Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder Review

It is no secret that many landscape photographers, including myself, heavily rely on filters for field work. As I pointed out in my Landscape Photography Guide and Lens Filters Explained article, filters can be very helpful for, among other things, capturing more dynamic range in difficult lighting conditions, decreasing reflections and haze, enhancing colors and slowing down the shutter speed. I have been using a number of different filters and filter systems ever since I started photographing landscapes (more filter holder system reviews coming up soon), so when I found out that Hitech came out with a new filter system this year, I decided to give it a try.

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder

Actually, there are two main reasons why I decided to get the Hitech Filter System with a bunch of new filters. First, my Lee Filters were getting really old. Second, it was very inconvenient to use a polarizing filter together with other filters on the Lee system – I had to mount a CPL on my lens first, rotate it to a needed degree, then mount the Lee filter holder on the filter carefully without rotating the filter. This was just too time consuming for me and it would often result in a lot of vignetting when going a little wider. Lee does make an accessory ring for the filter holder to accommodate a 105mm filter, but I tried it before and it was too painful to use in the field with other filters. Since I was planning on looking at a whole new set of filters anyway, the Hitech filter system seemed like a good solution to the problem.

1) Product Information and Specifications

Product Highlights:

  1. Allows Creation of Multiple Filter Slots
  2. Plain/Spring Spacers for 4″-Wide Filters
  3. Uses Same Rings as MK4 Nylon Holder
  4. Accepts 105mm Adapter Ring
  5. Comes Assembled with Three Slots
  6. Can Be Modified for 4mm-Thick Filters
  7. Constructed from Durable Aluminum

Product Information:
The Hitech 100mm Aluminum Modular Filter Holder is a system that will permit you to use numerous filters depending on your needs in order to create the shot you envision. It comes fully assembled but can be modified to accommodate the filters you require at any moment. It removes the traditional limitation of only three filters per holder by the use of the included plain and spring spacers. Using these included spacers, you can alter the configuration to accept filters as thick as 4mm.

This holder is constructed from durable, rigid aluminum for increased stability while still remaining lightweight. Additionally, this holder uses the same optional 105mm front accessory rings as the nylon MK4 holder, allowing for greater versatility between both systems.

The included filter spacers permit you to use filters ranging from 4 x 4″, 4 x 5.65″, and 4 x 6″ for the greatest amount of flexibility. You are also able to easily modify the number of filter slots with your holder; once you decide upon the number of desired slots, included brass nuts can be used to secure everything in place. Additional spacers and screws are also available to further expand the system.

  1. One of the slots can be modified to hold a 4mm-thick filter by inserting plain spacers.
  2. Additional spring and plain spacers can be used to further configure the filter holder to accommodate multiple filters.
  3. Comes fully assembled for general use.
  4. Utilizes same optional 105mm front accessory adapter rings as MK4 nylon holder for system compatibility.

2) Packaging, Assembly and Use

As described above, the Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder comes fully assembled in a nice box, with additional screws for different configurations, plus a two page manual. Here are the screws with the manual that are stored in a separate plastic bag:

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder Book and Screws

While it is nice to have options for different configurations, I never go back and disassemble/reassemble filter holders, because it is too impractical. Imagine trying to adjust a filter holder with tiny screws in the middle of nowhere in often cold temperatures. That just doesn’t work. Since I only use a filter holder to stack multiple filters (I hand-hold single filters), I left it as it was, fully assembled and ready to use.

The very first thing I wanted to try, was to mount the 105mm Hitech polarizing filter on the holder. So I took the Hitech 105mm Threaded Ring and mounted it on the filter holder. The next task was to mount the filter on the ring.

