Gear Review: Gitzo Adventury 30L Backpack

This backpack from Gitzo is part of their 'professional line' of bags designed at the landscape, wildlife or travel photographer on the go. It's a serious bit of kit that is well worth your attention if you want a bag you can fit nearly everything you'd ever need into - including clothes!!

So, let's go from the top...Firstly, I haven't spelt it wrong it is actually called 'Adventury' - not 'Adventure' or 'Adventurer' etc. I have no idea what Adventury means or even if it's an actual word but I'm happy to let that one slide. Funny name aside this is a serious bit of kit.

First Impressions

As soon as you unpack this bag it feels like all the material, zips, straps etc are of a really good quality. You would hope so for the price (circa £219), the padded shoulder straps feel comfortable and they are attached to the body with a broad stitching design to make sure the weight is evenly spread and that over time the straps don't start to come away from the body.

The colour is no doubt for the wildlife guys in that it's a 'natural' green that might offer some form of blending in. Whenever you get any new bag like this it's always about 5 minutes worth of zipping, unzipping, velcro push and pulling to work out what goes where and then you realise just how many spaces, pockets and storage compartments this bag has.

Inside the Backpack

The core design is based around the inner 'pack' which is a padded standalone pouch (they call it a Gitzo G-Cushion) in which all your camera bodies and lenses would be stored. It has inner dividers which can be removed and replaced to suit your set-up.

There are multiple ways you could configure this depending on your set-up of course. But it's safe to say whether you are shooting a full frame DSLR, mirrorless or even packing some whopping 400mm lenses and potentially a drone there is pretty much a space for everything. Gitzo say:

"Thanks to the new GITZO G-Cushion, the pack safely protects a pro DSLR (such as a Canon 1D X Mark II or Nikon D5) with a 70-200 mm f/4 lens attached and a second camera body plus up to 4 lenses or up to 400 mm f/4 lens detached, a camera body and a couple of lenses or small accessories. Thanks to the interchangeable dividers, it can also fit a full premium CSC set up (such as Sony Alpha 7/9 Series) plus foldable drone and remote control with accessories (i.e. DJI Mavic Pro series)."

Here's a few examples of layouts you could use:

The other point of note on the inside is the laptop pouch (or double pouch) which allows you to slide in a 15" laptop and potentially a tablet or book etc.

Inner view showcasing laptop and table pouches

That's the inside covered, my only criticism at this point would be to do with accessing the inner 'shell' (i.e. its a padded shell that sits inside the bag so you could remove it just to have a big open empty bag). My issue is that whichever way round I positioned the shell I always found it a bit fiddly to get to the zips quickly and easily. So, at this point I mean you've opened the main back flap of the bag and now want to access your gear in the inner shell. For some reason those zips seemed to sit underneath the overhang which meant you had to essentially do the unzipping 'blind' or pull the shell down to see what you're doing. I tried a few different orientations of this but it kept cropping up as a slight annoyance. It may have been me being dim and I'm happy to hear other opinions on this if you've tried/own the bag.

Outer Storage, Straps & Extras

As mentioned previously the quality and padding of the outer straps felt very good. I tried this bag over a couple of hours walking over moderate terrain and it felt extremely comfortable. The weight is well distributed AND for once the mid waist strap actually felt like it was (a) working correctly to balance the weight and (b) not just cutting into my stomach area.

There are side pockets which come in handy for a water bottle, set of car keys, snack, mobile phone etc but the big feature for me is the top pocket/pouch which extends if required to take a small selection of clothing or extra gear. The fabric is water repellent and the bag features coated zippers and a coated bottom, so along with the rain cover it would be pretty water resistant as it is and could be stood on some wet grass etc without any issues.

With top pouch extended

In the image above you can see the bag with the top pouch extended. I actually think this is a great little addition to the bag and it means you could potentially get away with putting a change of clothes in there and using this as a legitimate 'weekend away' bag or for an overnight camp, without having to cram anything in somewhere obscure, or indeed without having to take another bag.

Like many bag makers Gitzo show the bag with a tripod attached to the outside, either on the side or on back as shown below. Personally I never find this works particularly well on most bags as it tends to just really pull everything down and the straps look very strained even with a modest tripod but actually to be fair it did work pretty well on this bag with a mid-weight tripod during my test, so top marks on that Gitzo.


As you would expect the bag comes with a cover to protect against inclement weather (or dust/sand etc) and I've included a couple of extra images below to show some of the detailing and a good view of the back of the bag.

