Kase Filters Armour System Review
In October a package turned up, I hadn't ordered anything so I was curious to know what it was, I opened it right away and was surprised to see a full filter system from Kase Filters.
I quickly looked round the product and was really excited to see something new !
I messaged the lads at Kase Filters who said I was getting the very first look at the new Kase Filters Armour system and would I give it a test to see what I thought of it and if there were any refinements I felt it needed.
To say I was excited was an understatement ! but there was a condition, I couldn't tell anyone about it as the product was top secret !
First thought was, why do I need another filter system ? My Kase Filters K9 system had been absolutely faultless and I loved it and couldn't see me ever not using it.
But again a quick chat with Kase Filters and they explained the Armour System wasn't replacing the K9 holder, it was going to run alongside it as a completely separate system and with a big difference, it was magnetic !
This caught my interest right away and I had to have a look and see for myself, The holder was removed from the box and it felt really good and solid and very well made (Full alloy construction), reassuringly so in fact.
There was also a couple of frames which were to go around the graduated filter, which again made me take notice and suddenly there was a much clearer picture of what the Armour system was all about, Speed & safety and I liked it.
The filters clicked into place so easily and with a reassuring click of the magnetic pieces meeting together and holding like a limpet.
Anyway more of that later, let me first tell you a bit about what comes in the box for the Kase Filters Armour system and the kit options you get.
The Armour System 100 mm, This is the kit for existing Kase Filters users who already have graduated filters and just need the bare bones of the Armour system, It comes in at £269.
It starts off with a magnetic adaptor rings to go on your lens covering you right up to 82 mm, Then the Armour holder which again is magnetic, and the circular polariser which fits to the back of the filter holder (This was a new one on me) You get a lens cap to go over the top of the filter ring so you can keep it on the camera all the time and protect the lens, you then get two frames, 1 150 x 100 mm which is perfect for Kase Wolverine graduated filters, and in fact will fit most brand filters of 1-2mm, you also get a 100 x 100 mm armour holder for the smaller filters should you use them.
The Entry Level Armour System
This is the full kit with EVERYTHING ! This comes in at £509 and comprises of ..
Armour 100mm Alloy Filter Holder.
95mm Magnetic Circular Polariser.
95mm Armour Circular ND64 (6 stop) filter.
150x100mm Kase Wolverine Soft Graduated Filter 0.9 (3 stop).
2 x Armour adapter rings: 77-95mm & 82-95mm – Magnetic.
2 x Step rings: 67-77mm & 72-82mm.
1 x Armour Magnetic 150x100mmx2mm Filter Frame.
1 x Armour Magnetic 100x100mmx2mm Filter Frame.
1 x Plastic Lens Cap.
1 x Armour Carry Case.
Now this kit is for people who are starting from scratch or just want to get much more bang for their buck !
You will notice this kit has a circular ND filter in as well, more of that later.
Everything can be purchased as extras should you need more Armour frame kist for example, or circular ND filters specifically for the Armour system.
A new carry pouch has been developed too so you can take up to 6 framed filters with nicely padded pockets, but you actually get one of these in the entry level kit, but if you're buying the starter kit then I highly recommend getting one of these as the filters and armour frames don't really fit the old carry pouches very well.
You can however use the magnetic frames to stack all your filters together and put them inside a protective container to get you going.
So first impressions of the kit were very good, and I hadn't even discovered all of its tricks yet.
There was a circular groove on either side of the filter, I wasn't sure why ? I knew one would be for the Polariser but what was the other one for ? A further search of the box revealed a circular ND filter and suddenly all became clear.
The Polariser fitted in the rear of the holder and the circular ND filter went in the front, both of them with a beautifully slim profile that effortlessly snapped into the holder with the reassuring magnetic click.
This was a really exciting development as previously I could only use a polariser, then I would have to put in a 150x100 mm ND filter and a graduated filter and that was all that could fit in the holder.
Now with the new Kase filters Armour system I was able to have the polariser and an ND filter mounted to the holder at the same time AND use a further TWO filters if needed for the grads !
This might sound like a small thing but it was a seriously welcome addition and yet another piece of quality innovation by Kase Filters, in fact it was an absolute game changer for me.
The Armour Alloy filter holder clicks onto the magnetic ring and is absolutely rock solid and even has a safety catch on the rear to make sure there is no way it can come apart from the filter ring by being knocked accidentally. It's such an easy clip to operate that you can put the filter on and off easily even while wearing gloves.
You then take your Kase Wolverine filters and undo the two screws on the side of the Armour cages and put them in, this offers absolute protection for the filter and I cant stress how solid they are, the first place on any filter to break if dropped is the corners and the Armour system has rock solid, rugged corners to protect the filter, couple this with a filter which is as tough as a Kase Wolverine and you have a near indestructible filter.
