Landscape photographers working in the field need a quality filter pouch to protect expensive filters from accidental damage. Michael Topham reviews the best on offer
Lowepro S&F Filter Pouch 100 – £28
Lowepro is renowned for the quality of its camera bags and produces a number of utility bags and filter pouches for all types of photographers. The Lowepro Street and Field Filter Pouch is designed for the working pro and serious enthusiasts who’d like to store large rectangular or square-format filters. It’s by no means a small pouch and is almost identical in size to the Lee Filters Field Pouch. The easy-access lid opens away from the body making it simple to get to the internal organiser when it’s attached to a vest, harness or belt. The internal organiser is colour coded to help identify specific filters and features a number of sleeves to accommodate ten filters in total. There’s enough space to store your filter holder inside too, and our only criticism is that the sleeves aren’t as soft as those found in some other pouches. The lid covers the pouch well to prevent water ingress and a push clip keeps it securely fastened. As is to be expected from a Lowepro product, the construction and finish doesn’t disappoint. It’s clearly built to survive rugged use and the look and feel of the pouch matches most Lowepro bags. If you already own a Lowepro bag and you’re looking for a large filter pouch to complement it, you won’t go wrong by choosing the Lowepro S&F Filter Pouch 100.
Lee Filters Field Pouch – £38
The Lee Filters Field Pouch shares a similar design to the Lowepro S&F Filter Pouch with a lid covering the entire pouch and its contents to prevent inclement weather reaching your kit. It’s of similar size too, and is large enough to store any long 100x150mm graduated filters. Accessing your filters out in the field is made easy thanks to zippers that are located down either side. With the lid unfastened you can quickly pull on these zips to create a broader span to the internal organiser. Each filter has its own compartment for ultimate protection and the extremely soft material offers reassurance that expensive glass filters will be safe inside.
There’s enough space to store ten filters in total, however if you’d like to pack your filter holder and adapter rings you’ll need to sacrifice a couple of compartments. The pouch comes with a useful strap to sling it over your shoulder and it’s even supplied with a tripod strap for times when your camera is locked off and you’d like to access your filters quickly. Alternatively, you can attach it to your belt using the velcro fastened belt hook. Available in black, Lee Filters also produce this pouch in a sand/tan colour for those who’d prefer a slightly lighter appearance. The build quality on the whole is excellent and it’s the soft padded internal compartments that impress most. Like most premium products, if you’re prepared to spend a little more on this pouch you’ll get a first-class product in return. It would also make an excellent present for any serious photographer working with 100x100mm or 100x150mm filters.
Formatt-Hitech 100mm Pouch – £22
There are some filter pouches that are more basic than others and this pouch from Formatt-Hitech is certainly basic when you compare it those reviewed above. Although it’s of similar size to the Lowepro S&F Filter Pouch 100 and Lee Filters Field Pouch, it’s significantly thinner and only accommodates six filters. Unfolding the wallet reveals that filters are stored in three sets of two. Each compartment is large enough to accept a 100x150mm filter, with the rear compartment offering slightly softer padding than the compartment closest to the front.
The pouch gets noticeably thicker when it’s fully loaded with filters and fastens with velcro. Unlike the Lowepro or Lee Filters pouches it doesn’t offer the same level of exterior padding to prevent damage from any accidental knocks or drops out in the field, and there’s no way of attaching it to your belt or carrying it over your shoulder. If you’re working to a strict budget then the Formatt-Hitech 100mm Pouch is better than no pouch at all. However, if you’re prepared to spend £10 more you’ll be able to pick up a better-made pouch that’ll last longer and protect your filters more safely with less risk of damage.
Tamrac Arc Filter Case – £26
The Tamrac Arc filter case is designed for smaller screw-in and slot-in filters. It provides quick access to five filters up to 82mm in size and, if you’re prepared to sacrifice a filter like we did, it’s possible to squeeze in four filters and a filter holder such as a Cokin P-series. The pouch is lightweight and features a carry top handle that we found useful for pulling it out of a bag or grabbing on the go when you’re in a hurry. When you close the lid it snaps shut and remains securely closed thanks to the addition of a strong metal magnet. The only issue with the lid is that it doesn’t fully cover the internal compartment, leaving small gaps either side that are exposed to rain and dirt creeping in.
At the rear of the pouch users will find two Velcro tabs that can be unfastened and allows easy attachment to any M.O.L.L.E. compatible attachment system including the New Anvil or Arc Belt System. The 600D Polyester fabric that is used in its construction provides good weather protection and there’s plenty of padding to cushion and protect the contents if it’s accidentally dropped. For those who feel that this pouch is too big, there’s a smaller filter pouch available. Tamrac’s Arc Compact Filter Case (£16) has a similar design, but accommodates three 77mm filters in separate protective slots.