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Review: Xume Lens Filter Mount System

by Travis Lawton on 11/12/2011

You guys may remember a post I wrote a couple of months ago about using photographic filters. If you are a regular user of filters, you will agree with me in saying that they can be a little difficult to work with.

For example, when photographing a sunset, you might change filters several times as you try out different combinations to get the look that your going for. Or perhaps you want to focus on a rock in the foreground but you’re using such high neutral density filters that there isn’t enough light coming through the lens for the camera to lock focus on anything. Manual focus doesn’t even work as the light reduction is so much that all you can see looking through the view finder is darkness.

To get past this hurdle you have to remove the filter, lock focus, then replace the filter. These may sound like minor issues but they can be quite frustrating while in the field and you are constantly dealing with them. Xume has come up with a system to get around these issues.

To be fair, the Xume Filter Mount System is more marketed towards shooting video as filters are used extensively and can be a real pain if you are using several lenses for a scene but only have 1 of whatever filter you need. You have to constantly unscrew the filter from one lens and screw it onto the other. I use filters for still landscape photography and became intrigued when this product was first announcing thinking that it might alleviate some of the issues mentioned above.

Design

These are one of those things that make you think, “why didn’t I think of that?”.  Think of the Xume system as splitting the threads on the end of your lens into two parts that attach to each other magnetically. Obviously you don’t actually split anything on your lens. The Xume system comes with two pieces; one that is threaded onto the end of your lens, the other is screwed onto the filter. Viola, magnetic magic. Now your filter can be magnetically popped on and off your lens in a second. You can easily see the appeal for video. Have the lens piece on all your lenses and you can pop the filter on and off any lens combo in seconds. No more dealing with unscrewing the filter and then having to re-screw it onto the new lens.

My intended application is a little different as I wanted them for still photography and slide-in filters. Xume had told me that they had done some testing with lighter plastic filters such as those from Cokin but they hadn’t done much using bigger glass ones such as Lee filters.

Construction

Two metal rings that magnetically attach to each other. You purchase the correct millimeter thread for whatever lens you plan on using it with and you’re good to go. Not a whole lot to say.

I will say I wish the metal was a little more rigid. If your holding the adapter as if you were about to screw it in place, and pinch with your fingers, you can see the metal losing a bit of it’s circle shape. Of course it goes right back to normal when you loosen your grip. Where this matters is when removing the adapter that is screwed onto a lens. At times I thought the adapter was stuck on the lens but it was because I was griping so hard that it was pinching the metal of the adapter and lens. Turns out using a light touch to unscrew the filter worked much better. I guess that’s why the manual says “…A lighter touch is often more effective than brute force.

Cokin Filters Attached

Cokin Filters Attached

Use

My whole worry with using this system was how much weight the magnetic rings could handle. The last thing I want to happen is have a $150 glass filter fall off the front of my lens while in the field. Although I don’t have any screw-on filters to test this with, I have plenty of slide-in ones.

The Cokin filters I have are made of a lightweight plastic, and aren’t very heavy at all. Even if they did fall, they are relatively cheap to purchase. However, turns out the Xume system held them up perfectly. Even after stuffing my holder full with 3 separate filters, the magnets held like champs and not once seemed like they were going to give up.

Cokin Filters

Cokin Filters

The Lee glass filters are a fairly similar story but with a little more worry. I definitely wouldn’t load up 3 glass filters onto a lens using the Xume system as I just wouldn’t trust the magnets however I did have the Lee Big Stopper glass filter along with a plastic Lee 3 stop GND. I won’t lie, it was a bit unnerving trusting the magnets to hold these and I had a VERY soft pillow under the camera just in case, but they held just fine. I was only able to get the magnets to fail when I jostled the camera around a bit. I’ll say that I would trust the system to hold a couple of these bigger filters while in the field when the camera is stationary on a tripod (such as a long exposure sunset/sunrise shot).

Lee Filters Attached

Lee Filters Attached

The convenience that the Xume system gives you is extremely nice though. As mentioned above when using multiple filters giving you multiple stops of light reduction to the point of focusing being a problem, just pop off the filter, focus, pop it back on. So simple and fast. Same with changing filters; just leave the camera in place, pop off the filter holder, make your changes from a comfortable position, pop it back on. Again, so simple and fast.

Lee Filters

Lee Filters

Conclusion

If you shoot video with your DSLR, use many different lenses on a shoot, and use filters like crazy, this system will make your life a whole lot easier and I’d give these a no-brainer recommendation. For those out there like me, wondering about use with larger, heavier filters for still photography, I give these a moderate recommendation. They can make the process of using filters much better but there is always that nagging feeling in your mind of what if the magnets fail. That could be a very expensive mistake. I would definitely recommend not using more than 1 glass filter as the weight would just be too much for the strength of the magnets. I would recommend Xume to create a newer landscape photography version with stronger magnets or maybe a quickly applied safety string to anchor to the camera/lens in case it did fall so we don’t have to worry about the what-ifs.

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