B+W was the first filter company to offer multilayer coating that protects the glass surface against water and dirt. Its proprietary MRC coating is actually harder than glass, so it also protects filters from scratches. B+W lists more than 1,500 different filters, plus many related accessories in its catalog, and many photographers prize them as highly as they would a camera lens. B+W’s Light Red filter is attractive because it fits into your arsenal between red and orange. It works great for darkening blue sky to accentuate clouds and cuts through the maximum amount of haze. It also helps separate various shades of green in foliage and can be used to produce a mock-moonlight effect when combined with underexposure.
The Cokin Creative Filter System appeared on the scene in 1981 and became an immediate favorite with photographers everywhere. If you own several lenses that have different filter sizes, you’ll appreciate Cokin because you can use the same filter on most of your lenses. All you need is one Cokin filter holder and a set of inexpensive rings in the appropriate sizes.
Tiffen B&W Kit
The filters are square and slide securely into the holder. Cokin offers a complete assortment of filters for black-and-white shooting, including the essential six-pack previously mentioned. Cokin also has dozens of special-effects filters, polarizers, masks and other fun attachments. Several other companies make filters that fit Cokin A-series and the larger P-series filter holders, so you’ll never run out of options.
Formatt Filters Blue
From the UK comes Formatt Filters, which are highly regarded for their pure quality. In a world where most photographers strive to reduce the diffusion caused by haze and fog, Formatt offers a blue filter in its black-and-white contrast filter line that’s designed specifically to accentuate haze and fog. Additionally, Formatt offers a broad assortment of other colors that can be used for contrast effects, tonal correction and enhancing outdoor scenery.
Lee Filters Yellow No. 8
Headquartered in Bavaria, Heliopan has been making filters for 60 years. Heliopan filters are made from glass supplied by Schott (wholly owned by Carl Zeiss) and set in black anodized brass rings that screw in precisely. They’re available in every conceivable size and configuration, including bayonet filters for Hasselblad and Rollei. One of Heliopan’s greatest strengths is its line of polarizers (the company offers 13 different types of polarizers and special-effects filters), including thin circular polarizers that accommodate ultrawide-angle lenses as wide as 21mm. Hoya is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of optical glass and is the parent of Pentax. Hoya is widely praised for product quality and never produces sandwich-type laminated or surface-colored filters—so you can be sure of consistent and uniform coloration from filter to filter. Hoya’s yellow-green filter is a good, all-around choice for adding contrast because it behaves like a yellow filter, but also darkens red colors. It’s well suited to shooting outdoor portraits with portions of sky in the background and adds snap to most shots of foliage. It also darkens the sky like an orange filter.