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Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Nisi Holders - is an upgrade worth it?

Shape and size of the V6 (blue) compared to the V5-Pro (red) mounted to a Zeiss 18mm on a Nikon D800e

Earlier this year Nisi brought out their latest 100mm square filter holder, the V6. For those who aren’t aware of Nisi, they broke onto the scene a few years ago and completely disrupted the photographic filter market that has for long been dominated by Lee Filters (at least in South Africa, but certainly also in Australia). The original V5-Pro filter holder was fairly unique in that it allowed the use of a special polariser filter that could be screwed into the actual holder adapter, rather than in the front of the holder like the enormous and costly Lee 105mm polariser (see this article on the holder systems compared to each other).

At any rate, the Nisi V5 Pro, along with the arguably superior glass, have been gobbled up by photographers. Not content with the V5, Nisi introduced the V6 with some subtle updates that improve on an already excellent holder system.

  • The V6 with adapter weighs 120g, which makes it slightly lighter than the 147g V5 Pro (this brings it more in Line with the original Lee holder with 105mm adapter ring and lens adapter).
  • The V6 includes a lock screw that can be turned so that the holder locks in place and also cannot be bumped off the adapter accidentally.
  • The profile of the V6 changes somewhat so that it is more hexagonal in shape compared to the V5-Pro.
  • Along with the shape change, the filter rails have been shorted from 100mm on the V5-Pro to 76mm on the V6.
  • Better guides have been added to the filter rails so that the filter doesn’t jump out of the rail as happened occasionally with the V5-Pro when sliding a filter into place.
  • The lock mechanism for locking the holder onto the adapter has been enlarged and changed in colour to brass (colour).
  • The adapter ring has been very subtly changed so that the internal ridge is now angled, rather than at 90 degrees.  

What the Changes Add up To


The changes are subtle, but they add up to a much improved handling experience. The biggest change for most photographers is going to be how the 100x100mm neutral density filters handle on the V6. With the V5-Pro the square filters all but disappeared behind the frame of the holder. This can make setting the filter in place tricky. More importantly though, it could be difficult to remove a square filter when there was more than one filter being used (as an aside the solid ND filter with a light baffle should be used first in the filter stack, with any graduated ND filters added after that). The new smaller hexagonal shape means that the edge of the filter is now visible and accessible for the photographer to be able to slide the up or down and out of the holder.

The improved lock/release mechanism is a welcome change as a small group of users complained that the holder could be occasionally bumped off the adapter ring (personally I have not experienced this and find the holder once attached sits far more safely than some of the competitor holders). Do not be fooled by the brass colour though. The mechanism is still aircraft grade aluminium and has only been anodised in a brass coloured coating, and is not made from brass. Nevertheless, this tiny change makes for a much firmer holding of the holder with the adapter ring.
A close up view of the locking pin (above) and the release pin (below)

Added to the security features of the holder is the new locking pin (first introduced with the smaller M75 system). Personally I think this is overkill and I suspect that Nisi were pandering to a small but loud contingent of photographers who were overly concerned about the holder accidentally falling off the adapter while shooting (seriously?!?! The impact required to bump the holder off the adapter is so severe that you are likely to have damaged your lens in the process). Personally I find the locking pin a nuisance. It is larger than the release pin, so I keep accidentally tugging at it to remove the holder from the adapter. If it continues to bother me I’ll probably just remove it entirely. Still, kudos to Nisi for giving photographers the option in the first place.

The guide rails on the V6 (right) are a definite improvement
A definite improvement has been the thin guide rails that have been added to the filter rails. With the V5 it was possible for the filter to jump the rails when sliding the glass into place. Now, the rails mean that this can’t happen anymore. It’s a small change but adds to an improved user experience when working with the filters. 

In terms of the actual 82mm adapter ring, it too has been subtly changed. If you look at the profile of the adapter ring you will notice that the old V5-Pro has a raised inner ring outside the rotating polariser ring. The V6 does away with this raised ring. The profile height doesn’t change, but it does mean that Nisi were able to redesign their lens cap for the adapter. The new plastic and rubber cap is much improved, making it easier to put on and remove. The only downside to the new cap is that it is incompatible with the older adapter. So unfortunately if you want to use the new lens caps, you have to have the newer adapter ring that comes with the V6. The good news though is that the polariser ring remains unchanged so the thin polariser remains compatible with both the V5-Pro and the V6.

A final improvement is in the actual bag that the holder comes with. The old V5-Pro had a hard case with faux leather covering. The new V6 now comes packaged in a stiff canvas bag that is lighter, easier to carry and overall nicer to use. I personally dislike the old stiff boxes that Nisi use for the V5-Pro as well as their current line-up of kits. I infinitely prefer the new canvas bags and the Filter Pouch Plus is an excellent buy in my opinion if you are looking for a carrying solution other than the horrible boxes that Nisi provides (great for the studio, awful for the field).

The much improved bag that the V6 now comes in. I still suggest getting a larger pouch for the filters though.




The big question is whether it is worth upgrading from the V5-Pro to the V6. If you don’t have a filter holder the answer is obvious: get the V6 holder. It’s less obvious for existing owners. It really isn’t essential to upgrade. The V5-Pro is an excellent filter holder that will last for years. However, the V6 is an upgrade where the sum of improvements seems to be greater than the changes on their own. Working with the V6 is smoother and quicker. Changing filters is easier and while placement is a little bit faster thanks the improved rails and the fact that you can actually grab square filters by the edges.

Due to the cost involved in upgrading a holder I find myself falling short of actually recommending upgrading from the V5-Pro to the V6. If you decide to upgrade though, you will find yourself appreciative of the fact that you did.

Image shot of the Valley of a Thousand Hills from Monteseel in KZN using the Nisi 0.9 Medium grad and 0.9 solid Neutral Density filters 

Disclaimer: I am a Nisi Ambassador as of earlier this year, but do attempt to write honest reviews on the Nisi equipment that is available. You can order Nisi equipment in South Africa directly through me where you will also usually receive a discount (make sure to mention Photo Writing).

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