There is the well used saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. There is however another useful phrase, ‘You cannot stand still. You either move forward or slide backward, there is no viable long term stationary position’.
The Lee 100 Filter system is part of the history of image making; for many years it was the de facto choice for anyone who took the process seriously. The holder most Lee users own was introduced 25 years ago. Over recent years the competition has increased substantially and as so expertly proved by the British Motorcycle Industry in the 1960’s, complacency by any manufacturer, however strong, is fatal.
In my view, Lee have evaluated an almost perfect product and sought to improve it. Have they succeeded? Read on.
In my view, small things matter and when the new holder arrived even the packaging seemed more contemporary. On opening the box, an even more contemporary looking holder lay inside. First impressions were very good indeed. The holder is constructed from glass filled nylon and given a carbon fibre effect finish. Such composite materials are chosen for their characteristics of light weight, rigidity and strength. The holder certainly feels good in the hand and seems as robust as required.
Putting it straight on the camera (as one does, without bother to look at any instructions) it works immediately and as well as the previous version. A look at the instructions confirms the function of the three way locking collar.
This moves from:
– Similar operation to previous version
– Partial Lock where the holder is locked to the ring but still rotates
– Full lock where the holder is locked so tightly that it will not rotate. Although I never experienced it myself, others found that the pervious holder could accidentally be knocked off the ring. The new fitting is certainly more secure.
Further reading of the instructions reveals the revised method for changing the number of filter slots. Rather than adding one by one, the new holder gives the user the choice between a 1, 2 or 3 slot setup using three separate guides.
With the guides comes a small blue tool for making the necessary changes. I found this very easy to accomplish (much quicker than the previous version) and (while not being sure whether a good idea or not) possible to accomplish without the use of any tool.
The second box that I opened contained the new polariser attachment ring. Historically, this was a ‘less than optimum’ aspect of the system and process of screwing the Polariser into and out of the adapter ring was sufficiently messy to cause many people to purchase an entire additional holder which they stored with the polariser permanently attached. This was cumbersome but effective.
The revised system comprises a threaded holder with accepts the 105mm filter thread and then this in turn clips positively to the front of the main slotted holder unit. there is also a revised Polariser with a much deeper knurled ring to aid attaching and detaching. I haven’t had the opportunity to try one of these so far but can confirm that the new adapter works perfectly with the previous slim Landscape Polarising Filter.
This fitting and unfitting is stiff at first but seemed to loosen up swiftly to give an easy but very positive attachment.
The Polariser adapter, comes in its own storage case which allows the holder and attached polariser to be stored safely.
If you used to keep your polariser in the Lee Field pouch, this new version may increase your storage space needs very slightly. If you usually kept a spare holder, your storage needs will be reduced slightly.
Using the system in the field, I can find no fault with it and all the changes have added to the ease of use. Often with new pieces of equipment I will run them side by side until I feel confident about them. From the end of my first day using this holder, the old one was consigned to the ‘spares box’.
The original holder performed nearly perfectly. Lee have started from that point of near perfect and improved it still further. I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this much improved piece of equipment.
Further information at Lee 100 Holder.