Tech Specs:

Rather than bore you senseless I've attached an image from the Gitzo site which has all the relevant info on weights and which cameras it will suit.

Full specs from Gitzo above. Click to enlarge

The Verdict

So, I guess it comes down to: "Would I buy this bag?"

The short answer is no - however I should point out this is nothing to do with the quality, comfort, feel or even usability of this bag. It's simply that I prefer to travel quite a bit lighter. I don't carry anything over 200mm, I don't tend to need clothes with me, I don't even usually hang my tripod off my bag. And with all this in mind this bag would be 'overkill' for my needs.

However, if I was into wildlife photography, or indeed if I just liked to go out with more than 2 lenses, and/or had a drone I carried etc then this would be a serious option to consider. I get the feeling it would stand up well to all the elements the weather could throw at it and that the actually finishing on the bag is of a high quality. It also comes with a 5 year extended warranty when you register the purchase with Gitzo.

So, if you're after something that literally can take 'everything' you own, but won't feel like you're carrying everything you own then this is well worth a look!

*Price of £219 valid as of Aug 2018 from WEX Photo Video

Gear Review: Manfrotto 'BeFree Advanced' Twist Tripod Kit

We're all looking for that 'perfect' tripod, you know the one that is so light we can carry it all day without noticing, so small it fits in/on our camera bag, yet so strong that it can resist a gale force wind and so versatile that it can shoot at ground level or 10 feet high - good, so I'm not alone! However, we all realise that it's just not possible, something will need to be compromised. For some people they choose to cope with the heavier weight which often adds stability, and for others they're willing to sacrifice a little rigidity in search of something much lighter.

This Manfrotto BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod is squarely aimed at the second group of people, perhaps even for those of you who are using new lightweight mirrorless cameras from Sony, Fuji or even Canon (M Series). 

Tech Specs:

  • Maximum height: 150cm
  • Maximum height (column down): 127cm
  • Minimum height: 40cm
  • Closed length: 40cm
  • Weight:1.49kg
  • Maximum payload: 8kg
  • Material: Aluminium
  • Top attachment: RC2
  • Legs: Twist (Although the snap-lock option is available)
  • Price: £144 (*As of July 2018 -

On Location:

I've had chance to take this kit (includes head and bag) out on two separate occasions; in Snowdonia at the back end of last year, and to the Dolomites this June. Why not check out the video below for a quick look from the Snowdonia trip.


During the Snowdonia trip I was using a Canon 6D with 24-105mm f/4L and 70-200mm f/2.8L. The tripod was up to the job although I'm not sure how often I'd want to use it with the 70-200, and arguably I was stretching the capabilities of something that is really designed for lighter gear. What I can say is that when faced with a 5am hike up part of Snowdonia I was extremely glad of the lightweight design (1.5kg with head) which over the course of a long day is far more comfortable than something weighing 2kg or more. It might not sound like much but 2.25kg would be a 50% increase in weight from 1.5kg.

As someone of 6ft+ in height my initial concern was that to get a conventional DSLR up to my eye level I would have to extend the centre column up to full height. Conventional wisdom tells you never to raise the centre column, it does make the tripod a little less stable overall but unless you're in high winds or have moving water underneath your feet I don't find it to be much of an issue. Simply use your self timer or remote release cable/button and your mirror lock-up (if using a DSLR) and I'm pretty certain you won't have an issue.

Canon 6D + 24-105mm f/4L on BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod (with centre column extended)

Canon 6D + 24-105mm f/4L on BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod (with centre column extended)

I took the image above in the video (just when the rain is hammering me!), this was shot with the centre column extended so it could be closer to my eye level. I've mentioned my minor concerns above on this point yet it got the shot and again I was super grateful for the lightweight nature of the tripod whilst lugging all my gear upto the shooting location!

On this Snowdonia trip we also visited some waterfalls where it was a great opportunity to test the tripod on a long exposure. Using a slower shutter speed demands a tripod and it's these sorts of occassions that would otherwise be a missed opportunity if you were travelling without a tripod due to weight concerns.

Canon 6D + 70-200mm f/2.8L on BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod

Canon 6D + 70-200mm f/2.8L on BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod

Here I used the big heavy 70-200mm and it was fine to stay secured for a 15 second exposure on the tripod. There was no wobble and as such the image was nice and sharp. On a separate note this image was one that we discussed in our Kase Filter trial which you may want to read if you haven't already.


