Filters for B&W work

gnomus

Member
Registered User
I’ve been looking at what filters I might require when my 4x5 arrives. I already have some Lee ND grads from colour digital work a few years back. But I’m thinking that I will probably need some B&W filters too. About a thousand years ago, I had orange and red filters for my Praktika LTL 3. No idea where they would be now. I noticed that Lee did a relatively inexpensive kit of 100mm square filters - green, yellow, orange and red. These are described as being polyester. They are 1mm thick but mounted in a frame that would allow use of the Lee filter holder system that I already own (although a holder might be unnecessary for a non-grad).

Before pulling the trigger, I thought I would ask if anyone had any experience of these filters. They seem ‘suspiciously’ inexpensive, and I wonder about the quality, durability, and so on. If there are alternatives open to me then I would certainly consider them.

Thanks again.

Steve
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
No direct experience with those particular filters, but I've used Kodak Wratten gel filters for 40 years on all my LF cameras. Many years ago, I had a contraption on the back of each lensboard whereby I used a small magnet to hold the filter in place. But, I later decided that was too fiddly so now I just hold the filter up against the front rim of the lens. Btw, each of my gel filters are mounted in cardboard frames making them very easy to hold. IMO, gel filters are preferred because they're so thin that they don't introduce "issues" during exposure.
 

gnomus

Member
Registered User
Thanks Alan. I am unfamiliar with the terminology, but I presume ‘gel’ is not equivalent to ‘polyester’? I don’t suppose the Wratten gel filters are still available, are they?
 

Praxinoscope

New Member
Registered User
You are correct in your assumption, they are not polyester, Wratten gel’s are 0.1mm thick gélatine filters, they covered the whole range of Wratten No. filters. The traditional method of glass filter production was to mount a Wratten gelatine filter between two optical glass flats.
I think the Tiffin Filter Co. took over the production and supply some years ago, but not sure they continued with the small gels, they still produce resin and glass filters to the Wratten list. Problem with gélatine filters, they are very easily marked so have to be handled very carefully.
A few dealers do still have stocks of Kodak Wratten Gels but prices tend to be a bit ridiculous
 

mpirie

Member
Registered User
Wratten filters are still available on a famous auction site, normally 75mm square.

I have a number of them but as they get older, they become brittle and unless they are in mounts can get damaged easily.

The polyester filters (like Lee, Cokin, Hitech etc) are more robust and much cheaper. Cokin Z-Pro polyesters fit the Lee filter holder.

There were a number of manufacturers like Nikon that made gel holders that screwed into the lens filter ring.

Personally, i use 67mm screw-in glass filters since i rarely use graduates.

Mike
 

gnomus

Member
Registered User
Great stuff guys. I found the Kodak Gels on Ebay - they seem to go for around £5-6 each. Is 'mounted' the standard way for them to come, or would I need to source mounts for them?

I did think about getting screw-ins. On the plus side, I have a number of step up rings that would take all my current lenses out to 77mm. I found, however, that the 77mm filters were on the expensive side (I saw a medium-yellow B&W 77mm at >£90 on one UK site, for example).

Thanks for the info on the Cokin filters (another blast from the past for me). The Cokin-Z filter set on Amazon is ~£70. The Lee four filter set is ~£35. Any thoughts as to which may be superior? I'm leaning Lee-wards unless there's a compelling reason not to.

I have the graduates, but I do have to say that I had a lot of trouble using them - In my DSLR viewfinder, I could never quite tell where the grad ended and the 'clear' began. No idea if this would be any easier to discern in LF (I suspect not).

Steve
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Thanks Alan. I am unfamiliar with the terminology, but I presume ‘gel’ is not equivalent to ‘polyester’? I don’t suppose the Wratten gel filters are still available, are they?
Looks like others have already responded with comments and suggestions. To be honest, I don't know what they're made of and it looks like they're not easily obtainable today. I poked around in cyberspace a bit, but the only examples I found are on the auction site. The ones I have are 100mm square and you do need to mount them into something for handling. If you go this route, you really don't want to simply hold the bare gel because wind will catch it and tear it! (don't ask me how I know that ;) ) I've attached a pic of what the packaging on mine looks like. Hope you find a workable solution for you.

1772
 

gnomus

Member
Registered User
Thanks Alan. It seems that the Cokin-Z's are 'resin' vs Lee's 'polyester' (whatever that means). So, I'm now leaning towards the Cokin - £70 for a 4 filter set. I'm going on holiday for a couple of weeks, so I'll decide when I get back!
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Thanks Alan. It seems that the Cokin-Z's are 'resin' vs Lee's 'polyester' (whatever that means). So, I'm now leaning towards the Cokin - £70 for a 4 filter set. I'm going on holiday for a couple of weeks, so I'll decide when I get back!
I believe the resin types are kind of a thick plastic; polyester sounds like a thin sheet of filter material.

Have fun on holiday!!
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
One tip which has appeared on other sites is to put a Post-It note on the filter where it becomes clear. This is clearly visible in the viewfinder or on screen. As usual, it's another little thing to check before firing the shutter
 
Last edited:

gnomus

Member
Registered User
One tip which has appeared on other sites is to put a Post-It note on the filter where it becomes clear.this is clearly visible in the viewfinder or on screen. As usual, it's another little thing to check before firing the shutter
I think I remember getting Mrs G to hold up an object in front of the filter whilst I looked through the viewfinder. The post-it note idea might save an argument or two....
 

Ian Grant

Well-Known Member
Registered User
I believe the resin types are kind of a thick plastic; polyester sounds like a thin sheet of filter material.

Have fun on holiday!!
Most of these filters are made from Allyl Diglycol Carbonate better know as CR39. It's an optical resin used for elements in some aspheric lenses and spectacles, as well as filters.

I've had my P series Cokin filters since the 1980's and carry Red, orange and Green as well as a Polariser, but really only use the Green filter these days.

Ian
 
Top