Best Filters Available? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

What are the best filters available, those ground as lenses (e.g. with Schott glass) that have at least single-coating, if not multi-coating. For example, I know that B+W are high quality that meet the above standards.

If a brand of filter has a designation to indicate their best quality filters, versus their not-so-best quality filters, please indicate that designation so that one can know what to look for or request.

-- neil poulsen (, February 17, 2002


Heliopan is the only filter brand that only uses Schott glass and no glass for any filter from other sources. They are also slim brass rims threaded front and back on their non rotating type filters. Screw-in sizes to 135mm and Bayonet filters in Bay I, II, III, 8, 52, 50, 69 abd 70.

Coated or 16 layer MC on most filters.

-- Bob Salomon (, February 17, 2002.

Neil, the general concensus of opinion would be that any modern multicoated filter is of excellent quality. However there are some filters that are hailed as being of superior quality, namely B+W and Heliopan. Both, I believe, feature Schott glass and black anodised brass mounts that prevent filters binding to lenses. The recent innovation at B+W appears to be MRC coating, that is regarded as state-of-the-art (this has a hardened outer coating to help prevent scratching). Trouble is that you PAY for such luxuries!! But I posted a thread a week ago relating to some pretty amazing deals on the latest B+W filters from Robert White. Got myself a 77mm Orange MRC for less than half the RRP!! Now everyone can afford the "best"? Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, February 17, 2002.

Bob why do you insist on repeating erroneous information? B&W also "only uses Schott glass and no GLASS from any other sources for their filters" - they both use plastic for a good number of their special effects filters. Get a life.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 17, 2002.

I use Cokin XL, cause i ahev a the need for that 120MM circle and the ability to move the gradation. I have shot several subjects with the filters and no filter all from the same tripod in the same ten minute interval. I use Rodenstock lenses and I find NO DIFFERENCE in resolution!!!. So don't worry be happy.

-- ED (, February 17, 2002.

"B&W also "only uses Schott glass and no GLASS from any other sources for their filters""

Because B+W does use glass from others on their ALU series which you probably don't know. That series also has aluminum rims rather then brass rims.

-- Bob Salomon (, February 17, 2002.

Ive always been real happy with Nikon filters.I have one size filters and use step rings to place these on my LF & MF lenses.

-- edsel adams (, February 17, 2002.

I wholeheatedly second the Heliopan recommendation. The slimness of the mount is not some idle selling point, but very impt., particularly for the movements we use with wide angle lenses. (I use B+W filters, and found out this the hard way, but am too deeply invested in B+W's to buy a second set of Heliopans right now to correct.)

Also, order the largest size filter you can match to your lens with step-up ring. Ie, for 67mm lens thread, go with a 86mm Heliopan filter if you can afford it, and a 67-86 Heliopan step-up ring, for example. Then you can minimize potential for mechanical vignetting, ang also use this filter with lens threads from 67mm up to 86mm.

-- Andre Noble (, February 17, 2002.

Heliopan filters are great, slim brass rings well put together. B+W has (or had?) thicker rings, and I have had quite a few locking rings come loose on B+W filters.

Nikon filters are also good, I like the Nikon A2 warming purely on subjective grounds - to me it gives a more natural look than other KR3/81A/B/C warming filters. Nikon filters are only made in some sizes: 39-52-62-72-77-82 and some more. Aluminum or brass rings? Not sure.

Hoya has excellent optical quality, makes multicoated filters that do not cost a fortune, might be important if you shoot a lot of superwideangle outdoors. Hoya uses aluminum rings, I think - they do occasionally lock up.

-- Åke Vinberg (, February 18, 2002.

Andre - Don't know where you're located but you might try buying from Europe. My B+W and Heliopan filters cost about 80% of the best prices that I could get in the states (actually the Heliopan IR's were much less), but the Heliopan stepping rings were about 1/3 of the B&H price (important when buying 30+ rings). The damn brass rings are nice - but weigh a ton!

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 18, 2002.