So you're probably picking up the theme here, when there are mountains and lots of walking I go to the BeFree! On this occasion I was also using a lighter weight Camera set-up; the Canon M5 + 18-150mm lens primarily. I've used this on/off for a few months now, often for when I'm really heading out to walk/hike and think about image making as a secondary affair, and/or if I know I've got a limitation on weight for travel purposes.

Although the weather can be pretty variable in the Dolomites I didn't find much wind on this trip and as such using the BeFree Advanced with the lightweight Canon M5 mirrorless camera was a real treat. Both set-ups are super light and when you're covering 15+ miles a day walking over a few thousand feet of elevation it becomes a major plus point. There were occasions where I had to extend the centre column again - this often happens on terrain with a gradient if you are looking back down for example. The tilting screen of the M5 does allow me to keep it lower but the stability never felt like an issue.

Canon EOS M5 + 18-150mm on BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod (with centre column extended)

Canon EOS M5 + 18-150mm on BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod (with centre column extended)

Here I was shooting at a fairly narrow aperture (f14) to get some front to back focus (don't worry I don't always stick to the rules I promise!) so although it was the middle of the day I wanted the tripod just to be sure I could get it nice and sharp throughout. 

The temperature was just under 30C degrees and after a fairly long walk UP to this location I was again very glad of the lightweight nature of the tripod - I know I'm banging on about that but it really is THE biggest plus point for me and if you're using a lightweight camera set-up it really is a great little tripod.


This little chap fitted neatly into my suitcase without taking up much room at all. Also it's small enough to slip into a medium sized camera bag, I even had it hooked onto my lightweight side shoulder bag as I walked meaning I could have both hands free if necessary. 

Canon EOS M5 + 18-150mm lens on BeFree Advanced Tripod

Canon EOS M5 + 18-150mm lens on BeFree Advanced Tripod


Let's get straight to the point...If you've got a big DSLR (Nikon D810, Canon 5D MKIV etc) with a wide variety of lenses, some over 200mm then this tripod is not for you. More to the point, it's not designed for you!! However, if you shoot with a lightweight mirrorless set-up, or indeed a DSLR with perhaps lenses up to 100mm and you want something super-lightweight that is actually very well put together (Italian made, not Chinese!) then this BeFree Advanced Aluminium Tripod might just be what you need. It's a bargain at under £150 and it comes with a little shoulder bag and a decent ball head that is more than capable of performing to a good standard. I can't emphasise how much better this will make your life if you're currently tired from heaving around a big heavy tripod. After all you're not going to be very productive or aesthetically creative if you're huffing and puffing from lugging the tripod around all day - I genuinely believe this!

Also, and this is something that's often overlooked - using a tripod is a great way to slow down your process and concentrate on fine tuning your compositions. Just taking the time to carefully check your composition and make those minor last moment adjustments of angle, border patrol, whatever it may be. It's true that these days our cameras have much better low-light capabilities so shooting at higher ISO's is not a major problem and it can be tempting, BUT you will find that if you can stick to low ISO's you will generally get a cleaner image (if that's the aesthetic you're aiming at) and having the tripod will allow you to get the ISO down and not worry about shutter speeds.

In addition to taking the time to compose carefully, I've heard some people saying recently not to worry about ND Grads now because the dynamic range is so wide that you can pull it all back later in post. I personally prefer to take the time to use filtration and balance the light and composition at the time of capture. I find that if you can set-up your gear on a tripod it makes adding filters and fine tuning so much easier rather than wrestling with putting them on hand-held.

All in all, this is an excellent little travel tripod that can cope with most things, if you're using it with the right gear. If you're looking for something a little bit stronger but still lightweight then I'd suggest checking out the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Tripod Kit we reviewed previously.


>>> Thanks to WEX Photo Video and Manfrotto for lending me this tripod to try out. There is no commercial reward for us here at The Togcast on any of our gear reviews, we simply do it to help all of you get to know some gear a little better and provide some extra content. And yes, we have to send all the gear back! <<<

Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Tripod Kit Review

I am grateful to Manfrotto(Gitzo) & WEX for lending me a couple of Tripods back in November on our workshop visit to Snowdonia (check out the podcast here). In the next couple of blogs we'll be sharing the review of the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Kit and the Manfrotto Befree Advanced Kit as well. Here's the video with an overview, and the full review of the Gitzo kit is below...

