Hello and welcome to the new Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm MKII filter holder review.
The Firecrest MKII filter holder has now been replaced by the New Firecrest Magnetic 100mm filter holder read my review here, I have a video on the Magnetic filter holder further down the page also.
So, let’s get this straight, I absolutely adore my Firecrest 100mm MKi filter holder and it has been a huge part of my photography over the last few years and I am slow to change anything that has become part of my workflow. After using the Firecrest 100mm MKII filter holder for the bones of 4 hours yesterday and again playing with it a lot again today, it’s official I am torn between the Formatt Hitech MKI and MKII filter holders.
When I say I am torn between the two this early on it’s a very bad sign for the MKI holder as I mentioned above I am always slow to change but the Firecrest 100mm MKII filter holder has a lot of advantages over the MKI already. All these advantages are great on paper but how do they transfer into reality and use which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.
Before we get to that I just want to remind you that I can offer you 10% off Formatt Hitech products with my discount code HAYES10 simply enter the code at checkout to get 10% off. I get a slight commission when my code is used but I also pay for a tree to be planted everytime my code is used so mother nature wins out a small bit too. You also get 10% off so it’s a win win for everyone.
You can see my video review below of the new Formatt Hitech Magnetic 100mm filter holder. Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel for some great new videos and photography tips and tricks coming soon…
There is also a filter pouch included in the kit which is not shown in the above photograph.
Firecrest 100mm MKii filter holder “feel”
So what do I mean by “feel”? I am talking about how it is to use it and how it fits into my workflow, is it useful, annoying or is there actually any difference to the MKI?
This for me personally is the most important part of the filter holder as I firmly believe it is there to help make life easier for you and the last thing you want is something that’s clunky or cumbersome to use, difficult to put on or just plain annoys you.
The one part of the MKI filter holder I personally loved was the clip on feature of the holder so this new thumbscrew system was a bit of a step away from what I loved on the MKI holder. I know the Firecrest 85mm filter holder has exactly the same feature and I enjoy using that holder and it is without doubt the best 85mm or compact filter holder on the market.
Other filter holders I have used in the past have also had a thumbscrew locking system like the 100mm Lee and Nisi filter holders for example but the Firecrest MKII is a completely different beast already to those two filter holders for two different reasons.
The larger knurled or texture bright blue thumbscrew makes it easy to use with gloves on or when you can barley feel your fingers on those bitterly cold days. A lot of the other filter holders have a small thumbscrew to lock the holder in place and as a result they are far more fiddly to use. The other thing you will notice there is I said bright blue and after about an hour of using this holder I really noticed how easy it was to glance up from the viewfinder and to see that bright blue thumbscrew which is incredibly handy. These two little touches are already slowly making me like this filter holder more and more every time I use it, so well done Formatt Hitech. I can also fit the holder one handed to the lens which is handy when your are in a hurry and doing two things at once.
There is a brake on the thumbscrew, yes you read that right, there is a little rubber break fitted to the inside locking mechanism of the thumbscrew clamp. This is a lovely little feature as when you close down the thumbscrew fully it locks the holder in place and also locks the rotation of the filter holder in place but if you open it back just half a turn and you can rotate the holder again on the lens so it’s just one thumbscrew to do it all which not only makes it more simple but also faster to use. One and a bit of a rotation of the thumbscrew will release the holder from the rotating ring completely.
I should add here that the brake needs a tiny bit of wearing in to get the holder to rotate after just half a turn but just try it a few times and it works… you can thank me later 🙂
As I write this I am slowly convincing myself more and more that this holder deserves a place in my bag. I will miss the clip locking system of the MKI but the new thumbscrew system on the MKII is growing on me rapidly.
I haven’t taken any serious images with this new filter holder yet but tbh it’s a filter holder and it’s job is to be invisible in your images so what’s the point? I tried it in my studio and it works perfectly in controlled lighting condition which truly is the best test of all.
Sure a larger 86mm cpl is incredibly handy and is awesome but how practical is it and what’s the point you might well be thinking.
Well, using a wider CPL is important if you are using a lens with a very large front element generally an Ultra wide angle lens and larger telephoto lenses. The larger telephoto lenses are the exception rather than the rule though for most of us though.
