Having used both the Kase Filters K9 system and the Kase Wolverine Magnetic System the past two years, I really didn't think it was possible for Kase to improve on these kits - but they have in spades - by combining the best of both worlds into one new fully magnetic, yet truly professional system - the Kase Armour kit.
In the past, there have always been compromises between the two systems. If you preferred to use the K9 100mm square system, it was because of potential vignetting and the fact it's not as easy to use a graduated filter with the magnetic set up (though the Kase Wolverine Master Magnetic kit released earlier this year did help to alleviate this). If you preferred to use the magnetic system, it was because speed and portability (and potentially protection from damage) was important.
Personally I use both the kits in different circumstances, for most of my photography I prefer using the K9 system especially as I shoot so often around sunrise and sunset and want to use a graduated filter. However, when space is at a premium or I'm somewhere more precarious then the ease of the magnetic system definitely comes into play.
The Kase Armour kit takes all the convenience of the magnetic system but adds the ability to incorporate a much larger circular CPL and ND set up within the holder - at 95mm there is zero vignetting even at wide angles. Then there's the concept of magnetic frames so you can use your existing rectangular graduated filters or square ND filters with the kit - what a clever concept.
You can see from this image how everything fits together in order - literally the only thing you have to screw on is the adapter ring, everything else is fully magnetic.
I'm not kidding when I say the holder literally jumps onto the magnetic adapter ring out of my hands (to the point where I almost get a fright as it clamps itself on!) and it's rock solid once it's on there.
There is an additional clasp for added security to make sure that the holder doesn't go anywhere, but I really can't see that happening. When you add a graduated or ND filter to the front using the magnetic frame, the magnet is also very strong, but again there is a button on the side you can tighten for extra peace of mind. I don't recommend overtightening it though as you still want to be able to slide the graduated filter up and down easily.
I would have thought that adding such strong magnets to this kit would have significantly increased the weight of the system, but I can happily report after weighing this system with all 3 filters and holder compared to my K9 system with 3 filters that the difference is negligible. In fact, it's only 30 grams heavier and really no bulkier. Let's face it - when you're already carrying kilos of camera gear around for hours at a time, you definitely won't notice the difference!
The Kase Armour kit also comes in a handy carry bag that can either be attached to your tripod, or you can put the strap on and wear the filters or hand this over your tripod.
After using about four brands of filters over the years, I can tell you now that what has always impressed me most with Kase Filters is their ability to problem solve and offer designs that are very practical and take into account how photographers will want to use their systems in the field.
I noticed this first with the K9 holder - having a magnetic CPL that you can easily attach and remove and even use this directly with the magnetic adapter ring was so clever, and they've continued this trend here so that you can do this with the new Armour kit too.
The existing K9 system incorporated a 90mm magnetic CPL to try and prevent vignetting with wide angle lenses but the new Kase Armour kit goes one better - by adding a 95mm magnetic CPL to one side of the filter and a 95mm circular ND to the other - such a clever and simple design in what is still a very slimline holder!
One thing that does bug me about the K9 system is that you can easily accidentally slot the ND or Grad filter into the wrong slots when reaching over from behind the camera which means they aren't lined up correctly,. This wastes valuable time when you're trying to add a second filter and you can't, meaning you have to start over and realign them correctly. No such issue with the Armour kit - since the square or rectangular filters just snap on magnetically AND you can still stack two together if needed - bravo! Though personally, I'd be more inclined to go with the magnetic circular ND option and only have one graduated ND filter attached to the front to make best use of the way this system has been designed.
We've all been there, it's heartbreaking when you accidentally drop a glass filter. Even though Kase Wolverine square and rectangular filters are shockproof, they're not bullet proof and they can still get damaged, which is why having a magnetic frame not only provides a quick and easy way to attach your filters, but also offers added protection in the event they accidentally slip out of your hand at some point.
Also, by swapping out one square ND filter from the standard 100mm systems for the circular magnetic version contained within the holder this also adds a layer of increased protection, it's not going anywhere once it's attached into the holder.
You will spend just a couple of seconds screwing the adapter ring to your lens and then another couple of seconds adding the magnetic ND filter and graduated filter - honestly it's that quick. Not only that but the size of the magnetic adapter ring makes it very easy to screw in since there is good overlap with the lens. No more missing the moment as you try to get the lens to engage with the thread on smaller, flimsier adapter rings, putting this adapter ring on is a breeze!
Every filter system out there comes with trade-offs, but it is pretty hard to fault this new system, there are definitely more pros than cons.
If you've never invested in filters and want to get a system, this should 100% be your go-to kit if you want the best of both worlds investing in one system. If you already own a K9 100mm system but you want to upgrade to this system, you can easy do so just by purchasing the Armour Holder Kit and some magnetic frames for your existing 2mm filters OR adding circular magnetic ND filters, personally I'd start with the 6-stop as this is the one that I find myself using the most.
To see just how quick and easy this system is to use and the results you'll get in the field, check out my YouTube review!
The Kase Armour Kit and accessories are available today at Kase Filters NZ.
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