Filter Set For Black and White

Discussion in 'Talk About Large Format Gear' started by Ian-Barber, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    At the moment I only own a 150mm lens but I can see in the future, this will increase. I am assuming that all lenses do not have a standard thread size which I can see becoming costly if you have to buy screw in filters for all the lenses one owns.

    I am currently reading the View Camera book by Steve Simmons and he recommends a basic set of Wratten filters.

    Are these Wratten filters a good choice and how do they attach to the lens.
     
  2. alexmuir

    alexmuir Member

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    Wratten filters are usually pieces of very thin plastic, commonly referred to as 'gels'. They usually have to be placed in some sort of frame which then fits into a holder, attached to camera or lens. I've heard it said that you can use them behind the lens, but I'm not sure what type of holder you would need. For B&W, the range of filters you might use is quite limited. A full set could include yellow, green, orange and red. You may also want a polariser and perhaps some ND filters in different strengths. I've bought loads of filters, and used very few. Yellow and orange darken blue skies. Red is generally too strong, and can cause problems assessing the correct exposure. I've never found green to be of any use. Yellow/green is good for portraits. I've rarely used a polariser for B&W, and ND filters have their uses, but not as often as you may think. Colour work is different, and if you think you may move into landscapes on slide film, a filter system like Lee, Cokin etc may be the way to go. For B&W I would suggest that you only buy what you need when you have found a use for it. I tend to go for round, screw-in filters, but if you plan on buying a number of lenses, the filter system may be a better option.
    Alex.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
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  3. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks Alex, maybe using my Lee holder and buying step down rings is going to work out cheaper in the long run
     
  4. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    "Wratten" is probably a Kodak trademark, although the Mr Wratten of the name was actually British... The Wratten numbers are, as far as I'm aware, the only standard way of defining a filter so that you really know what it is. Anyone who's seen the chapter in my book will know that for any given standard colour there are many different Wratten colour variants. The only "Wratten by Kodak" filter I have is a 2" square gel. They were available in very small mired changes for colour slide work, and could be bound up with a slide (same size as 35mm mounts) to correct a colour cast.

    The most useful for black and white is probably the "minus blue" yellow filter. Lee filters make a minus blue (with the appropriate Wratten number) in resin (or did - I have one). They also make a useful "starter pack" of the four most useful filters for black and white in gel form (that fit into their holders). Again, they may be discontinued, but I have one.

    I was fortunate in coming to large format (eventually) from an Olympus OM system where the standard filter size was 49mm and finding that the 150mm Symmar lens was also 49mm filter size.
     
  5. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Are filter sizes specific to focal lengths or manufacturer of lenses
     
  6. Isabel

    Isabel Active Member

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    Not as far as I know, I think they are just specific to the lens thread size or when you go with a system like LEE you select your appropriate adapter/system size (e.g. 100mm).
    I started trying all the ones Alex also mentioned but have found out that the only filters (apart from very specific ones like Softars) I really use are an orange filter for contrast in B&W and ND filters for longer exposures/shallow DOF in sunlight. For my Medium Format system I was lucky that all lenses have just one size filter thread although B60 is getting very rare...and for Large Format I have decided to buy the same types (Orange and two ND filters) as screw in filters again just in size for the largest lens and then use step-down-adapter rings for all other lenses - though I don't think I will use that many different ones in the end. I like to have my 2-3 preferred lenses that I know very well. :)
     
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  7. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    Each lens is sui generis. Just like 35mm, where a 50mm lens might be 48mm (Canon standard size, long ago), 49mm or 55mm (Olympus, depending on aperture), 52mm etc. I don't think I have two large format lenses the same. Older lenses are usually smaller and lighter, and take a correspondingly smaller filter than the latest and greatest lenses.

    I've never (so far as I can recall) used a neutral density filter; I do use yellow, green (two shades), and red, and to a lesser extent orange. The different colours have uses slightly beyond the more obvious separate-red-roses-from-green-leaves one.
     
  8. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    Ian, I use the gel filters mounted in cardboard holders, then simply hold it up in front of the lens. Years ago, I used to "mount" on the back of the lens using a small contraption of my own design and a very small magnet to hold a gel. But, that became a pain and was a bit finicky. However, my method won't work if you use a lens shade.
     
  9. Graham Patterson

    Graham Patterson Member

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    The biggest filter diameter I use is 77mm (90mm f5.6), so I have stepping rings for smaller lenses. I do keep some filters in actual lens sizes, but it all depends on what I have obtained over the years. I also have a Cokin P holder for anything unusual like a polarizer or ND, though I mostly use it to hold one of their stackable hoods. It is not as good as a compendium, but so easy to set up I actually use it :cool:
     
  10. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Just checked the price of the Lee filters and was shocked to see just how expensive they are. I see other brands on eBay but im am a little cautious as to how accurate they would be
     
  11. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    Define "accurate" :D.

    With neutral density filters, a colour cast will be noticeable with colour film, but not with black and white. Similarly, unless you're looking for a very accurate spectral response then a small variation won't really matter. If it comes down to "how plane parallel are they" then it's a different matter.

    Lee are supposed to take very great care over consistency of colour etc., but for general purpose black and white photography I'm not sure how much difference it makes in practice. After all, we don't (O.K. I don't :)) pore over the spectral response curves of various black and white films to decide which to use - I accept that for practical purposes, they are all the same, and other factors are more important. I'd take the same view with filters so far as colours go.

    Other factors are perhaps applicable to filters used on other cameras; for example a slim mount (such as B&W are noted for) makes sense with an extreme wide angle lens. Otherwise, different levels of coating can make a difference (although in one limited case, single coating is preferrable to multi-coating!), as can how confident we are that the optical flats are optically flat.
     
  12. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    I wasn't sure if the quality of the filter was important in terms of calibrated
     

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