Lee Holder vs Cokin Z-Pro Holder

Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com

If you have a full frame camera and plan to use and combine filters for your photography then you’ll likely want a filter holder. The two primary options are:

The Lee Holder – available in the USA at B+H photo and in Canada from The Camera Store

The Cokin Z-Pro Holder – available in the USA at B+H photo and in Canada from The Camera Store

To learn which holder I think is more practical watch this video:

Now the only problem is that the future of Cokin filters is up in the air – there may or may not be new product made, so buy your Cokin holders while you can just in case… and even if you don’t use them someone out there will want to buy your filter holders.

For more on filters see these links:

Essential Filters for Digital Nature Photography

Advanced Filters for Digital Nature Photography

©Darwin Wiggett - no filters

©Darwin Wiggett - Singh-Ray LB Warming Poalrizer and Singh-Ray 2-stop hard-edge grad filter

75 Responses to “Lee Holder vs Cokin Z-Pro Holder”

  1. […] opinión de Darwin Wiggett sobre estos dos soportes para […]

  2. I love my lee holder and lee filters Darwin. I see your point though.
    I use the adaptor ring for the steeply priced lee polarizer. But ofcourse vignetting is sometimes a problem at 24mm with this system. I also have 2 slots installed.

  3. Darwin, good summary. I’ve been debating which system I like more and wanted to share a few things I’ve learned…

    1) While the thumb screws on the Cokin are nice, they have a hidden gotchya in that they can snag on your camera bag and loosen themselves over time. I was at a workshop this year and when I went to put the Z on my camera, I found that I was missing one of the screws and the holder was useless the rest of the trip.

    2) The same thing can happen to the Lee quick-release knob. It didn’t come very tight from the factory and fell off after a few uses. Luckily it was on the hotel bed and I didn’t lose any parts. I’d recommend a dot of Loctite to guard against this.

    3) I haven’t been able to find any wide angle adapter rings for the Cokin like you can for the Lee. These rings pull the filter holder closer to the front of the lens by recessing the mounting ring and are good at avoiding vignetting on ultra-wide stuff. This, however, also has a hidden downside… Don’t use a step-up/down ring with a WA Lee. Because of the recessed ring, you won’t be able to get a filter wrench over it if it gets stuck (also found that out the hard way, a pair of pliers did the trick though).

    4) One of the biggest downsides to the Lee is availability… Perhaps it was just when I ordered my Lee system, but something about the Lee supply chain for the states meant that I had to wait about 4 months to get all 4 of the adapter rings I needed. I actually got the Big Stopper (which I thought would be the worst back-ordered item) before I got any of the adapter rings I needed.

    • Wow all great points for further consideration! Thanks for adding extra value to the discussion, there is no perfect system but the more we know about pros and cons, the better decision we can make about buying the system that works best for our individual style of shooting.

  4. Matt Graham Says:

    Great video Too bad these holders are next to impossible to get. I have been waiting 4 months!! What a frustration!

  5. Darwin,

    Great Video! What polarizer is that slide in polarizer? I didn’t know they made them thin enough to slot through the slots of the lee/cokin holders?

  6. Peter Calamai Says:

    I use the Cokin but have used the Lee when I lived in the U.K. The Cokin is available at Henry’s stores throughout Ontario which makes it far easier to find (and also just as much a saving as through The Camera Store)

  7. Yeah same thing with the filters. Been waiting for a 3 stop grad for 3 months now…

  8. Sean Bateman Says:

    Hope you have a patent on that fancy white lens cover….thanks for the tips!

  9. Ray Howard Says:

    I have the Lee system and have the sprocketed Z Singh Ray polarizer on order. Does this filter fit the 4mm wide rails to hold the filter in place? Thanks.

  10. Hi Darwin,
    You would be the best one to ask a question about a filter holder for a Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG ASP HSM. I would love to be able to use a polarizer an ND filter with this lens. It’s similar to the Nikon 14-24mm lens. I know Lee Filters has the SW150 for the Nikon lens but they don’t mention anything else. What would you seggest?

    • On something that wide, you might have to go with an X-Pro sized (170x130mm) filter… I think Cokin makes one, not sure if you can find one from SR.

    • Hi David,

      I have not used the 12-24mm lens and so I can’t comment with any authority.

      d

    • According to a staff at a camera store, SW150 adapter fit Sigma 12-14mm. This is one of the reasons I bought LEE system since the lens may be the one I would go if I switch to DSLR. However, This does not mean I have done hand-on-test the combination. So this NEEDS TO BE TESTED before purchase.

