Need recommendations for brands of lens filters
August 21, 2012 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Photographers: Please recommend good, relatively inexpensive clear and polarized lens filters.

These will be used on Nikons, with standard Nikkor-brand lenses. The main purpose will be to protect the lenses, but I also wouldn't mind seeing what kind of results I get from a polarized filter.

All the advice I read is "Don't use cheap filters!" But I am on a budget, and need to know where the good values are.

Thank you very much!
posted by Alaska Jack to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have bought all my filters from, which has some great deals. Very knowledgeable, too, in my experience. They can point you in the right direction. Their website is very difficult to use, but I'm thinking they pass their web design savings on to you.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:47 AM on August 21, 2012

If you are buying them for protective purposes, why are you buying a polarized filter? Polarizers have a specific use and will alter the image.

For straight protection of the front element get a much cheaper UV Haze filter. For the price, it's hard to beat Hoya for these.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2012

I should clarify, yes by all means get a polarizer, they do interesting things, but don't buy a polarizer to stay on the lens at all times to protect the front element.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:16 PM on August 21, 2012

Read this before you spend any money "protecting" your lens with a filter.
posted by odinsdream at 12:29 PM on August 21, 2012

I prefer the B+W Multi-Resistant-Coating UV filters. I use them on all my lenses. It's a good idea to have filters on your lenses- they're easier to clean than the front element, they protect your lens from scratches both on and off the camera, and I have absolutely seen a filter take the brunt of a fall before (filter was broken, lens was fine). I have had it happen to me! Much rather replace a $50 filter than a $700 lens.

I also suggest B+W circular polarizers with Multi-Resistant-Coating. I have several and they're great.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:09 PM on August 21, 2012

The best value is B+W filters but I tend to protect my lenses with a good lens hood which also gets rid of extraneous flare. I find the image quality is far superior and a high quality lens is less in need of protection than you might think.
posted by JJ86 at 2:14 PM on August 21, 2012

I dropped my new Nikon zoom a few feet into a tiled floor three days after buying it. The UV filter took not only the actual blow (and shattered) but the remnant ring deformed like a crumple zone. It's anecdotal, but I think it spared my motors too. So for $15 I'll keep using one.
posted by cromagnon at 2:54 PM on August 21, 2012

Polarizing filters (also known as circular polarizers or CPLs) are dark. As far as I know there is no such thing as a clear CPL. When you put a CPL on your camera you are going to lose somewhere - and I'm generalizing here - around a full stop worth of exposure. That's fine for a sunny day but indoors at night you're going to be subjecting yourself to longer exposure times than necessary.

UV/haze filters are clear, and people typically use those as "protection" for the front element of their lens. I personally do not, specifically because of ghosting issues. See this picture for an example - notice the glowy splotch in the lower left in front of the scooter. That's a ghosted image of the streetlight in the upper right, flipped both horizontally and vertically by light bouncing around inside the lens and off of the interior surface of the UV/haze filter. With the filter removed the ghosting disappeared.

I personally have never noticed any difference in an off-brand UV/haze filter versus some expensive one so I would say you should feel free to go to your nearest camera store or favorite online retailer and shop by price.

I have noticed quality and color problems in cheap CPLs so if you do get one I'd say stick with name brands, not the cheapest one you can find. My most recent CPL purchase is a 37mm from Polaroid and it does not shift color throughout the rotation.
posted by komara at 8:09 PM on August 21, 2012

I feel I should also clarify - maybe my ghosting problem was the result of a cheap UV/haze filter, but I've also had my professional photographer friends say that they also do not use them and for the same reason, and those guys aren't buying cheap gear.
posted by komara at 8:12 PM on August 21, 2012

Seconding the multi-coated Hoya filters.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:08 AM on August 22, 2012

Looking over the question today I see the original text:

clear and polarized lens filters

which last night I took to mean "a lens filter that is both clear and polarized" but today realize probably means "clear lens filters and also polarized lens filters" so I apologize if my earlier comment about CPLs not being clear was redundant. At the time I didn't think you understood the distinction.
posted by komara at 10:20 AM on August 22, 2012

Hoya is a decent brand. The B+W MRC filters (brass ring) are better and from my experience, holds up longer, but I abuse the daylights out of my gear and don't expect to get more than a year out of my filters.

Here's a comparison of a $20 UV filter and a $70 B+W filter. If you have spent the money on the Nikkor lenses, I wouldn't put a cheap piece of glass in front of them.
posted by inertia at 11:40 AM on August 22, 2012

Thank you very much everyone! Very informative. - aj
posted by Alaska Jack at 8:37 PM on August 22, 2012

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