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The best filter holders in 2022: top filter holder systems for square filters

The best filter holder system for photography
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

The best filter holders are an essential item if you are looking to invest in a filter system. They make it quick and easy to change between filters plus you can stack filters on top of each other. Rather than screwing in each filter, you can quickly drop them into place. Filters create effects that you can recreate in post-processing and are particularly useful to landscape photographers for getting correct exposures. 

More filter guides

Camera filters explained (opens in new tab) 
Best polarizing filters (opens in new tab)
Best ND grad filters (opens in new tab)
Best neutral density (ND) filters (opens in new tab)
Best variable ND filters (opens in new tab)
Best lens protection filters (opens in new tab)
Best light pollution filters (opens in new tab)
Best close up filters (opens in new tab)

While it may seem more cumbersome at first glance, a square filter holder system can be much easier to use than a collection of screw-in circular filters. One of the main reasons for this is that you can switch between differently sized lenses with ease. Different lenses have different filter threads, meaning if you're using circular filters they won't transfer between lenses; square holders allow you to buy adapters to work around this problem. It's much more cost-efficient. 

There's also the fact that some filter types work much better in a square system. We're thinking in particular of Neutral Density Graduated (opens in new tab) filters (or ND grads for short), as you need the flexibility to be able to move the gradient up and down, depending on the needs of the scene. 

• Read more: The best neutral density filters

Shoot macro photography with a close-up filter

(Image credit: Chris George)

Learn how to use close-up filters to shoot macro-style pictures (opens in new tab)

Different filter holders come in different sizes. In this guide, we've concentrated on 100mm filter holders, as these are the most popular among photographers. This size is designed for those using a DSLR or a high-end mirrorless system; if your setup is smaller than this, you may want to look at other systems as they may be more cost-effective. 

Another thing worth noting is that some filter systems don't work too well with ultra-wide lenses, (i.e. wider than 16mm full-frame equivalent), as they cause pronounced vignetting. If you're going to be using lenses like this, it's worth making sure you get a system that interacts well with them. We've included some newer systems from the likes of Cokin and Irix that are specifically designed for this kind of photography.

But enough preamble. Let's get cracking with our list of the best filter holder systems you can buy right now. 

Best filter holders for photography

(Image credit: Lee)
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1. LEE Filters LEE100 Holder

The undisputed king of filters just got a whole lot better

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Composite
Pouch included: Yes
Number of filter slots: 2 (up to 3)
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (filter not included)
Adapter rings included: No, sold separately

Reasons to buy

+
Quality range of filters
+
Locking system works well
+
Lightweight design

Reasons to avoid

-
Polarizing filters positioned at front

LEE has been around since 1967 so it's no surprise they're the leading brand when it comes to filters and filters holders. For landscape photographers, they're the go-to and the recently redesigned filter holder system makes the setup even easier to use. LEE has done away with the fiddly screw that was so easy to use in favor of a multi-function locking dial that both secures the filter in place and locks the angle of the filter. If you've already invested in the older system, don't worry as it's all backward compatible. The filter holder can take up to three filters at a time so you could stack a UV, polarizer and an ND filter if you want to. It might not have some of the more advanced features other filter systems have but the LEE makes high-quality equipment and is a well-respected name.

(Image credit: NiSi)
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2. NiSi V6 Holder Kit

The new kid on the block has a lot to offer photographers in need of a complete filter system

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: Yes
Number of filter slots: 3
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (included)
Adapter rings included: 67, 72, 77 & 82mm

Reasons to buy

+
Bundled circular polarizing filter
+
Premium leather pouch
+
Three filter slots

Reasons to avoid

-
Polarizer can tighten in adapter ring

NiSi is another relative newcomer to filters, with the company first established in China in 2005. There’s now a range of over 100 filters (though, as well as 100mm filters, it also produces circular filters and smaller filters for the likes of Sony’s RX100 series of compacts). The new V6 Holder sports what NiSi calls aviation-grade aluminum construction, along with three plastic filter slots. This is another filter holder that accommodates a circular polarizer (included), while there are three step-up rings supplied along with the 82mm adapter ring. A great value system that is hard to argue with for the price.

