Filters

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by jim kirk jr., Nov 21, 2004.

  1. jim kirk jr.

    jim kirk jr. Member

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    A few years back when I started and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing(I'm still not sure I have any idea)I didn't use filters at all.Then when I
    mistakenly thought I had an idea(bear in mind I have had no photography
    training-anything i may have learned was thru reading and trial&error)I started
    to use cheapo store brand filters.Basically I probably could have used colored
    plastic wrap and done about as well.These days though I've stuck with B+W
    filters and am pleased with my results.I use the base models,not the super
    or extra super coated ones that are out there.What filters do other APUGer's
    use?Does anyone use the super coated ones-are they really any better than
    the base models?I realise that not all are the same between manufacturers,
    so which maker do you prefer,why?
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I generally try to stick with the B+W brand myself, although I do have a couple of Tiffen filters (enhancing and warm polarizer). I also use Cokin filters (ND Grads + 81B). I've am planning on replacing these with the equivalent Lee brand.
     
  3. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    Jim, your first decision is if you want screw in filters and whether the type of photography you are most interested in is likely to necessitate the use of ND grad filters. I use them for both B+W and Colour.
    If so, you need to use a filter system, such as Lee or Cokin. I moved to Lee from Cokin P series because they offer a wider range of ND grads which are more Neutral. Not being flush with cash, I prioritised my spend using Joe Cornish's First light photo details to see which he used most.
    So I shopped for 0.3, 0.45, 0.6 and 0.9 Hard transition ND grads, an 81B an 81D and the shrimp (85C) warm-ups. I have added 0.45 and a 0.9 soft transition ND grads, which I find that I use most often. Also an 81B soft grad which I use inverted to warm up the foreground and keep skies cooler. This is more versatile and cheaper than buying ND and warm-up combination grads, so long as you accept that theoretical degradation that will occur with the extra filter in place.
    If you intend to use a polariser, it is probably best to get the Lee screw in adaptor and use something like a B+W Kasemann or Heliopan, if you are still feeling flush with cash!
    Don't panic about expense, once you have made the decision about which system to go for, you can add as you, or your wallet see fit. I haven't felt the need to add to this set-up for the last 2 years.
    Whilst on a workshop with Joe Cornish, I ended up shooting through the edge of the 85C because I didn't have the grad version. Once precessed, amazingly, it worked! We couldn't see the transition on the 5x4 tranny. I haven't dared to repeat this exercise, but would be tempted to do so, if in a similar tight spot!
    Hope that this is helpful. I am not sponsored by Lee. I only wish I was good enough for it to be so!
    Bax
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Most of my filters have been bought used or new off Ebay. That means I've got what I can find. They range from B&W,Contax,Hoya to Tiffen. The tiffens are mostly in sizes or types that I don't have much interest in. I wouldn't have bought them at B&W prices.
     
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I have to admit to being a big fan of Joe's work - I've got his book, although it is called "Light and the Art of the Landscape" in the US. His book is one of two that I carry with me when I travel - the other being "Large Format Nature Photography" by Jack W. Dykinga.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2004
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've got about the same amount of variety - Everything from the "Hasselblad - (Zeiss?)" to unnamed Japanese, with a Heliopan or two thrown in. In all honesty, I can't see a damn bit of difference between any of them.

    One possible exception - the Hasselblad Softars ... (appear to have bubbles in the surface) seem to soften differently than others - frosted and the like. The difference is subtle ... and I'm not sure worth the price.
     
  7. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Like Ed I'm not too worried about the make as I just just the standard yellow; orange; red; grad ND and circular polarizer. Looking at modern ones I see no difference when side by side.

    When I worked at a camera store though we occasionally had some old B&W and Nikon filters come in on the lenses we had offered us with people upgrading or going over the wall to digital. Now those old filters were beautifully deep and rich colours. Sadly none ever came in big enough to fit my lenses :sad:

    Jim sweety wrappers are just as good for most things but less convenient than real ones, there again you can't eat the contents of a manufactored filter :smile:
     
  8. mark

    mark Member

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    I sat in the parking lot of a camera store and compared the most expensive polarizors with the other brands. I saw absolutely no difference between the tiffen, heliopan, hoya or B+W, except price. The store owner was with me and he could not see any difference either. Now I have no problem saving money. I am hoping to save up for the lee ND grads.
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I think filter choice depends on a couple of factors:

    1. what and how you shoot (screw-ins vs. the "systems" approach, etc.), and

    2. what you put them in front of.

