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Who's who in optical filters

Who's who in optical filters - Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine has a round up of the photographic manufacturers who have optical filters in their range.

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Category : Digital Cameras
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edited 28 March 2010
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
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Cokin
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Cromatek
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Hama
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,
Who's who in optical filters
Heliopan
Another German manufacturer with a similar quality and range to B+W. Very high quality.
Who's who in optical filters
Hi-tech
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Hoya
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Jessops
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Kaiser
German make with a small range of round filters with metal mounts
 
Kood
A range of round Japanese filters and square ones in 67mm, 84mm, 100mm and 130mm sizes that are made in the UK.
 
Lee
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.
Who's who in optical filters
SRB
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.
Who's who in optical filters
Tiffen
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.
Who's who in optical filters

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.

Makes Round 67mm Square 75mm
Square
83/83.5mm Square 100mm Square

100x150mm

130x170mm
B+W 28-135mm            
Cokin 27-43mm 40.5-77mm   48-82mm    49-96mm 62-112mm
Cromatek     49-77mm        
Hama 27-77mm            
Heliopan 39-105mm            
Hi-tech 37-127mm   Available   Available  Available  Available
Hoya 24-95mm            
Jessops 27-77mm 46-62mm   46-62mm      
Kaiser 27-82mm            
Kood 24-86mm 37-62mm   84mm Available   Available
Lee         49-105mm 49-105mm  
SRB 27-105mm 40.5-58mm Available 49-77mm      
Tiffen 37-82mm            
Ambico (n/a)   no longer available no longer available        
Hoyarex (n/a)     no longer available        

 

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Comments


Goggz e2
7 2.3k 72 Wales
12 Apr 2007 11:21PM
Thanks for a very useful precis of filter options Peter. It's a subject I've found a bit bewildering recently, as I'm in the process of deciding what to purchase and this page has helped me a lot by making a clear comparison of the available systems.
Goggz

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22 May 2007 10:30AM
hello!
and what about Sigma filters?
thanks, Viesturs.
Brilane e2
8 5 12 Wales
24 Oct 2009 3:18AM
A good quality screw in circular polarising filter can be obtained from 7dayshop.com, for 3.99, which includes post and packing.

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