Best Filter Brand for B&W Picture Taking?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Huram, Apr 28, 2005.

  1. Huram

    Huram Member

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    I am looking to buy some B&W filters for my EOS Elan II camera. This $30 Tiffen set of 3 is an option for me:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=258072&is=REG

    But before I take the plunge, I have a few questions:

    1. Is Tiffen high quality?

    2. If I purchased more expensive brands, could I tell a difference in the printed image?

    3. If I purchased less expensive "generic" brand, could I tell a difference in the printed image?

    4. Any other brand recommendations?

    5. I assume the 58mm "screw in" option is the best for my Canon EOS Elan II. Is there a more effective option?


    Any comments could help. Thanks.

    Huram
     
  2. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    I feel like posting today so...

    1 - Tiffen filters are okay, but they are plain glass filters, without coating. You will increase your chance of flare with these filters. This will, of course, lead to decreased contrast and, if really bad, those little flare marks across your image. My Nikon 18-35 is already flare-prone by itself, and I have to use coated filters on it, even with a hood.

    2 - I have not noticed any kind of decrease in sharpness from Tiffen filters. so other than the flare leading to reduced contrast, I don't think you'd notice the difference. Of course, if you get flare, that's a pretty big issue.

    3 - I'm not sure you'll do any worse with a cheaper filter.

    4 - I use Hoya multicoated filters. Many recommend B+W. They're multicoated and are equal in that regard, but the B+W ones won't bind and get stuck on your lens as often. I just couldn't afford the price difference. Multicoated filters are expensive.

    5 - Your other option would be to go with a rectangular filter system like a Cokin or Lee system. I am moving towards this way for much of my filters, but it's not as convenient and it's a lot more cumbersome than screw-in filters.

    allan
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    One factor is that B+W and Heliopan filters have brass mounts which don't stick and unscrew easily. They also have a harder coating. More expensive filters are theoretically flatter and give better definition, you may not notice the difference in practice (as long as you don't buy very cheap filters which are not glass but cast resin).
    I personally like screw-in filters (they protect the lens from dirt and moisture). If you need filters which are not the same density all over (graduated filters), whihc you probably won't for b+w, you will need a Cokin-type filter holder where you can slide the filter up and down. Cokin filters also save a lot of money if you have several lenses taking different size filters (you only need to buy different holders and rings, you can use the same filters for all lenses).
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I like the Hoyas myself. Best combination of value and performance. The Helipans feel better made. The B&W I have don't seem much/any better to me. I have Tiffens for some things. They work.

    58mm is pretty common used. Spend some time on Ebay or other used place and you should be able to get some 58mm filters for much less then new.
     
  5. david b

    david b Member

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    Hoyas are now recommended by Hasselblad, as evident in their student purchase program.

    I prefer them or B+W filters. But get the super multi coating no matter which you get.
     
  6. eric

    eric Member

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    Okay, I'll chime in (YMMV...I suck anyway so don't pay too much attention to me :smile:
    Well, the movie industry uses them on their very expensive movie cameras and create multi-million dollar movies with them
    Maybe, maybe not. I would lean towards "maybe not" since you didn't mention the size you are printing. Maybe you would for 8' tall murals.
    Same above.
    For 35mm, and you are not making a ton of money by selling your images, get anything :smile:

    I used to think that if I bought B+W filters from Germany, my B&W images would be great. I've now, for some reason, amassed a bunch of filters (same types, yellow or yellow green) and I use them all the time. I have NO idea, zippo, nada, on which one I used. Did I use the $20 B+W filter or the $3 dollar one from the junk bin.

    HTH!
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Whatever brand you get, multicoated filters really do reduce flare and ghosting in high contrast situations. B+W and Heliopan have nicer rings, and if you use their ND filters, you may find them more neutral than other brands, and their UV filters are more effective than most others at reducing UV (there was a good article on UV filters, by Bob Atkins I think, on photo.net). Tiffen filters are usually glass-gel sandwiches, while B+W and Heliopan are dyed in the mass, but as Eric says, Tiffen filters are widely used in the movie industry (but they also have budgets to replace filters as needed, pay assistants to clean them, shade lenses properly, etc.).
     
