Sirui Professional Landscape Filter Kit Review
Over the last month and a bit, I have been fortunate enough to test out the brand new Sirui 100mm square filter system in the field. Being someone who had previously only used a polariser and exposure blends for 95% for my photos, I was very keen to see how it performed. Read on to see my impressions!
Included in the kit is:
• 1x Sirui Filter Holder – 100mm
• 1x Sirui Soft GND16 (1.2) Filter – 100x150mm
• 1x Sirui ND1000 Filter – 100x100mm
• 1x CPL Filter • 67mm, 72mm and 77mm adapter rings
• Padded Carry Bag
• Allen Key
• 4x Short Allen Screw
This kit can currently be purchased for $499, an excellent price when compared to its competitors. The filters provided cover most bases of the different length exposures that can be achieved, giving a great kick off to capture the images you have in mind. Build quality When I first pulled the system out of the box, my immediate impression was that the build quality was fantastic. Quite lightweight, yet very solid in the hands, the aluminium frame of the system has been designed very well by the Sirui team and caused me no issues in my time of testing it out. I had very similar impressions of the glass too.
How it works
The frame works in two parts – the attachment ring and the holder. The CPL twists into the attachment ring, which in turn is attached to your lens through an adapter. The filter holder then clips onto the attachment ring, with a rotating dial on the side allowing for live adjustment to the polariser without having to remove the whole system. I especially enjoyed this feature, as I use a CPL in many of my images. The locking teeth around the side of the attachment ring, which are rotated by the dial, are quite large, which meant it was very easy for the filter to be rotated. Having experienced another brand’s holder where this was very small and therefore much more difficult to rotate, I really appreciated this improvement. The holder has three different slots for the 100mm filters, which slide in at the front. The tightness of these slots can be easily adjusted with a provided Allen key to balance easy insertion with tightness. As with the rest of the system, this worked very easily and I was able to set up the entire system for the first time in under 5 minutes.
Vertical panorama taken with the Circular Polariser (CPL), which was essential for cutting out the glare from the foreground rocks and water.
Performace in the field and image quality
Before getting this system, the only filter I would use would be a polariser, and to overcome high dynamic range I would bracket my exposures and blend them together in post processing. While it’s safe to say that I will still be doing so in certain situations, there are others where the abilities that this kit provides are much more ideal.
The filter that I value most of all – the CPL – performed extremely well. No colour cast, and excellent removal of glare and reflections from surfaces. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed the pop that a CPL gives the colours and contrast of an image in most situations, and you’ll see that all of the images I’ve included here were captured using it.
The graduated ND is something that I have always been sceptical of. An integral part of my editing includes ensuring that I have a very balanced exposure, which I achieve through multiple exposures and luminosity masks in Photoshop. I am not a huge fan of the way that these make clear skies look in general (which has nothing to do with the quality of Sirui’s filters). However I was very pleasantly surprised, and there are now certain situations where I can safely say that I will definitely be using my graduated ND filter instead – namely with cloudy skies, and with high-action seascapes.
A graduated ND filter is fantastic for bringing down the exposure for a cloudy sky, whether it is colourful or grey and dramatic, and is the perfect situation for creating a balanced exposure in camera. I was very happy with the results I got in these situations. It was also very helpful with high-pressure seascape situations, where the water is getting close to my camera and rushing past quite quickly. In these situations, the action is so fast and difficult to capture that it’s very stressful and hard to also try and get a darker exposure of the sky while you’re focusing on capturing good water flow. The image below shows a combination of both of these situations, where it darkened the dramatic sky beautifully, as well as meaning that the large splash into the sky which otherwise would have been too bright to recover in post-processing was exposed perfectly. I did not notice any colour cast on this filter either.
A single-exposure seascape image from Turimetta, using the CPL and 4-stop Soft GND. Without the graduated ND filter it would have been very difficult to expose for the sky, as I was having to move my tripod away from the waves constantly. It also allowed for this splash reaching into the sky to be correctly exposed with a longer shutter speed.
The 10-stop filter was a filter that I used slightly less, as I tend to prefer showing the movement of water rather than flattening it out. However, when I did use it it definitely did the job it was meant to do. I did notice a blue colour cast in my 30-second image that I captured, which would be stronger if the exposure was longer. It’s nothing that can’t be corrected with a warm in-camera white balance and a quick adjustment in Lightroom, but it was present.
30-second exposure at sunrise captured with the CPL, 10-stop ND filter and 4-stop Soft GND. The polariser removed reflections, the graduated ND balanced out the sky, and the 10-stop filter limited the light enough to open the shutter for 30-seconds and still have a well-exposed scene. A blue colour cast was present, but it was easily adjusted.
• Ability to capture balanced exposures in-camera, which especially shines in cloudy skies and high-pressure shooting situations
• Isolated polariser adjustment that does not affect the position of your other filters
• Achieve a wider variety of exposure lengths easily
• Great build and image quality
• Very competitive pricing
• Clear instructions and easy to start using
• Bit of a blue colour cast when using 10-stop ND filter that is exaggerated with longer exposures, but can easily be fixed
• Only individual pouches for filters – a larger, single pouch that could be carried would make it more convenient in the field
Overall I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using this new filter system from Sirui, and can definitely see it becoming quite popular amongst other photographers looking for a 100mm filter holder. It makes several situations much more convenient in capturing vibrant, well-balanced images at a wide variation in shutter speeds. A big thanks to Sirui Australia for the opportunity, I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a filter solution! If you have any questions/qualms/queries, feel free to message me through the ‘Contact’ button on my website. Thanks for stopping by!
Taken with the CPL and 4-stop Soft GND during a stormy sunset on the south coast. Can you tell I like shooting seascapes in portrait?