There are a number of tools that I bring in my gear kit for almost every shoot. One of these is the Formatt Hitech Modular Holder. This is a screw-on filter tray for 4×4 filters, and I use it most often with Formatt’s lightweight resin filters.

This is a great combo for lightweight cameras that lack built-in Neutral Density filters…cameras like DSLRs and the Sony FS100 come to mind. It allows me to clip on a filter tray and resin ND that weigh just a few ounces. And with several stages in the tray, I can stack NDs, or add grad filters to hold a bright skyline. I like the resin filters, as they weigh less than glass filters, as well as being thinner and less fragile when dropped. In my opinion, Formatt offers the perfect filter solution for shooters on the go. Here’s a Gear in 60 Seconds video that shows the system…watch the video and check out pictures below.

Gear in 60 Seconds – Formatt Hitech 100mm Filter Holder from FreshDV on Vimeo.

A few notes that I didn’t cover in the short video above…
* I show it with a 77mm adapter; with the right ring it will work with any lens front thread from 49-100mm.
* The filter tray is available in an aluminum version (I’d probably still choose the plastic model…very sturdy).
* This tray can work with 4×4 glass filters as well as the lightweight resin variety I show it with.
* The tray can also accept 4×5.65 and 4×6 filters in their vertical orientation.
* Stage extensions can be added with longer screws from Formatt.

Below are a few pictures I’ve taken in the field of the system in use on various cameras. One of my favorite documentary shooting setups is this Formatt tray on the end of a Canon 24-105mm lens mounted on a DSLR. With an LCD loupe, you can easily run-n-gun both photos and short video clips, without the need for even a monopod…the loupe provides stability, and the IS lens soaks up any remaining small vibrations. You can see this setup in the middle image on the first row below. Another quick note…on the picture below of the C300, it’s being used with an ND grad for a sunset shot (the C300 has built-in NDs).

4 Responses to “Gear In 60 Seconds – Formatt Hitech 4×4 Filter Tray”  

  1. 1 David

    So that’s the 100mm holder right? How does this system with a .3 .6 and .9 (6 stops stacked) kit compare to a vari-nd? I’m having trouble deciding between this system and a vari but do see an advantage of rigging all my lenses with the adapter and then simply clamping the holder when I want to switch instead of screwing off/on.

  2. 2 Matthew Jeppsen

    Yes, 100mm holder.

    I’d say this isn’t better or worse than an Vari-ND, it’s just different. You could keep an adapter on each lens, and just pop this tray on…that’s not how I use it, but it’s certainly a viable workflow that would work with quick lens changes. That would also be effective when using the filter tray on lenses that have different filter thread sizes.

    I’d say that one reason you might consider this solution over a Vari-ND is the ability to insert a grad or polarizer filter, and then easily adjust the grad horizon line or pola angle. I’m not a fan of rotating circular polas, and the adjustable grad option is pretty important to some folks. Finally, this tray allows you to stack different types of filters much simpler than screwing on multiple round filters.


  3. 3 Stephen Brock

    I saw you’re using a unique step-up filter ring there on the front of your nikkor prime…Where did you find one like that?

  4. 4 Stephen Brock

    Er….nevermind, I just realized those are duclos modded contax/zeiss…My bad!