Why I've Switched to Kase Filters
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Something amazing has happened, something I never thought I would even consider doing for a moment.
I have switched from Lee Filters to Kase Filters, let me explain why.
Now before I do this I want you to know I am in no way endorsed by Kase filters in any way and all of my new filters were paid for with my own hard earned cash.
I've always been a Lee Filters fan, I have used them for over 13 years and I have around £2k worth invested in them and I have enjoyed using them and always had good results.
I had been hearing a lot of chatter about Kase filters on the grapevine and it had all been good and I had seen many people making the switch, I wasn't a follower so I hadn't really taken that much notice.
This was until I purchased the new Canon RF 15-35 lens having previously used the EF 16-35 for most of my wide angle shots which was great.
I had never suffered with vignetting on the 16-35 mm with a full frame body while using the Lee filters set up but when I tried it on the RF 15-35 mm it was horrific, vignetting heavily up to about 21 mm which made zero sense as the 16-35 had been fine.
The obvious solution was to not shoot at 15 mm or try and take out the vignette in post, but I wasn't willing to do that, I see no sense in buying one of the best lenses available only to not use it to its full potential.
The other solution was to remove the two filter guides from the Lee filters system and just be able to use one grad filter and the polariser which did work but still left a slight vignette at 15mm, it also meant I wouldn't be able to use a ND plus a ND grad filter at the same time, something I often do so again this was deemed unacceptable and the realisation of a new filter system came back into play.
Now I'm sure you will all appreciate that this is a significant investment and a decision not to be taken lightly.
After looking around at various other manufactures I was pretty keen on Kase Filters and I wanted to know a lot more.
I spoke to local legend and Kase Filter ambassador, Jack Lodge (Check him out if you haven't already) and as a good friend he gave me the 100% honest lowdown on everything Kase Filter related. Jack said the new K9 holder was capable of being used on lenses as wide as 14 mm so it made it a perfect contender.
There were many other advantages to the Kase Filter system too which made it super appealing.
I have always hated the fact that the Lee graduated filters were resin rather than glass, this meant that they suffered scratches if the wind even blew in their general direction and it drove me mad as I generally ended up replacing 3-4 filters at least every year so it was a costly problem, They were also an absolute pain to clean if they got sea spray on them even when using filter cleaning fluid it would just push the dirt around rather than coming off.
Kase Filters were made of toughened glass and had a special coating on them which meant you could just wipe them clean in seconds, something I was very sceptical of having suffered it for years.
I have managed to drop glass filters in the past which broke instantly so I was a little reluctant to go back to them but after a good chat with Jack Lodge he told me that they were in fact toughened glass and showed a video of them being drop tested without breaking while other filters simply smashed into pieces, I was impressed.
The optical quality of the glass was much better than the resin and it also offered another huge advantage, near enough zero colour cast which the Lee's did suffer from quite heavily in my opinion, often making an image far cooler than it actually was. Now I know you can fix such things in post processing but as I constantly say, better to have it right in camera in the first place and spend less time processing images.
I was on the verge of going for it but I wanted to see them in action for myself to make sure they were exactly what I wanted, I decided to go out with a Jack who very kindly spent a whole morning going through the benefits of them and let me try his system out and I was really impressed and decided to go ahead with an order.
Now I really have to give Jack Lodge a huge thank you here as he took so much time out to explain everything I needed to know about Kase Filters and nothing was too much trouble despite me bombarding him with questions at all hours ! An exceptionally worthy ambassador for Kase Filters, and a simply fantastic and friendly landscape photographer.
An order was placed with Kase for the following items........
1 x K9 holder kit
1 x K9 Lens adaptor caps (Three pack)
1 x Wolverine 100 Reverse Grad 1.2
1 x Wolverine 100 Reverse Grad 0.9
1 x Wolverine 100 Hard Grad 0.9
1 x Wolverine 100 Hard Grad 0.6
1 x Wolverine 100 Soft Grad 0.9
1 x Wolverine 6 stop ND filter
1 x Soft case carrier
1 x 77mm adaptor ring
*Since writing this I have added a 10 stop ND and a centre weighed 1.2 grad filter to the collection.
Now as I'm sure you're aware that is a pretty big spend out in one hit, so it gives you an idea of just how confident I felt in these filters and Jacks advice.
Kase were absolutely fantastic and got the filters out to me for next day despite me placing a very late order which meant I was able to use them on the weekend. Nothing was too much trouble for them and their customer service was simply superb despite me adding extras to the order at late notice.
They arrived the next day as promised and I was eager to give them a try, the K9 holder had only just come out and I was super excited to have a look at it in the flesh.
Once I had opened it I just knew I had made the right choice, The Lee 100 Holder had felt flimsy and I had been really annoyed about this as per my review on it, the Kase K9 was however a different animal completely.
It was so well made and felt able to easily resist the knocks and bumps we give these things in the field.
It had been redesigned from the K8 holder to be suitable for lenses as wide as 14 mm on a full frame camera and had the polariser wheel made a touch larger for easier operation with gloves on.