The metal edges of the Armour cage then simply clip by magnetic force onto the Armour filter holder, they can be slid up and down to achieve the correct graduation and work independently of each other so they can be set at different heights if needed.
There is a small twist lock on the side of the holder to keep these locked in place but in all fairness I found the magnets did that job on their own, they wont move unless its being slid by the user.
To put the holder and a grad on can be done in under 1 second, it is astonishingly fast, and I proved this in a video review I did which I'll put at the bottom of the page.
On the other side of the holder is the twist wheel which controls the operation of the polariser so you can have as little or as much polarisation as you need, its very smooth and as its geared there is no way it will slip or not turn when needed.
The ND filter doesn't require any turning as they are individual strength filters going right up to 10 stop.
Again I cant stress just how well made and solid this Armour system feels, it really does give the user confidence in the product and I think its fair to say it will survive in the hands of even the most aggressive or clumsy photographer.
Kase Filters provide a years warranty for the Armour system.
The operation of the system is again absolutely faultless, its precision engineering at its best and each part marries to the other perfectly.
Kase Filters say that the system is safe to use on ultra wide lenses right down to 14 mm without any vignetting and I tested this on my own 15 mm lens with full frame camera and there wasn't even a hint of filter system in view or any vignetting at all.
So it all looked very promising and I was excited to try it out on an actual shoot to see how it performed.
The first chance I got was going to be a true test, the weekend brought with it 40 MPH winds and intermittent rain ! I headed off to Corfe Castle to try it on several lenses from 15 mm to 400 mm, the weather men had indeed got it right for once and the wind was howling !
I headed for a large bush to seek a little bit of shelter from the wind and sporadic rain which was coming down in waves.
The Kase Armour filter system was set up in a flash, it was so easy and I could see the advantage of this especially in these conditions as I constantly had the Armour system on and off in between the rain showers.
I was really hoping for the chance of a rainbow and after about 20 minutes of waiting I got my wish and for a maximum of a minute a large rainbow formed right behind Corfe Castle and the Armour system came into its own and was on in seconds and a shot was taken and nailed, and I even had time to change focal lengths and get another before the rainbow vanished without a trace.
Now I'm 100% convinced that I wouldn't have got this shot if it wasn't for the speed of the Kase Armour system, The rainbow just didn't hang around long enough and a slower system would have cost me the shots, I was seriously impressed.
So do you really need this system ? Well I have to say for me its a big yes, I want something that is super fast to set up, something that will protect me from being the clumsy photographer that I am and safeguard my gear and save me money in the long run.
The Kase Filters Armour system achieves that effortlessly and in fact, exceeds my needs.
The ability to use up to 4 filters on there is a huge bonus for me too.
I loved this system so much and I was absolutely gutted to have to give it back to Kase Filters in order for others to test it, for me it was a no brainer and I ordered a system for myself instantly.
I gave my feedback and when asked what would I change, for once I said nothing, it was perfect exactly as it is, Kase have knocked it out of the park with this one and Im a complete convert.
I have shown this system to several other landscape photographers who have been equally as impressed as I was and gone on to order the kit and enjoy it just as much as me.
Now a brief disclaimer, I am lucky enough to be a Kase filters Pro Partner but this review is based on my own findings and has no influence from Kase and those of you who follow me know I wont give a good review to any product that doesn't deserve it, Kase know this too and are always happy for me to give my findings good or bad.
This is a completely unbiased review and if I sound like I'm over excited by the Kase Armour system, its because I genuinely am, in fact i'm going to say this is my "Product of the year" so far, thats how much I love it.
A brief word about the prices, obviously this system isn't cheap, but then the best never is but if you actually look at alternative filter systems out there and how much they are to get a similar level of kit you will soon see this is actually a bargain, for example the Lee filters set up for Holder/Polariser/Adaptor ring/Polariser Mount will cost you £364.90, Compare that to the Kase Filters Kit at £269 ! Thats £100 cheaper AND you get the frames & other adaptors on top of that too, it really does represent great value for money ! When you go onto the entry level kit you save even more
User Experience 10/10
TOTAL 50/50 100%
So my final thoughts, The Kase Filters Armour System is the fastest, safest and easiest filter system I have ever used, It streamlines the process down and makes it lightning fast to set up, you never have to miss that fleeting moment of light ever again.
The filter system exudes absolute quality and gives the end user complete confidence in the product and that it wont fail when needed and coupled with the Armour strength and safety and it's an absolute winner, and my new filter system of choice.
Well done Kase Filters, Absolute game changer.
The Kase Filters Armour system can be purchased HERE
Watch the full video review for a demonstration and in the field use.