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10-30-2009, 05:44 PM   #1
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The Best Filter? is there such a thing?

I dont think this simple question should start a flame war, but I am really interested to know what people think.

There is a startling array of filters on the market, and to the best of my knowledge (although I admit to not having looked very hard either ) there is no "guide" or "opinion" on the different brands.

These are the brands I have heard of:
Hoya (of course)
Kenko
Tiffen
Cokin
B+W

No doubt there are lots more, please add them to the list.

Then, as I discovered recently, courtesy of Marc Langille's workshop, there are filters and filters, as in there is a "thin" or "top end" offering from most of these manufacturers.

Would anyone care to summarise what is available and why there is a difference (if indeed there is) and in what situations you would use one of these "top end" filters....which are not cheap!!

Interested to get your input as this may develop into a very helpful data base of sorts.

Cheers
Grant

10-30-2009, 06:23 PM   #2
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Hey Grant, there's a lot of threads talking about filters. I've become very picky over the last year and only use filters now when I have to, to protect the lens in harsh weather for instance, or when I want a polarizer or ND filter.

Check here for technical articles and comparison of different filters:
Articles - Lenstip.com

I've always bought the best filters I could afford and agree wholeheartedly there's no reason to put a cheap filter on a good lens (unless you absolutely have to).

Currently I'm using:
B&W f-Pro CPL on my 16-50 and 20/28; it's outstanding (to me) and cost @us$125;
Hoya HMC CPL on everything else; it seems fine, but sometimes I wonder.... ;
Kenko Pro1 Digital Protector on a few when I'm working (at sea) or need protection for some reason; seem fine;
Hoya HMC Super UV on the 16-50 all the time for protection, but I take it off when I shoot usually; seems fine.

hth
10-30-2009, 07:56 PM   #3
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Thanks Steven.
That is very, very helpful.
Maybe Adam could sticky that, it would be a great reference point for people.
10-30-2009, 08:47 PM   #4
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Use a lot of B+Ws but I find the new Hoya HDs to be excellent.

10-30-2009, 09:30 PM   #5
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I've found uncoated uv filters to introduce a lot of flare, so I pretty much stick with Hoya HMC filters. They're multicoated but not as pricey as B+W. A good compromise, as far as I am concerned.

Lenses aren't as easy to scratch as you might fear, but a (good) filter is cheap insurance.
10-30-2009, 09:34 PM   #6
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Yeah, that site is pretty good. I'm glad it was helpful to you. I'd like to find some corroborating info, but trial and error may have to do.

A couple of other details:
The last couple Hoya filters I've bought have been a PITA to clean. There seems to be an endless supply of oil residue from the edge/retaining rings.
Not so with the Kenkos so far.
Also, step-up rings are your friends. The B&W CPL I have is 77mm to fit the 16-50. I bought a 67-77mm step-up ring to use it on the A 20/28. A $10 ring saved me $100.
The Hoya CPL I have is 52mm to fit a lens I no longer have (and a future A 24/2.8). I bought a 49-52mm step up ring and use it on 4 lenses.
I keep a 52mm rubber hood in my bag. When I'm using the 52mm CPL I screw the rubber hood onto it which makes adjusting the filter much easier. Again this works with all 4 lenses I use that filter on and was cheap.
Buy some filter wrenches (2 of each filter size you use) and keep them in your bag. Your filters will get stuck and probably at the worst possible times.

cheers

QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
Thanks Steven.
That is very, very helpful.
Maybe Adam could sticky that, it would be a great reference point for people.
10-30-2009, 09:56 PM   #7
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I use B+W for UV (protector) in harsh environments or for lenses with very exposed front elements.

For Polariser I use Marumi Super DHG, they are still very good quality, easy to clean and more than a little cheaper than B+W or Hoya HD..

I also found Hoya hard to clean and the Kenko Pro1 I found generally terrible build, I just seemed to get faulty ones (spilt paint on the frame or glass itself, poor fitting etc etc) far too often.