  8. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I have mostly Tiffen and three Hoyas. To me they are the same quality, but I'm no expert.
    To me any name brand screw in type (Hoya Tiffen B+W Rodenstock) do what they are designed to do, filter light without distortion. It all comes down to budget and what the store has in stock at the time.
    Sorry, just could not afford the orange 77mm Rodenstock, so I bought the Hoya.
     
  9. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I love filter questions.

    1--Yes. Tiffen filters are generally excellent. Their standard line of filters don't have the cache of the German super glass multi-coated brands but they do as good a job for a lot less money.

    2--Not usually. Multi-coating can help prevent or reduce ghost images if you shoot pictures against the light with a filter over the lens. It's usually safer and cheaper just to take off the filter.

    3--Maybe, maybe not. Hoya and Tiffen both make filters that are sold as "house brands", I've read. Their filters are good. If "generic" means "third rate" wavey glass mounted crooked in the filter ring, oh yeah, you'll be able to tell the difference.

    4--Just about anyone who has been making filters for a long time know how to make optically clear and flat glass (or even plastic, in some cases). I have filters made by Hoya, Tiffen, B&W, Nikon, Canon, Heliopan, Singh-Ray, Vivitar and even a couple of old Spiratone filters. I can recommend all these brands because all of them are of excellent quality. In fact, the only brand of filter I've ever used that I would never recommend is Cokin's plastic "system filters". *See below.

    5--If 58mm is the size your lens takes, it's what fits. But if you intend to buy other lenses with different size filter rings, you will come out cheaper in the long run by buying filters to fit the lens with the largest size filter thread and buying step-up rings to attach them to the smaller sizes. It will prevent you from using Canon's bayonet mount lens hoods, however. If you want to use the Canon lens hoods, you'll need filters that fit every lenses threads directly.

    *Once upon a time, I bought a number of Cokin filters so I could save money and fit a lot of different brand and sized lenses. When I tried to use them on a 400mm Canon lens, I couldn't even see through the lens. Upon testing the filters with other lenses, I found that there was detectable distortion with every focal length I owned of 100mm or longer. Some Canon lenses would not even autofocus with Cokin filters attached. Using normal or wide angle lenses, the distortion could not be detected--attributable to the magnification factors of the lenses involved. But having a 100% failure rate with something like 10-12 Cokins, I came to the conclusion these filters are simply not very good.
     
  10. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Aren't B+W and Heliopan also made out of High index Schott [sp] glass?

    I use Hoya double coated and frankly can' see any degradation with my CZ lenses.

    I've used this place: http://www.camerafilters.com with good results. Fast and low S&H.
     
  11. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks for the link, Neal. I would also suggest KEH for filters. Much better prices than B&H, and an APUG sponsor. I bought several through them recently, and they were in great condition.
     
  12. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I'd second KEH as well, but bear in mind that most of their products come with no case/caps/etc so you should also look for filter cases if you buy from them.
     
  13. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I have Hoya, Cokin and B+W filters in my collection. No problems with any of them.
     
  14. gcoates

    gcoates Member

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    Lee system filters

    I've heard in several places other than this thread that the Cokin filters are terrible. How about the Lee system filters? Are they any better?
     
  15. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    The cokin ND filters are not actually neutral (though supposedly the newer ones are better). They will add a color cast to your image. However, you can use the Cokin _system_ without using Cokin _filters_. HiTech and Singh-Ray both make excellent filters that fit the Cokin system.

    The Lee system is very good, but more expensive.

    allan
     
  16. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Keep in mind the Tiffen filters that are used in the motion picture industry are probably not the same ones sold in the still photography market.

