I've still got stacks of wratten gel filters with their $12usd price tag still on the paper sleeve, never been opened. When those were the standard it wasnt unheard of to have a $1000usd of wratten filters in your location gear for whatever may pop up while out on a shoot for color compensation and balance....phew glad they arent that much anymore!
Originally Posted by Nikanon
M. David Farrell, Jr.
~Buying a Nikon doesn not make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner!
~Everybody has a photographic memory, but not everybody has film!
I've just been going through, cleaning and organizing the 100 or so filters I've collected over the years. A lot of Tiffen and Hoya, a fair number of Nikons, a few Vivitar/Promaster/Fotomate/Samigon, a Canon and Minolta or two, a couple of B+W and several Kenkos. Some of them are scratched, for which I can't blame the maker. Some of them are cloudy, for which maybe I can. Almost to exclusion, the cloudy ones are Tiffen, but then I have more Tiffen than others -- mostly I bought them (and Hoya) because the price was right. Many came in used, either on lenses I bought or from the usual sources.
There are two ways (maybe more) to make a filter: color the glass or sandwich a non-glass colored filter between two layers of glass. Tiffen uses the latter, and I suspect that's the source of the cloudiness. It's not on the surface of the glass and no amount of cleaning will remove it.
Of the filters currently available new, I have the following observations:
- Nikon no longer makes a full range of filters, having abandoned most B&W and color correction filters as "not necessary for digital." Their older chrome/brass filters are very nice, but their black ones tend to bind more than others.
- Hoya still makes some colors (red, yellow, etc.) certainly more than Nikon. HMC are nearly as much as B+W non-coated. I haven't seen any pattern of problems with Hoyas, and the mounts are nice.
- Tiffen makes a good range of filters, but I suspect their quality at this time.
- B+W makes a complete range of filters, no questions on quality, but coated filters are ungodly expensive.
- Heliopan and Formatt, similar to B+W, possibly less extensive lineup.
- Other common names an unknown quantity (Marumi?)
- Lots of cheap filters available on eBay, quality suspect.
- Many cheap filters use plastic retaining rings that don't hold up. Loose glass is a problem in a number of them.
- Nikon uses spring-retainers in at least some of their filters, and when the glass comes loose (it will) there's no way to tighten them back down.
- Lots of used filters available from eBay and KEH, but I've gotten some bad ones (scratches or cloudy) so I'm reluctant to buy more.
- I've never used Cokin-style filters, the idea of putting plastic in front of the lens doesn't appeal. I have a few that came with other equipment and I'm not impressed.
The long and short of it is, I don't use filters unless I need them, and coating isn't always a concern (I know how to minimize flare) so I'll probably buy Hoya (non-HMC) if I can get the size/type I need, and B+W uncoated when I can't. New, too, unless I really trust the seller.
I probably could have saved some money in the long run had I figured this out 40 years ago, but hey, live and learn.
The only B+W filter I have was bought when the Ritz Camera in my area was going out of business. The only reason I bought it is because it was dirt cheap. Having used it for a while, I can say that if I had the money to buy them, B+W would be all that I'd buy. Not only because of the quality of the glass, but the fact that they screw on and off with ease, and they are resistant to damage. Being that price is somewhat of an object to me, I usually go with Hoya. They're a good match between quality and price.
"Panic not my child, the Great Yellow Father has your hand"--Larry Dressler
Data instead of anecdotes
In the US at least, B+W and Heliopan use brass mounts; the other brands use aluminum. Just one filter galled to an aluminum lens' threads might be enough to convince you the higher price of brass was worth it.