If you are currently looking into 150mm filter systems, there are a lot of choices. Of course, you have Lee and Nisi, two of the most well-known (and expensive) brands. I use the Lee 100mm system myself, but I've had some problems with it, mainly light leaks and bad color cast. Originally I was thinking of getting Lee's 150mm system, but I soon realized it had some major flaws. This sent me on a search to find the best 150mm system on the market.
As I was researching the different filter holders, I learned of Progrey filters. The price was roughly the same as the other brands, but Progrey seemed to address many of the common problems with a 150mm filter system. Their new G-150Z filter holder can be attached without taking the lens off, it prevents light leaks, it can hold 3 filters, and they claimed their ND filters were completely neutral. Let's see how well the Progrey performs!
For this review, I used my Nikon 14-24mm and the Progrey G-150Z filter holder. This is Progrey's latest design and it is compatible with 4 other lenses, including the Tamron 15-30mm. Visit their website for more information.
When I first opened up the package from Progrey, I was amazed! (I actually said "wow!" out loud) The G-150Z filter holder comes with its own pouch, a very nice one at that. Progrey knows how to make a good first impression! I can fit the filter holder and the 77mm adapter ring inside. This will help to keep the filter holder clean and safe when traveling. You don't want a bare filter holder scratching up your gear while you hike. There's also a small zippered pocket on the outside, where you can fit some small tools you may need when doing long exposures (black tape, viewfinder cover, screwdriver.)
The filter holder itself looks and feels very high-end. According to Progrey, the holder is made from "metal aerospace aluminum". I'm not sure what that is exactly, but it's surprisingly light-weight and tough! The filter system is comprised of two pieces, the adapter ring and filter holder. Both pieces come bundled together in one package, unlike the Lee 150mm system. I like how Progrey has limited this system to just 2 pieces, it makes everything easier.
The Progrey G-150Z can be attached without taking the lens off, which is a big deal for me. If you constantly find yourself in wet or dusty environments, you will love this! Many other 150mm system require you to remove the lens from the camera to attach the filter holder. This can be a big pain when you are in the field. It's always nerve-wracking to leave your camera exposed while you are busy attaching the filter system. This was a major reason why I didn't buy the Lee 150mm holder.
Attaching the Progrey filter holder to your lens is incredibly quick and easy. In fact, the Progrey can be installed in just 20 seconds! I recommend installing the adapter ring so that the arrow is on the left side of the lens. This makes setup much easier.
By default, the G-150Z comes with two filter slots attached. However, Progrey does include a set of 3 filter slots that can easily be attached. Unscrew the 2-slot holders on each side, and screw in the 3-slot holders. Since these are thumbscrews, no tools are needed! This is another nice bonus from Progrey, every other system requires a screwdriver to install more brackets. Some systems don't even have the option for 3 filter slots!
The Progrey G-150Z also comes with a sliding lens cover to keep everything safe. As far as I know, this is the only 150mm system out there with this ingenious solution. Not only will this keep your front-element safe, it can also be used in the 2nd filter slot, keeping your polarizer or ND filter protected from the elements! In fact, you could attach the 3 slot bracket and use the lens cover on the 3rd slot. This would allow you to protect 2 filters at all times.
Since I do a lot of waterfall photography, I constantly find myself shooting into mist. In the past, it's always been a pain to keep my filters and lens dry while setting up for a waterfall shoot. The "shield door", as I call it, makes my life a lot easier! Now I can slide my filters in ahead of time, scout out my composition, and set up my camera, all without worrying about the filter getting soaked or covered in dust!
A unique approach to lens protection!
One problem I do have with the Progrey is that it is very large. When compared side-by-side with Haida's 150mm system, the Progrey is quite a bit bigger. While the Haida could just barely fit inside my Pelican Case, while attached to the 14-24mm, the Progrey is too big. The Progrey is also heavier than the Haida. Since I have limited space inside my backpack, this is a critical consideration. You will notice that the Progrey holder actually has more material on it. I assume that was done to reduce potential light leaks from behind. In my experience, the Progrey does a better job at preventing light leaks than Haida. This extra material also helps protect the filters. If I were to lay the camera on the ground, the filter edges would be exposed while on the Haida holder. The Progrey holder would completely protect the filters from touching the ground.
Haida vs PROGREY
I also received a 77mm adapter ring, so I can use this system with my 24-70mm lens. These adapter rings have a thread on the front, where you can attach a polarizer. The 77mm adapter ring can fit an 82mm polarizer. The adapter ring is super light-weight and functions the same way as the wide-angle adapter ring. Honestly, I might start bringing my 150mm filters on my day hikes now. Instead of worrying about light leaks using the Lee Filters 100mm holder, I can just use the Progrey 150mm holder for all of my lenses!