      The other reason I bought LEE system is they make a specific type of folder for range finder cameras, which I am quite sure not so many people care about.

      Darwin, another very informative video and great acting. Thank you.

      • Thanks everyone for your help in my search for an answer. Hiro, I’ll contact Lee Filters to confirm the SW150 fits the Sigma 12-24
        Thanks Darwin for the video. It got the gears turning.

    • Just to let everyone know, I did contact the Canadian Rep for Lee Filters to ask about fitting SW150 does not work on a Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG ASP HSM Lens. Here’s the reply I received.

      The information that you received is incorrect…the SW150 will not fit the Sigma lens…the “petals” of the shade do not enable it to work. At this time there is no solution for that lens…sorry.

      Andrew Devai
      Lee Filters Canada/Technically Yours Inc.

      Please visit our website http://www.tyi.ca

  11. Thanks Ryan,

    It’s not really the size that I’m having problems with. It’s the permanent flutted lens shade.

    • You may just have to live with the fact, that this is a lens you may not be able to filter. I can’t filter my 17mm TS-E and have learned to live with this limiting factor. d

  12. Thanks for the excellent video, Darwin. A couple of questions:
    – Does the Z holder completely eliminate vignetting on the Canon 17-40 @ 17mm with just one filter or with multiple filters in multiple slots?

    – I already own screw-on ND filters and a screw-on polarizer. Would this configuration work: screw the polarizer and/or ND filters directly onto the lens; then screw the Z adapter onto the outermost screw-on filter; then mount the Z holder onto the adapter to use a Z Grad?

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Lance, iF you use a Lee Holder with a wide-angle adapter ring you’ll get no vignetting on the 17-40mm lens. If you use the Z-Pro holder and the 77mm adapter ring you’ll likely get a tad of vignetting at 17mm with a standard three slot configuration. So maybe just zoom out to 18 or 19mm to get the advantages of three filter slots. Or you can invert the Z-pro holder and put it on backwards to have just one slot and no vignetting at 17mm. If you try to attach the Z-pro holder to a polarizer on your lens you will get serious vignetting at 17mm and it will be a pain in the butt to rotate the polarizer and holder independantly. I do not recommend it. Buy a drop-in sprocket polarizer to make your life easy!

  13. Nice comparison Darwin. Your cardboard cover is a very frugal solution. Cokin does make a slide in cap too.

  14. Hendrik Says:

    Is Cokin still an active company? The website is offline for some time http://www.cokin.fr/ and from several stores you hear “This item is back ordered!”, some say this for weeks, some for months.

  15. roteague Says:

    You need to go to Cokin’s UK site, not it’s French site: http://www.cokin.co.uk/pages/main.htm

    I haven’t used the Cokin series in many years, I use Lee filters exclusively. I generally carry two or more filter holders when I’m in the field; a double holder as you show in the video, and a single slot holder with a built-in wide angle hood. I don’t often use polarizing or other filters, and load them as I need to. I do keep the mounting ring attached, so it’s quick and easy to mount the holder and filter as needed.

    I can see keeping your polarizing filter mounted all the time, if you use it a lot, but really don’t see the need to keep a Lee holder mounted all the time with a DSLR type of camera. Do you really use split ND or color balancing filters that much?

    • I use a polarizer on 80% of my landscape photos, and I use a grad ND on probably about 40$ or more. I also use a solid ND a lot. So most of the time I have at least one but often two filters on my lenses. Darwin

  16. Do you tested Z-Holder on Canon 16-35mm II with FF Camera? I find information what it will be vignette on 16mm. I try find solution for that lens in combination polarizer + GND without vignette. I think about X-Pro Holder, but Singh-Ray don’t have Cokin X-Pro Sprocket mount.

    p.s. Sorry for my bad English

    • Dmitry,

      Thy the Lee holder with a wide angle lens adapter ring and 2 filter slots, that combo should not vignette at 16mm. d

      • After your video i decided buy Cokin X-Pro holder, but now i realize what will be some problem with vignette. Lee Foundation Kit + 82mm wide Adapter ring will be ok? Also what Singh-Ray’s Warming Polarizer you recommend with Lee Holder?

  17. Dimitry,

    Singh-Ray only makes one drop-in polarizer in Z-size, the LB Warming (see this link – http://www.singh-ray.com/polarizers.html – pricing at the bottom of the page. this is the filter I demonstrated in the video. It will fit in the Lee holder but it will slide around in the filter slots like I demonstrated. Darwin

    • Thank you for your answer. In B&H support say what on 16 -35 with Lee holder also will be vignette. Also i ask about 82mm thin Singh Ray warming polarizer and Cokin X-pro and they say what polarizer won’t fit in to the X-Pro holder. I think i have to forget about 16mm with polarizer and filter in holder.

      p.s. What camera and Lens was in the video?
      Thank you!

