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04-19-2017, 11:38 AM   #1
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Filter Brands and Quality

I was just looking on eBay for Skylight 1B filters and there were names I recognised like Hoya and Jessops but some I had never heard of like Regent or names that have a good heritage but have turned into rebadge products like Bell & Howell ?

I thought Hoya must be OK, Jessops is a shop brand so I don't know, depends who made them I suppose. But what about these other brands random names ?

Do you find it makes any difference with filters what brand you get and if so what are the ones to get or avoid ?

04-19-2017, 12:00 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frosty66 Quote
Do you find it makes any difference with filters what brand you get
Brand is semi-important if it let's you weed out the cheap 'generic' stuff. But not always a good indicator of quality. For example Hoya has a number of lines in their range with varying levels of quality and price. So a 'budget' Hoya filter designed for low-end sales might be really bad but another Hoya one from their high end range might be really good.

Not just picking on Hoya either, most of the brands have different quality levels within their range.

On Ebay are looking for new or used? And is price or quality your primary concern? After buying a bunch of used ebay filters and being disappointed I am now buying only high end, name brand filters from either B+W, Marumi or Hoya. Recently I purchased a set of ND filters from Breakthrough Photography and am really impressed with the results, but they are not cheap.
04-19-2017, 12:12 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
After buying a bunch of used ebay filters and being disappointed I am now buying only high end, name brand filters from either B+W
I couldn't agree more. My strategy now is to pick one good filter that would work with all my lenses (using step up rings), rather than using cheap ones. Filters make such a huge difference I can't overstate it. And you don't even have to pixel peep. I had an ND filter that I got for about $40 CDN, and it produced completely washed out images. They kind of looked like expired film. Could be cool, I suppose, but not what I want from an ND filter. Now I stick to B+W and Singh Ray. Heard a lot of good things about Breakthrough too...
04-19-2017, 12:20 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Brand is semi-important if it let's you weed out the cheap 'generic' stuff. But not always a good indicator of quality. For example Hoya has a number of lines in their range with varying levels of quality and price. So a 'budget' Hoya filter designed for low-end sales might be really bad but another Hoya one from their high end range might be really good.

Not just picking on Hoya either, most of the brands have different quality levels within their range.

On Ebay are looking for new or used? And is price or quality your primary concern? After buying a bunch of used ebay filters and being disappointed I am now buying only high end, name brand filters from either B+W, Marumi or Hoya. Recently I purchased a set of ND filters from Breakthrough Photography and am really impressed with the results, but they are not cheap.
I see thanks, that makes it rather difficult buying used from eBay then since I won't know which are the good line or the bad withing a brand. Perhaps what I will do is to just get some cheap ones to put on everything but have some decent ones for the main ones I'm using at the time.

04-19-2017, 12:25 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frosty66 Quote
I see thanks, that makes it rather difficult buying used from eBay then since I won't know which are the good line or the bad withing a brand. Perhaps what I will do is to just get some cheap ones to put on everything but have some decent ones for the main ones I'm using at the time.
You can also find Pentax SMC filters new and used on eBay or other sites. (Pentax also made single coated) Pentax ones are nice as they came in the popular filter sizes for Pentax lenses and skipped the weird ones. They were also a line of 6x7 bayonet filters for that system.

Otherwise Schneider B+W are my first choice for third party filters. (MRC are the multi coated ones)

Phil.
04-19-2017, 12:46 PM   #6
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You may want to read this: UV filters test - Introduction - LensTip.com
04-19-2017, 12:57 PM   #7
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For the past ten years I have only bought B+W filters. Pricey, but I've been impressed with their quality.

A number of years ago I did some testing...same subject, lighting, time with B+W filters on and without any filters, just the camera glass. I couldn't tell the difference, which is good enough for me. Not a scientific test, just using my eye, but my eye is the final judge for all my photography.

My philosophy is why would anyone want to put a cheap filter over your expensive lens glass. I still want the protection a filter can provide, but I put a filter of quality on.

