Lens Filter Quality: Brands, Advice, Banter

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Grimace, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #1
    I haven't seen this discussed much here so I thought I'd start us off.

    After you've spend 25% more than you originally thought you would to get that really neat lens, the thought of dropping $25-80 more on a protective filter can be heartbreaking. I started off with the "Digital Concepts" brand (hey, it was cheap!) - but I just bought a Hoya lens filter after listening to my local camera gal. I looked at two filters side by side and did notice a slight difference in clarity. I thought if my eye could see that much difference, a digital sensor might see even more when recording 8.2 megapixels.

    Any thoughts on good brands and quality? Or are the differences in filter brands just hype?
     
  2. iGary Guest

    iGary

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  3. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #3
    I've heard - but can't verify personally - that B&W is top draw for filter quality. Expensive, though, and hard to find.

    If I were buying new filters today, I'd be going for the Hoya Pro 1 lineup. Easier to find than B&W, but still excellent quality. The multi-layer coating has a tendency to flake off, I've heard (again, I can't comment from my own experience here.)
     
  4. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #4
    I had two crappy lenses with pro filters. Sold those, now I have two pro lenses with crappy filters.

    I invested in a Hoya UV (0) filter today, I'll post back in a few days if I can see any tangible differences.
     
  5. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #5
    Ah, filters.... My lenses wear either Hoyas, Nikons or B&Ws...... Yes, it's expensive sticking a UV or clear filter in front of each lens, but on the other hand, it's far more expensive if you wind up needing to replace an entire lens due to some unfortunate incident. I'd rather plunk out $100 for another new filter than $1500-1600 to replace a lens which has been irreparably damaged.
     
  6. Jon'sLightBulbs macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    The ones you want are B+W (hard to find) and Heliopan (even harder to find.)
     
  7. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #7
    Singh-Ray are also excellent filters and hard to find as well.....
     
  8. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #8
    I generally go for B+W for my Leica 35mm RF. Lately I have moved to protective (non-UV) and polarizer filters that are made by Hoya (AFAIK) under the Promaster name.
     
  9. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

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  10. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #10
    Really...I thought those were two completely separate brands. I wonder how we could find out...
     
  11. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #11
    They are sperate brands, but that does not mean that Promaster wouldn't go to Hoya. Just look at the co-branding that the auto industry uses.

    Not sure of any real source. I was told by an industry insider to just look at the plastic cases from Hoya and Promaster - they are the same. And the Promaster Digital filters seem to have all the same features of the Hoya Pro1 Digital filters (http://www.thkphoto.com/products/hoya/pro1d-01.html).

    Given that camera manufactures go to third parties for some of their lenses, it would not be surprising that Promaster would get Hoya (or some other filter company) to make their filters.
     
  12. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #12
    I use S&W branded filters that are generic off ebay.

    I've seen tests that show no difference in image quality using these cheapies vs the expensive ones.

    And I've seen a test where it shows no difference UNLESS there is very bad contra light. However the expensive ones didn't do that much better. Best images with bad lighting are ones without a filter on.
     
  13. efoto macrumors 68030

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    #13
    I use Hoya because they are well known and enough quality for me. I know quite a few pros who only shoot with clear or just a single-coat UV when using digital. Any features/colors a filter can provide can be added in PP and the guys I know prefer to just cover the glass and shoot as "raw" as possible. The only reason they are using UV is because it's the same cost as clear :p
     
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #14
    There ARE differences between filters. Even within one brand. For example Hoya makes several lines of filters to sell at different price points. They make a cheap one and at the other end is one caled "SMC". the difference is in the quality of the optical coatings. It is those coatings that cost money
    So when some one suggests "Hoya" ask which one.

    The European brands are the best. For example B+W uses a machined brass mounting ring. Hoya and the other japaneese brans use aluminum which can jam. Aluminum is not the best material to make screws with if you want brass you pay for it. A multicoated, brass ring. made in germay filter can cost $80. I mostly buy Nion, Hoya and B+W brand. But not that I don't use film I'm not using so many filters the effect I got with colored filters can now be done on a computer
     
  15. lurcher macrumors regular

    lurcher

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  16. cookie1105 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    The only filters I use are uv filters on both my lenses.
    The 18-55mm kit lens has a sunpak filter on it, because the shop included it in the kit price when I bought my rebel xt.
    My nifty fifty has a hama filter on it. I wanted the best filter available, but none of the shops round here sell anything but jessops own brand or hama.
    How well do brands like sunpak, jessops, hama compare to Hoya or B&W?
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    I'm not even sure how much UV filters help outdoor photos. I bought a Hoya UV SMC or something. I made sure it was multicoated, but quite honestly, I forget which one it is, exactly.