GITZO - Understanding the range

First up is the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Carbon eXact Kit (currently for sale at £749 through WEX) rather snappily referred to as the GK1545T-82TQD...who'd ever forget that ;) Joking aside the range of Gitzo on offer can at first seem a little bewildering, and with prices at £600+ it's easy to just tune out and lump them all into one big 'expensive' bracket. So, here's a mini breakdown that is hopefully easy to digest:

  • They offer 3 main 'ranges' of Tripods across 'series' 0-5
  • The 3 ranges are: Traveler, Mountaineer, Systematic
  • The models increase in size and weight as you go up the series from 0 to 5 respectively
  • The Traveler is the lightest and packs down the smallest (if comparing like with like across ranges in same series). It is available in Series 0, 1 and 2
  • The Mountaineer range is a little heavier than the Traveler series, thus providing even more support whilst still being portable. They are available in Series 0, 1, 2 and 3
  • The Systematic is the largest and heaviest of the range and are available in Series 3, 4 and 5

This is just an overview, there are of course many spec differences so to get the full run down on the tripods check out

THE SPEC - Traveler Series 1 Kit

This review is looking at a Traveler Series 1 kit, which includes the ball head. The spec and features include:

  • Traveler GT1545T Tripod
  • 82TQD Centre Ball Head
  • Max load: 10kg
  • Maximum height: 163.5cm
  • Minimum height: 140.5cm
  • 1.45kg weight
  • Carbon fibre eXact tubes
  • 180° leg folding system
  • Traveler G-locks
  • Independent pan and ball lock (no friction control)

What Gitzo say...

"The Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler carbon fiber tripod is an ultra-compact, 4-section support with an 180° leg folding system pioneered by Gitzo, which enables its legs to reverse-fold around the center column and the head, allowing it to fold down to 42.5 cm. It is recommended for use with 135mm lenses (200mm max.). With its leg angles spread and the included short center column inserted, the tripod goes lower for low-angle or macro shots.

The tripod’s legs are made of Carbon eXact tubing for superior strength and stiffness in a slimmer size and feature the “Traveler G-lock” - a travel-size version of Gitzo’s G-lock, specifically designed to ensure security in reduced size. Its specially-designed compact rubber feet can easily be replaced if necessary. It comes with its own shoulder strap for comfortable carrying."

IN ACTION - How we got on

Ok, now that's all the numbers and specs out of the way let's get to how it actually was in action.

First off I should set the scene, I was using this tripod during a long weekend trip to Snowdonia, we were doing a fair amount of walking across undulating terrain and in pretty inclement weather with rather a strong wind most of the time. The lightweight design (1.45kg) helped by the carbon fiber legs, was very much appreciated during the ascents. It's light enough to fit nicely on the back of your camera bag - many tripods suggest this but really I find once you get over 1.5kg or so it just feels like something constantly pulling you backwards and isn't overly practical.

There were no issues with the rain or sleet affecting the performance of the legs and ball-head, both of which are an absolute doddle to operate under any circumstances without clumsy fumbling, even with gloves on. This tripod really does feel like a class act, which it should for the money involved! It was a real pleasure to use, it's easy to say this but you know when you don't get on with a tripod because you just think "oh, sod it, I'll shoot handheld" whereas when you like the tripod you're much more inclined to use it which can help with compositions etc.

Looks quality...feels quality! The 82TQD ball head comes with the kit.

Looks quality...feels quality! The 82TQD ball head comes with the kit.

Only in one place did I feel like perhaps I could have wanted something a little more robust and that was atop the 'horns of Snowdon' which in part is quite exposed to the wind. That said, I was certainly glad of the lightweight nature of it on the walk up there!! So, you can't have your cake and eat it, you have to get your priorities in order and decide if it's really weight or stability that is most important to you. Or, if you want both (it's pretty much impossible by the way) then you have to be prepared to compromise every now and then in the wind, or perhaps by carrying a bit more weight.

I think it's important to think about when you use a tripod. For example, if you do a lot of long exposure, you may want something a little sturdier, that means you'll have to cope with something a bit heavier (maybe a Series 2). However, if you do walk a lot and love to explore and be out all day (or are trying to take this as hand luggage!) then this Traveler Series 1 could be ideal. On some days, when out exploring, sometimes I debate whether to carry a tripod at all - but there are some common uses which it's invaluable for: when using it to fine tune compositions, or bracketing for a wide dynamic range, doing a long exposure, or shooting with a long lens in low light. This is the kind of scenario that the Traveler Series 1 is ideal for. It's light enough to carry all day without it tiring you out but is sturdy enough when you need it.

