Kase Wolverine Filter Review (K150)
The filters come highly recommended!
When I switched to Sony particularly to use the 12-24mm f/4 I also had to change my approach to using filters. I honestly was a little skeptical when I received the behemoth of a filter system from Kase filters – the K150 – with the 15x15cm filters, which are required when you shoot as wide angle as I do. I was hesitant in switching from the relatively small, round and easy screw-on filters to these big square filters. Luckily, my doubt was in vain. I am really, really happy about these filters. It is not perfect, but that simply comes down to physics and you cannot blame the product for this.
Kase has a great variety of products in their arsenal. It is important for you to get what fits your camera setup. Unless you have one of those ultra-wide angle lenses with a bulky front element, you can use the K100 filter system and 10x10cm square filters instead. The Wolverine series of filters are covered by both the K150 and K100. Moreover, with the K100 you save both space and weight. You can even get the round screw on filters too.
Shock resistant filters
Kase was the first filter company to create shock resistant glass. To a fumbling person like me, that is a fantastic fail-safe – especially when handling these big 15x15 filters as I do. I have dropped several filters in the past and I have seen clients drop entire filter systems having broken filters for several 100$ in the process. Kase filters greatly limit your worries about this and were the main reason I choose Kase. Check out the videos below for some shock resistant tests.
Another thing I was worried about from former experiences with other filter brands was wiping off the filters, while you are photographing. I always end up in the middle of a stream, close to some running water, which splashes up on the filters or in the middle of a shower. Even with microfiber cloths, my experience has always been, I left behind some smearing on my filters. It was a huge surprise to me how easy it was to wipe off the Kase filters. This is down to the “double-sided nano multi-layer coating” – yes, that is a bit of a mouthful. With a single light swipe from a micro fiber cloth, which you can buy in every gas station, the filters are all free of water droplets. To me, that actually ought to be their biggest selling point. It makes a huge difference to my photography I do not have to put force into wiping off the filters. It is faster and I do not risk moving or pushing the camera.
The 10-stop filter is very precise in reducing the amount of light by 10 stops. In the shown photos below the control image is shot at 1/30s and the 10-stop at 30 seconds with a constant aperture and ISO.
The 6-stop filter, however, is not completely accurate. With the control image still at 1/30s and the photo with the filter attached at two seconds, it is obvious the 6-stop filter lets in more light than advertised. I have to reduce the shutter speed to 1,3 seconds to get a more accurate brightness to the control photo. That difference is 2/3 of a stop and it seems to still be a little brighter than the control photo. The 6-stop filter is more like a 5 stop filter. For people needing precise filters, this is obviously not good. However, for me, it doesn’t really influence my photography. The first photo is the control photo, the next is the photo with a 6-stop increase in exposure time and the last is the adjusted photo.
According to my real world experience, I can happily report that Kase filters do not influence the sharpness of your photos. I have a solid 6-stop filter, solid 10-stop filter, and polarizing filter in my arsenal. Check out the photos below for a comparison. The photos are zoomed in to 100%. The 10-stop filter might be ever so slightly softer. This can, however, be attributed to the 30 seconds exposure and the micro shaking the wind and crashing waves can have on the setup. I actually had to zoom in to 300% to make a comparison, which makes sense for the internet. I also had to adjust the exposure, which added a bit of noise.
And here are the 100% crops starting with the 6-Stop filter photo, followed by the no-filter photo and the 10-stop filter photo:
Another issue many photographers judge filters on is the so-called “color cast”. ND filters are practically sunglasses for your camera and the thicker a filter is, the bigger the risk of altering the light going through the filter is. This is due to the different wavelength of the light. Red light has a larger wavelength than blue, which means the blue light “spends more time” inside the filter and gets “lost”, which effectively changes the color of the light. The hardest part of designing filters is to compensate for this effect. Unless you are shooting analog, the color cast issue is in my opinion neglectable. No matter the brand, most modern high-quality filters are doing a pretty good job at handling color cast. It has never been an issue, which I could not correct in the editing process as long as I used fairly good quality filters from established brands.
You can sit in front of your computer and see as many reviews and lab tests you want. In real life examples, no one can see the difference after the editing of the photo is done anyway. However, to those interested Kase does a really good job in handling color cast.
Underneath here, I have the three test photos. The first is a test image without filters, the following is with the 6-stop filter attached, and the third is with the 10-stop filter attached. No correction was applied in Lightroom at all.
The 10-stop filter might be a tiny bit warmer than the control photo and the 6-stop might be ever so slightly cooler. But as already stated it is so minor it does not matter in the vast majority of situations.
Ultra-wide angle lenses have a tendency to come with some vignetting, especially on the low focal lengths. The 12-24mm f/4 from Sony is no exception here. I made a control image to compensate for the vignetting and applied the same settings from adobe camera raw to the two images I made for both the 6-stop and 10-stop filter. Because of these big filters, vignetting is greatly reduced compared to screw-on filters. Do they, however, leave a little? Check the photos below.
It is important in the case of the K150 system to attach it correctly! If it is not you will see the small “stop knobs” in each corner very blurred. That is actually the case of the 10-stop photo.
The K150 filter system
I have found sliding the filters in and out of the filter system a little hard and impractical. When the filters are in place they are not going anywhere, but changing filters without moving or pushing the camera can be a little hard. If I do not want to move the camera, I have found it easier to detach the entire filter system, change the filter and then attach the filter system to the lens again. An impractical process. A magnetic system could be the solution to this.
Interchangeable filter holder
You can get a screw-on adapter for lenses with filter threads of 77mm and 82mm, which means you can put your K150 filter system on to your other lenses. In my case, I have both a Sony 24-105mm f/4 with a filter thread of 77mm and 70-200mm f/4 with a filter thread of 72mm. The 24-105mm fits well because of the 77mm filter thread and for the 70-200 I can just use a step-up ring.
It is handy being able to use these great filters on other lenses. However, using this big K150, the system does make your lenses very front heavy and the big filters can work as a sail in the wind. This increases the risk of getting shaken and unsharp images when the wind is blowing or even worse making your tripod tip over. This is NOT something I recommend on a windy day.
Metal shrinks in cold weather, which have the annoying effect of the screw on filters being stuck to the lens. I do not have to deal with that problem using a filter system like the K150.
The price for a solid 15x15cm piece of glass is £182. That is A LOT of money! The 10x10cm filters come in at £132, which is also A LOT of money. The quality of the filters and especially the shock resistance does justify the price. Compared to competitive filter companies with similar products Kase is actually not that bad. Both Haida and Lee are both more expensive.
The filter does not influence the quality of the images and the nano coating makes a world of difference when you are in the field. The extra security with the shock resistant glass is also a huge benefit. It only takes one drop of the filter for the price to be justified. The entire concept of filter systems comes with some impracticalities, which we just have to accept. Considered these impracticalities I am surprised how little they have affected my shooting style and use of filters. From here, the K150 system comes recommended. I can only imagine how easier it would be to use the K100 system.