[NiSi Filters - My story] [The Shop]In December 2016 I visited NiSi in China to find out more about their photographic filters offering.
As a landscape photographer one of the most important things for me is my filter system. I've been using filters extensively in my landscape photography over the past 20 years, and it seems like I am on a constant search for the ultimate set of filters. I have used almost all makes of filters and each one has served me well to a certain extent, but up to now I was never totally satisfied with my filter set.
In most cases the issue was more about the user experience than the quality of the filters, although I did purchased some dodgy filters on my journey to get that elusive "perfect" filter set.
I stumbled upon NiSi filters while admiring Jarrod Castaing's slow shutter speed waterfall photos - I later found out that he is a NiSi ambassador.
Almost at the same time Xiaoyi asked my advice with regards a 10 stop neutral density filter she wanted to buy. I told her about NiSi filters as their headquarters are close to her home. She visited their local store and invested in a set of filters.
On her last visit to South Africa I had the opportunity to try them out myself. I was very impressed with the results and also the ease of use, hence my visit to the NiSi headquarters in December 2016.
Oh, did I mention that I received a set from Xiaoyi as a Christmas present!
The visit was quite an eye opener for me! Their LAB and quality control department was very impressive. In the lab they showed me how they test their filters for abberations and also showed me how other brands (including the most well known and expensive filters) fare in these tests.
They let me use their spectrophotometer to compare the NiSi 10 stop filter with the most well known brand 10 stop filter and the spectrophotometer confirmed the blue/green cast people always talk about on the Internet. The NiSi filter, on the other hand, behaved very consistent throughout the full spectrum. I can confirm that I did not experience any colour cast in the field with the NiSi filters, even with a 3 filter stack.
I did not know this, NiSi owns more than 600 patents on their filters and filter accessories! In fact, they are currently in a court case with one very well known European camera and lens company that blatantly copied some of their technologies and then even showed it off at Photokina! Some of these patents include the nano coatings as well as their water repellent coatings. Their filter holder with the very easy to use circular polariser holder is another of their patents. The attachment of this CPL as part of the filter holder ring ensures that there is no vignetting when used. This is a very great improvement over the placement of the CPL in front of the filter stack.
Another important difference between the NiSi system and most other systems, is the fact that the NiSi graduated filters are made from optical glass rather than resin. There are two important benefits of using glass over resin; Firstly, resin filters are prone to scratching, and secondly, compared to glass are also much harder to clean. As I frequently use my filters in coastal environments where the sand and salt water often threaten the former and regularly require the latter, this is important to me.For a great article about the colour cast - or lack thereof - read this article with great examples by Everlook Photography husband and wife team Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim
So, being totally spyched up about the technology behind these filters, and after experiencing the great results I was surprised that it is not readily available in South Africa. During my meeting they were also hinting in the direction of me becoming their sole distributer in South Africa, so on my return I did some research in what will be necessary to make this a serious business. The research unfortunately showed that it will be a very expensive and risky business to take on. It will require quite a large financial investment to get consignment stock in all the major retailers and one would also need to set up an infrastructure to serve them on a regular basis.
I am not ready for such a commitment.
But I also did not want to let go... So I decided to start an online shop to take orders and then order it directly from the factory. They have a 5 day airfreight delivery option, so this could work. Hence the new shop on PhotovaulOnline.