After a few unsuccessful tries to get the polarizing filter to attach to the threaded ring, I realized that the threads on the ring were very poorly manufactured. Why would anyone want to use plastic threads on a filter holder? I ended up pushing the filter hard on the ring and then rotating it, which I thought ended up locking it in place. As soon as I turned the filter holder sideways, the 105mm filter fell off. Gladly, I was trying this at home, so the filter did not get damaged. But I could not imagine trying to do this in the field. I was finally able to secure the filter on the holder after a number of tries and I made sure to tighten it enough, so that it does not easily come off. While trying to remove it for cleaning would be painful, I just did not want to deal with the mounting business (or potentially dropping it somewhere) every time I needed to use it. Here is how the filter holder looks with the 105mm polarizing filter attached:

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder with CPL

Next, I tested how the filter holder would work with an ND filter attached. The good news is, mounting and removing filters is a painless process and the brackets do not seem to damage filter sides like the ones on the Lee Filter Holder. I was able to easily mount multiple filters and it worked out quite good:

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder with CPL and ND Filter

The final task was to get the 77mm ring attached to the filter holder. While the ring itself is nice, the way Hitech designed the mount is terrible. The filter falls into the hole and you use a knob on the side of the filter to secure it. Well, sounds like it should work painlessly, but there are two problems with this approach. First, aside from the single knob, there is nothing to secure the adapter. Second, the knob itself does not come out enough to be able to secure it. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong, but then I realized that this was another design/manufacturing problem. Again, the adapter fell right off as soon as I turned the filter holder sideways. To secure it, I had to over-rotate the knob and have it come out a little more to actually touch the ring. I don’t know who came up with this approach, but it is a really bad design. Imagine yourself standing on top of a cliff, thinking that your filter holder is securely tightened and then it just falls off and there goes your filter holder with all filters attached to it! I would not want to lose $500+ in an instant like this.

The Lee Filter Holder System, in comparison, has a much better design. The adapter is secured from one side with hard aluminum teeth that are part of the filter holder and the other side is secured with a spring knob. Once it is attached, it does not easily come off as the one on the Hitech filter holder.

What about vignetting? With the filter holder fully assembled with 3 slots + polarizing filter, the filter holder causes some serious vignetting issues at anything wider than 50mm. Take a look at the below shot taken at 28mm:

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder Vignetting 28mm

Yikes, not a pretty sight. I would not recommend having all three slots with the polarizing adapter in place at the same time. I ended up reducing mine to 2 filters and vignetting was reduced a bit. Here is another example at 40mm and you can still see vignetting around the edges:

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder Vignetting 40mm

3) Sample Images

Here are some sample images shot with the Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder:
Mt Rainier Lenticular Cloud

This first image was shot with the Nikon D800E and the Nikon 28-300mm VR. Even at 40mm, I had to crop out the borders to get rid of vignetting. Filters used: Hitech 105mm Circular Polarizer (to reduce haze and bring out the clouds) and Hitech 2 stop GND filter (to bring down the exposure of the sky).

While photographing the above, I took a picture of the setup using my iPhone:

Hitech Filter Holder on Nikon DSLR

You can see both the GND filter and the CPL mounted on the Hitech Filter Holder.

Here is another sample image:

Waterfall

The image was also captured with the D800, but with the Nikon 18-300mm DX lens at 26mm in DX cropped mode (for the upcoming lens review). Also had to crop the corners a little. Filter used: Hitech 105mm Circular Polarizer.

4) Summary

As outlined in this review, the Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder has a couple of design issues that need to be addressed. While the filter holder itself is good, the adapter that mounts the holder to the lens needs a redesign with something that tightly holds it in place. Another problem is the plastic threaded ring that holds the 105mm polarizing filter. Hitech needs to come up with a metal ring instead of a plastic one and make sure that the threads are the same both on the filter and on the ring. It should not be this painful to mount a filter. In my opinion, it is unacceptable to sell a product with such bad design flaws. Yes, there are workarounds to both issues, as I pointed out in my review, but why should I be the one thinking about them?

Looks like I am still going to have to rely on my good old Lee Filter Holder that I have been using for years.

5) Pricing and Where to Buy

The Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder is available for $83.25 at B&H, although I do not recommend purchasing it, not until a fixed version comes out. If you need a better system that works, go with the Lee Filter Holder or the Cokin Z Pro Filter Holder Systems.