The filter had also had some ergonomic updates done which made it a little lighter and had bigger recesses in for easy polariser removal.
Unlike the Lee holder which situates the polariser in front of the filters the Kase K9 holder had it behind the filters neatly done with a magnetic ring which made far more sense and reduced the chances of vignetting.
I added it to the front on my wide angle lens and with its 90 mm diameter (82mm step down ring fitted) there was absolutely zero vignetting and my problem was solved.
This alone made the switch worthwhile but the best was yet to come in the shape of the filters.
The ND filters came beautifully boxed and with a small pleather style white case which had a neat magnetic flap on to stop them opening accidentally.
They absolutely smacked of quality and felt great to use, I was keen to test the claim about the metallic nano electro-coated glass so I dropped some water on them to see the effect and it simply rolled straight off without leaving a trail at all, this was going to be a fantastic advantage when out shooting the coast or while chasing rainbows.
The filter holder was capable of holding up to three grads by simply swopping the guides at the front but I settled on two plus the polariser.
The coating was also anti scratch and anti glare so it all sounded pretty dam good to be fair.
As with all these things the proof is in the using and I simply couldn't wait to get out at the weekend and give them a try, conditions were looking quite reasonable as well so the filters were packed in the handy field pouch and were ready to be used.
Saturday morning rolled around and the conditions that were forecast went out the window and it was all looking a bit clear, I decided to go anyway as I wanted to try the filters out.
The sea was quite rough so I opted to do a long exposure from the safety of the cliff top which meant I could also try out the 6 stop ND filter too.
The first thing that struck me was just how easy it was to operate the polariser filter with the small thumb wheel, the Lee polariser required a bit of a wrestle to get it to turn and needed to be gripped with the whole hand, The Kase one was simply a thumb turn, I liked it a lot.
I started with a 0.9 hard grad and took a few shots while I waited for the sun to come up and cast its light over the cliffs and the difference of the optical quality was really clear to see, the shots appeared so much sharper, But I would wait till id seen them on the computer monitor before passing judgement.
The lack of a colour cast was a revelation too, I was seeing exactly what I was shooting on screen, no tint, no cast just a perfectly neutral image.
I tried the 6 stop ND and while the conditions were poor, the Kase Filter system certainly wasn't, I was blown away by it.
Like I say conditions on the day weren't very good but it gave me a trial of the filters to see how they worked.
I got home and had a look at the images on the big screen, this is where things got really interesting, The images were visibly sharper and cleaner than when using the Lee Filters not to mention having no visible colour cast either, I was so pleased with how good these were and that my investment had been justified, I simply couldn't wait for the next trip !
Conditions weren't very kind to me over the next few weeks but I will leave some sample images at the bottom of the page so you can see.
So how do I feel about the switch, well in case you hadn't realised by now I'm absolutely elated to be using Kase filters now, they simply are in a different league to the Lee filters I had been using.
The optical quality is so far past the Lee's its almost worrying that I hadn't seen problems with them sooner, and I honestly really rated Lee's very highly.
The quality of the holder is way above too which really had let Lee's down in my opinion with the new LEE100 holder.
The wipe clean filters were a revelation and made things so easy to clean with one quick wipe, rather than fighting with the Lee's to clean them.
Everything about them was so beautifully refined, it was like stepping out of a normal car and getting into a Rolls Royce.
While the filters themselves are near enough the same prices its the holder that comes with polariser which was the most shocking advantage. The Kase K9 Holder comes in at £140 which includes the Polariser while the equivalent Lee filter holder and polariser comes in at a whopping £289.94, I mean its over double the price ?! and for that you don't get as good quality either ?
I got a chance to put the Kase drop test into action while out on my second trip where I accidentally dropped one onto a rocky surface and I watched in almost slow motion as it hurtled towards the rocks only to land flat without any breakage or marks on it at all.
Now to be fair Kase Filters don't claim these are unbreakable, but the toughened glass will certainly take a good bit more punishment than anything else I have seen out there which when you can be as clumsy as me is a real advantage.
Now I know this is a glowing review and Im sure you will all be thinking its a bit of an advertising ploy for Kase, it really isn't. These are my honest feelings on the filter system and I wanted to share it with you all as these are simply next level and when you find something so good you naturally become quite passionate about it and want others to know too so they can share in the advantages.
I also want to say that this isn't a case of knocking Lee Filters, I used & loved these for well over a decade, but I have to move with the times and when I find a product that really does offer so many advantages and better quality then I have to make the switch and Kase Filters really do warrant that.
One other major point that I think is worth noting here is that I decided to speak to Kase Filters about certain things to see if there could be any improvements made and they were exceptionally welcoming of ideas and really listened to people, the company is run by landscape photographers who really do "get it" and understand what is needed.
They have been exceptionally friendly and are constantly innovating ideas with the help of their team of some of the countries most highly respected photographers.
I will do a full review on these in time when I have put them through their paces so you can make up your own minds, but for me the difference is night & day.
In short a summery of why I switched from Lee to Kase Filters
* Price - Half the price of the Lee Ho