Slot-in filter systems - advice needed

Started Nov 24, 2011 | Discussions thread
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tomjar Contributing Member • Posts: 632
Slot-in filter systems - advice needed

I need advice regarding different slot-in (rectangular) filter systems.

My current set-up is a Nikon D5000 with three zooms: Sigma 10-20, Nikon 18-105 VR and Tamron 70-300 VC. I am not a beginner, but have had a DSLR for only one year. Before that I used compact cameras.

What I am looking for is a filter system (for landscape and nature photography mostly) that will:

  • work well with all my current lenses

  • allow me to use a graduated ND filter in combination with a polarizer (with independent adjustment of both)

  • is likely to work with any lens I may use in the future.

The slot-in filter systems that I am considering are:

  • 84/85 mm (Cokin P or Hitech 85)

  • 100 mm (Cokin Z-Pro, Hitech 100 or Lee).

I know that they can all be fitted to my lenses, my major concern is the potential problems with wide-angle settings.

I did my homework and checked all kind of sources on the web and a couple of books regarding different filter systems. But the information is often contradictory and I cannot make up my mind. I also cannot try them out in the local camera stores (they don't carry any).

1. The major dilemma: size of filters - should I go for a 84/85 mm or a 100 mm system?

Of course I would like to stick with the smaller (and much cheaper) format. But I also want the system to work with Sigma 10-20. It does not have to be perfect on this lens (some vignetting in let's say 10-12mm range would be acceptable for me), but I would like to be able to use an ND grad and a polarizer together on this lens. The opinions regarding the Cokin P system and vignetting with Sigma 10-20 on the internet are contradictory (both for the regular and the wide-angle holder) so I don't know what to believe.

2. The Cokin P filter holder: are there TWO varieties of the regular holder?

Some sources say it has 3 slots, some say it has 4 slots (with the rear one intended only for the polarizer). The rear-mounted polarizer which can be rotated independently of the holder orientation is the major reason why Cokin P system is so attractive. I understand that there is also a wide-angle holder with a single slot (or is it 2 slots really, with the rear-one for a polarizer?) and that the regular holder can be used instead after hacking-off the front two slots.

3. Cokin P versus Hitech 85mm: Are they compatible - do Hitech filters REALLY fit into Cokin holders and vice versa?

Again, there is contradictory information all over the place. Some say that the filters are completely compatible (including Lee Frost in his book on filters), but several people say that the Hitech filters are slightly wider (85 mm instead of 84 mm) and too wide to fit into Cokin holders. Some even claim that there are two varieties of Hitech 85 mm filters, one to fit the Cokin holder and another to fit the Hitech proprietary holder or even that the "older" Hitech filters were of the same size as the Cokin P but the "newer" filters no longer are (???).

4. Cokin Z-Pro (100 mm): will I be able to use the polarizer and a ND graduated filter in combination in the same way as described for the P system?

Can the polarizer for Z format be turned in its own slot at the rear of the holder in the same way as as in P format holders?

5. Hitech 100 or Lee (100mm): what is the widest angle for vignette-free operation of polarizers on these two systems?

Specifically, I would like to know if such a setup – with a 105mm polarizer of course - would work with the Sigma 10-20 (assuming that a wide-angle adapter and the one-slot holder are used).

Any hint or advice would be much appreciated!

 tomjar's gear list:tomjar's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon Coolpix AW120 Nikon D5000 Panasonic G85 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR +5 more
Nikon D5000
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