Haida M10 Filter System Review
by Andrew J Clarke
Even when I’m bogged down in commercial work and drowning in terabytes of unedited footage, I always seem to feel the pull of the natural world calling me to ditch the computer and get shooting. I think a big reason for this is that I’ve always found landscape photography incredibly relaxing; almost meditative. You’ll often see me down at the river, headphones in, remote in hand, soaking in 10 minutes of serenity while my camera does the same.
Do you know what’s not relaxing? Dropping your $500 filter kit into a waterfall.
Disclosure: Haida provided me with the M10 Filter Holder Kit and the CPL + ND 0.9 drop-in filter used in this review. That being said, the opinions expressed in this review are my own and there has been no input on the content of this article from Haida whatsoever.
I was introduced to Haida by a good friend of mine Dylan Gianna, who had nothing but good things to say about the platform, particularly the “drop-in” mechanism. At the time I was happy enough with the Lee Filters 100mm system I was using; it didn’t have any fancy features, but the glass was good quality and it suited my purposes. But the next few times I was out shooting, I really began to notice how much time I lose fiddling with my kit; swapping out neutral density (ND) filters as the light conditions change, screwing on and off the circular polariser (CPL) filter, reorienting the glass to get the polarisation correct, accidentally touching the glass with my thumb, cleaning the front element AGAIN, etc, etc.
Then there was that time I was at Lesmurdie Falls near Perth, WA. Having just set up at the base of the falls, I went to twist the CPL to remove some reflections on the wets rocks, while holding an ND filter on the other hand. Sure enough, the CPL wasn’t sitting correctly on the bracket system and rather than reorienting the glass, I instead unscrewed the filter and watched it tumble into the water. I was thankfully able to retrieve the filters (although I got very wet).
Design / Build Quality
This is what intrigued me most about the Haida M10 system. Not only is the drop-in design incredibly fast and easy to manage one-handed, but there is also no need to screw anything in and no chance of falling victim to stripped threads (or your own laziness).
The design of Haida’s circular polariser (CPL) filters is also a step in the right direction from the perspective of a landscape photographer. Haida’s CPL filter fits into the same drop-in form factor as the ND filter, and it can be reoriented by simply winding a small dial at the top of the system; there is no need to twist a large piece of glass or rotate the entire bracket. That being said, you are able to rotate the whole system while attached to the lens (which is useful for when using graduated filters). They also have created several 2-in-1 CPL + ND filters for added convenience (two filters for the hassle of one!). For the past couple of months I’ve been putting the CPL + ND 0.9 (3 stops of light reduction) to the test - see below for my thoughts on this particular filter.
Suffice it to say, since I’ve been hands-on with the kit, I’ve been very much impressed. The ease of use makes it *fun* to swap filters. That’s not hyperbole - the drop-in filters can be removed or inserted one-handed, and there is this incredibly satisfying feeling to the whole process. I can say with certainty my workflow on location is dramatically faster, meaning I can try more variations in a shorter period of time without the anxiety of missing the best light while fumbling around with my filter kit.
See below for the final image from this shoot!
While I think the design for the M10 system is excellent, in some respects the build quality doesn’t quite live up to that same extremely high standard. The filter bracket itself is great (made from aviation-grade aluminum and finished with a very slick matte black coating), but the drop-in filters definitely have some plastic in their construction. I haven’t had any problems yet, but I can tell that this is where you might have issues if you tend to be rough with your gear or are prone to dropping things.
It’s also worth adding that the M10 Filter Holder Kit comes with a great little carry case, complete with a molded interior, mesh compartment and a super handy carabiner for hanging the case from your belt/bag/tripod. It’s the little touches like these that really demonstrate how much thought has gone into making this system user-friendly.
Coming from the Lee Filter system, I am particularly sensitive to the quality of the glass I place in front of my lenses (Lee is known for having great glass). In that context, I have been pleasantly surprised by the image quality of the Haida CPL + ND 0.9. While I will leave the more scientific tests to those with the skills to do so, I have conducted a number of side-by-side comparison shots in the past couple of months to test for any loss in resolution and colour cast.
Sony A7RIV + Zeiss Bati 18mm Sony A7RIV + Zeiss Batis 18mm
ISO 100 | 1/20s | f8 ISO 100 | 0.4s | f8
No filter Haida M10 CPL + ND 0.9 filter
As you can see from this example, if the CPL + ND 0.9 apply any colour cast to your images, it is barely noticeable. If you really pressed me, I would say the blues are ever so slightly cooler using the filter - but I am being very pedantic at this point.
In terms of resolution/sharpness, I have not observed any loss in quality with the filter on. To put that in context, this example was shot with the 61MP Sony A7RIV and a notoriously sharp prime lens from Zeiss (ie the resolving power of this combination would certainly expose a sub-par filter). Again, I’m sure more scientific testing conditions may identify some minor difference in resolution, but in my real-world comparison, the CPL + ND 0.9 held up perfectly.
1:1 crop 1:1 crop
No filter Haida M10 CPL + ND 0.9 filter
Check out my favorite shot on the Haida system (so far) on the right :)
Design - 9.5/10
At the risk of repeating myself, I love the design of the M10 system and it has already demonstrated clearly to me how clever design can save me time and
open up opportunities to be more creative in the field. I have decided to make
the switch and test out the rest of what Haida has to offer based on this alone!
Build Quality - 8/10
The filter bracket is excellent and feels rock-solid on my lenses. The plastic components in the CPL + ND 0.9 don’t feel quite as solid, but to be fair, I have not had any issues so far.
Image Quality - 9/10
I couldn’t find a fault in my testing and based on my experience, the glass is
on par with the high-end competition.
Value - 8.5/10
I never mind paying a bit more for great gear (and you shouldn’t too!). I recommend this system for the professional landscape shooter or serious hobbyist. However, it’s not the cheapest system and those on a budget might find a better value in some of the entry-level or mid-level systems.
You can find more information on the Haida Filters website and the filters are available at most major camera stores in Australia. I’ll be reviewing more of the filter range in the near future, so hit subscribe or follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more content!
Haida M10 CPL + ND 0.9 filter