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Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit & Circular Polariser Filter Review

There's so much editing done on computers these days that photographers have forgotten how we used to add effects. The Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit is aimed at improving your pictures before you leave the location. Here we test the Landscape 1 kit and the Circular Polariser.

|  Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit in Filters
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Build and handling

There's no denying the adaptability of the Cokin system, there's a filter for pretty much every scenario you could think of photographing. Cokin have also put together a number of kits for various genres of photography and here we look at the Landscape 1 kit, one of ten available for the P series filters. We'll also test the Circular Polariser which is another great filter for landscape photography.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Features
In the pack, you'll find Gradual blue B2 soft, Warm 81 EF and Sunset 1 filters. They're all sat in their own plastic cases to protect them from deep scratches and while it's a good idea to keep them from any abrasion, the proximity of the filters to the lens means that light scuff marks shouldn't show up on the image.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Blue Grad
The Blue Grad has a longer graduation from clear to blue for gentler casts.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Circular Polariser
The Circular Polariser has teeth for easy grip when rotating it.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Warm
One of the most simple filters, the Warm 81 EF is also one of the most useful.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Sunset
The Sunset kit can look very good in the right situation. Take care when using it and be aware of the darker half.

The whole kit comes with a P-series filter holder which is great if it's your first kit and if not, you could put it on another lens to save changing them over. All you need extra is the adapter ring to fit your lens filter thread and you're ready to go.

Cokin Landscape 1
            filter kit Warm held up
The Warm filter isn't very strong so gently warms the images.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Warm 81 EF (P037)
A simple square of light orangey yellow plastic, the warm up filter will add an element of warmth to an other wise dull day and can also work as a colour correction filter in strong blue light if your white-balance system isn't working or you're using daylight balanced film in tungsten lighting.

It also reduces the amount of blue light from the midday sun reducing the colour temperature from 3850 kelvin to 3200 kelvin. It works nicely but it does have a tendency to soften the image slightly and I had to sharpen in Photoshop when I got back in front of the computer.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Performance
It does its job perfectly well, warming up the scene which looks perfectly natural until it's compared against the standard shot with no filter and the difference can be seen. Clouds are darkened slightly and in my tests, older buildings benefited from the warming effect on bricks making them look a bit older. Portraits were given a healthy glow and thundery days don't look so glum.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Warm filter original
The original image looks good but I got a bit of lens flare.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Warm filter
The same image with the filter and no flare. Also old masonry looks its age.

At £11.99, they're relatively cheap to buy if you damage it and need a replacement. It does the job well enough although you have to be careful to use auto white-balance or the compensation from the manual or preset modes will interfere with what the filter is supposed to do.

The Warm filter 81 EF costs £11.99 to buy separately and it's available from Warehouse Express here:

Cokin P Warm filter 81 EF

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Blue Grad held up.
The Blue Grad helps deepen blue skies but can bleed onto land.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Blue graduated B2 (P123 S)
Graduated filters are slightly longer in length than the non-graduated types and this is so that if you have the horizon lower or higher than the middle of the frame, it gives you room to slide the filter up and down to compensate. The primary purpose of the B2 is to enhance the blue in the sky when taking a landscape shot but it also has another interesting feature to it. Turning it upside down will accentuate the white of breaking waves if you take photographs of the ocean.

The P123 S differs from the P123 in the way that it's a progressively graduated filter. What this means is that instead of a thin band at the middle of the filter that fades from clear to blue then the same strength blue from there to the top, the P123 S will gradually increase in its intensity as the blue goes from the centre to the top of the filter.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Performance
I've never been a big fan of graduated filters but this is possibly the most useful of them all. Used properly it will certainly enhance your skies, just don't let it bleed over to the land. That's the problem with the more gradually faded filter such as the P123S, it's easier to get the blue leaking over onto the land. Otherwise it means keeping the colour towards the top of the frame and only having a light area of blue. I think it still looks quite unnatural, it does nothing for clouds and the benefits it brings to blue sky can be achieved more naturally with a polariser.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Blue Grad lightly used
Pushed further up, the longer design of the filter ensures the bottom isn't in shot.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Blue Grad heavily used
Pulled down a bit, the sky looks more brooding  but a bit of the blue has seeped onto the hills.

If you're using a lens that doesn't have internal focusing and the lens barrel twists as the operation is performed, this can send the filter out of alignment so watch out for this problem or you'll get a blue stripe down one edge of the photograph.

