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06-17-2012, 05:07 AM   #1
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Color filters for B & W photos

Good day,

As the title says, I am asking myself if I should buy color filters for shooting B & W photos, or should I spend the money on a decent ND filter?
The camera is a K5...

Arguments and what not please?

Thank you!

Down, you have some unprocessed samples. Not the best, as usual but striving for better.








06-17-2012, 05:19 AM   #2
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The colour filters you can simulate by software so there isnt a significant advantage to gain there.
06-17-2012, 09:50 AM   #3
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Digital filters can fairly replicate the usual B&W optical filters. But digital doesn't work the same way and can't totally replace optical filters. Digital works by mixing the data from the RGBG pixels. Optical filters have high- or low- or band-pass characteristics that just can't be matched digitally. For most B&W photography, the differences are trivial. But are exceptions:

* One of my hobby-horses is replicating the look of early photographic emulsions, which only 'saw' ACTINIC (UV, violet, blue) light. A digital Blue filter does not adequately give this effect; I use various opticaal blue-violet or light-blue CC (color correction) filters for this.

* Using a Red optical filter seems to increase the sensor's dynamic range a bit.

* InfraRed (IR-pass) filters can NOT be replicated by digital mixing. Some IR-type work can be done with a 720nm filter, which passes enough visible light to compose and meter. Shooting deeper-IR, like with 780-900-950-1000nm filters, requires either 1) shooting blind, 2) setting up and then adding the filter, or 3) modding the camera for IR. I won't go into that here.

* I have some split-color filters, one half-Green, the other half-Orange. Like a GND filter, these are useful for applying their effects to just half the image, especially split 'scapes. The effects probably *could* be applied digitally, but this is more fun!

* Filters for spectrum-slicing, color-correction, and other effects, are also fun to play with. Some spectrum-slicing filters, like IR-pass, work best with a modded camera, but can still be played with on their own; tripod may be required.

* Not quite what you asked, but I use a Yellow filter shooting color, specifically glaring neon lights at night. Nice effects ensue.

Digital B&W filters can be quite satisfactory for most purposes. Optical filters are just another realm of fun.

BTW I have tons of B&W filters, none of which I went out of my way for, none of which I paid much for. I buy batch-lots of photo gear on eBay (pick out the best, resell the rest). Many of these lots are old toggers' bags. Many of these contain filters. I am overflowing with filters. For B&W work and spectrum-slicing experimentation, it's not necessary to buy premium products. Just use a hood and don't aim into the sun. Yes, get a good ND filter. Yes, also get some cheap B&W filters. You'll find out soon enough whether you want to upgrade. Have fun!

Last edited by RioRico; 06-17-2012 at 09:59 AM.
06-17-2012, 10:44 AM   #4
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Thanks for all those who read this and mostly, to those who answered.
I' ve decided to buy 6 such filters, but I' m unsure because I don' t know the brands.

Panchromar and Hakuba


Did anybody use them? What are the overall results? Good, bad? They are about 7 dollars a piece, so not that expensive.

Thank you again!

06-17-2012, 01:54 PM   #5
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7 dollars, i wont do that because filter will add glass and reflective area decreasing your image quality so if you going to put a filter on it and use those filters a lot then get some good ones.
06-17-2012, 03:05 PM   #6
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If you must get cheap filters, get cheap OLD filters. Cheap new ones aren't worth the money.
06-17-2012, 07:27 PM   #7
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those coloured filters should indeed be cheap second hand because nobody use them anymore
06-17-2012, 08:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
7 dollars, i wont do that because filter will add glass and reflective area decreasing your image quality so if you going to put a filter on it and use those filters a lot then get some good ones.
They are SH indeed.

06-17-2012, 08:46 PM   #9
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Well, converting to B&W from RGB quires computer processing too and ultimately is not the same as B&W film. So, obviously there's nothing to lose by trying the cheap filters (it is fun and you can learn a lot), but you might get more mileage out of increasing your skills with your photo software.
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