Freewell who are known for their action camera and drone filters are now venturing into unchartered territory, making filters for DSLR/Mirrorless lenses. They aren’t just making any old filters, they have come up with Magnetic Quick Swap filters.
It’s a simple concept and one that has been done before by other companies. Come up with a solution that makes changing filters over in the field a quick and easy process. To do this Freewell, just like some other companies, is using magnets so that you can just snap on filters instead of having to screw them on.
What are they made out of?
According to Freewell, the filters are made of really high definition multicoated optical glass and they are claimed to be scratchproof, waterproof, dustproof, and oilproof.
I couldn’t test the filters to see if they had any color cast, as the only ones Freewell supplied were a Clear Night and an ND 1000. This is a pity because I think most users would have probably preferred to see what the quality of their ND filters would be. As far as ND filters are concerned Freewell currently only has ND filters with strengths of 64 and above.
At the moment this product is being tailored towards photographers rather than anyone shooting video. Currently, this is what filters are available:
All the above filters are available in sizes of:
Hopefully, Freewell will make a variable ND filter at some stage or fixed ND in strengths that are under 64.
How does it work?
The first time you use the filter system, you need to screw it onto the front of your lens.
Once you have done this, then by simply just grabbing the filter you can just pull it straight off.
All that is literally happening is the filter is separating into two different pieces.
To put the filter back on, you just line it up and then it magnetically attaches.
The front filter cap is also magnetic, so you can just snap it on and off too. While it doesn’t quite have as much magnetic strength as the filter, it still stays on the front of your lens fairly well.
The only thing you do need to be careful of is it is pretty easy to remove both the filter and the lens cap if you aren’t paying close attention. To remove just the front lens cap without removing the filter as well, you need to just grab the edge of the cap with two fingers.
Freewell does have a video online about how to use the filters, but I wish they had of included a physical instruction manual. Even though its hardly complicated, a lot of potential users may not be familiar with how these filters work, an instruction manual would have made a lot of sense.
You can stack
The system does allow you to stack filters and you can use other brands of filters and simply screw them onto the front of a Freewell filter. This way you can screw on a variable or fixed ND filter that you already own onto the front of the Freewell filter that magnetically attaches.
I did try using a step-down adapter so I could fit an 82mm filter on a 72mm front filter diameter lens. This did work, but I found that the Freewell filter (the part that you screw on) got jammed on the ring adapter and I couldn’t remove it.
To remove the filter from the adapter I had to put it into the freezer for about 10 minutes. This allowed me to loosen it up and detach it from the step-up ring.
Magnetic Filters are not a new concept
Magnetic filters for lenses are not a new concept. We have seen this done before from companies such as Breakthrough Photography and Manfrotto with their XUME.
Real World Use
The Magnetic Quick Swap Filter System works well, but currently, there are some caveats.
The system is great if you are just using one lens. It’s fast and convenient to change filters. However, if you are using multiple lenses that have different front filter diameters and you only have one of these filters, then it’s going to be a different story. If for example, you have a Freweel 82mm filter and you want to use it on a 72mm front diameter lens, you will have to unscrew it off the lens you were using and then place it on an adapter ring and put it onto another lens.
This sort of defeats the purpose of being quick and fast, unless you buy multiple filters for all of your lenses.
What Freeewell should do is make step up and step down rings that are magnetic so you could just simply keep them on all of your lenses and then instantly swap the same filter from lens to lens. When I asked Freewell if there was a possibility of this happening, they told me:
“We will be making step-up ring which will also have magnets as well as a thread.”Freewell
What I did like about the system is if you are using a camera on a gimbal and you are keeping the same lens on, you can quickly swap over ND filters of various strengths without having to rebalance your gimbal. I prefer to use fixed ND instead of variable ND if I can avoid it.
Price & Availability
Freewell is offering the filters that come with a Magnetic UV Filter, Light Pollution Filter, Lens Cap, Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, Magnetic Hard Case, for $149.99 USD. The NV version of the filter is $179.99 USD.