    Issue #1 can get rather complex, as it involves both physical practicality and convenience factors, along with optical quality issues. Add a good dose of philosophical sprinkles (e.g. to what extent should you "enhance" nature vs. simply overcoming limitations of the media's response) and you have your filter cake ready for display. Better brands of filters (B+W, etc.) are likely to be optically superior to the cheapies. Whether one is likely to see the difference is a separate question, which leads to issue #2.

    While I haven't done any scientific testing, my guess is that putting a high-precision, optically perfect filter in front of a cheap lens is probably a waste of money. Thus, folks shooting with "consumer-grade" lenses can probably get by with Tiffen or other so-called second-tier brands, and never see any difference. Conversely, those using top-quality lenses will probably noticeably degrade image quality with less-precise glass filters. Similarly, with top-quality lenses, you're more likely to see the benefit of multi-coated filters.

    Most of my glass filters are B+W, but I've also found Heliopan to be pretty good - especially for larger sizes (I have a couple of lenses that use 105mm filters - cough, choke). But, I also use resin, gel, and polyester filters for special effects (ND grads, IR, etc.). I really like the effect created by Zeiss Softars, so I think they are worth the expense, but I also use white and black netting for diffusion in certain situations.

    Bottom line? I don't think there's a one-brand-fits-all magic filter bullet. It depends too much on personal preferences and style. Oh, and budget may play a role, too. :wink:
     
  10. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Well ... I was referring to my experience with the Hasselblad. Those lenses are considered to be "pretty good".
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Ed - sorry if it sounded as if I was taking you to task. I was just making general observations across formats and brands.
     
  12. jim kirk jr.

    jim kirk jr. Member

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    I can always try to eat a real filter.I'm sure medical advice would be against it-but one week they say something is bad for you and the following week it's
    good for you because it does this or that... :smile:

    Seriously though I'm very happy with the B+W filters,both IR and Black&white.
    I was just inquiring as to what others experiences are with different brands and if they went from one brand to another for any reason.There is so much
    discussion about what type of filter to use for this or that but the brands
    themselves are never hit on.
    Also the whole mono and multi-coated issue is rarely discussed.I think B+W
    filters are some of the best out there myself(All my lenses are sigma's with one exception)and the combos work well.

    Jim
     
  13. jim kirk jr.

    jim kirk jr. Member

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    Hey everyone,lots of good replies(helpful too)and I appreciate all the advice given.I guess though that I should have worded the post a little different.I was just looking for a discussion on the types of filters out there and what experiences everyone has had.If they changed brand and why(do you use more than one type)mono or multi-coated,etc.

    Jim
     
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  15. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I have boxes of filters, collected over 30+ years of photography. I have screw-in filters in sizes I no longer have lenses for them to fit.

    Brand-wise, I have Hoya, Vivitar, Nikon, Canon, Tiffen, B&W, Heliopan, Singh-Ray, Spiratone and probably a few more I don't remember.

    Quality-wise...guess what? They all work great. The $5.95 Vivitars and Spiratones I bought 30 years ago work just as good as the $100+ Singh-Rays and B&Ws I've bought more recently. Of all the filters I own, the only one that's deteriorated over the years is a Nikon polarizer that began to delaminate after about 20 years of use.

    The only brand of filter I would never recommend is Cokin. I bought a lot of Cokins "A" size when they were first introduced and used them occasionally on wide to normal lenses. A few years ago, I bought a set of "P" size filters and a holder. One day, I tried to use the 81A equivalent on a 400mm Canon lens and discovered I couldn't even see the subject through the lens due to diffraction in the filter. I tried all my other Cokin filters with this lens and 100% of them distorted the image so bad they were unusable. Needless to say, I've never used a Cokin filter since.