04-19-2017, 01:04 PM   #8
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I have some Marumi & Hoyo filters I like, but then discovered X3 filters. I have a X3 six stop & CPL for 77mm and use step up rings to fit my other lens. I am going to acquire a 10 stop ND & CPL X3 filter for 49mm, since that is my most popular ring size, so I don't have to use step up rings for that size.
I just checked and X3 has changed their name for some of their filters, X4 & X2, but the company is still the same: Breakthrough Filters ? Breakthrough Photography
04-19-2017, 02:37 PM   #9
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+1 on Breakthrough Photography! Very happy with mine.

Just a short story about them. Before a trip to the Palouse last year I ordered an X4 CPL from them in 82mm for the DFA 24-70. When shipping was delayed I emailed and asked if it would ship before my trip. They emailed back quickly and said sadly, no. But they would, at no cost to me, send me the older X3 model ASAP and then the x4 when it was available. And would I kindly post the X3 back to them with the prepaid label when my X4 arrived? I did with a couple of 4x6's from the trip.
That is customer service by a company that understands photographers. And the products are top notch, heirloom quality that will last indefinitely. Pricey, but the best I have found yet.
04-19-2017, 04:09 PM   #10
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The only filter I use is a variable neutral density filter. I use it for outdoor off camera flash and long exposure waterfall shots. I bought a Hoya, in the bottom third pricewise among the choices at B&H Photo. The quality of this filter has proven to be excellent. IMO you don't necessarily have to pay top dollar to get good quality, but I would stick to well known brand names.
04-19-2017, 06:05 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by bxf Quote
Looks like they trashed the one Tiffen filter they tested, but I have found Tiffen filters at the same price point as Hoya filters to be as good as Hoya or better.
04-19-2017, 08:00 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
+1 on Breakthrough Photography! Very happy with mine.

Just a short story about them. Before a trip to the Palouse last year I ordered an X4 CPL from them in 82mm for the DFA 24-70. When shipping was delayed I emailed and asked if it would ship before my trip. They emailed back quickly and said sadly, no. But they would, at no cost to me, send me the older X3 model ASAP and then the x4 when it was available. And would I kindly post the X3 back to them with the prepaid label when my X4 arrived? I did with a couple of 4x6's from the trip.
That is customer service by a company that understands photographers. And the products are top notch, heirloom quality that will last indefinitely. Pricey, but the best I have found yet.
Yes the owner seems to really care about his company and that shows in his products and how he treats his customers.. and vice versa.

I have a Breakthrough Photography CPL and a step up ring.

That said I use Vu Sion NDFs as they are much cheaper (around 50 bucks for a 77mm) and only have a tiny tint to them.. very tiny actually.

I also have several Cokin P series square filters and those cast horribly... cost more than the Vu Sion NDFs though around 7 years ago when I bought them.

I think filters on the whole have improved drastically in the past 3 years. I still wouldn't buy one without reviews... just buying on brand name or price is not advised.
04-20-2017, 04:42 AM   #13
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According do my limited experience KENKO REALPRO and Hoya Fusion antistatic filters are both very good and relatively cheap.
04-20-2017, 05:29 AM - 1 Like   #14
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IF you want bargains in filters, and also Hoya, Tiffen and other name-brand "leftovers" @ excellent prices, and also just so you know about this site and all the things available there:

AdapterRings.com - Offical Site. The world's largest seller of Camera Adapter Rings.

Greatest source for all kinds of inexpensive filter-thread things - filters, step up/down rings, reversing rings, lens coupling rings, etc. Best quality? Not always. But is a coupling ring that costs three or four times as much really that much better?
04-21-2017, 11:01 AM   #15
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This is going to be a little long, but I figured it might help to share what I've learned about lens filters so far...

Watch our for fake name brand filters shipping from china. I've seen plenty of Hoya filters at unbelievable prices. I took a gamble just to see and the one I bought is definitely NOT a Hoya lens as labeled and advertised. It was supposed to be multicoated but from the looks it has no coating at all and it flares horribly.

