The Xume adapters offer those who use multiple creative filters the way to quickly change filters without having to screw/unscrew them. Welcome to the magnetic magic of Xume.
When Manfrotto asked me if I wanted to try the Xume adapters I was both excited and puzzled. I had read about the filters when Manfrotto bought them and felt they were an interesting solution for photographers using filters and tired of fighting with the screw and unscrew operation, which sometimes tends to not work as expected, but I was not sure if they would effectively solve those problems.
If, like me, you’ve had a filter stuck to the lens at a moment when you’re racing against time and the changing light, you know how bad it feels. That’s one reason – too – why many photographers go for square filters and holders, which do not need to be screwed in place, although they present other problems. Having tried square filters and holders, I’ve returned to the use of circular filters, which I prefer, and that’s where the Xume adapters introduce some novelty and, I will admit right now, a viable solution that, after some months trying them, seems to fill the promises made by Manfrotto. While I admit to this now, I must say my first contact with the filters made me feel uncertain if it had been a good idea to accept Manfrotto’s invitation to try the filters.
Before we continue, let me explain, using Manfrotto’s own words, what the Xume adapters are. They are a “revolutionary magnetic solution which securely locks filters onto lenses, quickly and easily. Photography gear stays safe in-use with the filter magnetically secured to the lens. Manfrotto Xume accessories are safe for the lens’ focus mechanism, media cards, drives or other electronics.” Said in simple terms, they put an end to screwing and unscrewing filters in front of your lens.
Xume adapters exist since 2011, and after acquiring the brand Manfrotto made efforts to turn the concept popular. Initially, Manfrotto had the filters as just another accessory in their catalogue, but soon the company understood that the adapters and their new series of filters would/could/should work together: the Lens Filter Suite was created. It comprises the Xume adapters and the filters now available under Manfrotto’s brand, a series of protective, polarizer, UV and Neutral Density (ND) filters, some of which I’ve written about, before, in articles published here at Manfrotto School of Xcellence.
Having explained what the Xume adapters are, let’s get back to my initial concerns with the system. Concerns or concern, as my immediate problem was the potential cost of the system if you want to use it with multiple lenses. It took me a while at exploring the system and how to better adapt it to my needs to completely grasp that the cost, while probably more than you thought you would ever invest on some metal rings, pays for itself in the long run, if you regularly use filters and need to change from one to the next rapidly.
Let me say this: you still have to screw the adapter in front of your lens and screw the filter holder to the filter itself. But once you’ve done that, removing or placing the filter is simple: you place the filter and holder in front of the adapter, and the magnetic power takes care of joining the parts with high precision. No need to adjust the position or anything, they just become one, a bond strong enough for you to move the camera around.
Manfrotto says you can safely keep the filter in front of the lens and walk about without any problems. Although I’ve tried to knock the filter out of its position or displace it shaking the lens, and it didn’t move, I must admit I will not follow the suggestion when moving more than a few steps, presumably with my camera on a tripod. Maybe I am being overcautious, but that’s what I will do. Feel free to do otherwise, if you feel comfortable.
Price was my main question with the Xume system. If you need to buy adapters and holders for your different lenses, the cost may be enough to make you think twice. Let me give you a suggestion: select the lenses you mostly use creative filters with and buy adapters and holders for those. The time you’ll spare when photographing will make the initial investment feel like a blessing, believe me.
Let me share with you some of my experience with the Xume system: I’ve used it with ND filters when I need to keep the camera steady on a tripod, framed on the chosen composition, and want to control the amount of light reaching the sensor. Once I’ve everything in place, the magnetic magic from Xume guarantees that I can change filters quickly without having to screw/unscrew them. If you’ve three ND filters 77mm diameter, you can buy three holders, at 14,19 € each, for the fastest workflow one can get. Or you can just have one and screw it on each filter as needed, still, an operation that is faster and less prone to errors than trying to screw the filter directly in front of the lens. Besides, it keeps your camera in the exact same framing, what is, from where I see it, one important element in the whole process!
The system also works with step-up rings, meaning you can buy the filter that fits the largest diameter of your lenses – that’s the logical solution, I believe -, and then use it with different lenses. The lenses I use regularly with filters have diameters of 77 and 67mm, and a low profile step-up ring 67-77mm works fine to allow me to use the Xume system. One final note regarding this: I use protective filters over all my lenses, so when I need to use other filters I always need to screw/unscrew the lens adapter in place, but still, once I’ve got that working, changing filters becomes a very fast operation.
Recently, during a series of tests of a special filter for night sky photography, I had a practical example of how good the Xume system is and how faster and more reliable your workflow can be. Because I had to try different settings, exposing the same image in quick succession – as the light was changing – with different colour balances and combinations of exposure and white balance adjustment/filtering in camera, the quickest way to go from shot to shot was to use the Xume system, allowing me to take pictures with and without the filter being tested, one after the other, in less time than it took for you to read this line. It felt great to be out, in the cold, in some of the situations, and not have to think about screwing and unscrewing filters with gloves on or with frozen hands. It was pure magnetic magic!
The Xume are a blessing for photographers who use regularly creative filters, but videographers having to change frequently ND filters, to control light, should also include them in their list of essential items to acquire. As Manfrotto says, the system enables professional and amateur photographers and videographers to avoid the hassle and frustration of changing filters while subjects wander or light slips away. From when you want to use a polarizer rapidly to a session asking for different filters to be tried, Xume can be an asset in your bag or backpack.
While the Xume system is the heart of this article, remember that it’s part of the Manfrotto Filter Suite, which is comprised of a Manfrotto Lens Filter, a Manfrotto Xume Lens Adapter and Filter Holder plus an optional cap (available only for 77mm diameter). If you’re new to the use of filters and intend to try the Xume system, check the filters available in the Manfrotto Filter Suite. With the Manfrotto Filter Suite, photographers instantly and precisely connect the filter to their lens so that they never miss the perfect shot. It is the perfect choice for any creative use of filters in areas as diverse as long exposures, wedding photography, macro, architectural photography, fine art photography – any style requiring the use of filters.
A final note:
I do not think these filters are for everyone. If you rarely use creative filters, then you may have other stuff to use. But any photographer or videographer using ND filters on a regular basis will discover faster workflows with Xume, and less “accidents” with stuck filters when time is of essence: usually, the moment when those “accidents” tend to happen. The Xume system, as Manfrotto says, will be useful for any style of photography requiring the use of filters. Potential buyers just have to figure out the best way to get the Xume system working for them for the least cost.