View Full Version : Filters..are more expensive ones that much better?

James Phillips
2-Sep-2000, 13:19
I was in the store the other day looking for a polarizer filter for my Super Ang ulon 90 and came across the B&W 67mm filter. Much to my surprise the clerk expla ined that the cost was in excess of $100. Of course I was also offered a Hoya po larizer at just over $25.00 as an alternative. So is it worth paying that much m ore or is the name brand just driving up the cost? Like all of those here, I wou ld like to have my shots as sharp as possible with a good lense. Of course consi dering the price of B&W and that I am an amateur photographer, would I be better off saving the difference (over a few filters) in cost to purchase perhaps anot her lense and be content with a Hoya brand ?

paul owen
2-Sep-2000, 13:46
IMHO there appears to be very little, if any visible improvement between regular and very expensive filters. I suppose any multicoated filter does the job. I use Hoya HMC and have been very impressed with them. I imagine that years ago there was a difference ( glass not being flat was probably the biggest problem with cheap filters) but I would have thought that this is probably not the case nowadays. I have used "budget" filters on MF lenses with threads wider than 77mm to keep the cost down, and I cannot tell the difference between those costing 1/3rd of the price of the Hoya. I stick with Hoya because I have been swayed by the hype, but not enough to splash out on B&W, Heliopan etc. In fact, I sent a Heliopan filter back because the glass was marked with small spots in the coating that would not move on cleaning, and replaced with Hoya!!

Regards Paul

adam friedberg
2-Sep-2000, 14:06
in my experience it matters very much if you are shooting transparency, somewhat for color neg, and less for b/w. cheaper filters tend to have a mild to strong greenish cast which can intensify with the effect of the polarizer. while i don't doubt hoya or tiffen make a decent uv protector, i would stick to b&w or heliopan for anything else. by the way, a b&w regular polarizer (i assume 67mm) should cost well under $100. maybe they offered you a circular or slimline version of the b&w and the regular hoya. find out which kind you need for your lens/usage and compare prices at b&h.

Glenn Kroeger
2-Sep-2000, 14:48
Make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges. I use both Hoya and B&W. They are not much different IF you use the better Hoya filters. Hoya makes many series of filters, some of which have thinner rings, better coatings, etc. Take a look at the Hoya web site to make sure you know which version you want. B&H Photo sells the better Hoyas, and Calumet now markets them under their brand name as well. Still, a good Hoya circular polarizer, with multicoating and slim ring will run you nearly $100

William Marderness
2-Sep-2000, 15:13
No, expensive filters are not "that much better" than Hoya filters. There is probably very little, if any, difference in practice.

B+W/Heliopan filters come in brass rings. This is a benefit because the brass rings thread on more easily, but the brass rings also have a disadvantage. B+W/Heliopan filters weigh more than Hoya's and Tiffen's. If you have a lot of filters, this can make a difference.

Tiffen screw-on filters are made or "green glass," which is a lower-quality glass than the "crystal-clear glass" used by the others, and Tiffen filters are uncoated. Tiffen, though, makes some types of glass filters that no one else makes, such as the blue #47 and #47b and the green #58. Tiffen uses "crystal-clear" glass in the professional line of non-screw-in filters for cinematographers. I use Tiffen Series 9 filters, which use the higher-quality glass. Even the professional line, though, is uncoated, so go with a coated Hoya, B+W, or Heliopan filter if the type of filter you want is made by them.

How about quality control? A scratched or unevenly colored Tiffen filter is rather common. If you use Tiffen filters, you may need to return some. I have also had quality problems with B+W. I received filters from them with coating marks and irregularities in the glass, but B+W has a better record than Tiffen. I have never received a defective Hoya or Heliopan filter.

As for polarizers, B+W/Heliopan make the best. They have higher extinction ratios than other polarizers. The extinction ratio measures how effective a polarizer is. The higher the extinction ratio, the more reflection a polarizer with remove and the deeper a blue sky can become. Kasemann polarizers, made by B+W and Heliopan, have the highest extinction ratios of any polarizer. A Kasemann polarizer costs $170-$250. I have read in Heliopan literature that a linear polarizer is more effective (has a higher extinction ratio) than a circular polarizer, so go with a linear polarizer unless you need a circular for a non-large format camera.

William Marderness
2-Sep-2000, 15:24
I just noticed you were looking for a 67mm filter for your 90mm Super Angulon. I wonder if 67mm is big enough. Often, I find I need a larger filter than the thread size on the lens to avoid cutting off some of the image circle. Before spending much on 67mm filters, tests a 67mm filter on this lens to see its affect on the limits the image circle. I had one lens with 67mm threads. Even 82mm filters cut off some of the image circle!

2-Sep-2000, 16:04
One minor point on nomenclature (W. Marderness got it right):

EVERYONE makes B&W filters. Only Schneider makes B+W filters. . . .

2-Sep-2000, 16:06
The 67mm filter for the Angulon is an 86 mm filter in a step-up ring - the outer threads are 86mm. I read a review of filters a few years ago that placed B&W's and Hoya's quality above Heliopan's. I don't remember which magazine had it (I think it was the British magazine Practical Photography) or what the criteria was (I also am not sure if I have the magazine in my library - if I ever run across it I'll let you know). I don't know if anyone mentioned that Heliopan has outside threads on it's wide- angle filters - B&W doesn't. I am Emailing various persons whom I've come in contact with on the forums during the past year about a supplier that I've found. If you use Schneider or Rodenstock lenses, or B&W or Heliopan filters or adapter rings, I've found a supplier in Germany who is easy to work with and has prices that are as low as 50% of what we are paying in the U.S. (I'm saving $2,700 over B&H's prices on the 110XL and 150XL lenses), he even beats Robert White's prices (I am replacing all of my aluminum stepping rings with brass Heliopan rings - his prices average almost 70% less than B&H's prices). You may want to check his prices on the filters - although I doubt that you'll save antwhere near 70% on the filters themselves. His name is Christoph Greiner, he speaks English very well. His Email address is: chr.greiner.photo@t-online.de . He does not have a website yet. He is a very reputable dealer, and is the German rep. for Walker and Ebony cameras.

