Filters; cheap or expensive?

Discussion in 'Fuji' started by bartjeej, May 8, 2013.

  1. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Hi all,
    I've recently purchased a lens hood / filter adapter for my X100. I don't have any filters yet, and I'm wondering how much of a difference in quality there is between cheaper and more expensive filters. My considerations are:
    -Resolution. The X100 has a modest 12mp sensor; will a low-quality filter degrade the resolution?
    -Flare / ghost images / aberrations etc. The less the better ofcourse!
    -Durability (including scratch resistance). Is there a difference here? Or are all filters more or less equally durable?
    -Size; the smaller the better.
    -For polarizing filters: polarizing ability.

    The price differences between a cheap filter on eBay and a big-name brand can be substantial and any money I spend is coming out of my travel budget, so I'd really like to keep the costs down...

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, not only regarding filters on the X100 but also just in general:smile:
  2. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    my 2 cents (and that's all it's worth) is that I don't put anything between my lens and the subject unless I need to. If you bought the lens hood, you have protection and it should reduce flare (and when the X100 does flare, it's a beautiful one). When I do use a filter, I generally get the best I can afford (although I wouldn't let it cut into my travel budget!)

    Lens coatings on modern glass are pretty hardy. For all the time I have spent on camera forums the last couple of years, I can not remember a single instance of someone discussing any damage to their lens by not having a filter on.

    *waits for the filter police to arrive*
  3. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    For many purposes, I don't believe it matters that much.
    But also more £$€ = better/more coatings = less flare/reflection/more scratch resistant.
    if you always shoot in not-too-bright conditions with the sun over your left shoulder, cheap is probably fine.
    but i bet the one time you really want a filter it'll be in bright conditions with the sun in front of you, and is the time a cheap filter might easily throw horrid ghosting flares on that unrepeatable shot ...
  4. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    For most telephoto work, I find cheap filters make little difference -- but never too cheap or the glass may not be flat, lol. Side flare on the glass may still be a problem but a hood solves that. I don't seem to have much problem with reflections though at telephoto like I do at shorter focal lengths.

    But especially for anything getting into wider angles and particularly ultra wides: don't scrimp. You need that better coating. I find the Marumi brand from Japan with the DHG or Super DHG coatings are often cheaper than either Kenko or Hoya and just as good. B&W are extraordinary in their better coating versions and built like tanks if you want to get the best.

    I know there are other good brands, but I generally stick with those. YMMV.
  5. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Thanks for your replies :smile:

    I probably won't be using the lens hood, I just bought it because it came with the filter adapter. I want to keep the overall package as small as possible, and the hood is too large for me.
    My main reason for having a filter on the lens is dust protection, because even the little bit of movement of the front element is too much for me (my current plans include about 6 weeks to 2 months in the Sahara / Sahel region - hence my need for as much dust protection as I can get!)...

    Luke, I agree that the X100 flares beautifully, it'd be a shame to see it degraded to something harsh and nasty...
    John, thanks for your suggestions. Given the 35mm equivalent FOV, I think a well-coated filter would be in order? I want to buy at least 2 filters, in case one gets busted just when I'm 2 weeks' travel away from the nearest camera store :tongue:
  6. Isoterica

    Isoterica Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    If you are going to a sandy or gritty place you definitely want a filter, to keep your shots clean as well as protect your lens from abrasion, like a UV filter with decent coating. You could also invest in a Lenspen, B&H, Adorama, Amazon should all have them if not a local store. They aren't expensive and are great in the field. In fact I need to get another. Lost mine on my last excursion. :)

    And-- you might also want a polarizer for harsh light, this filter I would make sure to get a better quality one. Dunno how you shoot but those two are in general the filters that I make sure to have.
  7. Gary

    Gary All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    I friend did a test looking at sharpness/color/IQ with cheap UV's, mid-priced UV's and expensive UV's and he concluded there wasn't any visual differences between them all. As to flare/ghosting ... yeah, the more coatings the less flare.

  8. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    If it was me, yes, I'd get a well coated filter for that focal length. It might be overkill, but really it's not that much money for these smaller filters. It's my choice, though not all may agree.
  9. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    And, remember, one doesn't have to keep the filter on the lens all the time. But if there's a lot of sand and dirt around - particularly the blowing kind - a good UV filter can't hurt. A polarizing filter can be useful in bright light as well - again, you don't have to use it all of the time. Does the X100 have a built-in neutral-density filter? If so, great. If not, a screw-on ND filter can allow you to shoot wide open at f/2.0 even in very bright light. I like B+W filters. But I have a Tiffen set that I bought along with my Pentax K200D in 2008 that also seems to work fine.
  10. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    The X100 does have a built-in ND filter.

    And I put a Hoya UV filter on mine under the lens hood, and haven't noticed any difference in shots one way or the other to be honest -- which is the result I wanted. I was looking to get away from the lens cap, because I frequently shoot one-handed while bicycling with a kid on the back and/or a dog up front. A filter and a lens hood on the X100 means I can just have it slung around me diagonally, pull it up, and shoot. It has been WONDERFUL.
  11. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Thanks for all the replies! The more recent Marumi filters have been getting good reviews, as have the Hoya's, and both are pretty reasonably priced. I'll have to look into the B&W's flare resistance, to see if it makes a real difference. At the price they're going for (about double the Hoya's / Marumi's), I don't see myself buying two though. Perhaps I'll just buy a single cheaper one first, and if I find the quality below par, I can keep it as backup and buy a more expensive one as my main filter.

    A polarizer filter is on my shopping list too, but that one definitely won't be B&W.
  12. Isoterica

    Isoterica Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    I have a Hoya IR filter, it was fairly reasonable as specialty filters go, good quality too.
  13. BruPri

    BruPri Top Veteran

    May 11, 2011
    Seattle, Washington USA
    Bruce J. Pritchard
    I've used B+W filters which are reputed to be very high quality, every one of them exhibited ghosting and reflection in certain light, not always direct. I've found a hood a better solution for me.
  14. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    What type of coating did they have? Many B&W are filters for film which does not have the reflectivity problems of digital sensors. In fact, no brand is a guarantee of good performance and digital has resulted in the development of higher transmission coatings to cope.

    Thanks for bringing this up as I was going to mention that and forgot: one really needs to look for a major brand that features a coating that is "designed for digital". I found that is essential to minimize problems.
  15. BruPri

    BruPri Top Veteran

    May 11, 2011
    Seattle, Washington USA
    Bruce J. Pritchard
    B+W UV-Haze... the blue box says digital and professional on it. I assume they are for digital, it didn't make me any more professional, and I felt kind of blue after use. ;-)
  16. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    An important thing to remember when putting a UV filter on a wide(ish) angle lens is to keep it clean. A filter introduces another glass surface in front of the lens and therefore slightly closer to the zone of focus, so dust on a filter is more destructive to IQ than dust on the surface of a lens. It's a similar principle as how a wire fence will virtually disappear when you press your lens right up close to it, but becomes distinct as you pull the camera away. As has already been mentioned, telephotos aren't affected nearly as badly as wide angles.
  17. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs