Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder

I researched a few filter holders in my quest to come up with a decent landscape photography kit that wasn’t too ridiculously expensive. It pretty much came down to the Cokin P and Z-Pro holders, as well as the Lee foundation kit. The Lee seemed very nice but the price with a wide-angle adapter was pushing my budget a bit too much. The Cokin P holder was the cheapest option but I really wanted to avoid any potential vignetting with an ultra-wide angle lens like my new Canon EF-S 10-22mm. I ended up purchasing the Cokin Z-Pro as a combo from 2filter.com with some Hitech graduated neutral density (GND) filters. The combo kit comes with the Z-Pro holder, an adapter ring (you order by size to match your lens filter threads) and one Hitech GND filter of choice. I also added two more GND filters to my order so I have a few selections for different conditions. Below you can see the filter holder adapter ring mounted to a lens (77mm filter size):
Cokin Z-Pro 77mm Adapter

The filter holder slides over this adapter and is held on the top and bottom by little plastic push pins. These little pins are a major design flaw which I will get into later. Below you can see the holder mounted on the adapter:
Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder

And here is a side view showing all three filter slots mounted:
Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder

What I like about the Z-Pro is that it is configurable for 1, 2, or 3 filter slots. The construction is plastic, but seems pretty durable and very lightweight. In the default configuration with three filter slots, I noticed part of the third filter slot becoming slightly visible in the frame at 10mm. I removed the third slot and did not see any vignetting at all. Since I will most likely only use one filter until I get more experience, I removed the second filter slot and then ran into a serious design problem with this filter holder. Those two little pins on the lower part of the filter holder stick out and prevent a filter in the first slot from being pushed down. You need to be able to move the filter up and down to adjust for the horizon. Here you can see a filter mounted in the first slot, and only about a quarter of the shaded portion can cover the lens due to the pins:
Cokin Z-Pro Reversed with filter

While the pins are removable, they are necessary to keep the holder in place on the adapter ring. Eliminating them was not an option. After examining the pins I realized that they could be modified to sit flush and still hold in place. Below you can see my modified pin sitting in front of the unmodified pin. I simply cut off the end so I am left with the groove running the entire length of the pin:
Cokin Z-Pro Pin Modification

This allows the pin to be pushed flush either way, and still has enough friction to stay put. I rapped the filter holder on a table a few times and the pins didn’t budge. Here you can see the filter holder again, but with the lower two pins sitting flush:
Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder (modified)

And here you can see the GND filter mounted in the first slot.
Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder (modified)

As you might notice above, I reinstalled the second filter slot since it does not get in the way at wide angles and I might get some solid neutral density filters in the future to use along with the GND’s. For the price I am pretty happy with what I got, even with the design flaw. The Lee filter holder has a much better design and better construction. Maybe one day I will upgrade, but for now, and for someone just starting out in landscape photography, the Cokin Z-Pro should suit my needs just fine. Now I just need to get out and take some photos!


Anonymous said...

I'm just guessing here, but I wouldn't be surprised if those pins you cut down were ment to support a circular polarizer filter.
Aside from that your post answered my question about the Cokin holder.Thanks

Tom said...

I just ran into the same problem with Z-Pro Cokin holder.I first thought I'm doing something wrong, but there is no way to use the first slot without modifying the pins. I'm glad I'm not the only one messing with it :-). I'm surprised Cokin hasn't done anything about it yet.
Good site btw.

Tom said...

Well, actually I found a better way to deal with the pins, no cutting needed. All you have to do is reverse the bottom two pins so they slide in and out just like the top one. Works great.I reduced mine to 1 filter at front and there is no vignetting on my 12-24mm Tokina at all, not even at 12mm, great !

Anonymous said...

Very helpful, especially the photos. I am researching my filter options for use with a Nikkor 12-24 WA lens and it's a complex subject where you need to pay attention to what various forums and blogs say about vignetting, because manufacturer disclosures about it are vague at best. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for very nice presentation. Think it is the best one on Cokin Z-Pro Holder on the internet. I read some complains about design flow but you came with very innovative idea. Since the pins are removable, I would of try to simply push them in to clear first slot. Think, sticking out more on the other side wouldn't cause any problems.
Again, thanks for great presentation.

Anonymous said...

The protruding pins are to hold a drop in Cokin polarizer in place. Cutting the pins off would lose this function. Just use the 2nd and 3rd slot for the 4" x 6" filters. Most times it would suffice.

Tenko said...

Yup, Not a design flaw, the first slot was definitely designed to hold the Cokin Z164 circular polarizer. As this is essentialy a disc, it would fall straight through without the pins. Nice idea about reversing the pins though. I must admit, I do get slight vignetting with my Nikon 10-24mm with three filter slots in place, so reversing the pins I will be.