 150mm filters becomes an option. Haida was kind enough to supply a little screwdriver to make this job easier.

The last feature is the quick-release mechanism. This quick-release allows you to mount or unmount any of the various lens adaptors from the holder.  Here is how it works:

  1. The lens adaptors first have to screw into a quick release ring.
  2. For the next step, they attach to the back of the holder beside the magnetic filters.
  3. There are two solid little notches on one side where you mount the adaptor and one that moves by pulling the metal pin allowing you to pop in or release the lens adaptor with ease.

The adaptor I have is for the  Sigma 14-24 f2.8 DG DN Art which is the newer mirrorless version of the lens.  As far as I can tell, it works a little differently from Haida’s other adaptors. It has a locking leaver instead of a rotating ring, although all the adaptors are designed to slide over the front of the lens with little notches that fit between the lens hood petals and then clamp.

Again, like the holder, the build quality of the lens adaptor is very nice.  It has some foam and soft velvet-like material along the inside of the lens mounting section, which I guess is to help protect the exterior of the lens, as well as helping it stay secure.  Here’s what the 14-24mm holder looks like once mounted onto the lens.

Filters

The M15 and Lens adaptor wouldn’t be much use without filters to use them. Haida was kind enough to send a perfect selection (my own opinion) of filters for starting out in landscapes.

On the left is the Red-Diamond 3 Stop SoftGraduated ND Filter, in the middle is the NanoPro CPL Filter, and lastly, a Red-Diamond 6 Stop Neutral Density Filter on the right.

The Red-Diamond series is Haida’s latest filters.  They offer water and scratch resistance coatings over a tougher shock-proof glass and rounded edges.  Now, this is a large piece of glass, so I’m not testing the shock-proof aspect of it. I just respect the glass and do not want to waste a perfectly good product. There are also many aspects to shock-proof testing like the type of ground, height, and impact location on the filter. I’m gonna take their word for it 🙂 Time will tell if this is indeed the case.

Each filter comes in a metal case with foam inserts and offers excellent protection. The six-stop ND also comes with a square foam gasket to help block any light leaks. I didn’t feel I needed it when it was inserted to the slot closest to the lens, as the holder has its own light leak protection.

Optical Performance

Optically these filters are very good. I have been using a combination of all three together and have not noticed any impact on the image quality.  At least when using the Sigma fp with a 14-24mm f2.8 lens. I was able to capture images like this one at Loch Lomond.

I wanted to test the image quality of the filters a little more, so I used a high-resolution sensor and longer lens. The Sigma 105 f1.4 Art mounted to a Sigma sdQ-H.  The Foveon chip inside this camera has no AA or Bayer filter that lets its  1.3x crop 25.6mp Foveon chip at times resolve as much detail as a full-frame 50mp Canon 5dsR.

As you can see, there is virtually no difference between each crop when it comes to sharpness; in fact, even with all three mounted I saw similar results.  Color shift, though is a little different for each.  The one that surprised me most in this regard was the Red-Diamond 6 Stop Neutral Density Filter.  It has a slight purple tint to it while the 3stop grad was very neutral, and the CPL  a little warmer.

Using Lightroom and correcting them all to the same white balance showed this difference.

  • NanoPro CPL Filter  (1 stop light reduction) =  +4 temp  -2 tint
  • Red-Diamond 6 Stop Neutral Density Filter = +5 temp +10 tint
  • Red-Diamond 3 Stop SoftGraduated ND Filter = +1 temp  -8 tint
  • All Filters = +9 temp  +6 tint

I’m honestly rather impressed with the kit as a whole.  The build quality and features of the holder/adaptors are outstanding!  I like the ease of use on location, particularly as there’s no need to screw or unscrew anything, except if you are adapting the kit to fit a new lens.  The fact you can adapt it to fit many lenses is great as some filter holders in the past have been lens-specific.

There are a few little things that I feel could be improved, though. The magnetic filters can be a pain to remove as you first have to disconnect the holder from the lens adaptor.  This is easy enough, but then you need to push the magnetic filters from the front. The trouble is that’s where your 150mm filters are.   So you need to move them and then push the glass of the magnetic filter to release it.  This was easily resolved with a little bit of tape. I created a small tab to help release the filter from the back.  It would be nice if Haida could do something like this as standard.

Another thing I would like is the ability to lock the rotation of the front filters by screwing the metal quick release pin on the side,  I haven’t had an issue with them moving on their own, but it would be a nice feature.

Conclusion

Overall it has been a joy to use the Haida M15 and their filters.  These filters have helped me capture some images using my Sigma 14-24 DG DN that I really enjoy.  Like this shot of Bow Fiddle Rock close to Portknockie along the north-eastern coast of Scotland.

And this shot in the highlands of Scotland at Glen Etive, where I used all thee filters combined to create this image.

Do keep in mind the size of such a system as it comes with a few drawbacks.

The larger surface area added to your system on windy days can cause more camera vibrations. Also, the extra weight at the front of the lens could cause your camera to twist when shooting in portrait mode on some tripods, so its best to use an L bracket or if you can side mount a tripod bracket as I have on the Sigma fp.

Lastly, it is tricky to fit the M15 kit into some camera bags. Haida does have a bag to transport the holder and five filters, but I was able to adjust my Cosypseed Streetomatic+ as an accessory bag to fit all three filters in their metal cases long with the holder.

Pricing

Hopefully, this review was useful, and as usual, feel free to reach out if there are any questions, as I would be happy to help.

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