Fstoppers Reviews the Haida M15 150mm Magnetic Filter Holder System
Author: Dylan Goldby
With extreme wide-angle lenses on the market from all the major players now that don't accept screw-in filters, filter manufacturers have stepped up their offerings with larger filter holders and dedicated attachment rings. One such offering is Haida's M15 Magnetic Filter Holder.
As with my last review of Haida's M10 system, this test unit was provided for me by their marketing division. I've had a couple of weeks with it and the Fujifilm 8-16mm f/2.8 and am now ready to share my thoughts on the holder.
While the M10 will be fit for most people's purposes, those using ultra-wide lenses like a 12-24mm will likely need a dedicated filter system. Haida offers adapters for all the major ultra-wide angles including the Sony 12-24mm f/4, Canon’s 11-24mm f/4, and Tokina’s 16-28mm f/2.8. You can see the rest of their dedicated adapters on the product page.
Much like its little brother, the M10, the M15 holder is well built and feels like you got what you paid for. It feels durable enough to survive any normal use you might throw at it. I was a little surprised that a carrying box was not included with this as with the M10 kit. The one time I feel like the holder may get damaged is when you toss it in your bag or suitcase for transportation.
Haida does not include a case for this holder as they do with the M10. Due to its already large size, they felt that photographers would be more likely to store it in whatever way worked best for their packing style. For me, that meant placing it in the front pocket of my F-Stop Gear Guru UL, a pocket typically reserved for extra clothes or snacks. The filters themselves would stack in on top of the ICU in my bag in their provided cases. Haida does make a case for the filters, so if you’re looking to carry a few, that might be a good option.
As with the M10, the holders for the square/rectangular filters also feel sturdy and well-attached. Again, Haida have used a thin ring of felt to help prevent scratches when inserting and removing filters. As with the M10, I have found that getting this wet can leave streaks on the filters, so it’s best to change filters out of situations when that could get wet. I simply removed the holder, sheltered it while changing filters, and then put it back on the camera afterwards. This kept my filters free of raindrops and prevented the felt from getting wet.
As the size and weight of the holder are significantly more than the M10, gone is Haida’s small red tab to release the holder. It has been replaced by a larger sturdier metal pin that inspires confidence.
Size & Weight
The size of a 150mm filter holder is going to divide people. There's no way around that. Those who are dedicated to using a certain lens are going to find ways to carry a system like this. Not everyone is going to be willing to carry all this extra equipment around. With that aside, I’ll talk about my personal experience with taking this set on location.
My initial reaction when mounting the holder to my lens and adding a couple of filters to it was that it would cause strain on the lens mount itself with the additional weight at the front of an already heavy lens. While the aluminium adapter and holder don't weigh too much, they are a long way from the center of balance. Once you've added a couple of large pieces of glass to the end, the setup becomes quite heavy. I queried my local Fujifilm office about this and they assured me the mount could withstand the additional weight. I would assume that other manufacturers would say the same.
Despite being safe for use, I still had to chuckle the first couple of times I mounted this to my Fujifilm X-T3. With such a small camera body, the filters truly look huge. While I was down on Jeju Island testing these out over the ocean, I had quite a few other photographers come over to examine them. There's certainly nothing discreet about a filter system this large. That being said, if you need filters on an ultra-wide angle lens, you'll be going large.
The M15 allows for both proprietary circular filters and 150mm square filters to be mounted simultaneously. The most interesting part of the M15 is the proprietary magnetic filters. Let's spend a little time discussing those and their pros and cons as well as the dedicated lens adapters.
Mounting the Adapter and Holder
While there are adapters available for the ultra-wide variety of lenses, screw in adapters are also available for lenses that accept a screw-in filter. You'll just want to be wary, as with any filter holder system, that your lens has internal focusing so as not to place the stress of moving this holder about on your focus motors. My personal experience is with the dedicated Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 adapter, so I'll speak to that here.
Each of the dedicated rings is designed to slip over the in-built hood of the extreme-wide angle and has lugs to guide you in mounting it flush. Unlike some other systems, such as the Lee SW150, this is a single piece that slips over the front of the lens. You do not need to remove the lens in order to mount the adapter. From there, all you need to do is tighten the collar on the rear side of the adapter so it locks around the lens. Once that's done, you can simply attach the holder to the ring using the single-pin locking mechanism similar to other holders you may have used. Just remember to insert any magnetic filters before attaching this as they mount between the adapter and the holder. This system works really well and I was able to get it on and off quickly and easily between the downpours I faced while testing it.
