Review: H&Y 100mm Filter Starter Kit
4 minute exposure, with three stacked H&Y filters (ND64, ND8 and Grad ND8).
Fuji X-T3, 10-24mm f/4.
Full disclosure: I was provided with a H&Y Filter Starter Kit to test and review, as I had been invited to be part of their affiliate sales programme. Because I never put my name and brand on anything unless I love the product and will very happily use it, I put them through quite an extensive test. Long story short, I love them and will continue to use them. Here's my review:
As a landscape photographer (amongst other genres that I also shoot), I know the value of a great set of filters -- neutral density, graduated neutral density and circular polarising filters -- in helping create stunning images taken in long exposure. Like many photographers who have been shooting long exposures for a while, I've pretty much used the gamut of filters available: Cokin, Hoya, Lee, Nisi and so on.
Some of these filters are cheap and predictably give what they are worth. Others are very expensive but you definitely get what you pay for, which is quality images with no reduction in image sharpness and little or no colour cast. The thing with filters is that, inevitably, you will drop them. I remember a landscape photography weekend I ran down in the South West of Western Australia, when a participant who had just spent a considerable sum of money on a set of very expensive filters was almost in tears when they dropped their filter and it shattered against hard rock. Even my own 150mm ND filter, which was purchased for use with my Nikkon 14-24mm lens was dropped and a big corner chunk broke off. Pricey filters are worth it, but dropping and breaking one is heartbreaking!
I've been a longtime user of circular screw on filters. For me, they're compact, portable and about 80% of the time reliable. But they do colour cast and when you stack them and use a wider angle lens, then you get pretty extreme vignetting when you shoot at wider angles.
The quest for the perfect set of filters thus comes down to this: good quality, no colour cast, no vignetting, sturdy glass and at a price point that isn't going to break the bank or break your heart when you drop one of the filters and it shatters.
Enter the H&Y Filter Starter Kit -- a complete set of filters, filter holder, adapter rings and a circular polariser for a great entry level price! And better yet, the filter frames and holder are magnetised so that there is no fussing around when you need to attach the filter to the holder -- just clip and it sticks via the science of magnetism.
The H&Y Magnetic Frame system with circular polarising filter included. Note the wheel that allows you to adjust the circular polarising filter to polarise light.
The H&Y Magnetic Frame with ND filter attached.
The H&Y magnetic filter system is so advanced that they even manufacture and provide magnetic strips that you can attach to your other 100mm and 150mm square/rectangular filters to allow you to use these filters with the H&Y magnetic filter holder. The magnetic filter frames are crafted from aircraft grade aluminium, so they are light but solid. They also serve a secondary function -- they protect the edges and corners of your filters from breaking or chipping should the filter meet a hard surface!
The thing that strikes me the most about the H&Y filters is that they exhibit no colour cast at all, and produce sharp images even when stacked. Because the filters are magnetised, they stick to each other when stacked, do there's little room for light to creep in between filters and refract, creating all sorts of unsightly optical effects.
Grad ND filter stacked on ND filter. Note how close the filters stack, so there's little gap to allow for light to leak between filters.
The Starter Kit is your complete kit for getting into long exposure photography. It's all nicely packed in a portable pouch and includes the filter holder for 82mm thread, adapters for 77mm, 72mm and 67mm lenses (so you can use these filters with your other lenses), a circular polarising filter (which you would screw into the filter holder to use) and three filters: an ND8 (3-stop), ND64 (6-stop) and Graduated ND8 (3 stop). The full ND filters are 100mm x 100mm in dimensions and the Grad ND8 is 150mm x 100mm. While you can use these filters on their own, stacking them gives you greater light-blocking density, allowing for longer exposures. For example, stacking the ND64 with the ND8 gives you the equivalent of a 9-stop ND filter. This means that you're off to a flying start with these filters without having to invest any more in additional filters -- it is the complete starter kit!
1 minute exposure, with two stacked H&Y filters (ND64 and ND8).
Fuji X-T3, 10-24mm f/4.
The filter holder (called the H&Y magnetic frame system) is solid and easy to attach to your lens (either directly or via the adapters) and it's a breeze to clip on the ND and ND grad filters onto it via magnets. Setting up the system doesn't take long at all (definitely a lot faster than other slot in filter systems), though if you're stacking your filters, then the other filters that clip onto the first filter via the magnetic system are not held in place by anything else but magnetic force. So, if you're going to grab your camera and tripod set up with filters attached and go walkabout, you might like to remove the stacked filters first for their own protection.
2 minute exposure, with three stacked H&Y filters (ND64, ND8 and Grad ND8).
Fuji T-Y3, 10-24mm f/4.
The sample images below are taken with the H&Y filter system at various times of the day (mid morning, late afternoon, sunset and twilight) as part of the testing for this review. They work remarkably well, never missing a beat, producing great images without colour cast or reduction in quality, even when two to three filters were stacked.
I'm pleased as punch with these H&Y filters and they have replaced the standard circular screw on filters in my kit. Because these filters are square/rectangle, they're easy to clean and you can just blow dust off it with a rocket blower or similar. The Starter Kit retails for AUD$649, which is terrific value for what you get in the set. For those keen to get a set, there is a discount code below that you can apply to get 5% off the retail price.
WHERE TO BUY
You can purchase the H&Y 100mm Starter Kit online at the Laowa website. Special offer: Use the discount code FILTERZ when you order the Starter Kit to get a 5% discount off the price of the kit (save AUD$32.45).