So why is it really important to have an 86mm cpl and should you go wider? Well the reason an 86mm cpl is important is mainly down to the mechanics of your filter holder, a larger CPL will give you a wider filter holder throat or opening on the filter holder, you may very well not need the 86mm cpl on your lenses but if you are using an UWA lens then the larger throat on the holder is going to help solve any vignetting issues with your lens.
Take my Laowa 12mm F2.8 rectilinear lens for an extreme example I managed to use that Firecrest MkI holder on it and I obviously still got vignetting in the corners due to the incredibly extreme viewing angle of that lens, 12mm on a full frame camera is so wide you can nearly see yesterday in it… trust me I am constantly battling with my tripod legs to keep them out of shot 🙂
I tried the MKII holder on the Laowa 12mm and with the extra light shields on there is still a slight bit of vignetting but with them off the vignetting is gone!!! 100mm filters on a 12mm lens is just mind-blowing and with no vignetting I am now officially sold on the MKII filter holder. Using a larger CPL is just pointless from my perspective and we are just hitting a point where marketing is the primary driver there then for most of us. The one exception is the odd prime lens that has a filter thread of 90mm.
To put this all in plain English let me use the example of the Nikon Z 14-30mm Full Frame Lens.
16mm and upwards was the accepted max focal length for 100mm filters all along but now with larger CPL’s and hence larger filter holder throats we can use wider angle lenses. But take care not to use a UWA lens with your cpl as you can run into issues with polarisation with focal lengths wider than 24mm depending on how the light is interacting with your scene of course.
The Nikon 14-30mm works perfectly on the MKII holder both with and without the cpl fitted as it also does on my 16-35mm F4 Nikon lens. I personally think 14mm is wide enough for nearly every situation and hence an 86mm CPL is absolutely massive.
The MKII holder comes with two filter slots fitted but there are longer screws and an extra set of slots in the kit also so you can easily convert it to 3 filter slots. Now the only thing to take note of here is that you can’t use the extra light shields then with the third slot being used. Then again no other filter holder provide the extra light shield with their filter holder.
The next point to note is that the filter slots work well and the filters slide in and out nicely with a nice bit of tension on them still. So they basically work as they should.
The MKII like the MKI comes with extra light shields and these are great for two reasons.
1.- The ability to stack ND filters and yes you read that right you can actually stack ND filters perfectly in this holder.
2.- The vented light shields are great for preventing train getting in between the back of your graduated filter and the front of your ND filter like they did on the MKI version. The only difference here is the light shields filter slots on the MKII are wider and I am going to make up a way of closing that in slightly, when I do I will add it to this post. But it’s possible to that and no other conventional filter holder has that option.
So as you may have guessed the kit comes with both vented light shields and non vented light shields.
Would I buy theFirecrest 100mm MKII filter holder and is it really an improvement over the MKI?
The simple is answer is… Absolutely yes and I love the MKII filter holder now as I have been sitting here writing this I have also been playing with the holder and I have to say I can only find one negative to the whole system and this is where my honest review comes into it. You might think my review might be biased or has been purchased by Formatt Hitech, I am not a big magazine, I can not be bought with advertising or free products and my opinion will always be my honest opinion so here it goes…
I am not gone on how the CPL fits onto the rotating ring, I find it a bit difficult to unscrew it from the rotating ring now in saying that I found two very simple solutions to the issue. I simply don’t screw the cpl on tight so it’s very easy to remove or the better option is to get another 86mm to 82mm rotating ring adaptor and to leave the CPL on that one permanently. I personally found it a bit awkward removing the CPL from the rotating ring out in the cold or when I am wearing gloves.
Other than that I can’t fault this new Formatt Hitech filter holder and as the saying goes “the King is dead long live the King”.
The new kid on the block has taken over from the MKI filter holder and I didn’t think I would say this so easily but the MKI filter holder will now be sitting on the shelf gathering dust with my Cokin, Lee and Nisi filter holders.
Now if you’re wondering why I have so many filter holders then have a read of my blog post here on my filter holder journey.
Oh and don’t forget to save yourself a bit of money by using discount code HAYES10 on both the Formatt Hitech USA website and the Formatt Hitech Worldwide website.
See you out there,