Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Recently I have had the opportunity to use and now review some Kase equipment, namely the K8 holder with magnetic polariser along with two of their Wolverine filters, the 3 stop soft graduated and the 6 stop neutral density. This review concentrates on the K8 holder.
So what's all the fuss about? Kase are the new kids on the block, of which we seem to have had quite a few in recent years, so what makes them any different or better than the rest and is there a good reason why anyone should junk, sell or pack away in a cupboard their old, probably very expensive, kit that was once that new kid.
Well for a start this holder comes with a polariser. Okay that's not new. Recently NISI introduced their version, the latest guise being the V5 Pro, which itself has an attachable slim polariser but in their case it is a screw in type. I have that very kit which is the latest in a long line of filter kits and filters I've bought. It's a process many go through along their photography journey, perhaps having bought cheap first and upgraded in a natural progression, once realising that cheap usually means poor quality, or having been introduced to something better through friends, or have changed allegience to one manufacturer or another as the new latest system appears on the market.
We are all looking for ways that make our like easier and in the photography community, as much if not more than other activities, there is a trend to want the latest and greatest the industry throws at us.
So now along comes Kase. Seems like the same thing but different so why should you bother with it? Okay, firstly the polariser. Kase use a magnetic attachment system, completely different to NISI but is it any better? Well, instead of trying to screw in the very slim delicate NISI polariser, which with gloves can become something of a trial, you simply 'offer' the Kase filter up to the front of the magnetic filter ring on to which the K8 holder attaches. Again very slim in design and just as delicate as the NISI one, but instead of the fiddle of trying to 'catch' the screw thread and rotate you just let the magnets do their stuff. The polariser magically grabs the filter ring and voila, there you have it. Simples! To remove, just pop it out. Either push it out, though that could leave a finger print on your precious filter, or hook a finger nail down the edge from the front and out she pops. Just don't drop it.
So far so good. Now then, the polariser is in but how does it adjust? Like the NISI system all adjustment is made from the outer edge by the use of knurled adjustment wheels, one in the case of Kase. Unlike the NISI system the Kase set up works best when the K8 holder is attached as the finger adjustment wheel is set within the holder rather than being part of the adapter ring as with the NISI V5 and V5 Pro. You can still rotate the polariser without the holder but you do need to stick a finger on the front edge and move it directly. Not ideal but doable.
Once the holder is attached, locked into place by means of a lovely red substantially sized anodised screw on the side, then it is extremely secure. Definitely no fiddling around with a little pull pin here, wondering whether it is locked in place or not. It cannot be knocked off which is great. By the way the holder itself is anodised aviation grade aluminium. It has a quality feel to it but even so the K8 kit comes in at only £110. With the NISI system now costing around £140 that's a significant difference with no loss of quality, infact I'd go as far as saying the Kase is superior simply from an operational viewpoint.
As well as the polariser the K8 holder comes with two magnetic geared adapter rings, a 77-86mm and a 82-86mm. Also in the kit are two step rings to cover other lens sizes, a 67-82mm and a 72-82mm. Finally you also get an extra filter slot (the kit comes built with just two slots) and a moulded plastic three slot option. The additional moulded plastic slots are to take 1.1mm filters. Straight away I added the extra slot to the 2mm guides which are fitted as standard. Here, whereas on other brands you might be trying to grip a small knurled cap to unscrew and release the slides, Kase supply a second, longer set of screws but with a handy miniature allen key screwdriver. Really neat and makes it rather easy to change. The screws also sit flush in their respective holes, not protruding in any way and therefore definitely not prone to damage should the holder be dropped. I have dropped my NISI holder once and one of the brass screw ends bent. It did come off, eventually, but not without the aid of a pair of pliers and was useless afterwards of course. No worries about that kind of damage here then.
The holder itself takes the 100mm wide filters and you can use filters other than those from Kase. As with the NISI system, with the polariser being the first and closest filter from the front of the lens, and set within the adapter rings, the issue of vignetting is minimised. As a comparison the Lee system has a very large, very expensive, 105mm diameter polariser sitting out front, furthest away from the lens, being that large to negate the effect of vignetting as much as possible. The Kase polariser is just 86mm in diameter.
Anyway so how does it work in practise? Well, very well. The single finger operation of the polariser rotation is great. The large red anodised gear wheel protrudes sufficiently from the side to be able to operate relatively easily with gloves. Popping the polariser into place is a doddle, if it's not in there already. I set mine up with it in the adapter already, with a Kase lens cap as protection when the camera was not in use, in the bag etc. As such when I didn't want the polariser on I just flipped it out and popped it in the filter case.
The guide slots are a dream. Very smooth but tight enough that you do not fear your precious and expensive filters falling straight through. The Kase Wolverine filters are actually made of toughened glass and can survive a drop from a metre (or more as I found out in a drop test with some other glass they supplied me, but more of that in another blog). With my previous NISI holder I did find the guides very tight, not to the extent that it was extremely difficult to push them down but tight so that you sometimes felt you were putting undue pressure on the lens mount to get your filters in position and needed to add support underneath the holder to be sure. The Kase filters and the NISI ones I used all went in smoothly with little effort but with a sense of security.
So what else is there to say. The K8 holder kit is good, very good. Is it streets ahead of the NISI option? No, it's different. I prefer it for sure and, at around £40 cheaper than the NISI version, if you are looking for a new filter holder I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
Infact I have been so impressed with the Kase products I have just agreed to become a Reseller for the brand. I've put my money where my mouth is. I have started building my own new Kase kit and will report back on other aspects of the products in later posts. I will also have a demo kit with me for my workshops https://www.yourphotovision.co.uk/photography-workshops and 1-2-1 tuition sessions https://www.timwilcock.com/tuition-and-activity-days for others to see the benefits.
Many people who come to me have only basic kit, probably not having wanted to commit to any expensive equipment before they know what they are talking about, or before they've had some hands on experience and trusted recommendations. Very understandable. Wish I'd done that, it would have saved me a fortune.
If you do decide to try it for yourself then go to my Kase Filter Store and take a look at the products on offer.