5-Sep-2000, 08:21
WHOOPS - screwed-up the wording of the previous post. S/B: The center filter for the Angulon is an 86mm filter mounted into a step-up ring from 67-86mm. One of the special wideangle polarizers from B+W or Heliopan probably meets these specs.

Brian Ellis
5-Sep-2000, 17:20
I do only black and white work and have every sort and brand of filter, from square gels to B+H filters to Hoya to Tiffen, etc. I can't tell a bit of difference among any of them. The only thing I've noticed is that with two of the Hoya filters, the glass has become loose and kind of rattles around in the ring. The filters work fine but the movement is a little disconcerting. With color film different brands of polarizers give slightly different color casts. Joe Englander wrote an article in the final issue of "Camera and Darkroom" about four or so years ago, whenever it was that Larry Flynt decided to pull the plug on that great publication and concentrate on his porno stuff instead. Enlgander's article contained the same color photograph made with maybe ten or twelve different polarizers and they all looked slightly different. I don't know that one was "best" but they were different. His point is that polarizers are not neutral filters despite the manufactuerers' claims. The article is interesting reading if you have access to back issues.

John Ross
7-Feb-2001, 19:03
I'm not sure the statement that Tiffen uses "green glass" as some posts and web sites have indicated is true. It seems to me that Tiffen would have been out of business long ago if that were the case.

Jean-Marie Solichon
8-Feb-2001, 05:35
I shoot only colour tranparencies and have been using Hoya (several series), B+W, Heliopan, Cokin, Kaiser and Nikon polarizers. I noticed that Heliopan are, by far, the ones with the slightest colour shift. I'll never use other polarizers anymore for that reason. Regarding Tiffen screwing filters : it's true that quality may not be equal than others' but they market a 81 (not 81A, nor 81B ....) warming filter which no other brand seems to offer. If, like me, you come to dislike the pink (magenta?)cast of usual 81A fliters you may wish to give a look at them. Of course above comments do not apply to B & W or colour negative shooters.

Bob Salomon
8-Oct-2001, 13:59
Want the simple answer?

Buy a Kodak ND gel, a Heliopan Pol, a Hoya Pol, A Tiffen Pol, a B+W Pol.

Put all on a quality 5000K CRI 98+ lightbox and look at the color of the gel and the Polarizers.

Heliopan's will be closest to aa ND gel, B+W will be very close the others will be different colors. They are not as neutral.

Want to prove it?

Put them on that 5000 CRI 98+ illuminator, put daylight slide film in your camera and have a quality lab process the film. Compare the colors for your self.

Don't want to do all that?

Find the Joe Englander article from the last issue of Camera and Darkroom. He did this for you + he read the RGB values of the gel and the filters.

there are big differences in how neutral the polarirzers are.

Then there is optical quality. Kaesmann polarizers from Heliopan and B+W are optically flatter as the gel is under constant tension in all directions and is edge sealed in glass. Regular polarizers are simply laminated between glass and are not edge sealed.

Glass edged filters are immune to damage from fungus in humid areas.

The better filters are brass mounted with knurled mounts (single knurling for B+W and double knurled for Heliopan -result?easier to mount, better grip - especially with gloves.

Heliopan polarizers are rim calibrated so they can be previewed and used on any camera, range finder type, view finder type, LCD finder type, SLR type, ground glass focusing type, under all conditions. It does not have to be mounted on the lens to accurately preview the final effect on film!

So yes some polarizers and filters cost less.

Kerry L. Thalmann
18-Oct-2001, 15:47
"Find the Joe Englander article from the last issue of Camera and Darkroom. He d id this for you + he read the RGB values of the gel and the filters."

Tuan has posted the results of this test, as performed by Joe Englander and publ ished in Camera & Darkroom, at:


"Heliopan's will be closest to aa ND gel, B+W will be very close the others will be different colors. They are not as neutral."

This is not supported by the data, nor does it match Englander's conclusion that the B+W Warm Tone polarizer is, in fact, the most neutral. Of all the filters tested, Englander's data shows the three Heliopan polarizers to be the LEAST neu tral (and by a very wide margin in the cases of the Heliopan linear and circluar polarizers).

I personally, use the B+W Kaesemann Warmtone +KR1.5 Linear Polarizer and have fo und to to be very neutral in tone and of the highest quality. (Note: B+W offers their Warm Tone Polarizers in varying strengths, for example, a +KR3 will be war mer - redder - than a +KR1.5). I also have a Tiffen linear polarizer and it has a very slight green cast to it (about like adding a CC025 green filter). I act ually use this occasionally to advantage when shooting wet, green foliage (rain forests).

One other thing to consider when buying a filter is the coatings. For example, Tiffen used to offer several of the filters with multicoatings (standard Tiffen filters are uncoated). I happen to have both uncoated and multicoated versions of the Tiffen 812, and it does make a difference when shooting into the sun. I' ve set my camera up shooting into the sun at sunset and tried both versions of t he filter. The difference is obvious even on the ground glass. The uncoated ve rsion is much more flare prone in this instance. I don't use many filters (I ge nerally only carry a polarizer, Tiffen 812, Tiffen 81B, a Signh-Ray graduated ND - occasionally an 81C or B+W KR3 depending on subject and lighting), but I do t ry to get multicoated (or at least single coated) filters when possible.