(Image credit: Formatt-Hitech)
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3. Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Holder Kit

A great value filter system made in the UK

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: Yes
Number of filter slots: 2
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (included)
Adapter rings included: 67, 72 77 & 82mm

Reasons to buy

+
Bundled circular polarizing filter
+
Solid construction
+
Filter covers to avoid light leakage

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited to two filter slots

UK-based Formatt-Hitech’s Firecrest holder is the company’s top-of-the-range filter holder and is a nicely designed piece of kit. Constructed from aluminium, it’s not the lightest holder going, but it’s certainly well made and features two plastic filter slots on the front. A couple of nice touches are the inclusion of a 82mm multi-coated polarizing filter that attaches to a rotating ring and is positioned closest to the lens, while there’s also clever set of top and bottom covers that are designed to eliminate light leakage when shooting long exposures. Also bundled in the kit are 67, 72, 77 and 82mm adapter rings (smaller adapter rings are sold separately) and you’ve got a great value, quality system to get you started. 

• Read more: Five tips for using macro lenses (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Kase)
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4. Kase Wolverine Series K9 Filter Holder

A well-made filter system with a strong magnetic polarizing mount

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: No
Number of filter slots: 3
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (included)
Adapter rings included: 67, 72, 77 & 82mm

Reasons to buy

+
Refined design
+
Magnetic polarizing mount
+
Foam lining to avoid light leak

Reasons to avoid

-
1.1mm and 2mm slots not interchangeable

The Kase K9 filter holder kit is a smart filter system, constructed from aluminium and able to accommodate up to three 100mm-wide filters. It's designed to take 2mm filters but can be configured to support 1.1mm filters too. There's also space for a 90mm circular polarizer but where it differs from other brands is that it's magnetic! This makes is so easy to snap the filter on and off as you need it. This system includes a geared filter ring allowing for easy rotation independently. It also comes in a stylish, tan leather case so you can keep all your filters safe and scratch-free. 

(Image credit: Benro)
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5. Benro FH100M2 Filter Holder

A geared positioning system for precise alignment

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: No
Number of filter slots: 3
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (filter not included)
Adapter rings included: 77 & 82mm

Reasons to buy

+
Geared system for precision
+
Smooth and quick to use
+
Excellent build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Filters require frames

While most filter systems require you to slide the filters into the holder, the FH100M2 from Benro does things a little differently with a geared vertical positioning system. This sees the holder supplied with a 100x100mm square frame and a 100x150mm frame (for ND grads). Once the frame is slotted into the holder, you can wind it up and down in small, precise increments using an adjustment knob which engages with a toothed ridge on the filter frame. There’s also space for a 95mm circular polarizing filter, which along with the first-rate design and materials used, make this an excellent system to buy into. 

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)
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Cokin's latest holder system puts filters in the frame

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: No
Number of filter slots: 2
Polarizer compatibility: Yes
Adapter rings included: No, sold separately

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent quality
+
Durable and easy to handle

Reasons to avoid

-
Only accepts PolarPro filters
-
Limited filter range

Two things you'll find landscape photographers using a lot are ND filters and extremely wide-angle lenses. However, the two are often not all that compatible, as the thickness of the filter holder and the filter itself can cause pronounced vignetting at the corners of images, cutting into the usable field of view. 

Enter the Cokin NX-SERIES filter system, which has been specifically tested with a number of popular camera/wide-angle combinations. Cokin's tests have reported no no visible vignetting when using the filter system with the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 on a Sony A7R II, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM on an EOS 5D Mark III, and the Fujinon XF10-24mm F4 wide-angle on a Fujifilm X-T3. They also found only very slight vignetting with the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 and Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 wide-angle lenses.

The system works slightly differently than other square filter systems, with the filters needing to be slotted into place before the rig is attached to the camera. It's worth noting that the filter isn't universally compatible: it'll take filters that are 2mm thick, not the ultra-thin 1.1mm type. This means it'll take popular models like the Lee Filters Big Stopper, but not everything else, so if you've already got some filters from a different brand, it's worth double-checking.

