The ND filter, a landscape photographer's mandatory tool.

For those of you who have not yet read my previous articles on the topic, one thing to recall: If you are passionate about landscape photography you know that you must have a tripod and ND filters in your gear.

The ND filter is the key element which allows to introduce a selective movement in the final rendered image. This is what will bring all the dynamics of the captured scene.

The problem with ND filters is that there are several types:

  • with filter holder
  • circulars

circular filters and filter-holder

It is this second category that interests us today. Indeed we now have the possibility of finding circular magnetic filters.

I have chosen for you 2 brands offering these filters. On the one hand a top of the line from the Freewell brand and secondly an entry level from the K&F Concept brand.

Freeell K&F Concept Magnetic filters

Well, I already have my circular filters myself ... Why would I take a magnetic circular filter?

I myself am already equipped with multiple circular variable ND filters and polarizers.

So I wondered what would be the advantage of the magnetic filter over those I currently use ...
Clearly the most important asset when you are in the field is the speed with which you can change the filters.

It is always frustrating, the time that is wasted screwing and unscrewing circular filters.

By making filters magnetic, adding filters or interchanging them really saves a precious time.
Let's not forget that we are here talking about landscape photography and a photography field where quick light changes will determine your shot.

K&F Concept Magnetic filters kit ND1000 on magnetic ring
K&F Concept Magnetic filters kit CPL on magnetic ring
K&F Concept Magnetic filters kit ND1000 and CPL stacked on ring
K&F Concept Magnetic filters kit ND1000 and CPL stacked on magnetic ring
K&F Concept magnetic filters kit

Why is Freewell CPL filter a premium product?

It always surprised me to associate the words "circular filters" and "premium". Indeed screwing a filter on the front of a lens is such an easy thing to do...
But the package offered by Freewell deserves our attention.

In the box we find:

  • 1 magnetic adapter ring to screw
  • 1 CPL filter magnetic
  • 1 UV filter magnetic
  • 1 cap with the name of the brand
  • 1 magnet PVC locker
  • 1 microfiber cloth to be able to clean the filters (or your lens)
  • Various documents / flyers

The set really presents as a top-of-the-line product and is designed as such.

Freewell Magnetic CPL Kit
Freewell Magnetic CPL Kit - inside box

Actually that's quite surprising for an entry-level brand. The set includes the following:

  • 1 magnetic adapter ring to screw
  • 1 magnetic ND filter
  • 1 magnetic CPL filter
  • 1 magnetic UV filter
  • 1 bag to carry the set

Finally we order an ND filter and we end up with an ND filter + a CPL filter. It really is welcomed.

K&F concept magnetic filter kit - pouch
K&F concept magnetic filter kit - filters

We know the contenders, so how do they compare one to each other ?

After a first experience with these different kits here are my results.

First of all, the Freewell CPL, mine is a 77mm diameter, is of excellent quality. There is absolutely no color shift, the saturation is clearly visible and there is no degradation of the sharpness of the image.
Concretely, and to sum it up, this is certainly the best quality CPL that I have used so far. I think its handling is part of the experience: very pleasant to the touch and really light even for a diameter of 77mm.

without Freewell CPL magnetic filter
with Freewell CPL magnetic filter

In front of the CPL it is possible to add magnetic filters or circular filters to screw.

I screwed one of my variable ND filters on it and I immediately noticed that the magnet of the ring is not very strong.
The combo of the CPL filter and variable ND filter didn't fall to the ground neither. Though if it is quite possible to keep the Freewell CPL and its magnetic cap in place on your lens while walking, it will not be possible to do so with a circular screw-in filter.
Indeed the magnet is not strong enough to support the excess of weight generated by a filter and a cap.

In this kit I really appreciated the little extras typical of the premium side, with the addition of the magnetic cap and the PVC box. For those of you who use it, there is also a UV filter provided in the kit.

For its part, the magnetic ring of the K&F Concept kit and the magnets of the UV and CPL filters are astonishing. The combo CPL filter + ND filter has no reason to fall to the ground even with the lens facing the ground and wandering around.
Your lens cap will fit seamlessly onto the ND filter.

Unlike the Freewell filter, the filter offered by K&F concept does not accept circular screw-in filters: it will therefore only be possible to add magnetic filters.

The CPL filter is of good quality: reflects the color saturations well without altering the sharpness of the image.

without CPL filter K&F concept magnetic
with CPL filter K&F concept magnetic

The ND filter is a reflection of the work carried out by the K&F Concept brand for over a year in this field: perfect. No vignetting, no color shift, no impact on image sharpness.
Always a top notch ND filter for an entry-level product comparable to the higher-end competition.

without ND1000 filter K&F concept magnetic
with ND1000 filter K&F concept magnetic

The kit offered by K&F Concept also includes a pouch that can be cliped to the belt and a UV filter for those of you who need it.


Sum Up !

Quick comparison chart

Freewell Magnetic CPL:

K&F Concept Magnetic ND filter kit:

CPL of excellent quality CPL of good quality
PVC case Pouch very useful
magnetic filter cap no magnetic cap
accept screw-in filters Filters have no thread to accept screw-in filters
microfiber tissu included no microfiber tissu
CPL filter only, no ND filter ND (3 stops) filter of excellent quality
Magnet is a bit weak to allow run and gun Magnets are strong, perfect to run and gun

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