Sirui recently gave me the opportunity to try out thEiR newly released 100mm Square Filter System.

As a long time Sirui tripod user, it was super exciting to hear that Sirui were throwing their hat into the square filter market. A filter kit is a staple part of any serious photographer’s kit and certainly an essential addition for those looking to step up their photography game. Using filters allows you to slow the shutter speed of your camera to create artistic effects such as motion blur when capturing an image. Although long exposures are possible at times without filters, filters allow you to extend these times and give you the ultimate control.

* I’m currently offering one-on-one long exposure workshops in Melbourne and surrounds (filters provided during workshop) for those needing a little extra help or wanting to try before you buy. Access the contact form from the menu above to send through an enquiry.

Ok - let’s dive in and unpack the kit.

So what’s in the box:

Sirui Professional Landscape Filter Kit (Starter Kit)

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Price: $499.00 inc. GST

The kit contains:

  • 1x Sirui Square Filter Holder – 100mm (with integrated CPL holder)

  • 1x CPL (circular polarizing) Filter

  • 1x Sirui Soft GND16 (1.2) (4 stop Graduated Filter) – 100x150mm

  • 1x Sirui ND1000 (10 stop Neutral Density) Filter – 100x100mm

  • Adapter Ring 67-82mm

  • Adapter Ring 72-82mm

  • Adapter Ring 77-82mm

  • Padded Carry Bag

  • Allen Key

  • 4x Short Allen Screw

First off - notice the price point. This kit is amazing value. For people looking to dip their toes into long exposure photography for the first time, at this price point, there is no better value kit of this build quality. I put the holder to the test and got it soaked with salt water on more than one occasion and it’s still as new.

I found the system straight forward to fit, and the main ring (with the CPL fitting) fits straight onto an 82mm threaded lens. For other sizes you will need to first fit one of the appropriate adapter rings supplied. If you are using the CPL, you will want to fit this before the main ring is screwed onto your lens so you have better control, as fitting the CPL is the most fiddly part of the process. The CPL screws into the 82mm ring on the serrated spinning fitting. Don’t do this with the ring already on your lens whilst hanging over a cliff…

Once your CPL is fitted, you’re good to go ahead and screw the ring onto your lens. Then it’s a simple matter of pulling the pin on the square filter holder, aligning the wheels on the opposite side over the ring, and letting go of the pin to secure the holder into place. It’s so easy and fast to remove and re-fit the square filter holder via pulling the pin which is really handy when you need to quickly check your base exposure settings in changing light. Some like to guess how long you need on exposures when the light is changing quickly - but when it’s so quick and easy to remove and re-fit the filter frame, why not determine the right values and get the exact shot you want? Inserting and removing the filters themselves from the frame was an easy process, and the best part is the inbuilt gasket. No worries about ripping it off or having it placed correctly, just slip the filter in and away you go.

For illustration purposes, let’s take a look at two shots taken 6 minutes apart. The first is a normal exposure without any filters on, and the second is a long exposure made possible only by the use of a 10 stop filter. In this case I used the Sirui 10 stop.

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The 10 stop filter allowed for an exposure time of around 5 minutes which brought about great cloud movement and smoothed out the water nicely. I haven’t edited these photos so you can imagine with a bit of editing, just how nice and moody you could get that long exposure shot looking. Filters open up a whole new world in photography.

Now let’s take a closer look at what the CPL can do for your photos.

The first image was taken without the CPL, notice the blue sky glare across the water. The pinkness of the lake is what I was trying to capture, and the glare was really hindering this. For the second image I have fitted the CPL and was able to remove a large amount of the glare by rotating the filter to find the best effect bringing out the lovely pink. Again no editing was done on these files so there is a lot you could bring out in that image.

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The 4 stop soft grad that comes in the kit leans more towards a medium grad for mine. These are super helpful for balancing your foreground exposure with a bright sky. You simply slide the darkened section of the filter over the bright area of your image and you should have a much more balanced picture. They can also be used in conjunction with your ND filters. Below is an example of how you could use a grad. Again, these images are unedited for demonstration purposes. The first picture was captured without the grad, see how the foreground is already quite dark with a blown out sky. If we were to expose for the sky, it would most likely darken the foreground to a point of no return with no detail left, just blacks. The second picture was captured using the Sirui 4 stop graduated filter. See how you can capture much more detail in the sky and I was still able retain enough information in the foreground to have a balanced image.

See the final edit from the shoot here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BuVh3UWnK6u/

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What about colour casting? I ran a quick test with the 10 stop on a white wall with a locked off white balance. I did this because I couldn’t really notice anything while I was out in the field. The filter test shot looked slightly cooler. Ever so slight. And the soft grad seemed to run slightly warmer out in the field. Vignetting I couldn’t really test because my lens slightly vignettes anyway, but I didn’t notice any difference across my test shots.

So who should buy this kit? I would say those wanting to buy their first square filter system with an integrated CPL. No better value for money that I’m aware of and the kit includes most of what you need to get going (I would add to your purchase a 3 stop ND for those 0.4 to 5 second beach and waterfall flow shots). And for those who already have a system but need to update, this system gives you bang for buck. You’d buy this system because of it’s build quality, it’s price, and the inclusions. It does everything you need in a filter system. Sure there are other systems on the market these days with more bells and whistles, but, you will pay a lot more. This system is so well built and such good value comparatively. If the Sirui tripods are anything to go by, this filter system will take a beating and serve you well into the future!

Have a question? Hit me up via the contact tab.

17.03.2019