I leave UV filters on my lenses all the time for easy cleaning and protection. I can't afford high end filters for all my lenses so I've explored some of the cheaper options. You really do get what you pay for (especially in the low end) but I'd say mid-level filters give about 80% of the performance of high end filters at half the price. True multicoating (usually denoted MC, SMC, HMC, or MRC) makes a big difference, especially when you use a UV filter in low light where you'll get flare from (most) cheap filters. I would avoid cheap Tiffen, Kenko, Vivitar, Fototiox, and Opteka filters and filter kits unless you're on a strict budget where a cheap filter is better than no filter at all. I tried a few when I started out, but I learned why they were cheap and ended up replacing them. Read reviews on Amazon, especially for cheaper lenses where people will often call out poor quality or if the claimed multi coating is any good. Just because a filter claims it's multicoated doesn't mean it's good, and not all multicoating is equal!

My UV filters stay on all the time (even under a C-PL), so I have one for each lens. I use C-PL's enough that I have a couple sizes to fit the lenses I use outside most. For specialty filters I don't use very often I buy 77mm filters so I can adapt them to any of my lenses. You can get step up / step down adapters relatively cheap. I like these Rangers ones because they're thinner than most so I don't worry about vignetting.

For UV filters the Sigma DG UV lenses have been my go to favorite at around $15-$30 depending on size, but some are harder to find since they've been discontinued. (Check Amazon). The multicoating does a good job of preventing flare in low light or sunlight. Be careful to make sure it's a "Sigma DG" UV filter and not a generic UV filter for a Sigma DG lens if you buy it on eBay.

Another brand I've just started using is Rangers, which you can get on Amazon or even cheaper on Ebay. (I don't think they're popular enough to have fakes yet, but look for eBay sellers in the US to avoid shipping delays.) I picked up a Rangers Pro UV filter with Gorilla Glass that I'm using on my Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 and it seems to be almost as good as the Sigma DG, but a much slimmer frame. The color of lights reflected off the surface is a slightly different color than the Sigma DG, but I haven't had any flare issues yet. I also have a Rangers Extreme Slim MRC (multi-resistant-coating) C-PL that I'm happy with so far.


I recently bought a cheap set of Rangers ND (neutral density) filters to play around with. They're plastic instead of glass and they add some color cast, but I knew this ahead of time from the Amazon reviews. In quick tests they decrease contrast a little bit and do shift color somewhat, but still do a decent job. They'll do for now, and I'll see if I actually use them much before I spend money on better multicoated glass versions. I also ordered a K&F Concept MRC ND1000 from China on eBay for half the price it goes for on Amazon, so I'll be curious to see how that works out for me.


As another option check Amazon Warehouse Deals. I just recently bought a higher end UV / IR cut filter to photograph some high temperature objects at 1000C / 1800F, so definitely hot enough to worry about black body radiation. The filter was intended to keep infrared radiation from heating up my sensor so I didn't want to cheap out. The one I bought is $140 new but I got an open box one with 'slight imperfections' for $40, and to be honest I can't even tell it's not new. It worked quite well too. The IR cut filter absorbed non-visible radiation so well that it was almost too hot to touch, but the front and rear lens elements were nice and cool. I didn't see a color change on my K-3 with or without the filter but without this external filter, the internal sensor IR filter would have absorbed heat right at the sensor, and the lens would have heated up too.

I hope this helps, and if I remember I'll update this when I've had more time to use my ND filters in the field. Happy shooting!

---------- Post added 04-21-17 at 02:12 PM ----------

One more thing... Keep in mind that Variable ND filters are basically two crossed polarizers, so at wide angles you'll probably get uneven darkening patterns at higher settings on the filter. You're probably better off buying single strength ND filters and switching or stacking them.

Also, I forgot to mention but thanks to the guys who recommended Breakthrough Photography filters. It's always nice to hear about good products and good companies, so I'll keep them in mind when I buy a filter next.
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