When it comes to mounting square filters on a lens, filmmakers have two options. Either you run rails and a matte box, or you use some gaff tape to "Hollywood" it on.
Photographers have screw-on filters as an option, but that has never really taken off in the film world. Even cinema lenses that have a consistent ring size usually don't have filter rings. It's just not how cinematographers work, and most don't want to change. If it's not broke, right?
This is what makes us interested in the H&Y RevoRing. It's a new system for mounting square filters to lenses, and most importantly, it doesn't require threading on the lens.
The H&Y RevoRing
Using an innovative design that "pushes out" in a circle to hold on to the entire ring using pressure, the H&Y RevoRing does away with delicate threads altogether. You twist the outside of the ring to close the little flanges down, and spring force pushes them out to grip your lens.
There are four RevoRing sizes available for different lens sizes. This includes one that goes all the way up to 95mm, which is the most common size for cinema primes. The other side of the RevoRing is magnetic, allowing you to pop on a magnetic filter, and then on top of it is a small matte box for catching flares.
Currently, the RevoRing only works with the filters dedicated to the system, but H&Y has built a traditional filter holder into the setup, letting you stack up to three filters together.
One of the best bits is the inclusion of a graduated filter, something every filmmaker needs in their toolbox.
So when or why would a filmmaker use this?
This isn't going to be ideal for something action-heavy where the camera is jostled around. Since the RevoRing uses pressure and magnets, we wouldn't trust it for a car mount, for instance, where the wind could whisk the filter off its magnets. But where it does have some interest is in lightweight setups without a lot of force or torque.
Handheld, for instance, could be the perfect use case, especially when trying to keep front-end weight down. We could even see scenarios where it would be useful on a gimbal, though we worry about what an aggressive auto-calibration could do to the setup.
All Sorts of Filters
The first big player in the H&Y product stack is the variable ND. While a lot of cameras have internal NDs these days, not all are variable.
If you want a shot that walks smoothly from inside to outside, a variable ND is going to give you a lot of options. That alone makes this something filmmakers should consider for stripped-down, lightweight setups. We did our standard ND filter test, shooting with a dedicated infrared (or IR) heat lamp against a polyester mask. We looked for IR contamination that would imply that the filter wasn't doing its job, and we were quite surprised with the results.
The black polyester mask appears as dark as it should, even with the visible spectrum near-IR light falling on it. We didn't see the telltale brightness in certain black fabrics you get without a good IR blocker.
Food for Thought
As always, it's good to remember that variable NDs (made from dual polarizing filters) are wonderful but sometimes weird. Always test with them and try to have backup solutions for situations where they don't provide the functionality you are going for.
Overall, the H&Y is a very interesting tool, and we were glad to get some hands-on time with it to get a handle on how well it performed. An expanding flange mechanism isn't something we think would work for all situations, but there are use cases where this is going to be a great way to run filters in a lightweight rig.
And it's world's better than just "Hollywooding" it with tape, which we've all done in a pinch.
If you're interested in the H&Y RevoRing for your camera and lens combo, check it out on Kickstarter.