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder Review2.5Nasim Mansurov2012-10-22 01:16:12It is no secret that many landscape photographers, including myself, heavily rely on filters for field work. As I pointed out in my Landscape Photogra…http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Features
Size and Weight
Packaging and Manual
Photography Life Overall Rating

Support Photography Life!

We constantly work hard on adding unique content, gear reviews and up-to-date photography news, in addition to continuously expanding the site with new sections and useful content. However, we need your continuous support to deliver the best content and allow our website to expand its reach. If you would like to help us out, please consider purchasing gear from our links to our trusted partners like B&H Photo Video and Adorama. It won't cost you anything, but it will help us pay our contributors, hosting and other expenses to run this website. In addition, if you feel like we do a good job, you can pledge one-time or monthly. We do not run any advertising at Photography Life to keep it clean for your viewing pleasure, so your support is extremely important for us to keep it that way.

Please see the Support Us page for our partner links and a donation form. Also, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) TED

    Thanks for the review Nasim. I wish someone would figure out a filter system that has enough clearance to not vignette at wide apertures. I have a cokin z holder, and get vignetting at super wide. Why can’t they figure this out!?

    • You are most welcome! Well, designing a filter holder system that would not vignette at wide apertures is not easy. To completely get rid of all vignetting, a filter system would have to be massive in size and the filters would have to be at least 50% larger than 4×6. It all comes down to practicality. When shooting at super wide angles, if I need to combine multiple filters, the way that works for me, is to first mount a CPL (if needed), then hand-hold an ND filter in front of the lens. This way, there are no issues with vignetting. In fact, I mostly handhold my filters nowadays because of this. At the same time, keeping filters on a filter holder adds to stability and convenience. If I have to go wide, I handhold. If I shoot at longer focal lengths, then I attach a filter holder…

  2. 3
    ) Jagan Bontha

    Thank you for another great review. Your timing on this could not have been better. I just purchased a 4×6 ND filter and was debating on which of the three filter holders on market to buy. Now this one is off my list. Between the other two – lee and Cokin – is there one you would recommend over the other?

    • Jagan, you are most welcome! I personally prefer the Lee filter holder over the Cokin Z Pro.

      • 5
        ) Jagan Bontha

        Thanks Nasim! I’ll get the Lee.

  3. 6
    ) Gary Groves

    Hi Nasim,
    I found the Hitech filter holder to be OK, mine is a 85mm module holder, it came as a beginners kit from Amazon, also included were a 0.6 ND filter and a 0.6 soft edge Grad filter. I’ve added 3 more ND filters since. Today after reading your other review I bought the 95mm Circular polarizer and front ring. As you can see I like Hitech, maybe its because I’m Welsh and Hitech is a Welsh firm as well. Looking forward to using them all together soon, I visit the Brecon Beacons in Wales regularly and also visit Cornwall as well so waterfalls, landscapes and seascapes are my thing. Many thanks for 2 well informed reviews, by the way I give the holder and filters 5 stars will have to wait and see how I rate the items ordered today. My total expenditure on the lot was approximately £240.
    Kind Regards
    Gary

    • 7
      ) Simon

      How did you get on with it Gary? I’m interested in using a similar set-up and wondered if you found the same two design flaws as Nasim (poor build quality of polarizing filter ring and holder not fitting tight to lens ring)?
      Simon

      • 8
        ) Gary Groves

        Hi Simon,

        I ordered the 85mm polarizing filter ring direct from the manufacturer Formatt Hitech in Aberdare which is not far from me. It is now made from aluminium (not plastic) and it builds nicely on to the front of the 85mm module holder (I got a starter kit including 2 filters from Amazon for £45). The thread attachment on the polarizing filter ring is recessed into the aluminium structure and no problems in fitting the Hitech 95mm Polarizer have been encountered (Bristol Cameras were the best price for the polarizer).

