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Old Nov 30, 2005, 1:51 AM   #1
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Need help figuring out which lens/filter brand names are trustworthy and are of better quality. I'm fairly new to all these choices of extras to bu with a digital camera. I had a set of filters for my old Sony Mavica but don't know what to buy or what to stay away from with my new Fuji FinePix s5200...it has a 55mm thread on the lens. This camera is a whole world apart from my little floppy diskette camera.

I know I need a good UV filter and a good set of Close-Up/Macro lenses...but I'm not sure who is a good quality brand. I've heard about TIFFEN, HOYA, QUANTARAY, SONIA, DEK, and a few others.

Which brands are good, which to stay away from???

Any opinions, advice is helpful.
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 4:04 PM   #2
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I'm expecting my new S5200 on Friday the 2nd and was wondering the same thing.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 6:34 PM   #3
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I asked the same question on another digital camera forum site and someone said to "avoid" TIFFEN brand for some reason. I've heard they're good...but I asked them to elaborate. I have heard HOYA is a really good brand to use. But Ritz/Wolf Camera sells Quantaray lenses (they're local and close to me).

Anyone feel postive/negative about QUANTARAY lenses???
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 6:46 PM   #4
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I saw a website once that ranked about ten different brands of filters by quality, but I don't remember what the address was.
A Google safari on filters would yield a wealth of info'.
Generally, though, brands with a rep' for high quality include B+W, Heliopan, Nikon and Hoya.
These are pretty pricey, but if you are not in a huge hurry you can get good deals on Ebay. I recently got a 55mm B+W polarizing filter (new) for around twenty bucks -- about the same price you'd pay retail for a more pedestrian filter brand such as Cokin or Tiffen. I think that Tiffen has something like a "Pro-Series" line that is supposed to be made to higher standards that their regular line, though.
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Old Dec 3, 2005, 9:39 AM   #5
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Fuji S5200 doesn't have much wide angle so you shouldn't need any thinner frame filters.

But here's really much info about Hoya's filters.
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Old Dec 4, 2005, 1:59 PM   #6
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I would like to recommend B+H filters. Though slightly expensive they have an excellent reputation. I myself am using two filter types being a UV filter F-Pro MRC (Multi Resistant Coated) and also a Circular Polarizing filter which also is the MRC version.

These two filters are probably the most important types to purchase as the UV filter not only deals with hazy conditions but also prevents your camera's lens from scratches. The circular polarization filter cuts-down reflections and provides nice contrasts with certain sky conditions. Also handy for glare conditions on water, glass, etc.

Hope the info is of assistance.

Cheers - Herman
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Old Dec 4, 2005, 11:28 PM   #7
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If I were you, I wouldn't bother with any filters.

You can apply filter like effects afterwards using software.

The only filter probably worth considering is a circular polarizer.

-- Terry

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Old Dec 4, 2005, 11:37 PM   #8
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Terry, I agree...but I wasn't going to get any of the special FX filters...just looking for brands that I could trust for UV, Circ. Polarizer and maybe Close-Up/Macro. Nothing else really interests me...I can do my own digital effects.
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Old Dec 6, 2005, 8:48 AM   #9
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A linear polarizer will work just as well on that camera. Linear is cheaper for the same quality and you have fewer layers in the filter.

UV is good only as a lens protector. I don't use one as I want as few air/glass surfaces as possible. It might be handy in situations where you have to wipe the lens a lot like in snow or ocean spray. A lens hood that doesn't vignette the wide angle would help protect the lens and improve your shots if it doesn't come with one.

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Old Dec 6, 2005, 12:57 PM   #10
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There are a few things that affect filter quality. First is the quality of the glass. Run-of-the-mill glass is sometimes called "green glass." If you have ever seen a normal window pane from the edge, you'll know why. This glass can introduce a color bias into the image. Filter mavens go crazy about this, although I find its effects quite small, and you can set your white balance using the filter to pretty much eliminate this problem with a digital camera.

The second thing that separates filter quality is whehter the glass surfaces are coated or not. When the manufacturer coats the glass, there is less reflection off the surface. Some manufacturers will coat just the outside surface of the filter, because that's the biggest source of reflections, so they save some cost and get most of the benefit of a coated surface. The best (and most expensive) filters coat all glass surfaces (there may be 4, remember, in the case of e.g., polarized lenses that can rotate one polarized plane relative to the other). The reason to coat all surfaces is to cut down on the reflection within the filter and camera lens itself.

The third big thing is whether the mounting is brass or aluminum. Brass filter mountings have less of a problem of expanding and contracting with the temperature. Aluminum filters can get stuck on if you go from a warm inside shoot to a cold outside without removing the filter.

Some really crappy filters are gel filters instead of colored glass. They tend to dry out after a while and become useless. Most filters that you will see are not gel filters anymore.

I would say that it is perfectly appropriate to buy cheap filters for all but the really heavily-used ones. If you are the sort that uses a UV filter to protect your lens, get a really good one -- every shot you take will be subject to the limitations of that filter. If you use a filter only rarely, or are just experimenting to see whether you are interested in it, get a cheap one. Only put it on when you are taking the picture, and don't let the sun hit the surface of the filter (either take the picture away from the sun or have a willing assistant shade the lens while you snap the picture).

Good filters to get some experience with are a polarized filter (pf)and a graduated neutral density filter (gnd). The pf requires some experience -- you get quite different results depending on the angle between your view and the sun. It just acts like a neutral density filter on a cloudy day.

The gnd (I would suggest a 0.6 gradual gradient, which means that one half is clear, and the second half starts getting increasingly dark until it reaches a neutral density of 0.6 at the edge. Each step of 0.3 lets in half the light of no filter, so 0.6 lets in 1/4 the light of the other half of the filter.) This filter is useful for those shots where part of the image is in bright light, and part is not. Set the dark part oriented to the bright part of the image, and you will reduce the total dynamic range of the shot to a much more manageable level. You can see the dark part of the image without washing out the bright part.

Some people try to take two images, one underexposed and one overexposed, and combine them in PhotoShop. If your image is completely still, and if you line up the two shots exactly evenly, you can do this in PhotoShop. For conditions where something is moving in the image, or where you can't mount your camera on a rigid tripod for the two shots, this is not possible to do. It is always a pain, and a gnd is really easy to use. I use mine a lot. If you've ever taken a shot that you loved the view, but ended up with a white sky in your photo, you needed a gnd.

I use Sunpak filters for my cheap filters. They are well made, but use green glass that is uncoated and aluminum mounts. They come with a nice plastic carrying case to protect them. They are good enough for my purposes. When you develop to a point that you need a better quality for a particular filter, you can get an expensive Hoya (the less expensive Hoyas aren't any better than any other cheap filter, and you pay a premium for the name). But you will pay as much for a top-line filter as for a top-line lens. They are PRICEY.

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