View Full Version : filter quality

Richard Schlesinger
18-Dec-2005, 12:46
I am aware that the consensus is that B&W, Heliopan, and probably Hoya make the best quality filters. Schott glass in the German ones, brass mounting rings etc. Tiffen would seem to be, at best, an also-ran. Laminated, I think, possibly subject to de-lamination, although I have never seen this happen.

Ctein, in his book Post Exposure, found he could not see a difference in image quality when using Ilford VC filters below the lens. While this is a somewhat different application, the filter, in this case plastic, is between the lens and the 'film'/paper.

Has anyone run tests, or does anyone know of any information that indicates an inferior image when using Tiffen or similar filters. On the faceof it, B&H are certainly better. But is there a detectable difference? Given the difference in price and the number of filters I have/want/need I am wondering.

18-Dec-2005, 13:01
gelatin filters are best IF you can keep them in good condition.

ronald moravec
18-Dec-2005, 13:49
I had Lee polyester in cardboard frames that went thru a flood. Still using them. Gels will not take this abuse.

Most of the Tiffens purchased new in the 1960`s have delaminated in the center suprisingly.
They are not useable. New Tiffins are fine, but will have a limited lifespan. I have Leica colored glass from the `60`s that are as new.

I have been buying B+w whenever possible lately.

Jim Rhoades
18-Dec-2005, 13:52
Grump; I will be interested in what others may have found through testing. The advantages of brass in the filter rings should not be overlooked. Aluminum galls when in contact with itself or other metals. Brass or carbon steel will polish itself. That's why cheap filters stick to the lens rings and sometimes you unscrew the front element.

Emrehan Zeybekoglu
18-Dec-2005, 15:04
Heliopan works very smoothly. No sticking so far. I prefer B+W & Heliopan. Haven't done any testing but I haven't noticed any degradation in my images as a result of using these filters. By the way, is Hoya considered a good brand? Considering that it's cheaper than the others I mentioned, is it acceptable?

Armin Seeholzer
18-Dec-2005, 17:06
Hoya is not it the same category of qualtity like B&W and Heliopan and Rodenstock. There was an MTF testing in the german Fotomagazin and Hoya was far behind the leaders!
You almost get what you pay for!

David A. Goldfarb
18-Dec-2005, 18:23
At a certain point I tested all of my filters for flare and ghosting, and generally found that multicoated filters were visibly better--even cheap multicoated filters like Vivitar VMC--than single-coated or uncoated filters, and that resin filters were in the middle. I culled out most of the bad ones and since then have generally stuck to Heliopan or B+W.

Richard Schlesinger
18-Dec-2005, 19:26
Jim, I am sure you are right that the B&H brass mount is preferable; I suppose any unlike metal will not gall, and as lens barrels seem to be aluminum, that leaves out a lot. I had thought Hoya quality was right up there with the German filters -they seem to be one of the few multicoated which, I would expect under certain conditions, would make a difference. I wonder why no plastic/polycarbonate mounts?

Gelatine is certainly fine, if rather fragile and, nowadays, rather pricey. I used to use them when they were relatively cheap, but they are nasty to handle in any kindofwind if not somehow mounted, and as noted are very fragile.

Currently I am using Lee 4" squares in their rubberband secured holder on a Grandagon 65. But this is a pain to handle. Perhaps the slim B&H glass filters will work - maybe some of you use them and know if they vignette. But they are expensive. My hands are getting very clumsy, and when cold small things like filters seem to take on a life of their own.

When I posed this question I was thinking primarily of the optical qualities. S K Grimes seems to have a step up ring that may enable a 67mm filter to be located right against the lens barrel, eliminating vignetting. I very much appreiciate the comments and information, and look forward to more!

18-Dec-2005, 19:40
Lee have expansion rings for all lens sizes and if you have their lens shade with a single filter holder, then I don' t see how they are a pain to use. If you need multiple filters at the same time then I think their is a double holder lens shade. Either of these work out cheaper than buying filters of different sizes for different lenses (if you are going for good quality that is).

Brian Ellis
18-Dec-2005, 19:48
I've run practical tests in the sense of owning at one time or another at least one of every filter brand made (including several Tiffens). I've never noticed any difference in the prints regardless of which brand was used. I certainly couldn't even begin to look at my prints and say which brand filter was used for which print. In the final issue of the magazine "Camera and Darkroom" Joe Englander published the results of his tests demonstrating that different polarizers created slightly different color casts but with that exception I've never known of or experienced any consistent differences in prints as among the different brands. I think some use more expensive materials and some are better made than others but I don't think there's a noticeable difference in the technical quality of the photographs from one brand to another.

