View Full Version : Viewing filters

Mark McCarvill
6-Jul-2005, 17:57
Any opinions on the two viewing filters below?

Is it possible to obtain (or make) a viewing filter onto which one could attach another filter (e.g. yellow, green) to compare tonal separation with and without various filters?

Spectra #1 Glass Panchromatic Viewing Filter


Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter


Paul Butzi
6-Jul-2005, 18:02
you might find this thread helpful
largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/502526.html (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/502526.html)

6-Jul-2005, 21:36
From what I can see of the Spectra, it's exactly the same as the Tiffen, except the Tiffen comes with a nice case (and for half the money)! I own the Tiffen...

If this is the style you like, deffinitely go for the Tiffen! But don't do it until you look at the Calumet-Zone VI model...

Joseph O'Neil
7-Jul-2005, 07:25
I always look at my scence with my filter attached to the lens, be it yellow, green, orange, etc. I find it helps me, but then, i am colour blind (about 50% "normal" vision) so I probally already see the world more in tonal qualities than colours anyhow.

However, there is a technique for you "colour sighted" guys to help seperate tonality from colour, that actually comes from the world of amatuer astronomy. To seperate tones / colours while observing planets through a telescope, guys will use a bino-viewer (think of a microscope with dual eyepieces comming out - or see this link as an example http://www.stellarvue.com/bvtele.html )

The "trick" is to use two radically different colour filters, one on each eye (eyepiece filters, like camera filters, screw into place)

So what do do is this - take a red and green fitler, or a yellow and blue filter - something on opposite sides of the colour chart, and look at your scence before you get to the camera, holding one filter in front of each eye. Some people report getting a bit of a headache, and also, it does nto seem to work for everyone the same, so don't go out and buy a filter just to do this. But if you already have these filters in your camera bag, costs nothing to try (except for some weird looks from people walking past :).

I tiwll be a bit problematic to do this under your darkcloth while looking at the ground glass, so try it before you go under the hood, just look at the landscape "naked eye" if you will.

Mind you - the best solution will be a digital camera that instantly converts you images to greyscale on the little viewscreen. :)

Mark McCarvill
7-Jul-2005, 08:08
Paul – I'd already had a look at this thread and found it helpful. Thanks.

Rich – The Zone VI viewing filter certainly seems popular but I couldn’t find more information on it (e.g. the Calumet web site doesn’t list it).

Joe – Very interesting idea. I'll try it (and make sure I have some Tylenol just in case ...).

7-Jul-2005, 08:34
Just an idea, I use a pair of cheap gas welding goggles. Choose a dark pair. They are quite cheap and will do till either you don’t need them or get something better.

Ken Lee
7-Jul-2005, 09:36
The Calumet/Zone VI filter is tan-colored, and if my recollection serves me well, contains a gelatin filter sandwiched between glass. The filter is an old Kodak (the Wratten number escapes me) for which I once saw a spectral transmission curve. It was fairly linear across the color space. It was the best they could do at the time, within the limitations of cost, etc.

Although it is tan, you can see certain colors through it anyhow - especially when they are saturated. Since I print in warm-toned Palladium/Platinum, the tan cast is fairly approximate of the final print.

The best way to get a truly B&W image would be to use a digital camera in monochrome mode - that is, if your subject falls within a very narrow brightness range. Otherwise, the values will blow at one or both ends of the scale. I find the filter much easier, smaller, lighter, etc.

I use mine all the time, and have attached some tape with markings to denote different aspect ratios: 4x5/8x10, 5x7, etc. Knowing how far to hold it from your eye, you can also simulate the cropping effect of a variety of lenses.

It is especially helpful for students like me.

Eric Woodbury
7-Jul-2005, 11:39
I have used Peak viewing filters for years. They are a deep amber color, similar to the wratten #90, only darker. The higher density is a benefit for evaulating contrast. I don't know why amber is the 'standard' color for BW viewing filters. Theoretically, the filter should be blue for BW viewing. This is to translate what the eye sees (very green sensitive) to what the film sees (blue-green). Harrison & Harrison Optical, who make equipment for the movie biz in Porterville CA, make an assortment of viewing filters, including blue.


7-Jul-2005, 11:46
I just spent a while searching through the calumet site. Couldn't find the filter either. I hate it when they do that. You could give them a call. I noticed that they do drop things from the site now and then, but they come back at a later date...

The Zone VI is a Wratten #90 sandwiched between two thin glass plates, surrounded by a plastic frame. It is/was the best of them as far as I'm concerned. But the Tiffen works quite well and is probably easier to carry, and cheaper...

I'm not sure how well the 'welding goggle' idea would work. They are very green tinted. You'd have to get a very light shade, more for brazing than welding. My welding lenses are pretty opaque to daylight, just being able to see the direct sun disk! You could also just buy replacement lenses and mount them in something more practicle to carry...

For all the trouble, I would just go with the Tiffen and be done with it... A couple of years ago, I did find a Zone VI used for my 6x6, but they sure don't show up very often...

Mark McCarvill
8-Jul-2005, 09:37
Thanks, all. I've decided to try the Tiffen. Looking forward to trying it out.

Eric Woodbury
11-Dec-2017, 16:50
Cut a little black tape mask that matches your film's aspect ratio and stuff it in there. Doubles as a framing aid.

Happy snapping.

12-Dec-2017, 05:56
Cut a little black tape mask that matches your film's aspect ratio and stuff it in there. Doubles as a framing aid.

Happy snapping.

That's my approach. I took an inexpensive #90 gelatin filter, cut a 4x5 proportioned hole in a gray card (but still attached with clear tape) I can use it as a white or gray card, open it up as a viewing filter, or use it with a tape measure to choose my lens. Kills four birds with one stone.