      • Well, I don’t own a 16-35mm lens but I tried a Lee holder on a 17-40 and got away with just a tiny tiny bit of Vignetting with a Lee Holder at 17mm. Too bad you can’t just go to a camera store and try out.

        The Singh-Ray Z-Pro size will only fit in a Lee or Cokin Z-Pro holder

        The Camera and lens in the video was a EOS-1n and an EOS-1ds MArk III with a 24-70 Sigma lens and a Canon 24mm TS-E lens.

        d

  18. Here in Russia it’s impossible to find Lee Holder, Cokin X-Pro Holder or Singh-Ray filters. All i have to do it’s purchase them from America and it’s really hard to make right decision on distance. Now i have two options: Cokin X-Pro + Singn-Ray LB Warm Polarizer (thin or standart) + GND or Cokin Z-Pro + Cokin Z-Pro LB Warm Polarizer Sprocket mount + GND . In all ways it wiil be vignette, but second option is cheaper. Frankly, i am not sure what i need widest angle. What you can recommended? After your video i don’t want Lee Holder because i am totally sure what i lost some details or whole holder. Excuse for my annoing.

    • Personally, I would just get the Cokin Z-Pro holder and the drop in Singh-Ray polarizer. You can always take one slot off so you just have two, one for the polarizer and one for grads or ND filters and likely the vignetting will be limited to about 18mm or wider. d

      • I think about the same. Thank you very very much. I found some very rarely Cokin X-Pro 164 Circular Polarizer Glass Filter, but it’s impossible to find on ebay or BH, and i think what Singh Ray is better.

  19. Darwin,

    thanks for the review. So that I am clear, with all the different comments and recommendations, how wide could you get (16mm, 17mm, 18mm, etc) with the Z Pro holder and the Singh-Ray Z Pro Polarizer and 1 GND filter? Same setup with 2 GND filters?

    Chris

    • It depends on the brand of lens you use, I would generally say you’ll be safe to about 18mm with a full-frame camera and a wide angle zoom lens with the Z-Pro holder, a drop-in polarizer and a grad.. Darwin

      • Darwin,

        I have the Z-Pro Holder and have been using it with the 24mm tilt shift lens with a 5D Mark II. I got the ratcheted S-R polarizing filter and when fully polarized, the funny looking stuff occurs in the sky. I notice that you use the same filter quite a bit with that lens. Do you use it with just a small amount of polarization to prevent the sky abnormalities? The skies I see in you photos are uniform and show no abnormalites. I know with a FF camera you need 28mm of focal length to prevent this. Any insight?

      • Most of my shots with the 24mm are vertical and so there is less sky and covered and less chance of uneven polarization.

        d

  20. Darwin, I have a 5DMark II and have been experimenting with the 24mm tilt shift. I got the Z pro holder system and have been using a SR sprocketed warming polarizing filter. With full polarization I get really uneven skies. I see that you use this filter with this lens and a FF camera. Your photos show skies that are uniform and show no polarizing abnormalities with this wide angle lens. Do you use only a small degree of polarization to avoid this? Also is the tilt shift ebook coming soon? Thanks

    • I mostly shoot verticals which take in less sky and so the un-even polarization effect does not show up as much as when shooting horizontals. I am working on the TS-E book now.

      d

  21. I used the Z-Pro holder several years back, but found it lacking when compared to the Lee as far as design features go. So much so that I got rid of it and made the switch to Lee about 4 years ago.

    1.) The Cokin has those three little plastic pins that are used to secure the holder to the ring…too much of a pain to fiddle with them, and very easy to lose. I once dropped one in some gravel at the edge of a pond…by the time I found it, the shot was gone. Lee’s spring clip is much better feature…fast on, fast off, very user-friendly.

    2.) Because of the plastic pins on the Cokin, the first slot (nearest the lens) is basically useless since they interfere with the placement of a gradient filter. In effect, the three slot-holder is now a two-slot holder. Not a problem with the Lee holder.

    3.) Vignetting with the Cokin is a problem. So much so that I’ve seen pics in photo forums where Cokin users have resorted to workarounds, such as mounting the adapter ring in the first slot, which essentially performs the same function as a Lee wide angle adapter ring. Except with the Cokin, you now have a two-slot holder (again). Not so with the Lee…with a wide angle adapter ring, I can load the holder with three filters if need be (GND, Lee 4×4 CPL, and a Big Stopper, for example) and not get any vignetting whatsoever (even at 17mm focal length on a full frame camera).

