NiSi V7 Landscape Filter System Review + Gallery
March 31st, 2022
My first encounter with the company NiSi was actually to review their first lens. NiSi has historically been a company that has made filters for other people’s lenses, and a search of their products shows a lot of filters with very high reviews. But at some point they clearly decided that their optical glass expertise could just as easily go into the construction of lenses themselves, which has produced the very intriguing NiSi 15mm F4 ASPH lens. That positive experience made me open to checking out NiSi’s main event – filters and filter systems. I’ve been testing their new V7 Filter System over the past few months in a variety of environments; from the Arctic temperature of Canada in deep winter:
…to the sun-kissed beaches of South Carolina:
The V7 Filter System proved to be a great companion in both environments, and I’ll quickly break down why in mini-review. If you want a deeper dive into the review, I would recommend watching my video review. It’s easier to visually demonstrate some things rather than just describing them.
The NiSi V7 Filter System is not designed around adding filters to certain lenses that cannot use traditional screw-in filters. One of the earliest such systems that I reviewed was for adding filters to the Samyang 14mm F2.8 manual focus lens. That system was basically a huge pain. It was large and clunky, difficult to mount, and the filters were not of the highest quality. I’ve reviewed other such systems for other lenses along the way, and, while the quality was frequently better, they still ended up being rather large and cumbersome. The V7 Filter system is not designed around adapting a specific lens for filter use, but rather for giving versatility for using filters for any lens with traditional filter threads in sizes up to 82mm. The byproduct of this is that the basic kit is nicely compact and comes with a really nice case to store it all in:
That kit comes with several step-up rings in the most popular sizes (67mm, 72mm, 77mm), though you may need to purchase an additional step up ring if your lens doesn’t have one of those filter thread sizes. Fortunately step up rings are inexpensive.
There are two primary reasons to invest in a square filter system like this (this is considered a 100mm square system): the first is that stacking circular filters with a wide angle lens often leads to vignetting. The angle of view is so wide that the filters start to cause darkness along the edges of the frame. A square filter system is wider than the lens diameter and helps avoid this even when using multiple filters. In this case you can add up to 3 square filters along with the included circular polarizing filter without fear of vignette. The circular polarizer is a good one; optically sound and well made. A clever part of the design gives you an external dial that will allow you to rotate the filter even when it is covered by the filter system. You can use just the circular polarizer portion of the filter system without attaching the square holder, so that could give you a secondary value by just using that filter if all you want is polarizing, like this:
The second big reason to use square filter systems is for the advantage of being able to use graduated filters. Grad filters don’t have a solid neutral density effect but have the effect only on a part of the filter with either a hard transition or a gradual transition. The NiSi graduated filters come in a 100 x 150mm size to allow you to slide them up and down. This can really boost your images by balancing exposure. In this scene, for example, the bright sky and buildings made for a darker foreground.
By using a medium graduated ND filter on the sky portion of the image, I was able to balance the exposure, and, as a bonus, give a little more character to a somewhat boring sky.
I flipped it around for a different shot. The underside of a pier on the Atlantic was in shadow, while the waves crashing in were bright and well lit. I used the grad-ND on the water to bring down the highlights there and thus allowing the pier supports (in shadow) to be properly lit in this shot.
The square filter holder is easy to add onto the circular section (which mounts first via the filter threads of the lens) by using a unique locking screw that allows you to pull it back first (allowing the square filter system to be attached) and then by tightening it down so you have no fear of the filter holder coming off.
A secondary feature that I really like is that filters are held in place by a passive tension system that does a great job of exerting consistent pressure on the filters to hold them in place but gives enough freedom to slide them into the proper position. There’s nothing that you have to remember to tighten down, which is great, as I’ve been in the situation where I was desperately grabbing at an expensive filter that started to slide out of a filter holder when I went to move the tripod to a new position.
The square 100mm filters have a foam surround that keeps stray light from penetrating (and offers some protection). All of NiSi’s filters have nano-coatings on both sides to make them resistant to scratching, oils, etc… I love using ND filters for getting long exposures in a variety of lighting conditions. Here, for example, I was able to smooth out the movement of the waves crashing in under that same pier and get a nicely moody shot.
Performance of the filters was good. NiSi boasts that their filters are “True-Color”, and I can attest that I didn’t see a color cast introduced into my images. Here’s a shot of the same scene shown earlier, save this time with a 10 stop ND filter along with the CP-L filter attached:
You can see that the color balance is very close to the original scene. I didn’t feel like I had to do work in post to “fix” white balance with any of the image I took with the system.
I also felt like my resolution results held up with the filters attached. Here’s a long exposure image taken with the ND1000 (ten stop) and CP-L filters. You can see from the crop that there is still perfect detail in the scene even on the fairly demanding sensor of the Canon EOS R5 (45MP) that I used for the shot.
I was very impressed with the packaging and presentation of everything that I tested. Everything comes with some kind of carrying sleeve or pouch to help protect it, and included booklets give you tips, instructions, and charts for getting the most out of your filters (and the right exposure!)
So let’s talk pricing. Filter systems like the V7 tend to be expensive, and that’s true to some degree here, though NiSi undercuts a lot of other brands by a fair bit. You have a number of options of kit sizes essentially depending on what all you need.
The basic filter holder and circular polarizing filter setup runs about $250 USD, but if you step up to something like the “Starter Kit”, you get essentially what I’ve used in this review – a system that includes both a ND1000 filter and the graduated medium-ND filter. That kit will run you right over $500, and is obviously very popular, as it is already backordered.
Larger kits come with even more filter options and the price climbs relative to what all is included.
The advantage of buying kits is that the price of individual items drops relative to buying them separately, but you also need to be sure that you get what you need for your work and not just get extra pieces that are going to sit in the bag. I will note for those of you that like to IR work that these filters are design with IR in mind.
I have no significant complaints about the NiSi V7. I did my review in winter, which is not really the best time of year for me in terms of getting great long exposure images (everything is frozen over!!), but I was happy with both the handling of the system and the results I was able to get. I was able to pack the filter system along with 5 filters in two pouches small enough to fit into the front pocket of my backpack for travel, so it was easy to bring along with me. This system isn’t cheap, but it is also isn’t lens specific, which means that you can purchase one time and use it for pretty much the rest of your photography career as long as you take care of everything. So get out there and make some magic!
The best way to get a deeper look at and demonstration of this system is by checking out my video below…or you can just enjoy the photos I’ve had a chance to take with V7 Filter system below.
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Thank you to NiSi for sending me the V7 system for review. As always, this is a completely independent review. The opinions here are completely my own.
Photos taken with the NiSi V7 Filter System
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