I personally prefer quite a lightweight set-up, my usual day-to-day tripod is the Manfrotto 190 XPRO3 which I find is a nice balance of not being too heavy if out walking (1.6kg), but also feeling comfortable with a Canon 6D + 70-200 f2.8 L series or a Hasselblad 500 with various lenses. I also use a Manfrotto 055 for with a geared head for studio or product photography as it's heavier (2.5kg) and as such just stays assembled and ready to go for static shoots. That said, this Gitzo felt appreciably less weighty than my usual set-up which after 4-6 hours on the move really is a great help, the higher quality materials and ball head also made for a nice upgrade.

SUMMARY - Is it worth it??

There are plenty of lightweight options out there, so the Gitzo just being light is not enough to encourage you to part with £700+ for the kit. I also had a Manfrotto Befree for the weekend which was also very light for example and about 1/4 of the price so I've agonised over how to express this point and to really think about the value for money here. I think what it comes down to is quality; reliability, durability and usability. The Gitzo just simply feels high quality. Every smooth movement of the legs and the head just reassures you that it has been expertly engineered and could last for many years. Even with the 70-200 on it felt secure and the ball head can take really fine adjustments easily and when you lock it in, it stays locked in. The 82TQD ball head felt a significant increase in quality compared to my own Manfrotto 496RC2 which is of course cheaper but similarly light if you're on a budget.

One caveat, I would suggest that the Series 1 version of this tripod is excellent if you are really are needing to keep weight of your kit right down and are taking it on some substantial walks/hikes/treks/camps or flying etc. If you are never more than a few hundred feet from your car or even just walking over less demanding (and steep terrain) then the Series 2 version of this might give just a little more stability in higher winds due to the extra weight. Personally I'd give serious thought to looking at a Series 2 before investing for myself, but as I said earlier it's always a pay-off between weight vs stability...and don't believe someone who tells you otherwise!

To answer the question though, YES I think spending this sort of money on a Gitzo is worth it. That is if you shoot a lot, use a tripod a lot, and really want something to last a long time. This is a good example of getting what you pay for and I for one am 'sold' on the Gitzo brand - now it's just to pick the right one for me...

If anyone reading this wants to share their experiences of the Gitzo range do feel free to leave a comment below.

Kase Filters 6 Stop vs Lee Filters 6 Stop in Snowdonia...

There's been a little bit of a buzz around the landscape photography world recently about the new Kase filters so I took their 'Wolverine Series - Entry Level Kit' out to Snowdonia on our recent 'on location' trip with Greg Whitton & Karl Mortimer for episode #30 of the podcast.

I was keen to try out the new Kase filters 'in the field' and preferably against something many people already know and use, including myself, the Lee Filter Kit. Further below (and on the video) you'll get to see direct comparisons of each set of filters (specifically the 6 stop ND) in action with some back to back image comparisons (UN-processed RAW files) of the same scenes. I'm also going to smash through some FAQ's about the pricing, compatability etc at the end of the blog.

First up maybe take a look at the video now, or at the end of the blog. You get to see the locations, the kit in action and an on-screen walk through of the main talking points on the images.

Full disclosure - I am a Lee user as it stands but with some minor gripes, so was open minded to try these Kase models. All our Togcast reviews/blogs are 100% neutral (a filter joke already - oh dear!) and we are never 'given' gear for free, or paid to review any items. It's always just our thoughts based on our own experiences and so hopefully we give a balanced and fair opinion...

Kase 'Wolverine Series - Entry Level Kit'

Kase 'Wolverine Series - Entry Level Kit'

I figure there are going to be two groups of photographers reading this:

1. You already have a set of filters from brand X,Y,Z but want to see how these compare.

2. You don't have a set of filters yet and would like to know more about the relative merits of the Kase vs the Lee Filters.

Hopefully both readers will glean something from the blog and video which both concentrate primarily on the merits of both the 6 stop ND's (I use the Lee standard Little Stopper - not the new IRND models which are twice the price). So, let's get into it...

