Breakthrough Photography Lives Up to Its Name with Breakthrough Magnetic Filter System for Circular, Square and Rectangular Filters

Breakthrough Photography, makers of my preferred UV, circular polarizer and fixed value neutral density filters due to their high optical quality, excellent materials, innovative design and top-quality manufacturing, has come up with yet another breakthrough innovation, a magnetic filter system consisting of Magnetic Adapter, Magnetic Wheel, Magnetic Adapter Rings, X100 Holder for square and rectangular filters, Magnetic Filters in a range of types, densities and flavours, all of which is complemented by the company’s brilliantly designed and made knurled brass step-up rings. 

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Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Adapter and Magnetic Dark CPL Filter

While other camera accessories makers already have products linking the word “magnetic” with the word “filter” on the market, Breakthrough Photography has attached the two in a way that nobody else has, creating a system potentially attractive to moviemakers and photographers especially if working on location in challenging conditions.

Xume, formerly an independent camera accessories company before selling itself to Manfrotto, was the first magnetic filter system I encountered through Australian director/director of photography Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro who relies on them for his narrative feature and event documentary cinematography work while I came across magnetic H&Y Filters while researching for this article, but those companies’ systems work differently from Breakthrough’s.

Breakthrough Photography’s Magnetic Filter system appears much better suited to my own needs as a one-person, self-funded, documentary moviemaker working in challenging conditions on location and I already know the Breakthrough Photography brand and its products, and recommend them without hesitation.

Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Filter system

At the moment Breakthrough Photography is offering a range of magnetic filters and its Magnetic Adapter, with a Magnetic Wheel being released soon partially to tackle wide-angle lens filter vignetting that has been demonstrated by early users of the system.

I am looking forward to learning and seeing more about the Magnetic Filter system and am seriously considering investing in it for my own work, though I would very much like to see Breakthrough Photography expand its ND filter densities to fill the gaps in its current 3-stop, 6-stop, 10-stop and 15-stop range.

At the moment I am not entirely convinced of the ease, speed and safety with which the filters can be attached and especially removed, with naked and gloved hands.

Speed, ease, safety and radically extending customer reach

The safety issue is the one that convinced me to buy into Breakthrough Photography’s knurled brass-framed weather-sealed screw-in filters and I hope to see safety and ease demonstrated with the Magnetic Filter system soon in videos and in hands-on reviews by experienced on-location cinematographers and photographers using it with and without gloves.

Breakthrough Photography’s focus is, however, primarily on landscape photographers and it appears to be considered incidental that cinematographers also use their products, with no known hands-on review of Breakthrough Photography products by the latter in existence.

More is the pity, as many Breakthrough products would be invaluable to moviemakers, especially the Magnetic Filter system, but the infrared pollution cutting capabilities of the company’s ND filters have not been tested beyond 700 nanometers.

Effective IR-cutting is important to Blackmagic Design camera users and even more so to what is potentially their most popular camera to date, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras 4K.

I would venture to suggest that the potential moviemaking market at all levels is many times larger than that of landscape photographers wanting to blur moving water or darken skies, and the folks at Breakthrough Photography would be wise to thoroughly test their CPLs and NDs for infrared-cutting beyond 700 nm given sensors see differently from the human eye, send Magnetic Filter system kits out to cinematographers for testing and hands-on reviews, and focus their marketing on moviemakers as well.

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Breakthrough Photography’s brass traction frames are a boon for those of us with damaged hands and fingers and are safer to handle in the field than smooth or slightly knurled aluminium frames.

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Breakthrough Photography Launches Latest Kickstarter Campaign for a Set of Innovative Top Quality Glass Filter Solutions

Breakthrough Photography, the small, independent San Francisco-based maker of some of the finest glass photographic filters and step-up rings, has just launched its latest Kickstarter campaign. I am a customer of theirs and I only just found out about it, by sheer accident. Companies of all shapes and sizes are increasingly relying on social media to get the advance word out on new product launches and existing product updates, as well as apparently creaky old email lists, and it SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK, especially when Kickstarter Campaigns featuring earlybird discounts are involved. I don’t know what the answer is but surely this ain’t it. 

That aside, Breakthrough Photography’s campaign was launched mere minutes ago at the time of writing, and two out of four pledges are already gone, testimony to the quality and popularity of the company’s products as well as their unique solutions.

I became a Breakthrough Photography customer for two reasons. The most urgent was that I needed a screw-on ND, CPL, and UV or protection filter solution that fingers and hands damaged by an accident at an unsafe state government workplace could attach and detach while minimizing risk of dropping. Breakthrough’s traction frame was the answer.

The second was that I was becoming tired of the myriad of subtle and coarse variations in colour and sharpness I was seeing in other quality brand filters I owned and had paid plenty for. Having to do custom white balances every time one changed a filter was getting beyond a pain.

Graham Clark of Breakthrough Photography does a great job of illustrating these problems in his Performance Gallery and other informational assets on the website but one thing rarely if ever pointed out is that his filters are excellent for video as well as stills photography.

I now add the cost of a Breakthrough Photography UV filter and step-up ring into my new lens budgets, and as the variety of the video work I take on expands, will be factoring in the new square and rectangular filters and filter holder introduced in this Kickstarter Campaign that has already broken through its $50,000 goal with 31 days to go. I will be replacing non-Breakthrough brand filters and step-up rings as finances permit.

I have said it a few times already elsewhere on this site and others, but Breakthrough Photography’s trademark brass CNC-machined traction frames are sheer bloody genius. That and the company’s filter colour neutrality and sharpness should be an inspiration to other top-quality filter makers.

Breakthrough Photography’s screw-on filters and step-up rings are not the universal answer though. I use mirrorless cameras and many lenses in the Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic lens systems have filter diameters in sizes for which Breakthrough does not cater.

I hope that will not always be the case. At the moment I rely on second-best UV and protection filter brands for these lenses and multi-brand, multiple step-up ring kludges for lens filter diameters that Breakthrough does not make filters or step-up rings for right now.

Those second-best filter and step-up ring solutions are made of aluminium, not the far superior brass, and tend to bind and cross-thread. Brass is always better and brass traction frame best of all.

Breakthrough Photography’s current missing diameters include 37mm, 39mm, 43mm and 46mm. I am hoping Mr Clark will see fit to add those diameters to his offerings soon. Potentially dangerous kludges have no place in a working professional’s kit.

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Image Credits:

Header image made from screenshot of Breakthrough Photography’s Kickstarter campaign page then processed with Affinity Photo and Alien Skin Exposure X2.