        You need to buy a front lens adaptor (the thread size on mind is 77mm) this attaches to the lens, the module holder attaches to this and so on. The build difference on the Hitech one is different to other makes so get the Hitech one (Teamwork on eBay is the cheapest place to get it).

        Now of course with all this on the front of the lens it will cause some vignetting I get it at about 27mm, however, I crop this out in editing.

        Hope this helps.

        Kind Regards

        • 9
          ) Simon

          Yes, really helpful, thanks Gary. I’m in the UK too and want to ‘buy British’ if I can.

          You mentioned vignetting at 27mm – that’s full frame right? I’ll be using it on a Nikon crop sensor camera but I’m not sure I can necessarily convert the focal length (27mm on FX is equivalent to 18mm on DX) as vignetting probably has as much to do with lens construction (i.e. how far forward the filter adapter it) as focal length.

          I’m currently using a set of 85mm Hitech filters on a Cokin plastic holder but I’m not really happy with the fiddly access to the polariser with that arrangement.

          Thanks

          Simon

  4. 10
    ) Gary Groves

    Hi Simon,

    I use a Nikon D7000 fitted with a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens. That’s DX I believe.

    • 11
      ) Simon

      Thanks again Gary. I also use a D7000 but with the cheaper Cokin plastic filter; with this set-up I don’t get vignetting until ~15mm. This would be the same with a polariser too (as it is nearest the lens on the Cokin holder) but I don’t tend to use it at this focal length due to banding of the sky with polarisers at wide angles.

      I don’t think I could live with a widest vignette free focal length of 27mm so I guess I’ll stick with my current set-up and live with the fiddly adjustment of the polariser.

      Thanks for your help

      Simon

      • 12
        ) Gary Groves

        Hi Simon,

        Its not to bad really, it makes you frame what you really want out of your shot. I tend to use the polarising setup mainly to reduce reflections in water etc. Its been really helpful on a load of waterfall shots recently. Glad I was able to help.

  5. 13
    ) Mohammed
  6. 14
    ) Stephane

    I recently bought a Hitech filter holder, the same as reviewed here. It appears that Hitech have listened to some complaints because the brass screw that holds the holder to the adapter is much longer in my version. It’s at least half a centimeter longer if not more and can be made to stick onto the holder considerably.

    I cannot comment on whether any improvements (if any) were done to the 105mm threaded adapter since I did not purchase this part.

    • Stephane, that’s good news! I will have to obtain a newer version and update this review sometime.

  7. 15
    ) David

    Honestly I only partly agree with the review.
    Build quality of the polarizer adapter is pretty poor but that’s it.

    With the 77 mm Wide Angle adapter, using the 16-35 lens I can stack three filters at 16mm without any vignetting or 2 filters and a slim polarizer.
    I wonder if in your kit there was a standard 77mm adapter instead of the wide angle one.

    I find also the nut really practical if compared to the lee holder spring.
    Once set there is no practical way of detaching the mount without unscrewing it.

    In fact filters quality and mount quality from Hitech are really comparable to lee ones with an affordable price and delivery time.

    • David, yes, my kit was a standard one…I will have to check the wide angle version now, I didn’t know it existed. As for the nut, mine was poorly made and I literally had to force it in. I never had such problems with Lee filter holders. And why would they use plastic threads? That part I just don’t get…

      • 18
        ) David

        I totally agree on the crappy plastic thread of the polarizer mount.
        However my nut as Stephane’s one does the job flawlessy.

  8. 19
    ) Philipp

    Hi,

    will the Hitech Pol holder attatch on the front of the LEE system?

    Got the Lee but their Pol solution is double the price…

  9. 20
    ) Abhi

    Considering I have to tokina 11-16 DX lens what would be ideal filter system for long exposure shots ? Will it vignette all through 11-16mm range with either of cokin z pro/hitech/lee filter system ?

  10. 21
    ) Per Frode Johannessen

    The filter holder called Novignett will eliminate all vignetting. Check out photo.net and search “per johannessen”. Look at the pictures and read the description. “freephotoguides” has this on their forums under Gear Talk.

Leave a Comment

*