    Why anyone would buy a Z-Pro, with all of its limitations, is a mystery.

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks so much for your great input.

      I had the opposite experience than you. I started with the Lee Holder system and had nothing but troubles so changed to Cokin Z-Pro and am really happy:

      1. The Lee holder constantly fell off the adapter ring stressing me out about dropping my expensive filters (maybe I am careless but this problem never happens with the Z-Pro holder).

      2. The drop-in rotating polarizers don’t work well in the Lee holder as I demonstrated in the video and Lee’s 105mm polarizer also causes vignetting on super wide lenses. The 100mm square version of the Lee polarizer does not have this problem (as you suggest) but I found that often the optimal rotation of the polarizer of the square filter was not always in a plane parallel to the grad filter and so I could mot make the two filters align properly in the holder. Never a problem with a drop-in rotating Singh-Ray Z-Pro polarizer.

      3. I had trouble with the construction of the Lee holder itself; the metal ring inside the plastic holder which attaches to the adapter ring separated giving me an un-useble holder. This happened to two Lee holders!

      4. The brass pully thing fell apart on one of my Lee holders and I lost the parts in the field.

      5. I have not had the issue you mention above with using three slots with the Cokin Z-Pro. I put the drop-in polarizer in the nearest slot and a grad or solid ND easily fits in the outer two slots. I often use three filters with the Z-Pro holder. If I try that with the Lee I can only use two slots because the polarizer pushes its way into the second slot leaving only one slot for another filter.

      6. I do agree with your last point, you can use wider angle lenses with the Lee wide angle adapter and holder and get less vignetting but did you know that you can use a Lee Wide Angle Adapter ring and attach a Cokin Z-Pro holder and get the same lack of vignetting as when using a Lee holder?

      So as they say mileage may vary… there is no perfect system both have problems. I had more problems with the Lee holder than with the Cokin holder; you had the opposite. Lucky there is a solution for both of us that we are happy with! Isn’t that a good thing?

      Thanks again for great input to help others pick the solution that works for them.

      d

  22. […] you do decide to go the GND route, landscape photographer Darwin Wiggett uploaded this fantastic video review on the two most popular filter holders for your camera: The Lee Holder and the Cokin Z-Pro Holder. […]

  23. thanky our for this excellent review/comparison.

    i have been using the lee system (with a 105mm b+w polarizer) for almost two years. your post made me think about filter systems again and i decided to buy a z-pro holder and a singh-ray sprocket mount polarizer.
    so far i like the z-pro holder and i just might consider using it with a lee wide angle adapter (to reduce vignetting…).
    the only thing that really bothers me, is that rotating the polarizer becomes impossible as soon as i put a gnd/nd into the second filter slot. how do you deal with this?
    my initial idea was to cut out a bit of the holder…any other ideas?

    best,
    joerg

    • I do not have a problem rotating the polarizer once a grad is in place but that is because I usually put the grad filter in the slot furthest from the lens so that there is a space between the polarizer and the grad for my finger to rotate the polarizer.

  24. Hi is Cokin still in business who carries the Z holder.I might try ebay.

  25. LEE WA adapter rings actually don’t work perfectly on Cokin Z Pro holder simply because Cokin Z Pro rings are a little bigger than LEE WAs. I have both systems and I tried few times in the field. It just like small foot (LEE WA adapter rings) on a big shoes (Cokin Z Pro).

    • You can get the Lee adapter rings to work perfectly fine by adding another filter slot on the back of the Cokin holder so it holds the Lee Ring better. I do this all the time now.

      d

      • Hi, thank you for this site!
        I can’t understand this post though, could you explain how to do this? Does it mean you can use 3 filters including say Cokin yellow and blue pol. with lee WA adapter?

  26. Oh!!!!!!!!!!! 2 filter slots on back of Z Pro. I gotcha you. I’ll give it try.

  27. I’ve read the above chain with great interest and learned quite a bit about the two systems. I have a Nikon DX dSLR (D300). Am I correct in understanding that my 11-16mm super wide angle lens with 77mm filter size cannot us either system effectively? I use this lens a lot in nature/landscape photography. I also use an 18-200mm lens extensively. What are my best options for a system compatable with both lenses or am I naively asking too much?