Bob - I know all about their ALU series Bob - but I've yet to see any of them. And so what? BTW read the Heliopan brochure when you get a chance - on the first page they state that they use aluminum rings "for some rings, and the rigid lens hoods". I still prefer Hoya filters - unfortunately they don't make 86mm and 105mm multi-coated filters, so I went with B+W. Luckily I found a supplier in Germany who can get me the other sizes of B+W and Heliopan filters at Hoya prices, so I have stocked-up. I DO know that I won't get the WONDERFUL lifetime USA warranty with my filters - but I'm willing to take the risk. Now go away.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 18, 2002.

All bayonet rings are aluminum. All lenshood rings are made from the same brass as the step up rings except that the ring is rgooved so the silicon rubber material the hood is made from flows into the groove to make it impossible for the hood to fall off the ring.

What confused you is that Heliopan also makes straigh metal lens hoods in long and short sizes. These are threaded front and rear to make any desired length hood. They are available in sizes up to 105mm screw-in. The metal hoods are aluminum as they would be far to heavy if made from brass to screw into a lens.

But thaank you for the opportunity to correct your mis-statement and to point these excellent hoods out to the group.

They have also been used as spacerers to push a special effect filter, like a graduated ND out further from the lens to enhance the effect for them with longer lenses.

-- Bob Salomon (, February 18, 2002.

"All bayonet rings are aluminum. All lenshood rings are made from the same brass"

That is all Heliopan"

-- Bob Salomon (, February 18, 2002.

And my mis-statement was...? I'll grant you that Heliopan has the best selection far-and-away as far a stepping rings go, B+W's are cheaper(in Germany anyway)and probably as good, but they don't make for stock most of the sizes that I needed. Anyway, the best that I can do is to point out that people don't have to pay the rip-off USA prices on German stepping rings ($69.00 for a 105-95!), get them direct from Germany at 1/3 the cost (I think my 105-95 cost me less than $26.00). The Kaesmann polarizers are almost 1/2 the price over there also. I'll probably take a European vacation this year with the money I've saved (and buy more stuff!). Oh yeah, the 150mm SironarW that I picked-up in as-new condition in the box for $600.00 was icing on the cake. BTW when are you going to change the misleading ads that you run in the mags (rags?) still advertising the W's - you do know that they're no longer being made don't you? It's been a few years at least. Thanks for reminding me about the lenshoods - I'll have to compare prices on those.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 18, 2002.

"still advertising the W's"

The new ads start shortly.

-- Bob Salomon (, February 18, 2002.

"still advertising the W's"

The new ads start shortly.

However some W series lenses are sto;; available

-- Bob Salomon (, February 18, 2002.

I don't think you will ever be able to look at a print and say "yeah, that photograph was made using a B&W filter" or "there's a print made with a Tiffen filter." In my experience filters from any of the major filter manufacturers work equally well from an optical standpoint. I use Tiffen, B&W, Hoya, and probably a couple other brands that don't come immediately to mind. I could never look at any print I've ever made and tell you which filter was used. The only slight exception I know of is with color film and polarizers. Joe Englander wrote an article in the final issue of the magazine "Camera and Darkroom" showing prints made from a variety of polarizers. Each had a slightly different color cast. As I recall (it's been a while since I read the article) no one brand was particularly better or worse than the others, but if you got to know the color cast of a particular polarizer brand you probably could identify prints made with it. Otherwise my suggestion would be to just buy filters from major manufacturers on the basis of factors other than the effect on your prints. Price is one obvious factor. Another is weight. Aluminum filters rings are lighter than brass. Another is quality of construction. The glass in one Hoya filter I own is kind of loose - it moves around slightly in the ring. This has no effect on anything but it does give the impression of something less than top quality construction. I've never understood why, if my lens is multi coated, there would be any special advantage to using a multi coated filter but if there is then that would be another factor to consider.

-- Brian Ellis (, February 18, 2002.

Brian - I would suppose that the glass in the Hoya filter is loose to allow for the different expansion rates of the aluminum mount and the glass filter, you wouldn't want a real tight fit in warm weather then take it to the arctic. You'd really see filter threads binding then. My personal take is that almost any filter will do as long as it's multicoated - ghosting, flare, and hotspots are just too easy to generate to take a chance with anything else.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 18, 2002.

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