    Me too. I do remember the writer saying that B&W were the best, but they were all essentially the same as long as the filter was multi-coated. That was the key, but generally any multi-coated filter is good.

    Anyway, I bought it mainly to protect my lens. Any difference in photo quality is an added bonus. Can someone describe how much better photos turn out with and without a UV filter? :confused: I tried to do a brief 5 minute test using my lens with and without the filter, and an external factor caused my photos to be incomparable (the clouds in the sky changed the lighting slightly), and I haven't tried since. :eek:
     
  18. lurcher macrumors regular

    lurcher

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    #18
    I think they're meant to enhance the colours, especially blues in the sky, and reduce reflection a little, much like the polarising filters, but not to the same extent. But I may be wrong :p
     
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #19
    Well I thought that what you described was mainly the role of a circular polariser, and that the UV filter possibly reduced a certain level of haziness in the air that makes your photos come out less clear and a bit more hazy, or kind of "foggy." But again, I'm not sure and really want to know. :confused:
     
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #20
    With a digital camera I seriously doubt you would notice the filter. First off the glass in the lens blocks most UV. (Ever notice that it is hard to get a sunburn through glass?) Next the CCD is covered with colored filters. A CCD is not film.

    A cheap UV filter if it has any effect at all it would be to add a bit of "flare" and reduce the overall contrast. A good filter will not add so much flare and will have little effect on contrast. If you are going to shoot through another piece of glass you'd be best to be shure the glass is of at least the same quality is the lens elements in the lens.

    One way to compare two UV filters in the store is to stand with your back to the shop's window, holld the filter up use it like a miror to look over you shoulder at the window. A cheap filter will give a good view (like a rear view mirror on your car) very good filter will disappear you will not even be able to see the glass, let alone the reflectin of the Window.
    Try it with a Hoya SMC. If you don't have a window handy or if it's dark outside try and look at the reflection of a ceiling lamp.
     
  21. cookie1105 macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Wow. I have just tried your test with the hama uv filter. I could have shaved in the reflection it was so clear! The sunpak gave a little bit of reflection but not even 1/10th as much.

    Scary! I had the good filter on the crappy lens and vice versa. Have changed them round. Thanks for the tip ChrisA:)
     
  22. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #22
    I've read several reviews. Here are the ones I could find.

    And I think saying that aluminum threads might bind is like saying if you drive a Hyundai you "might" slide off the road. Neither should happen if you're using the device correctly.

    But if your mentality is better be safe, then I hope you have hurricane insurance. ;)
    http://www.pbase.com/lightrules/uvtest
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/sm-feb-05.shtml

    I can't find one, and a server for another is down.
     
  23. CTYankee macrumors 6502

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    Jul 18, 2002
    #23
    Exactly how is a thin layer of glass going to protect the lens from something that would cause enough damage to warrant replacement? The front elements is nothing more than a protective one. It is not part of the lens' optical system. So replacing these is very affordable when compared to the cost of the lens.
     
  24. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #24
    Not part of the optical system? Possqbly there is a lens like this but none of mine are like this. Every one of my lenses. All the Nikors and even the optics on my video and P&S are actual "lens elments and have a curve figured into them. In some cases the curve is very pronounced and in others the curve is more shallow Optically there is no way a curved piece of glass can not refract light.

    As for the cost of replacement, I don't think a small scratch would require replacement of the entire lens, the fron t element could be replaced. If the lens were so damaged that it needed replacement then I doubt a filter would have saved it.

    The best advice I've read came from a quote by Ansel Adams. He said "Protect the lens from what?" He said if you could answer that question and a filter would indeed protect the lens from that (whatever it is) then go ahead and use it. But in other cases take it off unless you need the effect of a colored filter.

    I think his point was that shooting through an adiitional layer of glass that you don't need can do no good but might do harm.
     
  25. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #25
    i dont think filter brands matter that much when its a uv/haze type. its important when it comes to polorizing and grad. filters, etc. or defocus filters. just make sure when u stack your filters that you dont get too much vignette
     

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