So the other day I had some time on my hands while at Kerrisdale Cameras, and one of our coworkers, Doug, had gotten in some new UV filters for himself, and between what the store had in stock, and what Richard and I had in our bags... we figured it was a good time to test the differences between the different manufactures, to see if they did what they advertised.
Between us all, we had the, Hoya Pro1 Digital, Kenko Pro1 Digital, Kenko standard UV 0, Kenko ZETA, Tiffen Ultra Clear, Tiffen Standard UV 0, and the B+W MRC Clear; missing off of this list would be the Heliopan SH-PMC Digital (I have no idea who named that, but they need to be kicked in the junk) and the Tiffen HT Titanium's.
Most of these are the new designs, and most claim to be specially designed for digital cameras, to reduce the possibly of ghosting; only those that I have marked as 'standard' are not claiming this.
For those of you that have yet to see or know what a ghost is on a digital camera, here is a brief break down: Way back in the day, when shooting film, the emulsion side of film was a matte finish to it, but todays digital sensors are a high gloss shine to them; so light enters the front of the lens, hits the sensor and part of it bounces back at the UV filter and if the filter does not have the right anti reflective coatings on the back side of it, the light bounces back and causes a ghosting image of a light source. (i.e.: the sun, a window, a light bulb, a candle or any other point source of light in your frame)
Now yes... by simply taking off your UV filter will then eliminate most of the possibility of an image ghost showing up in your image; but it also leaves your lens subject to damage. The whole point of a UV/Protective filter, is that it protects your front element on your wonderful lens, which could range from between inexpensive to several thousand dollars. And speaking from experience, that little filter on the front of your lens, can save your ass when it comes right down to it.
I once put my camera bag down just a little too hard, and I heard a glass like shatter... I opened up the bag to find that the protective UV filter on my 80-200 F2.8 lens, all but shattered and a lot of glass powder... that $60 filter in front of my expensive lens, saved me a trip to Nikon to get the front element in my lens replaced, which let me tell you, would not have been as cheap to replace.
Every one of my lenses has a filter on it, mostly B+W, because that is what I was shown to be the best by one of my first bosses way back at Broadway Cameras, and by my parents who also used B+W as their main filters. So for me, it is the only logical choice, but I do own a couple others as test beds.
I was blown away by some of these results, which you can see here for yourself on my Flickr. Some of these filters specially designed to be used on Digital cameras did not perform as well as one would think, others did just as advertised. I am hoping to get my hands on the missing 2 filters and try them out too sometime in the near future.
So... the break down of the digital specific filters only:
- Hoya Pro1 Digital & Kenko Pro1 Digital, I am going to lump them both together, as I am assuming that they are identical in almost every way (the boxes are the same, the logos are the same, and the samples on the website are the same) to which I might be assuming incorrectly but they hold too much in common including the fact that they are both owned by the same parent company. Both did very well, I saw little to no differance between them.
- Kenko's latest and greatest the ZETA Protective filter also was a very good performer, but at a fair bit more cost than the Pro1 Digital series, not sure if the extra cost is worth it; but I plan on doing more testing with this one.
- Tiffen Digital Ultra Clear... FRAK, this one blew me away with how badly it performed... being the filter of choice by us at the store to sell to people when they came in complaining of ghosting with their old UV filter. I tested this one myself and even have a couple, but was never totally happy with the quality. Now with a side by side test of all these filters, I now know why I was unhappy with the results. (see image at top of post)
- B+W MRC Clear, in my mind was the clear winner, but at a hefty price jump from the almost just as good Hoya/Kenko Pro1 Digital series. So if you want the best, and do not care how much you pay for it, then B+W is the filter for you.
The best bang for your buck here with good quality in build, final image quality and a reduction in the chance of image ghosting, Hoya/Kenko Pro1 Digital's are the filter to go with, hands down. Both are within a few dollars of one another, and the Kenko ones are started to be stocked by Kerrisdale Cameras and all your other favorite retailers.
Until next time...