Having taken the photographic filter market by storm, especially amongst the landscape community, I thought it was about time I reviewed some of my favourite filters that now have a permanent place in my kit. What am I talking about? The NiSi V5 PRO filter kit, of course!
Prior to 2016, my main filter kit (if you can call it that) consisted of a few B+W screw-on type filters. A 6 stop ND, 10 stop ND and a CPL (polariser). Don’t get me wrong, these filters were fine and they did the job, more or less, but the pros of upgrading to a more robust, customisable and higher quality system with NiSi filters greatly outweigh the cons (if there are any).
Full disclosure, since early 2016 I have been part of the Australian NiSi Filters ambassador team amongst some of Australia’s best landscape photographers. However, everything in this review will remain completely honest and as unbiased as possible. Spoiler alert… these filters are pretty close to perfect, so that won’t be difficult.
You can (at the time of publishing this review) purchase the NiSi V5 PRO filter kit for $299 AUD. Or, for a considerable amount less, you could opt for the standard V5 kit which comes in at only $179 AUD. I’ll talk about the differences between the two kits below, but for the sake of this review I’ll be focusing on the improved NiSi V5 PRO filter kit.
A few important specs:
- 100mm filter system that supports lenses with standard filters threads from 49mm to 82mm
- Filters sizes from NiSi are 100x100mm and 100x150mm
- Holds up to 3 filters + CPL
- Uses an 82mm Adaptor ring (67, 72 and 77mm adaptor rings also included – other sizes sold separately)
- Enhanced Landscape C-PL included
- Free hard filter case included
V5 vs. V5 PRO
The main differences between the NiSi V5 and the NiSi V5 PRO are the slight change in design between the two holders with the PRO allowing for easier manipulation and insertion of the filters themselves. Also, the V5 PRO includes the newer and superior Enhanced Landscape CPL (only with Australian Edition).
What do you get with the NiSi V5 PRO kit?
For $299 AUD, you get the following items:
- Filter Holder Case (hard case – ideal for travel)
- V5 PRO Filter Holder
- 82 Main Adaptor Ring
- Enhanced Landscape CPL
- 67-82mm Adaptor Ring
- 72-82mm Adaptor Ring
- 77-82mm Adaptor Ring
- Documentation (which I’ve never personally looked at)
The NiSi V5 PRO filter holder is made from black powder coated aviation-grade billet aluminium. Uuhh what? Basically, the holders are made reasonably lightweight without the consequence of minimising strength and durability. I’ve been using both my V5 and V5 PRO kits regularly for over a year now and neither of them have suffered even the most subtle of blemishes. Though, to be completely transparent, I do take very good care of my gear.
Image quality (when using NiSi filters)*
Literally THE most important factor when choosing the right brand of filters should always be the quality of the optics. There’s a bunch of confusing terms floating around when researching NiSi filters like ‘infrared coating’ and ‘H-K9L optics’, but really, all you need to know is NiSi filters produce possibly the most colour neutral images of any filter.
There’s probably a bunch of reviews out there that compare NiSi filters to other brands, showing the superiority of NiSi’s colour neutrality using some kind of scientific chart that no one really understands (at least I don’t). When it comes down to it though, I have literally NEVER had any issues with colour casting on any of my NiSi filters (though I can’t speak for their newest 20 stop ND). The same can’t be said for the supposedly colour neutral B+W filters I once used.
Something else that’s worth noting in terms of image quality is that there is zero vignetting (at least in my experience) when using wide angle lenses like a 16-35, even at 16mm.
*The NiSi V5 PRO filter kit does not come with any ND (neutral density) or GND (graduated neutral density) filters, only the Landscape Enhanced CPL. There are several kits you can purchase however, that include a combination of filters. Or, you can purchase them separately as you need them.
One of my favourite things, straight out of the box, with the NiSi V5 PRO filter holder was just how simple and easy it was to use – especially when it comes to installing the holder and adjusting the CPL. Like I said, I previously used the screw-on type filters which are incredibly easy to “install” – these square filter holder systems always seemed a little complicated in my head. And maybe they are, but not with NiSi.
With the V5 PRO the square filters now slide on with a firm but smooth push (much easier than on the older V5 holder). Also, and this is probably my favourite feature of the entire V5 system, the ease of CPL rotation is like nothing else on the market, there are two little dials on either side of the main adaptor ring that you can roll with your finger or thumb (depending on which dial) that rotate the CPL. It’s kind of hard to explain so here’s a little GIF.
Images taken with the NiSi V5 PRO (and various ND’s)
Things I love:
- Comes with hard case (don’t overlook this as a selling point)
- Comes with small selection of adaptor rings for common lens thread sizes
- Exceptional build AND image quality
- Includes either the Enhanced Landscape CPL (V5 PRO) or the PRO CPL (V5) depending on kit
- Finger/thumb dials for rotation of CPL
- No vignetting (even at 16mm)
- Huge selection of ND and GND filters (not to mention the infamous Natural Night Filter for handling light pollution)
Things I don’t love:
- I sometimes find it difficult to line the thread up on the CPL to the main adaptor ring (that has gotten slightly easier now with the (V5 PRO)
- The filters were pretty hard to insert with the older V5 holder (now much easier with the V5 PRO)
If you’re looking for a high quality filter system, both in terms of image quality and build quality, you really can’t look past the NiSi V5 or V5 PRO. And let’s be honest, aren’t we all looking for optimal quality, especially when it’s something we’re putting in front of our already incredibly expensive lenses?
If you can’t make up your mind between the regular V5 or the newer V5 PRO, try and make it to the one of many NiSi sponsored meetups that happen fairly regularly (at least in Australia) and you can try out a bunch of their products, literally a suitcase full or NiSi gear.
As always, if you’re left confused reading this review, or just have some questions regarding NiSi products, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below 🙂
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