Filter holders are used for holding a square ND filter or a graduated ND filter on the front of your lens, typically for landscape photography. This month I have been using the X100 filter holder from Breakthrough Photography and it seems to be an excellent option for the extremely favourable price of just $49.
Whilst there are one or two other filter holders out there for this price, the others are from what I would deem to be “value” brands. Brands who typically hit lower price points with all their products. By all accounts, Breakthrough Photography are definitely not a cheap brand when it comes to their filters. In fact I would put them in a small group of “premium” filter manufacturers, where the price and filter quality reflects this.
All of this is to say that I was surprised by the low price of the X100 filter holder, but it’s a solid marketing move to introduce people to the brand and provide some excellent value for money!
One thing I noticed about the X100 holder was that it’s sold with the ability to use either two or three filters in it. It is pre-configured with slots for two filters, but an extra filter stage and a set of longer screws are supplied to add the third stage. A few years ago two filters would be very common. You’d most likely add a square ND filter and a graduated filter, and all of this would be mounted onto your circular polarizer that’s already on the front of the lens.
For me this has changed in recent months with the introduction of Breakthrough Photography’s very own Dark CPL filter which combines the polarizer and the ND filter into a single screw-on filter. What this means is that I really only need to use a single filter, my X4 graduated ND filter, in the X100 filter holder.
Given that Breakthrough’s own invention of the Dark CPL has caused this, I was surprised to see that right out of the box the X100 didn’t have a simple way to be set up with just a single filter. Now, let’s be clear about this: You CAN put a single filter into one of the two available slots on the X100 holder, and just leave the second slot empty. But if you are only ever going to use one slot, there’s no point having that second slot on the holder. The more you stack onto the front of your lens, the easier it is to encounter vignetting with ultra-wide lenses so it’s always best to shave down some stack height from your filter system whenever you can.
The screws that are used for securing two slots onto the holder are too long for a single slot on their own. They are only threaded on the end, so this means that to quickly adapt the holder to a single slot, you need to add something to the rear of the holder to use up the additional length of the screw behind the main plate. You can’t just shorten the screw with a hacksaw which was my original intention.
A quick trip to your local hardware store can sort this out for just a dollar or two. If you can find some thicker rubber washers they will work, or you can stack up several smaller metal washers. Alternatively, find some nuts that are just very slightly larger than the screw diameter and they can act neatly as a metal spacer. Perhaps you could find shorter screws, but this would require knowing the exact thread dimensions so I opted for the much easier route of creating some spacers instead 🙂
Whether you plan on using multiple filters in a holder, or just need a single graduated ND like me when I’m combining it with a Dark CPL, I recommend taking a look at the X100 holder. Excellent value for money, and now you know you can use it just fine with a single slot!