I think for photographers who spend any amount of time on social media, it is easy to roll our eyes at any mention of a new filter system. Honestly, it feels like they are popping up on a weekly basis with all promising and often delivering on excellent quality. As someone who had bought into and used a very popular square filter set for the past few years, I honestly thought I would never need to look elsewhere. I have never had any complaints about the quality of the polarizer or ND filters that I used on the occasions that I did actually bother to bring them.
And therein lies my biggest problem with most filters: the large square filters and the even larger filter holder take up quite a bit of space and don’t even fit comfortably in my pacsafe camera insert. Even worse, screwing on the filter base, sliding in the square filters being careful to avoid gaps that let in light and then clipping on the holder to the filter base involved much more fiddling than I was usually willing to go through especially in moments when the light was changing or I was likely to change lenses mid shoot. I honestly wished I hadn’t sold my old basic screw in filters even if they weren’t perfect either--especially with the vignetting that occurred when I would occasionally try to stack an ND filter and a polarizer, for example.
Recently, the newest ‘revolution’ in the filter industry seems to be with magnetic filters that promise easy installation and quick swapping between lenses. I have to admit, after being sure I would never need another filter set, I was curious to give a magnetic filter set a try.
As luck would have it, someone from a new filter company known as B.way reached out through instagram and asked if I would like to try their new magnetic filter set designed quick use and vignetting free wide angle shooting. I agreed, though I made it clear that I would have to give them a try and be able to vouch for their quality.
While I haven’t been able to shoot much in the field recently, I have played around with the filters a lot at home and given them a quick test to verify the quality just from the roof of my apartment and I have to say I am very pleased with what I see.
First off, the convenience factor can not be over emphasized. Even compared to regular basic screw in filters, I can clip on the wide angle adapter and pop in the magnetic filters far quicker and even when switching lenses I can move over the holder and filters literally as quickly as taking off a lens cap. Part of the speed is because I was able to use the 3 included adapter rings on each of my three lenses, meaning moving the whole adapter and filters from one lens to the other is a simple one handed clip that I can do even from behind the camera.
Okay, now for some absolute basic test results. The filters simply seem to be equal to what I have used previously. By that I mean they are equally excellent. The polarizer works well as do the two ND filters I have. The minimal effect on white balance versus what I was using previously appears to be identical, thus appearing to have a very neutral color that doesn’t give any strong cast like a low quality filter might introduce. Even when I went a little crazy and tried stacking the polarizer and BOTH ND filters on top of each other, I didn’t notice any extra degradation in image quality over my previous set up despite that setup being a single 10 stop ND versus 6 and 3 stop B.way set that I was stacking for an effective 9 stops. Same goes for color cast which was equally neutral.
Photo with the polarizer off
Does what I expect a polarizer to do
In Order: 100% crop with the B.way polarizer, without any filters, corner crop of Bway 6 stop and polarizer combined and finally a crop of a leading square filter makers polarizer and 6 stop filter combo to compare....pretty much identical and if anything the B.way is a hair sharper here.
Even with all 3 filters stacked on top of each other the neutrality is good and the image quality is as good as any other filters I have previously used when stacking like this. Note that there is zero vignetting even with this big stack at 35mm.
In the end, the image testing I did was brief, but I have to say I am very relieved to say the quality appears to be good indeed. Relieved, because after playing around with the set and seeing how quick and convenient it was, I would honestly be very disappointed if the image quality wasn’t up to the competition, but so far I can say that the image quality appears to be good enough to earn a space in my camera bag on every trip going forward--especially now that the whole set including case fits easily in my camera insert and weighs half as much as my old square set! Once I do more testing I will share any new findings.