The importance of being filter

There are opposite opinions regarding use of filters in photography. Some hate them and quite some time ago used that argument against the mistreated Leica M8. In fact, the still do.

Funnily enough, filters have a very important role in current photographic scene. First, because filters are a must for film photographers, especially B&W shooters. Second, because for that same reason Monochrom shooters found it better than post-processing their images.

Poor Leica M8, instead, is better without. Ironic, isn’t it?

So, let’s assumethat we need filters for our photographic style and process. What next? What do we really need and what’s just GAS methadone (albeit being gear, filters are a palliative to offer relief , preventing impulsive buying of lenses and bodies)?

Speaking from my B&W experience, with both film and digital, I’d say:

  • High quality multi-coated UV filters for digital cameras (no stop loss and less prone to flare) to leave all caps home
  • Colored filters, I use Medium Yellow (-1.5 stops) and Orange (-2.5 stops)

Still, that’s only half of the equation. Manufacturers have a nasty habit of using weird and random filter threads, leaving you thinking that there is some sort of underground agreement to help Heliopan, B+W or Hoya sales…

Anyway, I’ve found a decent solution about that. At least one that works for me. That means mirrorless/Leica cameras, so sorry, Canikon guys 🙂

No matter which camera you have, all good mirrorless lenses have the biggest thread size at 58mm. So, check your lenses, even those in your wishlists, and get filters for the biggest. Then buy step up rings for the rest.

In my case, I have four thread sizes: 39mm (common Leica), 40.5 (russian lenses and micro 4/3), 48mm (Canon LTM), 49mm (Olympus and Fuji).

The biggest filter I might need is 52mm, for a Voigtlander Heliar 15mm. Therefore, I have one set of filters plus step up rings.

Actually, before getting there, I focused on my Leica lenses, so I have a set of 39mm filters. I acknowledged my mistake and bought a VERY CHEAP set of filters to test this approach and I’d say it works well.


It might not be the perfect solution, but it saves a lot of money, especially if you’re saving for that new lens 😉


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