Filters – specifically ND and polarizing filters – are some of my most-used landscape and travel photography tools. For years, I predominantly used round, screw-type filters instead of a holder system because they’re small and easy to travel with. But varying lens diameters had left me with a motley assortment of filters, and in an attempt to find a more cohesive solution, I decided to try the Haida M-10 filter system.
In the past, I was reluctant to use a drop-in filter system because of the size. While screw-on filters have their disadvantages, the biggest benefit I have found is that they are small, light and easy to pack. But after some time and travel with the Haida M-10 system, I’m going to share what I like and what I would change – and also share why these filters have earned a permanent place in my camera bag.
Table of Contents
Haida M-10 Adapter Rings
The Haida M-10 system is made up of 3 parts: the filter holder, the ring that goes on your camera lens (which the filter holder attaches to), and the filters themselves.
Both the filter holder and the adapter rings are made of aluminum alloy and seem to be very well-built. The adapter rings screw onto your lens, based on the lens’s filter thread diameter. You can purchase the rings individually for under $20 each, or if you buy the filter holder as part of a kit, it will come with some adapter rings of various sizes.
Each adapter ring ships with a cover that can serve as a lens cap if you want to leave the adapter rings screwed onto your lenses. I find this approach worthwhile. Leaving an adapter ring on each of your lenses at all times makes it fast and easy to swap the filter holder between each lens in your kit.
Haida M-10 Filter Holder
The filter holder itself clips into the adapter rings quickly and easily. The clip is easy to operate and feels secure once it is on, but it does need to be lined up correctly with the adapter ring in the first place. This isn’t difficult, and it can be done by feel if you’re working at night, but you’ll want to make sure it’s secure before letting go.
When the filter holder is attached, it is designed to spin freely. This way, you can precisely position your Graduated Neutral Density and Polarizing filters. In general, this is a nice advantage. However, there’s no way to lock it in place, so you need to be careful not to bump the filter out of position. As long as you pay attention, this isn’t a huge deal.
To swap the filter holder from lens to lens, you just unclip it from the adapter ring of one lens and clip it into the adapter ring of the other. You don’t have to remove the filters first.
Haida M-10 Round Drop-In Filters
The M10 system uses the same 100 x 100mm (or 100 x 150mm) glass filters as most other filter systems. However, the Haida M-10 system is unique in one sense: In addition to using the typical square filters, it also takes one round drop-in filter.
Haida’s round drop-in filters have a plastic frame and wide, spring-loaded clips that allows you to drop the filter in very easily. The best use of this, and probably the reason Haida included this extra filter type, is when using a polarizing filter.
Because you need to turn the polarizer to get the correct angle for polarization, it can be tricky to use a polarizer and a graduated ND simultaneously. That’s because every time you turn the filter holder to adjust the polarizer, you rotate your graduated ND filter as well.
Meanwhile, the round, drop-in polarizer has a little wheel at the top that lets you easily turn the filter independent of the rest of the filter holder. I had no issues with the wheel, but it is small; if you have larger hands or are wearing gloves, I suspect it might be a little tricky to turn.
While the round, drop-in spot is ideal for a polarizer, it is so easy to use that I wish the system had more than one of these slots. I prefer the ease of the round drop-ins over the rectangular filters, and they are very easy to clip in and out of the filter holder. The plastic frame also makes it easier to hold them without getting fingerprints all over the filter, one of my pet peeves when it comes to using traditional rectangular filters.
I find that the biggest advantage to the round drop-in filters is how easy it is to clip them in and out of the filter holder. When using a 10-stop ND filter, I can remove the filter while I focus and compose, then drop it in before making the exposure. It also makes it easy to swap different amounts of ND filters quickly.
While all of this is technically possible using rectangular filters, I find that that they are a little hard to get in and out of the holder compared to the round filters. It’s a tight fit, which is necessary to keep the filters snuggly in place. It is so much easier to use the round filters that I found myself using them ten-to-one over the square filters, only using the later when I didn’t have the appropriate round filter or when I needed to stack filters.
While the round drop-in filters are my favorite feature of the M-10 system, there are a few minor improvements Haida could make. The round filters have a front and a back, and they only fit into the holder in the correct direction. That’s how it should be for polarizers (which don’t work properly when reversed), but the front/back label should be more obvious. In low light conditions, it’s easy to miss.
Also, the round Haida drop-in filters feel somewhat cheaply made. My initial reaction when I purchased the system is that they seem very plasticky and flimsy compared to the rest of the system. However, after using them extensively on my last few trips, I have found the filters to be much more robust than they initially appeared.
I put these filters through some pretty rough conditions, tossing them loose in my backpack when rushing to a new location. I even dropped one of the round filters on rocks that I suspect would have shattered many glass filters, and they survived.