    I have owned Tiffen and Hoyas in the past. Then I bought a B+W. They definitely are much better built. I have a Nikkor 105 2.5 that has a slight dent on the filter screw mount. I have trouble screwing Hoyas and Tiffens on that lens, but the B+W goes on nice and easy. They aren't too much more expensive than the other multicoated filters, so I personally chose those over the less expensive brands. My $.02.
    Ara
     
  17. Seele

    Seele Member

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    A factor for me regarding glass screw-in filters is consistancy. I have pretty much standardized on Hoya after realising that, ostensibly the same filter made by different companies do vary a lot, the most evident is the No.15 (Type G orange). So it would be better to stick to one brand, preferably one which is satisfactory in performance and moderately priced.
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I had more or less abandoned glass screw-in filters due to the number of different sizes needed. I have Hoya, B+W, Tiffen, Heliopan, Zeiss, Leitz, Voigtländer and a few others. And Cokin (both A and P sizes) and Lee...

    Some films give strange colours with Cokin "neutral" filters, but it varies with the film too. That's why I bought a Lee holder and two Grads. And a B&W set, and a IR filter. And then I decided to use 35mm IR film, and bought a Heliopan filter. Mostly because a Lee filter holder would look ridiculous on a 21mm Color-Skopar lens :smile:

    But the Heliopan screw-ins are great, no doubt about it. The mechanical quality is way beyond anything else I've seen!
     
  19. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I don't consider the fact different companies make different filters a problem. I actually consider it a benefit. It lets you choose exactly what you want.

    A #15 is actually supposed to be a dark yellow. A #16 starts the orange side. Some companies make a dark orange [#21?]. Some even make a orange/red filter.

    One nice thing about Tiffen is they still have a fairly wide range of filters available.
     
  20. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Filters must be the biggest photo rip off there is.
    Tiffen should be fine, though I've only got one.
    I use Hoya, Kood, B+W, Jessops and Hamma, plus that Tiffen.
    I can't tell one from the other. If you are using an SLR type camera then multi-coating is a waste of time, you get what you see, look out for flare and shade the lens when you see it.
    Also check the secondhand camera stores, they have drawers full of secondhand filters, the good guys will sell em for pennies.
    Oh and don't over tighten the filter, I never get em stuck (famous last words) cos I don't torque em up.

    "Tiffen filters are widely used in the movie industry (but they also have budgets to replace filters as needed, pay assistants to clean them, shade lenses properly, etc.)."

    Exactly, keep em clean, and when you see flare shade the lens. Now do you really need an assiatant to do that?
     
  21. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    One handy gadget which I did not know existed until the other day is Cokin filter-holder adapters with clamp screws instead of screw threads. I am just waiting for my order to arrive and look forward finally to using Cokin X-Pro filters with all the weird large-diameter LF lenses I own which have either no filter threads or inch-sized threads.
     
  22. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    B+W filters are about 1/2 the overall ring thickness of Tiffen filters. You can stack 2 filters w/ less chance of vignetting. They also screw on/off much easier than the tiffens. Multicoated versions are available.
     
  23. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    In the photo studios I worked in, that's exactly what assistants did, among myriad other things. However, for color correction to transparency film in the studio, we used gels in filter holders inside the view cameras to avoid flare, as well as always shielding the lens from the light source with a shade, gobo, flag, or whatever other means necessary. There are gel filter holders that clamp to the outside of the lens barrel with spring metal bands and fit inside the typical 4x5 or larger bellows (mostly non-tapered in studio cameras). Gels were kept very clean and replaced when marred or smudged.

    If you have the interior room in a view camera, it's also much easier to carry one filter holder and a packet of different gel filters in the field. It really keeps down the bulk and weight.

    Lee
     
  24. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Gels, bellows, gobo, flag, bellows (non-tapered)?

    A howp oor cale wi the EOS50 kens aboot aw this, cos a din'nae, ye mey as weel be bletherin dooble dutch as faur as I'm concernt.

    Oh aye, the Tiffen is a little bulkier, so perhaps go for the basic Hoyas, B+W's or Koods. And look for secondhand stuff.
     
  25. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Cokin does, or did, make a Gel filter holder that slides in like a regular Cokin filter.