The core of the M15 system revolves around the magnetic portion of the holder. Haida has several different circular filters that can be dropped into the rear side of the holder. And I do mean dropped in. This was quite disconcerting at first as you simply have to align the filter with the holder and let go. The magnets snap the filter into place and you're good to go. Not having to use the light barrier like the M10 system means one less piece of kit to lose, as well.
Getting those filters out is another story as well. Since there is no tab or trigger mechanism to push the magnets apart, you need to remove any square filters from the holder, tip it upside down and physically push the filter out and let it drop. I've been doing this using my fingernail to push the edge of the filters out over the padded cases Haida provides with each filter, but it still feels like I'm going to drop them every time. You could also put on gloves and drop them out into your hand to avoid getting fingerprints on them. However, the filters themselves are so large, I'd not be confident doing this. Having some sort of release mechanism for them with make this system feel a little more developed and safer for the filters.
The selection of filters available for this magnetic holder is quite broad at this point with CPL, Clear Night, ND filters, and ND + CPL combo filters being offered. The CPL can be easily rotated with the small gears on the top and bottom of the holder. These feel like they have a bit too much play for the price-point and although they work just fine, I feel they don't go with the premium feel that the rest of the unit. I would have liked to hear a little less metal-on-metal as these gears were rotated and potentially to have a lock on the gears so they don’t get accidentally knocked.
The 150mm Slots
The square filter holders on this unit feel sturdy and grip your filters well. The filters are a little more difficult to insert and remove than the smaller M10 filters, but this is a good thing. The filters are much larger, heavier, and more expensive. I felt confident that the holder had a good grip on the filters each and every time.
With the solid grip the holder has on the filters and my short fingers, I constantly found myself needing to remove the holder and nudge the filters out as I couldn't get a strong enough grip with one hand. For those with larger hands, I'm sure this will be an easier process with less fingerprints and smudges to clean each time.
Lens Cap Strap
Haida has included a bungee cord strap to keep your manufacturer's slip-on lens cap attached while you have the adapter on the lens. So, if you fancy traveling with that giant adapter on the lens for one less step when you go to set up, you can!
With the test unit that Haida provided, I was given their Red Diamond ND 1000, the M15 magnetic CPL, and a Red Diamond 2 stop medium edge graduated filter. I used each of these extensively with the oceanscapes you see here and in my Fujifilm 8-16mm f/2.8 review. The ND 1000 and CPL I was provided were both for the magnetic slot and so I was never able to use them together as there is only space for one magnetic filter.
The CPL snaps in and rotates easily as I mentioned above. In the tests I did, it has no detectable color cast. Although perhaps not quite as strong as the screw in B+W polarizer I usually use, it did a great job of removing reflections from water and improving contrast as you can see in the pair of images below.
The ND 1000, which I also tested in smaller size with the M10 holder, is exceptional. As you can see from the quick test below, there is only a slight warm/magenta cast to the filter. For even the most demanding photographers, this should be a small change and not be any cause for concern. Haida have made a name for themselves producing high quality filters over the years, and those are available verbatim for this system.
The Haida M15 comes in at just a little more than their M10 system, which makes it quite affordable for a 150mm system. The holder itself is $135, but you'll need an adapter ring to go with it. These are priced at $75 for the screw-in type and $99 for the dedicated ultra-wide angle adapters. On top of that, you’ll want to invest an at least one magnetic holder to make use of this feature. Those start at $200 each. While not a cheap investment, it's far from the most expensive options and Haida's filters are exceptional.
For its intended purpose the Haida M15 is a great solution. It is available with a wide variety of lens adapters and is easy to attach and use. I would like to see some changes in how the magnetic filters are removed as that requires the removal of the square filters first. Aside from that, it is a great system that comes backed up with some excellent filters.
What I Liked
Durable construction (easy enough just to toss in your bag)
Lens cap strap
Magnetic filters make for easy stacking with CPL
Excellent filters from Haida
What I Feel Could Be Improved
A better system for removing the magnetic filters
Inclusion of a set of lint-free cloves with the square filters
Less noise when rotating CPL