A recommended filter set for B&W photography?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ted_smith, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    Hi

    Now that I have a wicked body (Nikon F5), a small selection of quality glass, my own darkroom setup, and a grasp of quality film usage, I've been reading up on the use of red filters to make skies black and to increase contrast at the negative stage, orange filters, blue and green for other effects etc.

    I'm wondering whether there is a specific set for B&W photographers, or do I just need to buy a set of Lee filters or something? I didn't want to fork out lots for Lee filters if it wasn't necessary. I have polarizers and UV filters, but no ND grads or anything like that.

    Any guidance appreciated

    Ted
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    A red and a yellow filter with a polarizer is a very good starting point. These will handle most of what you will want to do. The other colors are use way less frequently. An ND grad is not a bad thing to have if you like lots of sky in your landscapes. These can be had in differing max densities and harder or softer graduations.
     
  3. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    My filter kit.
    Yellow-Green. Under appreciated. Should be used more often with foliage.
    Various light to medium yellows. The old standby.
    Yellow-Orange. When red is too much & yellows aren't enough.
    25A meduim red. When you really want to make a statement.
    3 stop ND. For those times when you need a wide aperture in daylight and you are caught with fast film loaded.
    Polarizers. To remove relflections your eyes don't see but the film does. Darkening skies when the color filters are too extreme. Polarizer + yellow-green is a very natural looking combination. A 1 1/2 stop ND filter as needed.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Ted Compared to what you probably paid for the Nikon F5 and your other bits and pieces, a set of Kood or Hoya screw on filters in circ polariser, yellow, yellow/green, orange and red will be small beer. If you envisage using and changing filters a lot when shooting, I'd be inclined to get a filter holder with square filters. It you do much landscape work and think a grey grad is worthwhile to equalise sky and ground exposure then a filter holder and set of square filters are a must. The round screw-ons just won't do the job.

    Lee Frost produced a book on filters and uses quite recently. It's likely to be in your library or available on the inter-library loan scheme. I'd have a look at it before deciding on which filters and which system i.e. screw-on or square filter in slots.

    pentaxuser
     
  5. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8330/4.3.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

    I use (in this order of frequency):
    Dark yellow
    Yellow green
    Red
    Polarizer
    6 stop ND (for flowing water where there is too much light to use slow shutter speeds)
    0.6 ND grad (soft)
    0.6 ND grad (hard)

    I don't foresee needing much else. I use screw-ins (except for the ND grads which are useless in screw-in form). Have all of them in 72mm (the largest lens filter my lenses require) and keep step-up rings (thin ones for the wide angle lenses to avoid vignetting) on all the lenses smaller than 72mm at all times, with 72mm lens caps. If you choose to do this, get good step-up rings (at least Tiffen, but bandw or heliopans are best) or you'll curse this method. For the ND grads I use hitechs handheld (virtually always with a tripod).

    Keep in mind, it's taken me five years or so to get this together. If you're strapped, I would say dark yellow and polarizer, then yellow-green if you shoot lots of forests, 6-stop nd if you shoot lots of running water, 0.6 soft if you shoot lots of sunsets (hard grad if all your sunsets are in Kansas). Can you tell I want to be a lanscape photographer when I grow up (if that ever happens)?
    Hope this helps
     
  6. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    I agree fully with the above.

    See the yellow > red filter range as a f: scale > light yellow=f: 1.4 (low darkning of the sky), orange=f: 8 (medium darkening of the sky), red=f: 16 (severe darkening of the sky).
    For a test only (!) you can use some foil-filters (cheap) in the f: scale and decide what you like and buy.
    If you can get a sample booklet with these filters cheap: go and test.

    Best brands: B&W for pol and Y to R, Lee for grad's.

    Peter
     
  7. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Sorry for jumping in again, but I forgot one caveat with what I described above. If you choose to buy the largest screw-in you need and then use step-up rings for your other lenses, make sure you're actually buying the largest filter you WILL need based on the lenses you expect to own some day. When I bought most of my filters, my largest small format lens was a Nikon 180mm (72mm filters). Since then I've had several instances where I've considered purchasing a new lens but have had to eliminate it from consideration because it would have required replacing my filter set with larger filters.
     
  8. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    Yellow
    Orange - This is the one I use the most
    Yellow Green - for when there is a lot of foliage
    Green - same as yellow green but without the haze cutting effects of yellow green
    Red - I used to use this far too much in the past.
    Blue - For when there is no sky but I need open shadows and there is little or no sky.
    Polariser - when I'm doing architecture with lots of glass
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Ted, definitely start with a polariser, then add an orange and yellow. If you feel the need to make skies darker than what the orange and polariser combined, then get the red. There's no need to carry around a ton of filters. I do most 99% of filter work with the polariser and orange. I recommend B&W filters. Very high quality filters.
     
  10. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Hey Ted, your "Light Coming Through Trees" is awesome.
     
  11. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    Hello,

    I was taught a long time ago that you're wasting your time paying for premium glass (Nikkor, Leica, etc.) if you're going to put cheap filters on it. I use Leica orange, red and yellow filters when shooting b/w on my Leicas and premium Hoyas on my Rokkor and Nikkor glass.

    I find the filters I use the most are my yellow and orange. I rarely use a red filter - it's just too much.
     
  12. Curt

    Curt Member

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    I like the Hoya filters too.

    Y1 Yellow
    Y2 or K2 Yellow
    Y3 Yellow

    R0 Red
    R1 Red
    R2 Red

    PL

    YA2 Orange
    YA3 Orange

    #11 Light Green
    PO1 Green

    I also have the 8 Decamired filters for color balance and a Gossen Sixty Color. It's an old meter that I've had since new. In addition to the Decamired set I have a Kenko filter holder that holds gel filters so I can use color printing filters. That's a lot of additional color variations. I used to shoot a lot of transparencies.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    Hi all

    Many thanks for your responses, and a special thanks to 36cm2 for his compliment about my light through the trees photo, which was taken with no filters at all :smile:

    I am now the produ owner of a LEE Filter set - I've got the foundation kit to attach to the lens, 3 adapters (52mm, 62mm and 77mm to go on my 80-200mm) 3 ND Grads (0.3, 0.6 & 0.9) and a Polyester B&W set containing red, yellow, orange and green filters. All by LEE so I can use them all with the same kit. It came to £275 in total which hurt a bit, but as everyone says, no point having nice glass with rubbish filters. I got some back pay this month so thought I'd treat myself while I have the cash - in fairness I've wanted some Lee filters for over a year so I've waited plenty of time!!

    Ted
     
  14. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    Let us not forget the deep red #29, or Opaque filter for those beautiful B/W IR snaps.

    Kiron Kid