Kase Armour system review by landscape photographer Mike Prince
Rapid, Easy to use, has the Ultimate 100mm filter system arrived?
I’ve been fortunate to be able to try out a brand new Kase Armour Filter system over the past couple of weeks and it’s been an immensely positive experience.
One of the reasons I moved to Kase from another well known filter manufacturer (apart from the unequalled quality of the filters) was that Kase were clearly responsive to feedback from users.
The Armour system is yet another example of that iterative process where suggestions are listened too, considered and used to fuel the development process. The result is an enhancement on an already exceptional system. The Armour system combines much of the simplicity of the increasingly popular round magnetic systems with the ability to integrate 100x150mm graduated ND filters.
It leads, for my specific uses, to the very best of both worlds.
The Armour holder is a completely new design and before going any further, I think it is a thing of engineering beauty. Very well designed and exquisitely put together. It works and it feels just right. It retains the familiar small red wheel on the left to rotate a polariser. The heritage is as clear as the progression.
Having familiarised myself with the new filter system, I took an exceptional step and committed to using the new system on a trip to Scotland the following week. Normally I’d not think of using new kit on a significant trip without extensive local testing but I was so impressed with this equipment that I broke the rule of a lifetime and swapped filters over to the new system.
At every turn, this filter system excels. Standing on a hillside in Assynt and drawing the holder from the case, one only has to offer it up to the magnetic ring for fast accurate contact to be made. It is all but snatched from the user’s hand. In difficult conditions, when wearing gloves, this really is quite exceptional. The same process is repeated with the filters in their magnetic frames. No more checking that they are in their intended slots. Straight in, first time, every time.
Heavy rain and high winds made for challenging conditions and compressed photography into brief windows of opportunity. Whenever the need for filters was there, the speed, reliability and simplicity of the new system was unmatched. When the rain did break through my defences, the hydrophobic coating made wiping much quicker and more effective.
There are times when a calm measure approach to photography is ideal and times when speed and efficiency are paramount. In those moments, equipment choices are critical. Poor choices are found wanting very quickly indeed. I was delighted at how quickly the holder and filters could be attached and changed. I’ve never used anything as quick.
I’m always a little hesitant when any product gains weight, bulk and apparent complexity. What we know of the whole design process is that by and large, the slimmest, simplest designs are the best. However, as always, the real proof of the pudding is in the eating and in this specific instance I have no hesitation in recommending this in two ways. Firstly I’m going to give it an unreservedly positive review – for my specific purposes of landscape photography, I cannot fault this new system. It is a superb piece of kit that achieves all of the objectives and manages to improve on an already superb product. Secondly over the coming months, I’ll be spending my own money to completely transition over to a fully magnetic Kase Armour kit, which I will extend further as they almost inevitably announce additional products.
I can’t recommend more highly than to invest my own money. In my view this is, by some margin, the best 100x150mm filter system on the market today.