Having established themselves as a leader in producing filters for drones, PolarPro started turning their attention towards photographers and filmmakers a couple of years ago. Their round QuartzLine series of screw-on filters have proven to be very popular, as have their Peter McKinnon Edition Variable ND filters.
Now, PolarPro is stepping things up a notch with a whole new filter system designed for landscape photographers and higher-end cinema shooters with their new Summit filter system and Basecamp matte box system.
PolarPro Summit – Landscape Filter System
The Summit is a filter system for landscape photographers is a filter holder system which utilises square (or rectangular) filters. It’s made from a lightweight aluminium and they say their designers have spent three years refining and optimising its operation. Behind the filters sits a removable circular polarizing filter, which can be adjusted without having to rotate the whole system on the end of your lens.
As for the filters themselves, they’re the same as those found in PolarPro’s round screw-on QuartzLine range, but square. They’re a proprietary form factor, and frames are built around each one, allowing for quick and easy swapping of filters without having to deal with fingerprints and minimising the risk of knocking your camera. So, you’ll only be able to use the holders with PolarPro’s filters. If you’re a landscape photographer or filmmaker who already has a stack of 100mm square or 4×5.65″ cinema filters, you’re going to be out of luck.
PolarPro BaseCamp – UltraLight Matte Box
BaseCamp takes their QuartzLine glass filters, takes them out of their round screw-on frame and puts them into a cinema matte box. It’s designed for run and gun filmmakers and is made from ultra-lightweight aluminium, carbon fibre and aerospace polymers. It features a completely tool-free design for optimised workflow and has a built-in rail mount to easily add it to an existing 15mm rail camera rig. You can use variable NDs with BaseCamp, too, and here, too, the filters are aluminium-framed QuartzLine series filters.
BaseCamp has a total weight of 438g “when all components are used”. You can customise it to your own needs with a removable flag and a hood. The hood doesn’t seem terribly deep though, and the flag only looks to cover the top of the lens. How this will affect your shot in practical terms, and how well it’ll hold off side light from flaring into the front filter or your lens element remains to be seen.
The sun isn’t always high in the sky, especially at this time of year in the northern hemisphere. For now, there’s always the trusty old Cinefoil and gaffer tape solution if you need some quick side light source protection. If it becomes a common issue, though, hopefully, they’ll offer a full flag system that’ll let you cover the sides, too.
It’s a little disappointing that we are forced to use PolarPro’s aluminium-framed filters with their holder. Don’t get me wrong, PolarPro’s filters are excellent, but many landscape photographers already carry a stock of very nice filters from multiple brands that they can use with the range of holders available from companies like Cokin, Lee, Haida and others. They’ll want to be able to utilise them all with any holder they buy. As those filters can’t be used with PolarPro’s Summit holder, then that may be a dealbreaker for some. Of course, if you haven’t bought into a filter holder system for landscapes yet, and this will be your first, it makes sense to go with PolarPro’s filters for their holder.
For cinema shooters, the situation may be a little bit different. As with the landscape photographers, there will be many filmmakers who have a number of Panavision standard 4×5.65″ filters designed specifically for matte boxes. If they’re working as part of a crew, especially as a freelancer, everybody will need to be using interchangeable standards. And you’ll want the ability to utilise as many filter options as possible. If you’re always only ever going to be working solo, though, BaseCamp could be a good option.
The full kit for both Summit or BaseCamp are available to buy now for $699 (although discounts are available for the first 300 units of each sold), and the constituent parts are available to buy separately. You can find out more on the PolarPro website.