The Graduated Blue B2 costs £17.99 to buy separately and it's available from Warehouse Express here:

Cokin P Graduated Blue B2

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Sunset held up.
The Sunset filter has one half more opaque than the other but still with a cast to keep the colour balance.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Sunset 1 (P197)
Designed to recreate the look of a sunset regardless of the time of day, the sunset filter has to be the cheesiest of the three available in the Landscape kit. The graduation isn't as easily seen on this filter because the bottom section isn't clear but a less orange version of the top section.

The idea is that the top, darker section will handle the sky while the lighter bottom section will balance the ground to suit the sky and give the overall feeling of a sunset.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Performance
The problems with external focusing lens barrels applies to this filter as well so take care if it applies to you. After trying the filter in the middle of the day, I came to the conclusion that it can't create a sunset and instead will have to compliment an existing sunset. It simply can't adjust the colour on skies enough if it's a bright day and it defeats the object on a cloudy day because you wouldn't get lovely warm colours.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Sunset filter
Used in broad daylight, it doesn't look as good, so reserve it for actual sunset times.

The Sunset 1 graduated costs £26.99 separately and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Cokin P Sunset 1 graduated P197

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Circular Polariser (P164)
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Circular Polariser held up.
The Circular Polariser doesn't interfere with the beam splitters of AF and digital cameras.
Arguably the most important filter you can have in your collection, the Circular Polariser is also the most expensive. That's where the beauty of the Cokin system comes in because you can use one filter on multiple lenses unlike the threaded types that only fit the lens that they're created for.

They work by cancelling or allowing polarised light through and onto the sensor. What this means is that reflections can be reduced on water and glass, the saturation of blue sky is increased and dark clouds will be darkened more. The benefit of this is that if you take the photograph with polarised light coming through onto the sensor, it will record the reflections but whatever is beneath it won't be recorded. It's this reason that the Polariser can't be replicated in an editing suite.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit unpolarised blue sky
Unpolarised, the sky is a light blue.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit polarised blue sky
Rotating the Polariser darkens the sky.

As one of the few Cokin filters that is round, it fits into the filter holder at the very back where the slot is slightly wider. It's a tight fit but for a reason. The ridged circumference of the filter is designed for rotating round to decide on the amount of polarisation you'd like to use and you can use your fingernails. There are two lips on the top and bottom of the slot so that the filter doesn't fall out while it's being rotated. The tight fit is so that once you've selected the position of the filter, it won't move easily if you accidentally knock it. As with the graduated filters, the Polariser can be affected by externally focusing lens systems, so be aware if you have this type of lens.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Performance
I love the effect that the Polariser has on blue sky. It deepens the blue while retaining the white of any clouds, making them pop out of the frame. More contrast is added to the ground at the same time which gives the image more depth. A relatively flat looking picture is given a boost of life.

It eradicates reflections on water nicely so that lakes look deep and puddles don't glare out of the frame. Windows can be seen through unless the reflection is of direct light such as the Sun, it can't work against that.

The Circular Polariser P164 costs £69.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Cokin P Circular Polariser P164

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Build and handling
Cokin filters are surprisingly deceptive. Looking as though they're made of plastic, they actually made of CR39 Organic Glass. CR39 is a plastic polymer that was developed in 1940. It's naturally transparent and almost completely opaque in the ultra violet range. It's almost entirely scratch resistant and produces little or no chromatic aberration. It's these traits that make it perfect for digital photography.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Circular Polariser in holder.
The filter holder has a silghtly wider slot at the back for the Polariser. Two lips keep it from falling out.
Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit Blue Grad in holder.
Other filters slot into one of the three slots available. A leaf spring holds them in place.

The adapter rings are made of metal and the filter holder is a strong plastic with little play in it.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Verdict
Whether you find these filters useful will depend on the type of person you are. If you like to enhance your colours a lot then they're ideal. If you like a subtle push then you may prefer to just get a polariser. Whichever you decide, the Cokin P system is a winner due to its adaptability and relatively low prices of filters.

Investing in the P system is grass roots photography. Getting back to basics and taking your time with your pictures. Get some filters and start retouching your pictures before you leave the place you're taking them. It's a radical concept but something we were doing before Photoshop took over.

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Pros
Good value for money
Many different options
Discounted against individual prices

Cokin Landscape 1 filter kit: Cons
Unrealistic colours


The Cokin P Landscape 1 filter kit costs £44.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Cokin P Landscape 1 filter kit

Cokin adapter rings cost around £10 - £12 and are also available from Warehouse Express here: 

Cokin adapter ring

NB, ensure you have the correct filter thread size before you purchase.

The Cokin Circular Polariser costs £69.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Cokin Circular Polariser

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