Using the 77mm Adapter Ring for my 24-70mm lens
If you don't have any 100mm or circular filters yet, this will make a great addition. You can now use your 150mm system with your other lenses. You may need to buy some cheap step-up rings to ensure the adapter ring can fit. For example, if you have a 67mm filter thread on another lens, you could buy a 67 - 77 step up ring. The image below was taken by attaching the 77mm adapter ring to my Nikon 24-70mm.
The Progrey filter holder is very easy to install and can be done in seconds! Watch the video below, mobile users click here, to see exactly how to setup the G-150Z.
When I opened Progrey's Genesis 10 Stop ND filter I was surprised again! The filter comes in a beautiful white leather pouch. The pouch uses magnets to keep closed and the ND filter fits inside nicely. At first, I was a bit wary of using a pouch for my ND filters. I tend to be a bit clumsy, and having an aluminum case has saved my filters in the past. With that said, the leather pouch did keep my filter safe, even after getting banged around on countless long hikes over the past 6 months. Sometimes the filter can be a pain to pull out of the pouch, since it is such a tight fit. At least the cloth lining in the pouch tends to wipe off any fingerprints when I pull the filter out.
The filter itself has a solid foam gasket around the back, which helps to prevent any light leaks. It's nice to see that the foam is thicker around the corners, where light normally leaks in from. I do find it odd that the foam doesn't completely cover the back of the filter though. Most foam gaskets cover the entire filter. Further down in the review, we'll see if the lack of foam causes any issues.
ProGrey 10 Stop ND
The Genesis 10 Stop ND has a slight blue/purple cast. I don't see any vignette, even at 14mm. A slight warm or cool cast can be easily corrected in post-processing. However, purple can be much more tricky to remove entirely. Honestly, I'm having a bit of trouble removing the Progrey color cast completely. When I add a green tint, the image quickly becomes too green. I still need to figure out the best way to remove the minor color cast for this filter.
Compare this to the Lee Filters 10 Stop ND, The Big Stopper, and the difference is clear. After tweaking the White Balance in Adobe Camera RAW, the Progrey 10 Stop needs to be roughly 100 K warmer and -7 Purple tint to remove the color cast. Meanwhile, the Lee Big Stopper needs to be 4600 K warmer and +20 Purple tint! To be clear, that is the 100mm Big Stopper, not the 150mm Big Stopper. As I understand it though, they both have the same color cast.
I also tested the density of my filter and found it is 10 and 1/3 Stop. It is crucial to test your ND filters when you first get them. You need to know the exact density of the filters when you are calculating the shutter speed. Every single ND filter has a slightly different density. For example, my Lee Big Stopper is 10 and 2/3 Stops and my Little Stopper is 6 1/3 Stop. For more information on this process, read my blog post.
One weird thing I noticed is that my camera would make the photo abnormally purple when the white balance was set to Auto. When I opened the RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW, the Purple Tint would be around +40! When I set the camera's white balance to Daylight, the colors looked fine. I'm not sure why my D750 was shifting the colors so much on Auto. It's never done that with any other ND filters. Just keep an eye out for that when you are shooting! I recommend using a manual white balance when doing long exposures anyway.
Click here to view the color cast gallery, which includes multiple examples.
I love doing really long exposures, we're talking 8+ minutes! In order to capture such long exposures, you need ~16 Stops of ND filters. In my experience, light leaks are rarely seen in photos less than 30 seconds. If you are only going to be taking photos at 30 seconds or less, I really wouldn't worry about light leaks too much. Just make sure your viewfinder is blocked.
Click here to see some light leak examples from my Lee Filters 100mm system, these photos were about 8 minutes long. As you can see, light leaks will ruin a photo! To prevent light leaks on my Lee holder, I usually put my hat over the camera, stood over the camera so my shadow covered the filters, and put black tape around the filter holder. I am still working on a system for my 150mm filters to prevent light leaks. Regardless which brand you get, they are always a concern. Read this blog post for some ideas on blocking light leaks.
If you plan to use another brand of ND filters with the G-150Z, they must have a foam gasket installed. For example, Haida filters come without any foam attached. If you use it on the Progrey holder, there will be light leaks and flare. Simply install the included foam gasket and you're all set! All Progrey filters come with foam gaskets installed, which should prevent any light leaks.
With all that being said, I wanted to see how well the Progrey G-150Z would protect against light leaks in the worst conditions. I setup my camera on a bright, sunny day and made no effort to cover the filter holder. Then I added my Progrey 10 Stop ND and Haida 6 Stop ND. My shutter speed was 4 minutes long. I rotated the camera position so that the sun was directly behind the camera, 90 degrees to both the left and right side, and high above the camera. Surprisingly, I didn't notice any light leaks!
This is fantastic news for Progrey! I've been dealing with troublesome light leaks on my Lee 100mm filter holder for years now. Even if I blocked the camera as best I could, light leaks were always a concern. Now that I have the Progrey, I can be much more relaxed when doing long exposures.
This is a pretty straightforward test. Find some small text, take a photo with and without the ND filter. My Sharpness Gallery has two sets of images, one full size and one cropped. I really didn't notice any loss of sharpness using the 10 Stop ND. I've also used the Progrey 10 Stop and Haida 6 Stop when doing 5+ minute long exposures and I didn't see any loss of sharpness in those images either.
