I have been testing the new Nisi V6 Filter Holder System Kit over the last months, so finally here is my review of this very interesting piece of kit. It was long ago, but I can still remember the time I spent testing the now ancient Nisi V3 holder. Nisi was a very small brand at that time, and who would have thought they would become one of the major players in the filters industry? After the V3, Nisi kept launching new and improved holder systems, namely the V5 and V5 Pro, which I’ve used for hundreds of hours, and now I finally got the chance to test their brand new V6 system.
Before we move on to the V6 review, I would like to disclose that I have been using Neutral Density Filters for more than twelve years, which are an absolutely essential piece of kit for me. Many photographers do exposure blending, but to me there’s nothing like the feeling of being able to see a perfectly exposed image right there on the field in the camera LCD. After being an ambassador for a well known filter brand, I decided to move on and partner with Nisi a few years ago, as they were one of the few brands at that time offering innovative products like glass filters with anti-reflective coatings. I know that many photographers are tired of reading reviews by sponsored photographers/influencers/ambassadors, as they are usually regarded as partial and biased, and I’m very well aware of what it feels like to have a terribly limited budget to make the right choices while buying new gear. I will even dare to go as far as saying that I’ve seen my fair share of sponsored photographers recommending products which were not fit for the intended purpose, just for the sake of promoting themselves and the sponsor. Taking all of this into account, I want to make a clear statement that: 1) I review gear as impartially as I can; 2) the brands I partner with are the brands I would spend my money on and 3) I would hate to know you had spent your hard earned money on a product after being mislead by a review of mine. Following this, I try that my reviews express my personal and honest opinion about a product, and you will not get an advertisement disguised as review from me.
So, returning to the new V6 holder system, I was quite curious about the improvements it would have, wondering if there would be some sort of major change. After receiving and opening the package, I noticed Nisi decided to include even more products on the holder kit so now, besides the holder, the adapter rings and the circular polarizer, there is also a redesigned flexible filter pouch and a new protective lens cap which can directly attach to the ring with the polarizer screwed on.
Regarding the new features of the holder, there are plenty of modifications which, in my opinion and personal use,might be more or less relevant on the field.
Regarding small changes which don’t make that much of a difference on the field for me, these include the new filter rails for smoother filter sliding action and the new lens protective cap. On the unit I received I do not clearly notice the smoother sliding of the filters, and I have no use for the lens protective cap, as I’m putting two Sony a7R cameras on the bottom compartment of my Mindshift Rotation 180 backpack, and there’s no space who put them side by side with the base for the holder, where the lens protection would attach and be useful in cover the lens.
Then there are big changes to the filter system which might probably make a big difference to some photographers, but which I ended up not using. One of them is the filter pouch, which is certainly a huge improvement over the previous rigid filter case, and which many people will love using, but it’s not up to the quality of filter bags like the Terrascape bag in ergonomic terms. Then there is the additional filter slot holder rotation locking mechanism screw, designed to fully ensure the holder will not rotate or come out of the base adapter when locked. On a first look to the adapter this is the first physical feature of the new holder which becomes most noticeable, and this is probably the major ergonomical change when using the new V6 on the field. The thing is that, compared with other filter systems from other brands, I’ve always loved the fact that the Nisi filter holder freely rotates 360º, so with the Nisi system I did not need to add yet another step to my already endless shooting procedures by adding a locking mechanism on top of the filter angle adjustment. Fortunately using the locking screw on the V6 is optional, so if you do not use it you will still get the great free rotating holder. I could actually imagine myself using the locking mechanism with ultra-uber-wide lenses like the Laowa 12mm f2.8 or the 10-18mm f4.5-5.6, where Nisi allows the use of 100mm filters through a special two-slot-only holder, which creates strong vignetting when the filter is not perfectly aligned at 0 or 90º, so the lock screw would allow me to lock the holder at these exact positions. Unfortunately the two slot holders for the special 12mm and 10-18mm adapters do not come with the new locking mechanism, so I’ll have to contact Nisi and beg for this in the future! The other situation where photographers will probably find the locking screw option useful would be for those who do not feel secure with the regular free locking system of the Nisi holder, and will want the extra security of the locking screw.
Finally, last but not least, there is one change which is to me a very relevant and important change for shooting on the field. As you can see in the images, the new Nisi holder base is much more streamlined and minimalistic. I always found the V5 Pro base a bit overengineered, even knowing that it was made that way with the goal of reducing light leaks. Truth be said, I did not notice any improvement in light leaks when comparing the V5 with the V5 Pro, and the bigger base created a difficulty which annoyed me a lot on the field: if you had two or three filters slotted, one on them being a square full ND on the first slot, you would always need to remove the graduated filters in front of it, before you would be able to remove the full ND filter, as the filter is totally covered by the holder base and you can’t pull it through the corners. Well, fortunately Nisi heard the constructive criticism, and now the new V6 has a new smaller footprint, and I can once again remove square filters while keeping the ND Grads in place.
One thing that did not change since the original V3, but which needs an upgrade in my opinion, is the alloy material of the ring adapters. They are stunningly light, but I know they can bend too easily if they are strongly compressed in any way, so I would love to see much stronger versions of these adapter.
Nowadays there is a huge variety of filter systems and brands in the market, a very different scenario from when I started shooting, when there were only low quality and filled-with-alien-color-casts resin filters. Filter quality has been improving overall, mostly among glass filter brands, so right now ergonomics is one of the most important differentiating factors in choosing a filter system. Right now I cannot seem to trust the security of most of the magnetic filter holders, no matter how cool they look, and, in terms of weight, stability, features and ergonomics, I still think that Nisi has the best filter system out there. They keep on using a traditional filter system, with standard 100mm/150mm filters, and this is the best way to do it, as you can easily use any filters from any brand in these standard holders, as well as use your own Nisi filters, if needed, with another brand standard holder.
Considering what I wrote above regarding minor and major differences in the new holder, I can safely say that a holder system which was already great has managed to get slightly better through a few minor and major tweaks. Now that they returned to the more streamlined holder profile, which was a big desire of mine, I can find no relevant flaws in this current system holder version (apart from the fragile ring adapters), and unless they bring some sort of magical holder system in the future, I think this is now a very mature product with not much to improve upon.
So what’s the bottom line of my review? Well, for a photographer which already has the V5-Pro, I don’t think it makes sense to spend money to upgrade to the new V6, unless some of the features I mentioned above are vital to you, and I guess they probably won’t.
On the other hand, to new photographers who are now venturing into the world of filter holder systems, then my opinion changes, as I think this is the best filter system kit you can buy in the market for sure, as it embodies the refinement of a product which was already great.
Hope you have enjoyed the review, as well as the images made with the holder I’m showing you below. I’m fully available to answer any doubts you might have and I’m looking forward to read your comments!