(Image credit: Lee Filters)

7. LEE85 Discover Kit

LEE's premium filter system, downsized for mirrorless camera systems

Specifications

Filter size (width): 85mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: Yes
Number of filter slots: 3
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (filter not included)
Adapter rings included: 58, 67 & 72mm

Reasons to buy

+
Well-made with durable holder
+
Locking dial works well
+
‘Grip tab’ on filters a nice touch
+
Easy to add filter guides

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most innovative design

Smaller than the LEE100 system and replacing the Seven5 system, the LEE85 system is aimed at those looking for a more compact filter solution for mirrorless cameras without compromising on quality. The LEE85 system is available in four different kits, but the Discover Kit is a good starter option containing the filter holder, three adapter rings (58, 67 and 72mm – other sizes are available), a 0.6 Medium ND Grad, as well as a LEE85 system pouch.

LEE Filters has re-imagined both its ND and ND Grad filters for the LEE85 system and they now feature a ‘grip tab’ on the top of the filter, allowing you to quickly see what filters are being used, while also making it that bit easier to remove from the filter mount. As we’ve come to expect with LEE Filters, filters slide smoothly into the filter guides on the holder and are held snugly in place, while changing the filter configuration to accommodate 1, 2 or 3 filters is a hassle-free and quick process.

(Image credit: Cokin)
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8. Cokin Creative Z Series Filter Holder (L)

If you're just getting started in using filters, this entry-level model is perfect

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Plastic
Pouch included: No
Number of filter slots: 4
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (filter not included)
Adapter rings included: No, sold separately

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Reversing filter holder
+
Easy to use  

Reasons to avoid

-
Quality not up to pricier rivals

Cokin’s been making filters and filter holders since 1972 and its affordable prices have meant that it’s been a firm favorite with new users and students alike. Cokin offers a range of different filter holder sizes (and supporting filters) for those on a budget, but we’re going to focus our attention on the Z Series that accommodates 100mm width filters. It’s a little less basic than the A and P Series of filter holders, but it’s still a pretty stripped back piece of kit. One nice touch is the filter configuration. On the front are two filter slots and a space for a polarizer on the front, while there’s also a slot on the back as well. You won’t want to be using four filters stacked together, but the filter holder can be mounted in reverse to use a single filter on the front and cut down the risk of vignetting.

(Image credit: H&Y)
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9. H&Y K-Series KH-100 Filter Holder Kit

One of the most stylish yet super easy to use filter systems on the market

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: No
Number of filter slots: N/A
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (included)
Adapter rings included: 67, 72, 77 & 82mm

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy magnetic mounting design
+
Added protection for filters
+
Quick to use  

Reasons to avoid

-
Magnetic frames required for all filters

H&Y has ripped up the filter holder rulebook and done things a little differently: Instead of sliding your filters into the holder, you place your filter in a magnetic filter frame (either 100x100mm or 100x150mm filter frames are available) and then simply offer it up to the filter holder and it’ll snap into place. This snap-on, snap-off approach can really speed things up out in the field, while you can place them on top of each other as well. Don’t worry about ND grads either  – these can be easily moved up and down to suit the composition. A really clever idea that works well. 

(Image credit: Cokin)
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10. Cokin EVO Z Series Filter Holder

Cokin steps up with a solid and streamlined solution for enthusiasts

Specifications

Filter size (width): 100mm
Material: Aluminum
Pouch included: No
Number of filter slots: 3
Polarizer compatibility: Yes (filter not included)
Adapter rings included: No, sold separately

Reasons to buy

+
Unfussy design
+
Compact and lightweight
+
Solid build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Vignetting with wide-angle lenses with three filter slots

While Cokin might have established itself at the cheap and cheerful end of the filter market, the EVO filter holder is designed to appeal to more serious photographers and work seamlessly with the company’s high-end Nuances filter range. Three sizes are available, with the Z Series (L) filter holder accommodating 100mm filters. The aluminum design incorporates a non-abrasive foam that blocks light and keeps physical contact between the filter and the filter holder, while there’s a detachable plate to mount a 105mm screw-on circular polarizing filter. Overall, the EVO Z Series Filter Holder (L) is a very competent holder, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd.  

Read more:

10 things you need to know about camera filters
• The best neutral density filters
The best ND grad filters (opens in new tab)
• The best polarizing filters (opens in new tab)
The best variable ND filters (opens in new tab)
The best protection filters for lenses (opens in new tab)
• The 50 best camera accessories (opens in new tab)

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