First Impressions

The Kase gear looks immediately like a smart bit of kit. Within the 'Entry Level Kit' you get the following:

  1. K100-X holder
  2. Geared adapter rings: 77-86mm & 82-86mm
  3. Step rings: 67-82mm & 72-82mm
  4. 86mm slimline CPL (Polarising filter)
  5. Wolverine 100x150mm soft GND filter GND 0.9 (3 stop Soft Grad)*
  6. Wolverine 100x100mm ND filter ND 64 (6 Stop ND)*
  7. K100 square filter bag

*You can have a choice of strength when buying (i.e 2 stop Soft Grad instead)

The filter bag is a smart leather unit with clasp that also has a shoulder strap. Within the holder itself the slots for the filters are made of a hard plastic material which keeps them from moving about, my only minor criticism per se would be that when slotting the smaller square ND's away (as opposed to the longer grads) you have to remember which slot has the little support base otherwise the square ND just drops right down to the bottom and the only way to remove it is to turn the case upside down - not ideal when you might tip out other glass filters! Whereas on the Lee bag that I tend to use it has a soft material slot for the filter so you can just slide in either the square ND or the longer grads without any issues.

Lee Filters 'Field Pouch'

Lee Filters 'Field Pouch'

In Action

Let's get into the nitty gritty - the usability, image quality and performance....

First up, it took a few moments to get used to the actual filter holder, it operates in a similar way to the Lee in that you can leave a filter ring on the end of your lens and you hook the filter holder over and into position and then it has a screw on the right hand side that tightens it - as opposed to the possibly quicker release of the Lee system. No issue either way for me, just different.

The Kase filters slide neatly into place, just like the Lee models in their holder on the lens. You can use the Kase filters in the Lee holder with some adaptation - I cover this in the FAQ's at the end of the blog.

One big boast from the Kase team is that there filters can safely take a few drops before snapping into pieces! As someone who has found out to their cost that usually 1 drop is enough it was great fun to drop the test glass multiple times from Kase without any cracking or chipping - this is well worth consideration if you have a tendency for being a bad juggler!

Shot using Kase 3 stop soft ND Grad

Another really useful benefit of the Kase that we had on test is that it wiped dry really easily (as shown in the video). This is a big one for me as I've been so frustrated commonly using other filters at the coast or in light rain and just pushing the water around the filter and it smearing and all sorts. These Kase filters wiped off clean, very easily and I was mightily impressed.

I primarily used the 3 stop soft grad and the 6 stop ND - I can say that both were easy to use and on the soft grad I saw little or no difference in the image quality vs the Lee. The colour looked the same, the amount of grad density looked the same and to be honest I left it there - however, on the 6 stop ND there were some pretty obvious differences...

The Image Comparisons

I shot two main 'back to back' comparison scenes. In both cases I was in overcast light (i.e. stable and consistent) and the images were shot using the exact same settings; ISO, white balance, f-stop, shutter etc and also made within seconds of each other. The idea of these images was not to add to my portfolio but to give good working examples of common scenes where you may want to use a 6 stop ND.

The first location was at Dinorwic quarry where there was a great pool of water alongside some slate which seemed like a great chance to compare the colour cast of the two sets of filters. Most people know the Lee 6 and 10 stop standard filters (Little & Big Stoppers) tend to come up a little on the cool/blue side of things and Kase were keen to point out their neutrality of tone, let's have a look at the individual images and a split comparison:

Kase 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

Lee 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

50/50 Vertical Split

Settings: f16 @ 25 secs (ISO400)

As you can see there are some pretty major differences there in the colour cast/hue and even clarity to a degree. I must point out the 'actual' colour, which is quite a magnificent turquoise, of the pool of water on that day (it changes depending on the weather, time of year, chemical reactions within it) was probably somewhere between the two but closer to the Lee.

Similarly the slate on the left side of the pool was again somewhere between the two. Fundamentally it's about which RAW file gives you the best 'starting point' for your final image which in many cases is not just about producing a representational shot of a location. Depending on your style of photography you may be wanting to express a different visual narrative or your own aesthetic but as you'll see in the next example it's probably easier to have a starting point that is closer to 'reality' to build upon.

The second image was a neat little square from a segment of falls near Llyn Ogwen. I knew from experience this would be a great test of the filters as it would really show in the water AND in the rocks if there were any heavy colour casts going on.

