Formatt Hitech is a UK-based company with its design and manufacturing center in Wales. It’s not the most widely-known filter manufacturer, but it’s a respected company amongst those in the know.
The Firecrest 100mm Magnetic Holder was launched in September 2022 as an update to the Firecrest 100mm Holder MKII. The new holder introduce a magnetic attachment for the polarizer, which was hard to unscrew in cold conditions with the old holder system.
Format Hitech Firecrest 100mm Holder specifications
Filter size: 100mm type filters
Mount: via magnetic adapter ring
Construction: Metal with plastic filter guides
Like other filter holders, the Format Hitech Firecrest 100mm Magnetic Holder mounts onto a lens via an adapter. In the new Firecrest 100mm Holder kit, the adapters are magnetic. The supplied circular polariser is mounted via magnetic attraction while the holder for square and rectangular filters is attached mechanically.
Format Hitech supplies two magnetic adapters in the kit, one for lenses with an 86mm filter thread and another for lenses with an 82mm filter thread. There are also two step rings in the kit to allow the 86mm adapter to be mounted on lenses with 77mm or 72mm filter threads.
The holder body is made from aircraft-grade aluminum while the filter guides are made from plastic. There are slots to enable up to two square/rectangular filters to be mounted in the holder but Format Hitech provides and extra pair of guides, plus longer screws, to enable up to three filters to be mounted.
To prevent light from hitting filters from behind while they’re mounted in the holder, there are two sets of covers that can be slotted onto the top and bottom of the holder. One set is ‘closed’ for use with square filters while the second set is ‘vented’, to enable rectangular graduated filters to be moved up and down in the holder.
There’s also a pouch for holding the holder, polarising filter and the rings or another filter, plus a magnetic lens cap. The latter can be used to cover the polariser filter whether the holder is or isn’t mounted - provided that there are no filters in the holder slots.
Build and handling
Formatt Hitech makes the Firecrest 100mm Holder from lightweight aluminum, which means it feels solid without being heavy. It’s mounted on a lens adapter by hooking its two fixed tabs onto one side of the adapter ring, pushing it back onto the ring and then screwing closed the third (blue) tab on the opposite side of the first two.
Unlike some filter holders, there’s no spring in the Firecrest 100mm Holder’s mounting mechanism. The lack of a spring means there’s no satisfying snap as the holder clips into place and instead you have to just ensure that the tab is wound down tight. It makes for a secure grip, but a there were a couple of times when I first use the holder that I didn’t have it in quite the right place. Consequently, it’s important to check that the holder is corrected seated on the adapter ring before you let go of it.
Square or rectangular filters can be slid into the filter guides without a polarising filter in place on the magnetic adapter ring, but if you want to mount or remove the polariser, you have to remove the holder.
There’s a fuzzy light seal around the inside edge of the holder and this butts up against the first square or rectangular filter mounted in the holder. The provided covers also slot on snuggly to ensure no light gets in.
The ‘vented’ covers, which have a rectangular aperture to allow rectangular filters to pass through are such a snug fit that the they need to be mounted after the filters. It’s possible to adjust the position of a graduated filter while the vented covers are in place, but I couldn’t get a filter to thread into the slots when they were in position.
Once the magnetic adapter ring is on a lens, the circular polariser snaps neatly into place. Then, with the holder fixed on, the cog on the side of the holder allows you to adjust the degree of polarisation without having to touch the filter itself.
The position of any graduated filters slotted into the holder can be adjusted by rotating the holder on the adapter ring with the polariser cog being turned to compensate if necessary. It means you can adjust the respective positions from behind the camera and while looking in the viewfinder.
The holder grips the filters securely, which means there’s little chance of them falling to the ground, but there needs to be support from the opposite direction to the movement when you’re adjusting their position to prevent the camera from moving.
Formatt Hitech provides an Allen key with the Firecrest 100mm Holder to enable the supplied extra filter slots to be added if necessary. Most photographers are likely to be satisfied by the ability to mount a polariser and up to two square or rectangular filters, but for those who need a third, it only takes a few minutes to insert the extra slots - just keep an eye on the position of the polariser adjustment cog.
Format Hitech Firecrest 100mm Holder is well made and its metal construction gives confidence that it will last. The polariser mount is assured and the holder mounts securely. Unlike the LEE Filters LEE100 Holder, it doesn’t have a locking or half-lock mechanism, but it does have a slick means of adjusting the rotation of the polarizer. It’s also nice to have a magnetic lens cap that can be popped into position between shots once any square filters have been removed.
I’ve tested a few filter systems that use frames around the filter recently and while the initial set-up of the filter seems a faff, this approach avoids putting fingerprints on the filter. With the Firecrest 100mm Holder, you need to have a lens cloth at the ready to keep the filters clean.
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