To be honest, I've never noticed a loss in sharpness when using any of my filters (Lee, Haida, or Progrey). I would think most filters are fine, unless you buy some cheap, bargain bin filters.
Feel free to download the photos for yourself and zoom in. Desktop users can click the download icon at the top of each image. For mobile users, scroll up and click the arrow in the upper right, then click Download.
Just an FYI, you may notice some Hot Pixels in the Filter photos. That's because I had to take a 50 second photo when the 10 Stop ND was added.
The Progrey works well in the field. As mentioned in the 'Build Quality' section, the system can be installed while the lens is on the camera. Plus, the "shield door" keeps the front element and filter(s) safe while you scout out different compositions. My biggest problem is simply that the filter holder is so large. The filter holder is too big to fit inside my Pelican case when attached to the 14-24mm. Therefore, I have to install the holder every time I set up for a shoot; granted, this only takes about 20 seconds.
My trip through the Narrows, in Zion National Park, was a great way to test the Progrey filter holder. I loved having the "shield door" in my second slot filter while I hiked through the river. It kept my filter clean and dry, even though I was hand-holding my camera as I was hiking up the river. The G-150Z is also very easy to rotate around, which is necessary when using a polarizer.
All in all, the Progrey does a great job for my nature photography. Light leaks are not much of a concern, the G-150Z can be installed in seconds, and you don't need to take the lens off! I also like how I can keep the filter holder safe and clean inside the pouch when I'm not using it. Plus, I always have the 77mm adapter ring with me now, so I can quickly switch my 150mm filters to any of my normal threaded lenses. The only real problem I have is the size, but that's to be expected with any 150mm system.
One thing I'd highly recommend for long exposure photographers is a rotating Mindshift pack. Their rotation 180 pro has made my life so much easier! It pairs great with the Progrey system! While I was hiking through the Narrows, the Mindshift pack gave me a rotating, portable workstation in the middle of the river. This made everything much easier and safer!
November 2017 Update:
Over the course of my 2017 roadtrip I found myself using the Progrey G-150Z quite often! In fact, I pretty much always had it with me. I can confidently say the G-150Z is my favorite filter holder! Here are some of my thoughts after using the Progrey G-150Z extensively for the past 3 months.
To clarify, I currently have the following filter systems:
During the 3 month roadtrip, I always had each system with me at all times. Therefore, I could use whichever system I liked the best. Honestly, I used the Progrey G-150Z holder 99% of the time when I was doing long exposures. The filter holder never once let me down! As I mentioned earlier, the only drawback is the weight. Since I don't have the Progrey polarizer or 6 Stop ND, I used the Haida filters for many of my long exposure photos.
I'm so glad I had the Progrey G-150Z filter holder on this roadtrip, it allowed me to capture some stunning photos with my 14-24mm lens! If you recently purchased a wide angle lens like the Tamron 15-30mm, Nikon 14-24mm, or Rokinon 14mm and you are contemplating whether or not to buy a 150mm system, I recommend going for it! The extreme wide angle is necessary to capture beautiful waterfall images.
Devil's Punchbowl Crystal Mill The NarrowsHiking through The Narrows in Zion National Park
The Progrey 150mm system isn't cheap, but the price is comparable to other high-end 150mm filter systems on the market. Let's compare the Progrey to the other big-name filter options.
The table below shows the most popular brands on the market. The 'Basic Setup Cost' is the price for the filter holder and any necessary adapter rings. The 'Full Cost' shows the total for the filter holder, polarizer, 10 Stop ND, and ~6 Stop ND. These are the main filters I use when doing long exposures. I didn't include any grad ND's because I don't use them.
Lee SW150 Mark II System:
Nisi 150mm System:
Vu Filters System:
If I could sum up the Progrey G-150Z in one word it would be: Quality. Nearly every aspect of the Progrey G-150Z has been designed incredibly well. Having used the Progrey extensively during my 3 month roadtrip, I highly recommend it! This is the pinnacle of 150mm filter systems! The Genesis 10 Stop ND also works quite well, with minimal color cast and no vignette at 14mm. Plus, the 77mm adapter ring allows me to use this system with all of my other lenses.
If you have been considering jumping up to the 150mm system for your wide angle lens, you can't do any better than the Progrey system. Frankly, I think the Progrey G-150Z is the best filter holder on the market right now.
My personal highlights include:
For more information on the Progrey G-150Z filter system, visit the official Progrey website.
Click here to visit my Progrey gallery and see all of the photos I've taken. Remember, you can download any of the sample images and get a closer look. I recommend using the arrow keys to scroll through the galleries, otherwise the thumbnails will cover a portion of the image.
I've tried to make this review as thorough and informative as possible. If you have any questions about the Progrey G-150Z, or have some additional testing ideas, please leave a comment below.