BTW Steven: Thanks for that review link it actually justified my decision to go with Marumi over Hoya.. As they say regarding the expensive Hoya HD - "This filter’s score was the highest among other products of Hoya. Currently it costs about 350 PLN so it is more expensive than the products of Marumi/Fujiyama, which were placed higher in the ranking."

Last edited by joele; 10-30-2009 at 11:08 PM.
10-30-2009, 10:11 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by joele Quote
I also found Hoya hard to clean and the Kenko Pro1 I found generally terrible build, I just seemed to get faulty ones (spilt paint on the frame or lens itself, poor fitting etc etc) far too often.
HOYA/Kenko HMC/DMC/HMC SUPER are difficult to clean, but the HD is totally different. Been using varies HOYA for 2 decades, I have yet to come across one that's defective. The only B+W CPL that I bought a decade ago however, had loose retaining ring, and the rotating ring was stiff as hxll. But once I fixed it, it was nice (just too thick for my taste).

10-30-2009, 10:17 PM   #9
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Even objective reviews seem to not to agree on the 'best' filter, the one least affecting IQ.
Probably means between Hoya HMC, SHMC, HD, B+W MRC F-Pro and Marumi MRCs there is little between them - they're all quality filters. I have at least one of each and can't fault any (except a Hoya Pro1 filter I had which also had a weak retaining frame, and I felt it was overrated, particularly for the higher price tag it came with...)
10-31-2009, 02:37 AM   #10
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Apart from being easier to clean, do Hoya HD fliters have any other advantage over Super HMC?
10-31-2009, 04:06 AM   #11
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Officially, HD has 99.3% transmission while the HMC SUPER is 99.7%. Pentax SMC, B+W MRC & HOYA DMC/HMC are 99.8%, 99.6% & 97% just for comparsion. However, I have owned a # of HMC SUPER from different batches and their coatings vary, some being more reflective. The HD is said to have stronger glass. The HD CPL was made with stretched and sealed foil, like the B+W Kaesemann. It also consumes less light than regular CPL and with front thread, unlike some slim CPL. The glass is mounted on the metal rim w/o retaining ring or metal spring. The HD CPL 77mm I have is rather thin, and might be too thin to hold securely to some. Regular HMC SUPER CPL has no front thread, but Pro1 does (DMC or HMC SUPER favour). Against the B+W, the biggest con of B+W slim CPL is that they haven't front thread.
10-31-2009, 05:08 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Officially, HD has 99.3% transmission while the HMC SUPER is 99.7%. The HD is said to have stronger glass.
So unless you want a heavy duty filter (is that what the HD means?) it seems like the cheaper HMC Super is the better bet. (Polarizing filters aside).
10-31-2009, 05:25 AM   #13
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Marumi Super DHG filters are top notch. My old Hoya Pro1 has ridiculously soft coatings and got scratched during gentle cleaning, the Marumi is great optically and holding up well so far.
Read the lenstip.com article linked above (for both polarizers and UV filters) - Marumi performs as well as the "top range" filters several times the price.
10-31-2009, 09:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spock Quote
So unless you want a heavy duty filter (is that what the HD means?) it seems like the cheaper HMC Super is the better bet. (Polarizing filters aside).
HD stands for High Definition, and these filters are tough - employing a technology used in eye glasses to make the glass stronger. Also the polarizers have less light loss, I guess using much the same technology that Singh-Ray use in the LB (Lighter Brighter) filters. In addition, and something that has great appeal to me, they employ a coating that repels dust and water. One test report I read had the reviewer trying to write on the filter with a felt pen, but the ink simply beaded up on the glass making it easy to remove. The same procedure on a regular filter made it a write off.

Apparently the new Kenko Zeta filters are the same as the Hoya HD and I have just ordered the Kenko models in 49mm size for my Limiteds as Hoya doesn't offer the HD filters in that size.
10-31-2009, 09:58 AM   #15
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Hoya IS Kenko
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