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Who's who in optical filters - Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine has a round up of the photographic manufacturers who have optical filters in their range.
Square or Round?
There are advantages in using both screw and square filters. Screw in filters attach to your lens' filter thread and are the least bulky option. They are often better quality too because they are usually made of glass and don't scratch easily.
If you have a number of lenses with different filter thread sizes it can be an expensive option and that's where square filters have the advantage. These fit into a holder which in turn attaches on to your lens via a removable adaptor ring. You only need one holder and one filter which can be attached to a variety of lenses using different size adaptor rings.
The range of filters available in the square system is usually broader too, with some unusual special effects from the Likes of Cokin and a much wider range of colour correction filters from the specialist producers, such as Lee Filters.
Who makes filters
Here's a brief roundup of the manufactures in the filter market.
B+W is a German manufacturer and many would class them as the Rolls Royce of the filter world. The filters have a brass mount with solid ring and deep filter thread making them a heavy filter that feels substantial compared with their Japanese competitors. It's the brand to choose if your budget can stretch to the hefty price tags.
French manufacturer Cokin was the originator of the special effects system with A (amateur) and P (professional) sizes. The A series are 67mm square and designed for use on 35mm cameras while the 84mm square P series are more suitable for larger medium-format systems and also come in handy when you use wide-angles to helps prevent cutoff. Cokin recently introduced an X-Pro series with a 130mm width for use on medium-format and ultra-wide lenses. There's a wide range of filters to choose from including practical options such as colour correction, polarisers and soft focus to special effects such as Rainbows, multi images and double exposures.
A British brand with a unique box shaped filter holder that holds their 75mm filter in place while acting as a lens hood. The filter fits into the back slot of the box holder and you have to flip down the cover of the box to rotate the filter. This can slow you down, but you do gain the benefits of a superb light tight hood. Graduated filters are 84mm and slide in a slot at the front of the box.
Suppliers of one of the largest accessory ranges made, with thousands of items for video, stills and audio markets. Recently they have introduced a range of silver finish filters that match the modern styles seen with newer compact digital cameras and AF SLRs,
Another German manufacturer with a similar quality and range to B+W. Very high quality.
A UK company originally set up by Reginald Morris who worked for many years as chief physicist at Kodak and helping develop what is now known as the 'Kodak Wratten Standard'. Offers a range of glass and resin filters for 35mm up to large format users.
Japanese giant who have the widest range of glass filters going and have probably been around the longest too. Some of the latest developments include super slim mounts for use on wide angles to avoid vignetting and super multi-coated options for prevention of flare and contrast loss.
Jessops make a good range of budget priced filters for their effects filter system which, like Cokin, are available in two sizes Standard (67mm slot) and Professional (83.5mm slot). They also produce a budget range of round filters too.
German make with a small range of round filters with metal mounts
A range of round Japanese filters and square ones in 67mm, 84mm, 100mm and 130mm sizes that are made in the UK.
A UK manufacturer with a system originally developed for the professional photographer who needs the very best quality. Many filters are hand coated and strict testing is done to ensure each filter reaches a high standard.
Luton-based company who make and supply the widest collection of filters and adaptors going. They're low cost and if you can't get one to fit your lens an adaptor will be to hand.
American make with a wide range of screw thread options in all the popular sizes. And also square filters measured in inches to confuse things. This brand is also a popular choice of moviemakers.
Below is a table that shows what type of filters each manufacturer makes. We've included the range of adaptor sizes in the square filter system columns when that manufacturer also produces their own holder and adaptors. We've also included two systems that have been discontinued for several years so you can see who makes filters that are compatible with theirs.
The sizes quoted for the round series are not available for all filters in a range as the extremes are usually only for popular filters such as Skylight and UV. The most common sizes being from 49mm up to 62mm.
|83/83.5mm Square||100mm Square||
|Ambico (n/a)||no longer available||no longer available|
|Hoyarex (n/a)||no longer available|