Since I wrote my article on the ultimate filter holder setup, HERE: https://www.schultzphoto.com/2018/10/03/the-ultimate-filter-holder-and-set-up/ another filter holder has just come on the market that I feel should be added to this review.
It’s the Summit Filter System by PolarPro. I would consider this holder in the same category as the Wine Country Filter holder, meaning it “could” be one of those “ultimate filter holders” for the serious landscape photographer. By that, I mean that this is the person who not only prefers to get the exposure right in the camera, (by using a Graduated Neutral Density filter–GND) they also want to use a polarizer for various reasons (contrast in the sky and/or eliminate reflections on water) AND make longer than normal exposures in daylight.
A person would typically only use a filter holder like this when they want to combine ALL three of those filters. A Circular Polarizer with a Graduated Neutral Density filter AND a solid Neutral Density filter. Three filters for three different effects.
I tested the Summit system in November 2019 after PolarPro sent me what they call their “Landscape Kit”. This was sent just prior to their November 12, 2019 launch.
Watch my video review of the PolarPro filter system here.
This kit includes the following:
- Two filter holder rings: 77mm and 82mm
- The filter holder itself — with a removable and flexible sun shade. PolarPro calls it the “core”.
- A circular polarizing filter — which fits on the very back end and is rotated with a gear system from behind.
- A Graduated ND filter they call—ND4-GR In reality a 2-stop soft edge GND.
- A solid grad they call—ND64, In reality, it’s a 6-stop ND filter
I can tell you that this filter holder is well made and mostly very easy to use. This filter holder relies on “frames” to hold the square ND’s and the rectangular GND’s. Very similar to the Wine Country Holder. This not only helps with fingerprints but I see it as a plus as it makes the filters easier to handle and slide into place.
The built-in hood is very nice. As with any product, there are pros and cons to them all. Here’s the list of Pro’s and Con’s for the PolarPro Summit Filter System in my humble opinion.
—Well Built – Good construction with positive stops to hold the filters.
—ND and GND filters slide in very easily.. and have good stops to keep them in place.
—I LOVE the fact that there will be no light-leaks when using ND’s with this system. Just like the Wine Country and UNLIKE the Nisi and Breakthrough and Lee.
—The glass appears very good— PolarPro tells us the filters are made of FUSED QUARTZ…I’m no optical engineer but in my side x side comparisons with Nisi and Breakthrough, there are no issues on glass quality. And I believe glass is sharper than resin, BUT at a cost of weight and being much more fragile.
—The holder does not vignette at 16mm…This is GREAT news !! The Wine Camera holder does vignette until about 19mm. So this Summit is better in that regard.
—It’s a closed system.. meaning you must use the filters made by PolarPro. The frames that hold the filters do not allow other brands to be inserted. PolarPro’s filters are hermetically sealed into the frames. In and of itself this does not appear to be a big deal unless:
*You are not convinced their glass is as good as you like OR
*Like me you have $1,000’s invested in other brands of filters to switch OR
*At the moment they do not have all the filters that I use… like hard-edge GND’s, 3-stop soft GND’s, 15-stop ND’s, Reverse-GND’s, and others. This fact alone makes it an expensive proposition for someone like me to switch.
—There is only one GND slot.. there are times when I use two so that’s a big loss.
—This is not a big deal at all, but the naming conventions used by PolarPro for filters are silly- weird in my opinion. They have names like this: ND-4 is a 2-stop – ND64 is a 6-stop. I’m told it’s the way they named things based on how much light is being blocked. 4 for ¼, 64 for 1/64th. Might be a cool marketing idea but does not make it easy to understand what exactly you’re buying in the real world. BUT they do make it easy by having, in addition to their naming convention, the more useful information – i.e. how many stops the filter is and soft edge written on the filter frames.
—I shoot a lot in winter… When I tested it at near-freezing conditions I found that the gears to rotate the polarizer are a bit small and hard to grab with gloves on. Likewise, it was a bit stiff to rotate at the lower temp.
BUT… all in all, it’s a good system and I’m happy to see more companies looking to make products for the serious landscape photographer.
The image below is one that I made with the new PolaPro Summit Filter system. This image was shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III lens at 27mm f/22 for one minute at ISO 100 on a tripod using the Summit Filter system with a polarizer, 2-stop soft-edge and 6-stop ND filter. Cropped square for composition.