    I see a lot of people on the Web put down Tiffen filters. I guess they don't have much cache' since they don't cost an arm and a leg. But I've never had a Tiffen that was not excellent. Yes, they do have aluminum rings that can occasionally bind and they can flare if the circumstance is right but so can the expensive multi-coated B&W filters. I don't worry much about that, just don't use a filter if you're shooting against the light. Optically, they are among the best I've ever used. Most of my newer filters are Tiffen. I use them on Leica lenses, Canon L lenses, Mamiya TLR lenses and Pentax 645 lenses. When I had a 4x5, I used them on Schneider, Rodenstock and Fujinon lenses. I even had Tiffen build on special order some color compensating screw-in filters to fit my large format lenses. Tiffen filters work better than they should for the price you pay for them.

    Since I shoot virtually 100% black and white, the filters I use are all for black and white film. My most used filters are #15 dark yellow and #11 green. For infrared, I also use #29 dark red and the Hoya R72. When I shot a lot of color transparency film, I used a polarizer and warming filters (81A, 81B) and, on very rare occasions, a Tiffen Color Enhancing filter. An enhancing filter is great "sometimes" and absolutely wretched most of the time.
     
  16. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    I use colored plastic wrap.
     
  17. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    'I use colored plastic wrap.'

    Have you tried painting the front element with nail varnish?

    I've pretty much switched to B+W MRC filters. Their older multi-coating seemed softer and more prone to damage than Hoya, but MRC seems very good. B+W are also the best for odd sizes and types. I do find that there are times when multi-coating helps - and the importance varies from lens to lens. It seems to have more to do with the curvature of the front of the front element than anything else.

    I generally have a set of one or two yellows, yellow-green and red or deep red for all my lenses, with yellow-green being the favourite. For some common sizes I also have green, orange and IR filters.

    For colour film I have KB6 for partial correction when the ambient light is warmer than the film balance, KR3 for high altitude and at sea, and CC10M & CC20M for using with fluorescent lights.

    I'm not at all keen on grads, but have a set of Schneider ND grads and one of their gentle blue grads - the latter for use in extremis when a grey sky just has to look a bit less grey (not my bag at all, but there are times when the devil drives...). If someone gave me a tobacco or coral grad I'd have to cut their throat with it, so be warned. 'Two pieces of glass, like a centre filter? So that's how they do it.' Anyway, the Schneiders are good, and come in 4"x5.65" size - very useful.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  18. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I use Hoya screw in filters. They are well coated and made with good glass, but not that expensive. I use the usual B&W range (yellow, orange, green, red), plus IR. For colour I use a polariser and a Tungsten converter. I almost never use a lens without a filter that is basically there to protect the front element: Skylight 1B for colour and the same or a yellow for B&W.

    David.
     
  19. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have a big heap of "everything", including Hoya, Cokin A and P, and Lee. The only Cokin filters I use are the fanciest coloured gels, they have the only -yellow filter I've seen. Weird effect on landscapes and yellow flowers...

    Lee is it for anything serious. Except my old folders, I have a yellow Leica filter which fits most of those:wink:
     
  20. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    I have UV, Polariser, Orange and some other filters from Jessops, and they're ok. I also use B&W Red/Orange filter which is very good, and very well built (bought it at a local photo chain store when they had a sale: $7!!!).

    Depending on how much i will use the filter, the more I am willing to spend. My coloured filters for Black & White are used very much (especially the Orange filters)
     
  21. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    One can also build a number of special effect filters. Simply sandwich a selected piece of material between two UV or "Skylight" filters ... I have them with black and white net, crumpled saran wrap .. starburst shape cutouts ...
     
  22. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    I paint an UV filter with lots of stuff, but NEVER the front element of my lenses. It is easier to clean (and a lot cheaper to replace) a filter than a lens.

    Mortenq
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2004
  23. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I have a red, a green, a yellow, and a polarizer from Tiffen and they all work fine for me. I do have an orange filter from Hoya that was good, but now I'm seeing what look like bubbles. Could that be the "delamination" Mr. Barker was talking about? Guess I'll have to replace it.
     
  24. anyte

    anyte Member

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    Great topic - a question I wouldn't have thought to ask myself. Even better information - some ideas that would have never occured to me.

    I, being the young photog pup that I am, use whatever tickles my fancy. There's no rhyme or reason to how I chose the filters I buy.
     
  25. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I use the double coated Hoyas that camerafilters.com sells. Good prices, low shipping and fast service.
     
  26. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Coated lenses?