Nisi Filter System Review
In this review, I want to talk about filters for landscape and cityscape photography, Nisi Filters offers a wide range of filters for almost every lens on the market, so here I will include ND filters, grad filters, and polarization filters.
“Do you actually need filters in photography?” is a question I get asked a lot. There are different opinions and for me the answer is yes! For certain shots you can’t rely on Photoshop – yes, Photoshop is a powerful tool, but some of the effects you can achieve with filters you can’t get in post-production the same way.
So, what do you need to get started? The base of every filter kit is the filter holder; in my case I got the Nisi 150mm system and two holders, one for my Tokina 16-28, and one for my Samyang 14mm. I rarely use the Samyang at the moment so most shots are taken with the Tokina but the holders are very similar. The built quality is one of the best I have seen in the market. I’ve seen a lot of different filter systems that friends and other photographers use but the Nisi holder stands out, being very solid and beautifully manufactured.
(150 mm System Holder)
It is very solid and still light (made from aviation-grade aluminum), I trust this holder and I have put it through some rough weather, from rain in England to the desert of the UAE and it still turns and works like on the first day. The filters slide into the slots very easy and when in position stay there no matter what – that is important, you don’t want your expensive filters falling out of the holder. Fitment on the lens is superb and even using filters like the 15 stop ND filter there are no light leaks – everything is sealed perfectly, even after long and rough use.
Graduated Neutral Density Filter
Graduated ND filters are a great way to balance a scene during sunrise and sunset, the filter allows you to balance the bright sky part with the dark foreground to get an evenly exposed picture. A very simple yet powerful tool in landscape photography. The Nisi graduate ND filters are of great quality and they have a wide variety of filters.
(Fog in Dubai Marina, Nisi 150mm System, Soft Grad ND)
Neutral Density Filters
Neutral Density Filters are one of those filters that Photoshop can’t replace, you never get the same results in post like you get with proper ND filters. ND filters are a great tool to create movement in the image; they give you a new element of creativity in your photography and you can make stuff disappear or draw with light. The Nisi ND filters are a tool I use a lot – I used the 10 stop and 15 stop for a long time and I’m just very impressed.
Dubai Canal, Nisi 150mm System, 15 Stop ND (130 second exposure)
Montgo Spain, Nisi 150mm System, 10 Stop ND (30 second exposure)
A concern that I hear a lot from photographers that want to get into filters is image quality. Do filters reduce sharpness or affect the image quality? That depends on the quality of glass used by the manufacturer, Nisi filters is using one of the best glasses on the market (Schott Glas Germany) and so they don’t affect the image quality in any negative way. Also the filters have several layers to increase their quality like the low reflection nano coating and the Super multi coating which makes water cascade.
Neutral Density filters really open a new door in photography and I think any landscape and cityscape photographer should have a couple of them in his or her set.
Downtown Dubai Fog, Nisi 150mm System, 15 Stop ND (150 second exposure)
Polarizing filters are another type of filter that Photoshop can’t replace. I shoot a lot of interiors and architecture and I rely on the Nisi polarizer a lot. Reflections on surfaces or windows is a issue that you can’t fix in post, it has to be captured right in camera. Swimming pools are a big thing as well, for them I will combine a Nisi polarizer plus an Neutral Density for the right look. I have attached a couple of examples of the use of polarizers.
(Left) Nisi 150mm Polarizer + 10 Stop ND filter. (Right) only 10 stop ND filter.
In this example, you can see how the polarizer removes the reflection on the water surface and you can see inside the pool – this obviously depends on the scene as well, a lot of times the reflection adds to the shot but sometimes you just want a clean pool shot without reflections.
Another example of the power of the polarizer is removing the reflection of kitchen surfaces, something you cannot recreate in post-production (see below).
Overall, owning a filter system gives you a positive advantage in your photography. Yes, certain effects can be reproduced in post processing but not all of them, and nothing gives you clean results like using a proper filter. Nisi Filters has a huge selection of filters and holders, there is almost no lens on the market that they don’t have a filter holder for and that’s what I love, the constant chase of the company to make every customer happy.
The quality of everything from the holder to the glass is just incredible. If you want something reliable that you can take through rough terrain than Nisi Filters should be your choice.