In short, I can report that despite the cheap-feeling plastic frame, they held up fine, without cracking or breaking. The filter itself also has yet to scratch. So, despite my minor complaints, I still found the round drop-in filters to be my favorite part of the filter system. If Haida ever makes a filter holder that can hold more than one of these simultaneously, I will happily order it.
Haida M-10 with 100mm Square Filters
Out of the box, the Haida system can hold one round filter and two rectangular filters, but it comes with an extra frame you can add to expand the capacity by one more rectangular filter. I have not done this modification, because for my purposes, the initial three-filter capacity is fine. The quality of the expansion appeared to be identical to the rest of the filter holder, but I can’t vouch for the ease of installation.
As long as the filters are a consistent 100mm width, you can use glass filters from any manufacturer. If you are switching to the Haida system from another filter system like Lee or NiSi, you can use the square or rectangular filters you already have. But if you are in the market for new filters or starting fresh with a drop-in filter system, I found the Haida filters to be excellent in quality.
In the past, I have been frustrated in dealing with some major color shifts when using ND filters, and I found the Haida filters to be extremely color neutral. This has held true for every Haida filter I have tried so far. The advantage, or disadvantage depending on your perspective, of the medium format Fuji GFX cameras is that the 100-megapixel sensor magnifies every optical flaw that sits in front of the sensor. The Haida filters were excellent; I didn’t notice any obvious degradation in image quality from any of the Haida filters in the thousands of images I have now taken with them.
The glass Haida filters I own are all part of their NanoPro series, and they are excellent for my purposes. The NanoPro filters are scratch-resistant and offer a waterproof coating on both sides, and I am very happy with them.
Haida also offers a Red Diamond series, which has all the benefits of the NanoPro, plus they are shock-resistant and are said to be much stronger than traditional glass filters. I cannot review this, as I haven’t used them. But if I weren’t using the round drop-in filters the majority of the time, then I likely would have tried them. (If you have tried the Haida Red Diamond filters, we would love to hear your experience in the comments!)
Cases and Traveling with the M-10 System
Haida offers a few different case options for the M10 system. I chose to purchase the smaller of the two filter case options to hold the filters and adapter rings. I keep the filter holder itself in the case that it came with. Haida does offer a larger case that holds the whole system, but I found that this gear fits in my bag better separately.
The filter case is very well made. It is structured and padded, and while the round filters were a bit of a tight fit, it works, and I have had no issues putting it in my checked luggage while flying. I have not used the larger case, but I expect it is similar in construction to the smaller version.
I keep the filter holder case clipped to my camera bag with a carabiner clip for easy access when in the field. It has held up fine even with many hours of hiking. While this isn’t the smallest, easiest travel system, the ease of use makes it worth the space for me personally.
Haida M-10 II and M-7
In late 2021, Haida Released the M-10 version II. I am still using the original version (which is what I reviewed here), but the second version improves upon some of my criticisms of the original. Most notably, it can now lock the filter holder in place so that you don’t accidentally rotate it.
The Haida M-10 II also changes the way the filter holder locks onto the adapter ring. As someone who uses Version 1, I can’t comment on the difference, but I will say that the current mechanism doesn’t bother me.
When it comes to whether to buy Version 1 or 2, I think it depends. For me personally, I don’t intend to switch. I’m still holding out hope that they will eventually release a version that allows more than one round drop-in filter, in which case I will upgrade immediately.
The M-10 II filter holder retails for $224 vs. $176. So, if the rotation lock and the new features aren’t a requirement for you, this might be a great opportunity to save a few dollars. If you regularly use graduated ND filters, however, it might be worth spending the extra $50 for the locking mechanism. If you already use the M-10 system, the existing filters work on the new version, making it a relatively inexpensive upgrade.
On the other hand, if you use only smaller cameras and lenses, another option to consider is the M-7 system, which is a smaller version of the M-10 meant for small mirrorless cameras. I have not tried the M-7 because I need a system that works with my medium format Fujifilm GFX as well as my smaller X-series cameras.
The M-7 maxes out at a lens filter size of 67mm, so make sure that none of your lenses have a larger filter thread before going this route. Still, if it works for your camera system, this is a great option – at $86 and smaller than the M-10, it’s hard to go wrong. Note that it uses 75mm-wide rectangular filters, and the round drop-in filters for the M-7 are smaller and not interchangeable with the M-10.
The Haida M-10 system is an excellent filter system. While it is not perfect, my complaints are minor (and some of them have already been addressed in the M-10 II). The option of a drop-in round filter made the Haida M-10 my first choice over similar filter systems. It didn’t disappoint in practice, either, and is my favorite feature of the system.
As for the filters themselves, I am extremely impressed with the quality and the color fidelity of both the round drop-in filters and the square NanoPro filters. While the Haida M-10 is quite a bit more to carry around then the assortment of screw-on filters I used to travel with, it has earned its place in my camera bag.
- Optical Performance
- Build Quality
- Size and Weight
- Ease of Use
Photography Life Overall Rating