WHILE THE NISI BRAND name might not be quite as recognisable as that of some of its rivals in the filter arena right now that will surely be changing in the very near future, since the word is now out in the professional world about the quality of the products this Chinese company is offering, with the numbers of discerning users growing exponentially every day.
The reason for this is simple: NiSi is undeniably a premium as well as a global brand, with a great deal more than just an affordable price to offer the professional. Take the materials that are incorporated in the construction of its products, for example. Entry level filters will usually be made using resin, which can fill the frame with unwanted colour casts. Move up a notch and you come to Schott b270 glass filters, used by many of the big name
manufacturers, where the image quality is significantly improved. Step up again, however, and you find that NiSi is using lens grade optical quality glass that’s nano coated, meeting the same standard as the front element you’d expect to find on a professional quality camera lens.
The benefit is many fold. Light transmission, for example, is substantially increased, the difference in transmittance between the NiSi filters and other ‘optical glass’ filters actually being greater than the difference between these filters and resin. If you’re working with a couple of filters combined then the extra light getting through to your sensor can make a big difference. Benefits can extend beyond just optical performance as well. For example, NiSi’s Nano Coating treatment gives filters the ability to repel oil and water, making cleaning easy, even in extreme conditions.
When it comes to filter/holder combinations, NiSi has professionals well covered. The M75 range, for example, has been exclusively designed for use with MFT cameras such as the Olympus E-M1 Mark III or Panasonic GH5, while full-frame users are also well catered for thanks to the hugely popular 100mm kits. These make use of the innovative V6 filter holder, an ingenious accessory that possesses an integrated circular polariser filter that can be rotated via a little wheel on the holder.
Landscape photographers who use ultrawide-angle lenses with huge front elements often struggle to use filters, but NiSi even has these pros covered via its 150mm and 180mm system filter kits. It doesn’t stop there either, as NiSi offers a range of circular filters that include polariser, UV and closeup filters along with a range of variable ND filters, which are hugely popular with both landscapers and filmmakers who need to reduce light entering the lens to produce shallow depth of field compositions.
From traditional ND filters through to more specialised reverse ND, Natural Night filters to block light wavelengths from common sources of light pollution and filters for your drone, NiSi keeps innovating and adding to its line-up. Compact camera shooters are also well catered for as well, with mini filter systems being available for cameras including the Sony RX100 VI, Ricoh GRIII and Fuji X100.
Another thing that helps NiSi to stand out from the crowd is the company’s closeness to its customers. For a start filters are made inhouse rather than elements of production being outsourced to third-party factories, a fact that enables savings to be passed on directly to photographers. While saving money is great, NiSi also attends over 20 global exhibitions in a normal year, enabling professionals and enthusiasts alike to directly ask questions about new gear and to get hands-on with products. On top of this NiSi works with a crack team of expert ambassadors and runs over 200 workshops annually, allowing customers to get out on location under the watchful eye of expert tutors. The buying experience is different too, with a brand new ecommerce website set to launch imminently, which will make the whole process of getting your hands on NiSi filters quicker and easier. It’s the complete package and your perfect filter partner is ready and waiting.
More information: www.nisioptics.co.uk
ABOVE: A beautiful scene captured by Francesco Gola on the Butt of Lewis.
THE PROOF OF ANY product is what it can help a top professional achieve and we caught up with top landscaper Francesco Gola to find out how he works with his NiSi filters.
Q Can you tell us about yourself and your photographic style?
I’m a seascape photographer based in the north of Italy. I think I developed my love for the sea right after I moved to a seaside town: after roaming for hours among the coastal paths, I always used to pause to sit on some cliff or beach, just to relax. Over time I became enchanted with how the sea would be different in colours, scents and shapes every time, and this was a place where I could relax and forget about every problem in my life. My favourite technique is long exposure. For me it’s like a parallel universe where I can escape from the frenzy of modern life and capture that feeling I have when in front of the sea.
Q How did you start using NiSi filters?
I started using filters more than ten years ago, at a time when there weren’t too many options. Working with other brands the main issue I faced was that overall quality was pretty low: basically I was putting filters made with resin or average quality glass in front of my expensive lenses, and this was decreasing the optical quality of the image and introducing colour casts. Moreover the filter holders had some technical limitations due to their tendency to introduce vignetting even when I was working with some of my longer focal lengths.
So I started to look for alternatives and came across NiSi and, after some initial scepticism due to my natural impulse not to change, I convinced myself to give them a chance, which I believe was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my photographic career.
Finally I had the possibility to express my creativity at its best, with an almost endless range of filters made with real optical quality glass and excellent coatings. I could use these in combination with aeronautical aluminium grade holders that are capable of letting me use up to four filters at any one time, with no vignetting even when using lenses as wide as 16mm.
Q Which filters are you regularly working with?
Regarding my kit, right now I’m always using the V6 holder with Landscape Polariser as it’s the perfect solution for all the lenses, with up to 82mm of front thread. In my filter bag I always carry some GND filters to balance the light in the scene and to capture everything in just one exposure. Finally to extend the shutter speed and achieve my beloved long exposures, a range of ND filters from three up to ten stops is a must.
Q What’s your favourite filter and best image shot with a NiSi filter?
It’s the NiSi ND256, an eight-stop ND filter. We are all used to thinking that the ‘landscape triad’ is made up of three, six and ten stop ND filters, but there’s a big gap between six and ten. Sometimes if I want to capture a wonderful sunset (or sunrise) when the golden hour starts and the sun is playing hide-and-seek with low clouds the six stop ND is too weak, and the ten stop ND too strong. So I needed a filter that offered a compromise and the NiSi ND256 is exactly that. I was able to capture this marvellous sunset at Butt of Lewis, on the Outer Hebrides, combining it on my V6 holder with the Landscape Polariser and a GND Medium 1.2 (four stop) filter. Once again there was no vignetting, colour cast or optical degradation of my lens.
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