MagRota Filter System Review | The Easiest, All-Magnetic Filter Stack for Video

The Velium Magrota filter system allows you to stack four different filters magnetically, all for less than the size of a matte box. And one set of filters can be used on up to 95mm threads on your lenses. I have the 82mm version, but there is a version up to 95mm.

Velium reached out to me and asked me if I was interested in reviewing their MagRota system before it went live on Kickstarter, which after seeing this system, I was very interested - but this video is going live after their Kickstarter is over. I had the preproduction models, but in the month I had them and was testing them out, they took feedback into consideration and updated their filters and storage bags, so if you back it on Kickstarter or buy it on their website, this is the updated kit you’ll be receiving.

Mag Rota Base

The base is the reason this whole system works. The base attaches directly to your lens. I have the 82mm or 95mm version. If your lens is smaller, you can use a step-up ring. The nice part about this is there are multiple step-up rings included that go straight to 82mm; for example, a 67mm lens uses one 67mm to 82mm ring. You’re not using a 67 to a 72, to a 77, then to an 82 - this is only one ring so the filter sits closer to your lens, but also so that you’re not dealing with multiple rings at once. I dislike using multiple step-up rings so much that I have purchased multiple sets of filters for each filter size to not deal with rings. Using multiple set-up rings is a pain, especially with VND’s because if you turn the VND and one of the step-up rings becomes loose, adjusting your VND will be off, and the more rings you use, the more vignetting you’ll have at wider focal ranges.

With this system, you’re only dealing with one ring, which I’m a huge fan of.

Adjusting and Locking the Base

Another feature of the base is that you can lock and spin the filters around if you need to adjust the alignment of the filters. This is where stage 1 comes into play. More on that in a second.

How to stack and attach the filters

My favorite part of this system is the magnetically attaching filters. These filters have ridges in them, so when you attach them, they lock into place as well. Since they lock together, adjusting the VND will not likely move and misalign your other filters. And adding filters is as easy as looking at the cine or photo markings and stacking them on top of each other.

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Stage 1

The Cine Stage one filters are the effects filters, which are currently the blue or gold cine streak filters. These can be mounted in any direction. In a typical matte box, the filter only goes one way, but since this system is circular, you can mount the filters in any direction you choose. This is helpful if you want to switch from landscape to portrait shooting and have your flares in the proper orientation.

Stage 2

Stage 2 is for the CPL, this is where we’ll add our stage 3 filter onto. This CPL has two different settings for the VNDs as well. You can use the T side for tighter focal lengths, think about 50mm and above, to have an additional 3 stops of light reduction. So the 2-5 turns into a 2-8 with no cross-polarization. You get more stops of light reduction but also have to be at a tighter focal length. Could be nice in a pinch, and since the filters are magnetic, it’s pretty quick to change out. The W side is intended for wide-angle lenses but won't cut out as much light.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is for the neutral density filters. There are 2-5 + PL and a 5-9 VND + 32 PL. If you use these filters with the dual CPL lens, you can use them as polarized VND filters, or if you don’t use it with a stage 2 CPL, the 2-5 turns into a polarizer, and the 5-9 turns into a polarized ND32.

These dual-purpose filters make for many different combinations of filters, which is nice for specialized situations, but I always used stage 2 and 3 together to have the VND.

The new versions of the VND’s have the indicators on the side and have a better coating to help eliminate glare better. This was one of the changes from the original filters to the new production version.

Stage 4

Stage 4 is my personal favorite, and this is for diffusion. The new versions of these filters are 1/8th and one-quarter black cinemist filters. I’ve actually been liking the one-quarter black cinemist filter as it doesn't seem to be too overpowering, however, and I’m not sure you’re supposed to do this, but it does work - you can stack the mist filters as well, so you can have even more diffusion if you want it. For testing, I did this with a streak filter, CPL, VND, and two mists filters, and it was sturdy on the front of the base still. These mist filters don’t feel too overpowering but do give some gentle bloom to highlights and haze to the image. It’s really unique to have the streak filters and the mist filters at the same time. Wouldn’t use it for every shoot, but it’s a pretty unique look.

Lens cap

It is worth noting here that there is a magnetic lens cap as well. The lens cap isn’t a stage, but it is nice that on a system this compact and keep the filters safe when you're not using them but want to keep them on the base.

On a gimbal

When it comes to using the MagRota filter system a gimbal, that's where things get pretty interesting, as typically, you would need a matte box for the number of filters you can stack. But since this has a much smaller and lighter footprint, that translates to using the setup for longer periods of time. These work great on a gimbal and is a lightweight way to stack filters.


Color cast

One of my biggest concerns for any filters is color cast. When I was using the MagRota filter system I didn’t notice any harsh color casts, as these filters are made of quality glass. But that being said, any filter is going to have some kind of color cast. These didn't seem to have any color casts, but I put each filter on and shot my color checker passport to convert the colors back to their original state, so if you’re interested in those, they are available for download in the link below. I’ve shipped things by manually adjusting any colors, but streamlining the process with LUTs makes things even easier.

Keeping it on in the bag

One thing that was concerning for me right off the bat, was that I wasn’t able to use th eMagRota filter system while keeping it on in my bag. The filter holder is too large to fit into my Lowpro 450AW, however, if I turn my camera around and put it on it’s side, I was able to put this filter system in my bag if I’m going between locations. Probably not the most ideal for long trips, but it worked fine for me going between my studio and locations to film for this video.

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Ease of adjusting the polarization

A question I had written down before I even got these in the mail, was how easy are the VND filters to adjust on the fly? In my testing, the filters are easy to adjust but you have to make sure to not adjust them too hard while you’re filming, as they are magnetically attached, if you try to force these off you will be able to. They have hard stops, but you can crash zoom-style adjust these filters. I’ve never had a filter pop off accidentally because I was adjusting it too hard, as long as they are properly aligned. They do have ridges that snap together, so as long as you have these filters snapped together properly, they make a tight fit.

One thing that is strange is that they make a grinding noise while you’re adjusting them because you’re literally moving two filters against each other. The glass doesn't touch, but there is nothing between the frames of these filters while adjusting them, so you’re moving the frames of the CPL and VND’s against each other while adjusting. I haven't ran into issues with this, but it did take me off guard at first when adjusting the filters. It’s not overpowering, but you’ll hear it.

How sturdy are the filters?

Another question I wrote down was how sturdy are the filters? I touched on this in the last question, but since these filters magnetically attach together and then have slots to lock in place, they are sturdier that I thought they would be. Like I said, I’ve never had a filter fall off that was properly attached and locked into place.

Storage & Bags

When it comes to storing the MagRota filter system, they shipped in individual cases, that were very padded but took up a ton of space in my bag. I had to choose between taking my Mavic 3 Classic or my magrota out if they were all in the cases. Good news, one of the new products they have with this is a case to store the magrota base on the outside and 6 slots of storage on the inside.

I keep my CPL, 2-5 then both streak filters and both mist filters in the case and it’s all I’ve been taking around with me.

This is a great addition to the filters, as storing them when not using them was taking up tons of space. I would really recommend the case if you’re getting these filters. It makes your life much easier!

About Keith Knittel

I'm a designer from Cleveland, Ohio and love to shoot photos & videos. I made my first website in 2004 to show friends photos & videos (before YouTube/Flickr/Instagram were things) and have been shooting and designing ever since! I have a deep passion for making and helping others create.

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