    • I have not tried it myself but I think you will be able to use the Lee or Cokin Holder on the APS sized D300 and use your 11-16mm lens with no problems of vignetting. On full frame cameras you can not go much below about 16 or 17mm with these holders.

      d

  28. I have the Lee FK filter holder and would like to use a drop in 105mm circular polarizer with GND filter. Is the Lee 105mm circular polarizer filter the best–at $300? Does Singh Ray or someone else make a better circular polarizer that will work with the Lee FP 105 accessory front thread adapter?

  29. Darwin, excuse me for my ignorance, but which Singh Ray polarizer are you referring to again? I saw your link above so I know where to look, but are you referring to the warming polarizer or the neutral polarizer? Also, I assume a z-pro sprocket mount is what I would be looking for, is that correct? This would be for a Lee filter holder. Thanks again for all the info. It’s great advice.

    • I’m sorry. So I now see it’s a warming polarizer you are referring to. My apologies for that misread. So still, is this is the z-pro sprocket mount that I would be looking for?

      • I use a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer in Cokin Z-Pro size (drop in). You can also use a Cokin Z164 polarizer which works the same. Do note that these polarizers will fir in a Lee Holder but they are subject to falling out….
        d

  30. Darwin, just wondering if you use the thin ring mount polarizer from Singh-Ray to fit in the Lee filter holder or the regular width ring mount polarizer. I’m worried if I buy the wrong one it won’t fit or it’ll slide right through. I’m looking to fit the Gold -N- Blue filter in my Lee holder. Great video by the way.

    • Joel,

      You can’t use screw-in polarizers for the Lee holder or the Z-Pro holder. If you want a Gold-n-Blue you’ll have to try a find a Cokin Z173 blue-yellow polarizer (it will slide into the Lee Holder and the Z-Pro Holder. This is what I use

  31. I have recently bought both the Lee and Cokin Z Pro holders to compare for myself.

    I saw you use a lens cap in your lee system. Can you tell me specifically which cap that is? None of my caps fit.

    My first use of the holders will be with a ts-e 24mm II with the 82mm wide angle adapters.

    Thanks for the video.

  32. Sir darwin what size of GND filter, ring adoptor & filter holder do i need for my 24-70mm nikkor??? and for my 12-24mm nikkor,,
    sorry for my bad english,hehe

  33. Thanks for the video Darwin! I went and got the Hitech holder (Cokin and Lee aren’t as available), but not sure I love it. I can’t find how to put lens caps on my lens with the adapter rings in place because the inside of the Hitech rings are smooth. Does the Lee holder have threads/grips for your cap? Also I didn’t see you do the same method with the Cokin rings- does that mean you aren’t able to put caps in them and resorted to the cardboard makeshift cap?

    Also, I’m not sure the Hitech holder takes those circular polarizers you are using. Are your’s specifically designed for these holders?
    Thanks so much!!!!

    • I have never used a Hitech filter so don’t have much to add. The Lee Holder will accept camera lens caps, the Cokin one won’t and you have to make a lens cap like I did. The drop-in polarizers I use are designed for the Cokin holder. I am not sure they will work on the Hitech holder

      d

  34. Seems like both the Cokin Z-Holder and Lee holder are on back order at B&H, and not really available anywhere else, at least not in Canada. B&H recommended the HiTech holder but I would rather go with the Cokin as it seems to rule from all your demonstrations. Maybe I shall wait to see if they ever come back in stock.

  35. Hi Darwin

    I plan to get the LEE filter holder for my 17-40mm Canon. If I remove one slot, will the regular 77mm adaptor ring (not WA) avoid big netting at 17mm. comment appreciated

  36. Fix typo: I plan to get the LEE filter holder for my 17-40mm Canon. If I remove one slot, will the regular 77mm adaptor ring (not WA) avoid vignetting at 17mm. Comments appreciated

    Charlie

  37. Does anyone have tried the NEW HITECH 100MM HOLDER??
    http://www.formatt.co.uk/news/09-11-2011.aspx

  38. Thanks for the video Darwin … I bought a thin mount 77mm singh ray lb warming polarizer and a 4×6 nd grad … Cokin z pro holder and a 77mm adapter. Is there a way to stack the grads with z pro holder along with polarizer on my canon 17-40mm lens(LB thin mount polarizer + z pro holder +ND grads) …

  39. thank you very much for the video – it really makes me thinking and i hope to save some money😉

    will the lee filters fit the cokin z pro holder? On some websites it´s written that lee filters are thicker and hence won´t fit – can you confirm that?

  40. Thank you so much for your time in putting together this valuable information! Do you know if the P sized sprocket LB polarizer will cause vignetting in the P series wide angle holder? I have a Nikon 10-24mm lens.

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