Traditional glass filters are useful tools for landscape photography, but you need to pack them carefully to avoid breaking or scratching them. Many of the filter cases I’ve tried before are heavy, bulky, and fairly expensive. Today, I’ll review the Filter Hive Mini from MindShift Gear, which aims to fix those issues.
These days – no judgment – a lot of landscape photographers don’t carry around big filter kits and prefer to replicate everything in post-production (except probably a polarizer). For my own photography, I admit that I’ve had a set of NDs and graduated filters for years but would often leave them behind and just bring a polarizer to the field instead. If that applies to you, you may not need a dedicated filter holding pouch like this.
However, as I mentioned recently, I’ve now switched most of my landscape photography kit over from digital to film. Filters matter a lot more in analog photography, especially when shooting slide film or black and white, and I’m currently carrying along a lot more filters than I used to. Plenty of digital photographers rely on extensive filter kits, too. In either case, it’s important to store your filters somewhere that’s lightweight, well-protected, and easy to access.
My previous solution was to use NiSi’s hard-shell storage case that I’ve had for years (shown below). And while this case is perfectly fine and does a good job protecting filters from being crushed, it’s heavier than I’d like and has scratched the edges of my softer resin filters over time. Also, the slots in the NiSi case are too small for a specialty “orange polarizer” filter that I’ve been using with film, since it’s thicker than a modern filter. I felt like I needed a different solution.
I didn’t directly seek out the MindShift Gear Filter Hive Mini, but it popped up as a “suggested accessory” while I was buying a separate filter. Since it looked well-made and was only $32, I decided to add it to my cart. It’s since become one of my most-used accessories.
- Product Type: Filter holding pouch
- Capacity: Four internal sections
- Max Filter Size: 100x150mm
- External Material: Nylon with water-repellant coating and polyurethane coating
- Internal Material: Plush nylex lining
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 18.5 x 11.5 x 4.0 centimeters / 7.3 x 4.5 x 1.6 inches
- Weight: 97 grams / 3.4 ounces
- Price: $32 at publication of this review
One of the main features of the MindShift Filter Hive Mini is that it’s much lighter than a hard-shell filter holding case at just 97 grams / 3.4 ounces (measured). It also takes up very little space in a bag because of how flat it folds.
Yet the pouch is still quite sturdy. The front and back “walls” of the Filter Hive Mini have a protective insert that makes the whole thing reasonably rigid – not 100% resistant to bending, but not bad. It’s solid enough that I don’t feel worried about my filters when I throw the Mini into my backpack, which is what I care about. Of course, photographers who need something fully crush-proof would be better off with a hard-shell case instead.
Upon opening the Filter Hive Mini, the first thing that stood out to me is that the internal dividers are as soft as a microfiber cloth (though not exactly the same material as one). Rather than scratching your filters, they’re more likely to clean them. And this held true in practice; none of my filters so far have gotten scratched in the Filter Hive Mini after several months of use.
Another feature to note is that the Filter Hive Mini’s four internal sections are color-coded with blue, green, red, and orange. This makes it easy to organize your filters so long as you remember to put them back into the same color-coded section each time.
There’s a larger version of the Filter Hive Mini which is simply called the Filter Hive, but it’s too big for my needs. It has six rectangular filter sections and six circular filter sections, but as you can see below, it’s not nearly as compact as the Mini. Although the larger capacity can be nice if you’re carrying a bigger filter system, I also wish that MindShift made a “medium” size that carried 6-7 filters but still folded small like the Mini.
A slightly hidden feature of the Filter Hive Mini is that there are small openings at the bottom of both sides. Your filters themselves are never exposed to the outside world (they’re held in place by a lining higher up), but this is an elegant solution to the problem of dirt and debris getting trapped in the filter holder over time. Even in sandy conditions, grit won’t collect in the pouch, because it falls out of the openings instead.
Other features of the Filter Hive Mini include the velcro flap attachment (no zippers that could scratch the filters) and a handle at the top if you want to attach the case to the outside of your bag. Lastly, the Filter Hive Mini is made of water resistant fabric, which isn’t really necessary for this type of product but I suppose is better than the alternative.
Overall, the Filter Hive Mini feels like it was designed, or at least refined, by working photographers. It’s not flashy, but it is extremely functional and gets out of your way while shooting. The build quality is excellent, and I’ve had no issues with fabric tearing or fraying so far. If the baseline specifications work for you – four 100x150mm filter holding sections and a semi-hard-shell protective lining – the Filter Hive Mini is hard to beat.
I enjoy it when I can review a piece of gear that isn’t hundreds or thousands of dollars but still makes our lives easier as photographers. And while not everyone these days shoots with a kit of traditional glass filters, those who do will find the MindShift Filter Hive Mini to be an excellent way to carry them. It’s a well-designed product that packs along easily and will protect your filters in everyday situations.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend it if you expect your filter kit to be subjected to big crushing forces (maybe falling off an airplane’s cargo ramp) or if you simply need to carry more than four rectangular filters. A hard-shell case has compromises of its own but does offer more extreme protection, whereas the bigger MindShift Hive has more than double the capacity of the Mini.
Otherwise, the Filter Hive Mini is an excellent product. I’ve personally been using it for the past few months and consider it one of my new favorite pieces of gear. The balance of weight, capacity, and protection are spot-on for my landscape photography needs, and I’d recommend it very highly to any photographer in a similar situation.
With the current supply chain issues, the MindShift Gear Filter Hive Mini may not be available at all retailers at the time I publish this review. However, it has been cycling in and out of stock at various stores in recent months, so I’ll put a link to several different places to buy it below. At the time of publication, the Filter Hive Mini costs $32 regardless of where you get it, and you should be able to find it in stock somewhere.
- B&H: MindShift Gear Filter Hive Mini
- Amazon: MindShift Gear Filter Hive Mini
- ThinkTank: MindShift Gear Filter Hive Mini
- Singh-Ray: MindShift Gear Filter Hive Mini
Let me know below if you have any questions!
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