Filters? Hype or baloney?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by railman44, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. railman44

    railman44 TPF Noob!

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    As many of you have experienced in the photo mags or at your local camera store the pricing regarding filters varies greatly. Is there really a difference between a B+W or Hoya or even Promaster? Just looking at UV or Skylight filters one is perplexed by the number of coatings, the "pro" models and the ultra thin multi-coated models. Is this one of those nice bottle of wine or a really expensive bottle of wine arguements that most can't really tell the difference? Is there a "bad" filter other than a dirty or soiled one?
     
  2. LittleMan

    LittleMan TPF Noob!

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    What I've heard and understand is that an expensive filter will not scratch or fade as easily. The more expensive one's also have a higher quality glass so it will not have any defects that may distort your image.
    I believe that the more expensive one's will have a much higher quality coating that will do what it's supposed to do more effectively.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Someday I'll have to spring for a B+W polarizing filter so I can compare it to the Hoya and Tiffen filters I've always used. I've always heard that B + W are excellently made, with top of the line materials. I'm sure the difference is a bigger deal if the photography requires very precise color control like photographing art and science. For what I do Tiffen and Hoya are fine for a quarter of the price.
     
  4. Kodan_Txips

    Kodan_Txips TPF Noob!

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    Be on the careful lookout on ebay - I recently bought a lens for my minolta SLR that, as an aside, included a multicoated UV filter that was worth more than the cost of the lens, so it now sits nicely on the front of my Nikkor portrait zoom.
     
  5. wharrison

    wharrison TPF Noob!

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    Although I have used Tiffen filters in the past - with the exception of those for my Leica rangefinder lenses, in which case I purchased Leitz filters (probably B + W filters made by Schneider Kreutznach) - I am now switching to the exclusive use of B+W filters for our Canon AE-1 & A-1 cameras for a number of reasons, but basically because of their high standards: the glass used, their manufacture; and the special coatings in some of their filters.

    But - at the same time - I am making certain that each of our Canon FD lenses has the appropriate Canon lens shade and is used at all times.

    So even though B+W filters are comparatively expensive, why not maintain the excellence of your lenses with less than superior filters? So save your money and purchase when you are able to do so.

    In the meantime, a story with a moral:

    Decades ago, one of my friends and I were working at "competitive" camera shops in Peoria, IL. Joel was - then - as much of a Minolta nut as I was a Leica nut.

    One day, I happened to walk into Rex Camera Shop and began speaking with Joel, who eventually brought up the question of dust in making B & W enlargements. He had recently purchased a Minolta enlarger with a diffused light source and was having a significant problem with "dust" on his 8 X 10 B & W enlargements.

    In the process of discussing this "dust problem", he informed me that he had cleaned the B & W negative more than several times; cleaned the condensors and the enlarging lens more than several times; and had even cleaned the entire enlarger more than once. No matter how often or how thoroughly he cleaned, his 8 X 10 prints still produced an array of "dust spots" on the print.

    During the course of our discussion, I kept on asking him whether he had the print on hand or with him so that I could actually see what was going on. Well, even though Joel was a good photographer and a rather fine fellow, he could often be a "Barney Fife" character, when things went wrong.

    Finally and with some reluctance, Joel pulled out the pieces of one of his 8 X 10 prints from the trash can; he had become so frustrated trying to solve his "dust" problem with other members of the staff at Rex Camera that he had torn up the print into several pieces and thrown them away.

    After he had reconstructed the torn pieces into an 8 X 10 print, I immediately saw the source of his "dust" problem and requested the use of an Agfa loupe for confirmation. Joel was more than a bit puzzled when he handed it to me.

    Joel had taken a photograph of a young lady and had lighted the scene with the light slightly to one side behind her head and then used a silver umbrella reflector to bounce light back onto her face. Nice composition; attractive young lady; good exposure w/detail, etc.; but there was something wrong.

    The combination of the lighting behind and slightly to one side of the model and the position of his camera lens w/skylight filter and no lens shade had resulted in hundreds and hundreds of tiny, small, and moderately sized reflections of his lens's aperture around each side of the model's face. One could even see the hexagonal shapes with the naked eye, if one bothered to carefully look.

    Obviously, the angle of the lens and the light and the lack of sufficient baffling or coating within the lens elements - coupled with the unnecessary use of a skylight filter (Joel was using B & W film) and the lack of a lens shade all contributed to the production of hundreds and hundreds tiny dust spots, i.e. aperture blade images on the negative!!!

    I then informed Joel that he would be better off not using a filter considering the fact that he was shooting indoors, using B & W film; had no high winds about to blow dust or dirt into his camera lens, etc. I also informed him that he should make use of an appropriate lens shade to cut out any extraneous light, improve contrast, etc. Hopefully, all of this - coupled with a slight change in lighting would solve the "dust" problem.

    After we had discussed the solution of his "dust problem", I paused for a moment and said that there was one other thing he could do to eliminate this type of "dust" problem - I did so knowing full well that Joel had at times exhibited "Barney Fife" characteristics and that he was also more of a Minolta "nut" than I was a Leica "nut".

    I promptly informed him - with an impish smile, of course, - that the better and/or final solution to his "dust problem" was to switch to using a Leica, since their lenses have far better internal baffling, coating, glass, etc.

    My Mark Twain sense of humor hit Joel fair and square on the forehead and he went storming off exhibiting a full array of "Barney Fife" characteristics. Since then (years later), Joel has seen the "Leitz" and is now using a Leica SLR camera and Leica lenses.

    Well, here is the "moral" to this story:

    1. There is a time, place and reason for the use of filters;

    2. Purchase the best filters possible to maintain the quality of your lenses, i.e. in this case to minimize the possible problems of internal reflections;

    3. Always make use of the appropriate lens shade.

    Hope this provides a useful discussion.

    Bill
     
  6. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I have a 77mm B&W polarizer. It's incredibly well made. It weighs almost as much as the lens I use it on :p The metal rim and threads are very heavy duty, so it glides onto the lens with ease. As far as image quality, I don't know if I can see a difference between it and a Tiffen.
     

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