Michael Gudzinowicz
19-Dec-2005, 05:28
I do have one Tiffen filter which destroys lens performance. It was attached to a Vivitar Ser 1 90-180 medical macro zoom that the previous owner thought was a dog (it isn't) and wanted to trash. The filter looks fine, however, when placed on any long focal length lens, the image is soft. I think the effect is due to a lack of planarity across the glass which gives a small, perhaps variable, +/- curvature. On a long lens, the effect of a filter that doesn't have a focal length equal to infinity becomes more pronounced. Anyway, I don't use Tiffen filters.

Armin Seeholzer
19-Dec-2005, 08:02
Sorry Brian

I have to fully disagree!
I see a differences in lenses for example a Leica and a cheap lens from Tokina!
And I also had some unsharpness with a Hoya Pola on a Wideangel-lens on my 35mm set up!
Do not have it since I switched to B&W and Rodenstock filters!
The MTF Test for this german Mag was done with a machine in the pricerange of a big house. All filters had ben put in front of the same lens und they just looked if the transmission did change and the sharpness and resolution did change, with the filter in front.
Some had color cast etc.
Especially Polas with 2 classes and a filter between semes to be very tricky to get planparallel for some companys!

Of course it is much more präsent in 35mm because of the bigger enlarging factor but, in my opinion a system is only as good as it weakest part and this is many times the filters!

Just my 2 cents!

Bob Salomon
19-Dec-2005, 09:09
"Rodenstock filters"

Rodenstock filters, Linhof filters and several more are Heliopan re-labeled filters. In the case of rodenstock they are also packaged in the Heliopan box with a Rodenstock label on the box and a Rodenstock silk screen name on the rim. Other then that they are standard Heliopan filters.

Eric Biggerstaff
19-Dec-2005, 10:24
I have used, or do use, every brand of filter mentioned in this thread and I have not been able to tell a difference between filter brands by looking at the image.Perhaps some are made "better" than others from the standpoint of the glass used, the mounting ring material, etc.; but in terms of image difference I cannot tell. Serveral well known photographers use Tiffen filters with success and I believe they are fairly large suppliers to Hollywood. I have never run a "test" other than actual use, so I could be way off base. Might make an interesting article.

Richard Schlesinger
19-Dec-2005, 11:04
I would love to see someone with the ability and access to the appropriate instrumentation run some comparative tests with just one or two colors of black and white filters. I am aware that AA in oneof his books said that either "A" glass or gelatine are optically the best (at that time!). Given the cost of filters such as multi-coated B&W , particularly in the larger sizes, I think it would be most useful. Face validity would certainly suggest there is a difference. However I have often been fooled badly when purchasing by price - the most expensive is, sometimes best, but . ..

Steve Simmons, how about an article in View Camera?

David A. Goldfarb
19-Dec-2005, 11:19
It's the sort of thing you might never notice if you don't do a side-by-side comparison under conditions that would really show which filter is better. When I tested my own filters, I set up a shot that was likely to cause flare problems--a darkened room with bright sun coming through a partially shaded window, lens pointed into the sun. It wasn't too hard to tell which filters were better in this situation.

In Hollywood, you can just avoid that sort of shot, and lenses can be carefully flagged and shaded, and budgets are such that delamination of old Tiffen filters is not an issue. If you're shooting landscapes in natural light, it's nice to have filters that don't cause problems in the situations where those problems can occur.

David Karp
19-Dec-2005, 11:59
Never had a Tiffen filter delaminate. I can't tell the difference between my B+W, Hoya, or Tiffen filters. Of course, perhaps that is just my lack of discrimination! I do have a big gripe about Tiffen filters. The silk screened lettering rubs off easily. That makes it very hard to tell which filter is which.

ronald moravec
19-Dec-2005, 14:26
Maybe my 1960 Tiffins are not delaminating, but all but a few have something fuzzy and irregularly shaped going on in the center inside between the glass. Call it what you will, I replaced them all with B+W who made a bunch of new series 6 and 7 ones special order.

Their polariser and Leica ones do not form a color cast. Older Leica ones were definately green.

21-Jan-2006, 08:51

Tiffen does make a "true" UV filter.