In the Hands, a First Look at the ProGREY-G150Z System
After months of online searching for a filter system for my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens I was becoming exhausted. I had been reading reviews on all of the top names and finding so many obscure companies it was like a rabbit hole and becoming a little confusing as to which system would work for my needs. I knew of several name brands that I could of course turn to, but also felt price was a little inflated as well as knowing in today’s market there are so many quality options. As kept searching and I came upon a highly positive review by Fred Miranda on a small and new heavy-hitter in the ultra-wide scene with so many rave reviews by other photographers comparing them to the top names and being overall, arguably, a nicker kit: ProGREY USA brand filter system had my attention (www.progreyusa.com). I spent several days looking at this system and reading further reviews and was thoroughly intrigued to find out for myself why there were so many converts from LEE and others on the market.
Enter the ProGREY G-150Z System. Each piece is machined from high quality aluminum and finished with a black matte, almost gunmetal, finish aimed at reducing light reflections. I am thoroughly impressed with the build construction of the filter holder system itself: it is extremely well built, well thought out and add it that it is not overly cumbersome or heavy - so nice. You will also notice the ProGREY system comes with a solid aluminum front plate that is designed to act as a filter and lens “cap” while shooting protecting from bumps, nicks and debris. Smart. I love shooting in crazy winds in our Great Sand Dunes National Park here in Colorado and the sand is hard on gear. This is a great feature.
The system also comes in the padded ProGREY zippered pouch which is nice, although I don’t see much practical use for this in the field, it adds bulk and weight and I have already made a space for it within my Lowepro FlipsideTrek BP450 AW. The only thing I am still wanting is a little bit more of a dedicated filter carrier/pouch that is designed to be slim and protective for your filters in an all-in-one type of pouch. From what I can tell this doesn’t exist on the market, save LEE’s large Field Pouch which is just too big for my needs.
Setup with this system is a breeze, there is nothing complicated or confusing about it. Simply take the adaptor ring that is lens-specific, slip it over the petal hood of your lens from the front and tighten it down with the collar. Done. I love that removing your lens is a thing of the past with this system which is ideal. Once installed you can leave this collar on your lens at all times. The only issue now, and speaking from perspective of the Nikon 14-24, is your manufacturer supplied lens cap/hood won’t be able to slip over the petal hood on the front as the collar protrudes a little too far forward, however I have thought to put some gaffers tape on the outer-most portion of the upper and lower petals to add thickness to them thereby allowing the lens hood “catch”. It’s just a little loose at the moment. This isn’t a problem for me at all and will only require a little thought to bring it together.
Once you have the collar on your lens it’s then just a simply attaching of the front filter holder to the collar via a twist and click starting off by aligning the two white arrows on the backside and then rotating counter-clockwise until the system locks into place. Once in position you can then use the precision adjustment knob (shown) to find your horizon line while shooting and locking the angle of your filters.
For my uses I ordered four filters (Only two are shown, additional two en route): the 1.2 Soft Edge Grad ND, TITAN 150mm Polarizer, and two Reverse Grad ND: the .9 and 1.2. I am so excited to finally have a reverse GND. So many times I have been using my current .9 Grad from Formatt Hitech and I am constantly pulling it down as far as possible just to try and get the darkest part of the filter near the horizon line. This ends up making the upper most portion of the sky so dark and still does not really achieve the results I am looking for. Singh Ray pioneered the reverse grad filter and now we have options of other manufactures out there. One thing to note as it can be an issue with some manufacturers, the horizon line in the filter itself. With certain manufactures having lesser quality dye process the horizon line can be slight “tipped” at an angle. The horizon line with my sample of the ProGREY 1.2 Reverse Grad ND is exact. I will check the .9 when it arrives, however am pretty confident it will also be clean and precise.
Keep posted for a follow-up of real-world results from my travels over the summer where I will be using these filters throughout Colorado, the Pacific Northwest and Scotland in all of my shoots.
I invite you to follow along the journey:
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