Best quality ND filters question...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Zh2, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. Zh2 macrumors member

    May 21, 2011
    In a house in England.

    My first post here so please be gentle with me... I have been lurking for some time though and would like to start by saying that this forum has taught me so very much. Thanks to all of you.

    Right. Simple question...

    58mm ND filters, filter sets, fader filters. Which are the best please?

    I bought some Zomei and, quite frankly, I would be better off using the innards from a box of chocolates to filter images.

    UK based and money is not the prime consideration.

    Best Regards.

  2. VirtualRain, Jun 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

    VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC

    It's not clear what you want to do, but for screw-on filters, in general, B+W filters are highly regarded, and they can be had for a reasonable price from which is a HK based reseller that is highly recommended by many on various photography forums. I've purchased a few filters from them, and besides the 10 day shipping times, have no complaints.

    B+W filters are generally available with a few different grades of coatings/quality levels...
    - Kaesemann (or KSM) are their top of the line and use brass and superior coatings
    - MRC are their multi-coated variety
    - They also sell filters without either of the above designators

    If you're looking for a square interchangeable filter system with a holder that fits on the end of your lens, then the Cokin P system is probably the way to go, although there are more expensive and exotic options that may offer higher quality and more neutral color cast, but I've not been able to justify them. Cokin stuff is widely available at affordable prices on Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Ebay, and probably your local photography shop.

    At any rate, you might want to elaborate on what you want to do if you want some more specific advice.

    Cheers! :)
  3. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Look at the filter loss stat of any brand you find interesting to see how much reflections are going to cause problems with the images. B+W, Lee and Hoya all make some very good filters.

    Personally, I use 100mm filters with a holder, that way I can use the same filters on small and large lenses- only my 400mm prime is not small enough for the 100mm filter size, but any 82, 77, 70, 62 and 58mm lens I own will work with an adapter ring. The caveat is that for high-density ND filters, you really want a gasket on the first filter to stop leaks- I use a Lee Big Stopper for that, which is so equipped. For ND grads, I think that the rectangular filters are the only way to go, as screw-on filters put the grad line at the most inconvenient spot.

    If you don't have very large lenses, and don't ever plan to get any, the smaller filters like the Cokin P series are cheaper and easier to carry. Lee also make good holders, though I arbitrarily chose the Cokin Z series.

  4. dcains macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2007
    I have several HiTech 85mm ND and GND filters, which are rectangular and mount to a holder screwed onto the front lens threads. The advantage of these filters is that they can be used will all your lenses (with an adapter for the holder in each lens thread size you use), the horizon line of the GNDs can be positioned anywhere in the scene you're shooting, and the filters are stackable. The HiTech's are also very color-neutral and reasonably-priced. They're made in the UK, so I can only guess you'd be able to find a local vendor to purchase from.

    The top-end in these sorts of filters also happen to me made in the UK, by Lee, and a quick Google search will yield you lots of info and downloadable catalogs.
  5. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    Even if you don't have large lenses, the Z size (100mm or 4") filters are much more convenient for the following 2 reasons:

    1) they are bigger, which means it is a lot easier to handhold them instead of using a holder. Great if you are just using one filter with your camera on a tripod, you can just handhold the filter on the lens instead of having to go through the bother of mounting the holder

    2) they are bigger, which means more room on the top and bottom (away from the transition zone). This allows not only more latitude in transition placement, but most importantly that for smaller format cameras, Z-size GNDs can do double-duty as full NDs just by sliding the filter all the way down so the transition is off the bottom of the picture. Two filters for the price of one, and may actually make buying into the Z-size filter sets cheaper, depending on the filter set you eventually settle on.. I use Hitech filters which are 4x5" and even at 12mm on DX I can double-duty a 3-stop hard edge GND as a full ND. Lee or Singh-Ray filters, at 4x6", would have even more latitude in this regard

    Regarding the Cokin Z vs Lee holder- having owned both I find the Lee holder to be a vastly superior product. From the Wide angle mounting ring and the design of the holder itself, it is much easier to both position the filter, mount it close to the lens (so no vignetting on wide angle lenses) and overall ease of mounting/build quality- I think the Lee is the better holder hands down. If you're starting out, don't mess around and just get the Lee and the wide angle lens adapters.

  6. Zh2 thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2011
    In a house in England.

    As anticipated ( and expected! )... Some great leads and ideas for me to follow up on. Thanks to those who replied.

    I am trying, in particular, to get some long exposure water and night photos.

    Now I may be in with a chance!


  7. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I like B+W ND filters for screw on. Singh-Ray for Cokin system.

    And Hoya HD for CPL and UV.
  8. ReddDraggon macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2011
    North Wales or Manchester
    As you are UK based I'd go for the Lee stuff, it's not cheap and you tend to have to wait for it, as it's all handmade in the UK. Top quality stuff.

    I have their grads and their 10 stopper. I would personally only look elsewhere if you are in a rush for them.
  9. Randy McKown macrumors member

    Randy McKown

    Jun 24, 2011
    I normally lean towards either B+W and Tiffen when it comes to filters
  10. GoKyu macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    Have to add my vote for the filters from B+W also, have a ND gradient filter that gives me wonderful shots :)
  11. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Elyria, Ohio
    OP, I heard about Lee filters via another thread and it is worth investigating. Using one filter with several lenses is a plus in my book! Thanks gentlemen! :)
  12. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    Note that B+W sells 2 series of filters. The MRC filters have a better coating (and are quite a bit more expensive) but will have greater resistance to reflections. Stick with these if your budget allows.
  13. Vudoo macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2008
    Dallas Metroplex
    I use B+W and Heliopan for filters. If you're getting screw-on filters, I would recommend buying 77mm filters and a ring adapter since that will give you room to grow in term of lenses.

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