Square filters are essential accessories for landscape, architectural and travel photographers (as well as other types of photography and cinematography). The ability to manage the light and allow the sensor to capture a long exposure, without extensive post-production, in a single shot is a critical factor in creating a stunning photo.
For many though, square filters are a mystery in comparison to screw-in filters. In reality, after getting used to them, almost all users find it much more practical and convenient to use a square filter system. The main advantages are the possibility of using 2, 3 or even 4 filters at the same time (Polariser, ND filter, GND filter plus a second GND filter if required.) Furthermore you have the the option (with the right system) for a quick release of the holder allowing you to shoot without filters or switch the system to another lens.
How to mount the filter holder on the lens
The first step is to mount the filter holder (where the filters will be housed). In the case of our very popular NiSi V6 & V5 PRO the first step is to attach the 82mm main ring to the lens. Either directly in the case of lenses with an 82mm lens thread or, with smaller lenses, with the appropriate adaptor ring. Our kits come as standard with 67, 72 and 77mm lens threads. Just check the front or side of your lens for this symbol “⦰” followed by a number – that is your lens thread size. For lenses smaller that 67mm, you would need a step-ring which you can purchase separately. Sizes go all the way down to 49mm.
Let’s assume that our lens is 77mm: you screw the 77-82mm adapter onto the lens and then attach the 82mm ring (with or without the polariser installed according to need.) It is important not to over-tighten the adaptor rings, so as soon as you feel resistance, stop. Over tightening can misalign the threads causing permanent damage to the ring, or even worse, your lens. You are screwing a metal ring into a plastic thread, so there is potential for damage if you are not careful.
The final step is to attach the holder to the main adapter ring. The V6 holder has two small tabs on the opposite side to the lock and quick release pin. So, ensuring first that the locking screw has been loosened, align the two notches of the holder over the adaptor ring. Then simply clip the other side into place and the quick release mechanism will hold the system securely in place. With the holder fitted the system is now free to rotate 360º according to the scene you are composing and the required position of the GND filter. Once the rotation is set, you can tighten the lock to keep everything where you need it.
If you require the facility to rotate two filters independently of each other, you can purchase the NiSi Switch system as a bolt on to your V6. This ingenious system uses the same 82mm main ring with polariser as the V6 as takes the same 100mm filters.
Installing ND/GND filters in the NiSi holder is a very simple operation, however some precautions are necessary to avoid light leakage or ruin the rear gasket. When we insert the filters in the slot we must always install the first ND filter closest to the lens with the gasket facing the lens to ensure light blocking. If you are using a standard ND and a GND filter, the standard ND, with gasket, should always be closest to the lens. After this install the second and third GND filters as required.
A second thing to be aware of with the 100×100 ND filters is the orientation of the gasket. The gasket is shorter on two sides to ensure there is enough space to insert filters. Be careful not to use too much force which will damage the gasket if inserted in the wrong direction. See image above.
By following these simple measures you will be sure to make the best use of your equipment. If you want to explore these steps further you can read this guide to long exposure. We conclude with a video showing the installation steps and adding some tips.