Kase 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

Lee 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

50/50 Vertical Split

Settings: f11 @ 15 secs (ISO400)

Here the Kase was really impressive. It was early evening and the light was quite dull and fairly cool, the very slight warmth of the Kase helped keep the scene looking very natural and neutral and it made for a RAW file that needed very little adjustments for a natural look. Whereas the Lee really came out quite blue/cool which exacerbated the colour balance/temp issues of that time of day. I've found this is often the case, and here it's not just the water but the actual rocks as well. If you watch the video I go into a bit more detail and when preparing the 50/50 split above it was just like wiping away a blue sheen that had been laid over the image when deleting the Lee layer from above the Kase to produce the split as seen above.

In Summary

I was primarily impressed with the colour balance of the Kase 6 stop ND. As I mentioned earlier, the 3 stop soft Grad performed very similarly to the Lee and as such there was no real news to get into there. However, I can see that the neutrality (or maybe slight warmth) of the Kase would be actually really nice to use when on longer exposures. Commonly the Lee Little & Big Stopper range do give you quite a blue/cool RAW file and it's not as simple as just bumping up the temp slider as that causes other issues (a video on that is coming soon!).

The physical handling of the holder and usability of the Kase kit was good but didn't make me immediately want to sell my Lee gear, I suppose an element of that is familiarity and of course the finances of it. At the time of print (Dec 2017) the Kase kit is £375 which is not totally dis-similar from the equivalent Lee components but it is a little more expensive.

The benefits for me would be colour neutrality (which is v.important) and the fact they can take a tumble or two without smashing. Also the ease of wiping dry when in the field cannot be underestimated, it can be the difference between getting the shot and not getting it if you have smudges etc. So, if you're a Lee user it might be worth considering a Kase 6 + 10 stop ND to add to your kit (with the adaptation as mentioned in FAQ below), and then maybe explore the whole Kase kit at a later date. Or, just go for it in one whole hit!

However, to play devils advocate here you also have to think about the longevity (unknown on any new brand), the availability of spares, will they hold some used value etc etc? All the boring but practical stuff we should think of. There are also the new Lee 'Pro Glass' range which might well solve some of the above issues...maybe we'll get our hands on those soon and go back to back in another comparison.

Kase Filters can be found at and Lee Filters via


Q: Can you use the Kase filters in a Lee Holder?

A: Yes, but Kase recommend you use their adaptor rails that fit into the front of the Lee holder. This is because the Kase filters are slightly thinner and as such may slip through if used in a Lee holder. There are some UK photographers who have been successfully trialing the Kase gear in a Lee holder so it's perfectly possible.

Q: Are they really shatterproof?

A: We were given a test glass that we were encouraged to drop. It survived multiple drops on rock before showing any chipping or breaking. In our experience it only usually takes one drop on rock to smash most filters, so this was very impressive!

Q: Tell us a little bit about the Kase material and surface...

A: All Wolverine filters have 'nano-tech' coatings that help control reflections, repel oil and water and are mold resistant. They simply wipe clean when covered in sea spray, or water with minimal smudging. What does this mean in reality? Well, in our test (as you can see in the video) they wiped clean really easily - this is not something that is always true of other brands and can be really frustrating in the field.

Q: Do you get free kit or paid for these reviews?

A: I wish! We always approach these reviews with an open-mind and are happy to show any gear that we think would be of interest to our audience. We're active photographers and so have a natural interest in keeping up with what is out there and sharing that impartially with you.

Q: What would you recommend for a newcomer to filters?

A: First up, I'd recommend saving up and buying from one of the pro end makers. This includes Lee, Hi-Tech and now Kase. I've seen many people buy cheap filter sets with dubious quality plastic/glass which have awful image quality. Also the holders are often fiddly and all that happens is after 6-12 months you end up buying a better set. It's more cost efficient to just buy the better set in the first place! Trust me...I did it the wrong way round as well.

I'd also say have a think about what you want to use filters for and why. Think about the shooting scenarios you are in and how filters could help you from a technical point of view of making a balanced exposure, and/or from a creative point of view to let you hone your aesthetic vision.

Q: Which filters (in terms of Grads, NDs, Polarisers etc!) would you recommend as 'essential'?

A: Again, it depends a lot on where, when and why. I would say for most people a 1,2,3 stop ND Grad set is great (go for the 2 stop if you can only afford x1) and then a 6 stop full ND for long exposure work. The polariser is also a great bit of kit but needs to be used sparingly and properly to avoid issues. I'd start with the ND grads and 6 stop full ND to begin with and then experiment with a polariser later.

Sam Gregory (co-host of The Togcast - Photography Podcast)

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