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Preferred Filter Choice

Steve Hendrix

Active member
The filter side of the industry has undergone quite a bit of change in recent years. Some of the traditional players (Lee, for example) have updated many of their filters to provide superior performance. And quite a few new players have emerged to consider (HiTech, Breakthrough, Wine Country, Benro, etc.).

Some are OEM'ing filters, others are more proprietary.

I think with some of the upgrading the traditional companies have done, and the more expansive line of choices from the newer players, there isn't necessarily a bad choice, but there may be some aspects that push one or the other ahead in some way, depending on subjective preferences.

We don't carry them all, so I was thinking this could be a good reference thread for those who are curious about recommendations.

For anyone replying - the question is:

* What brand filters do you use and why?

For the purpose of this thread, I'm more interested in the filters themselves, rather than filter holding systems (some here do not use filter holding systems at all). But secondarily, comments on the filter holding/attaching system would certainly be relevant as well.

Steve Hendrix/CI


Wine Country Blackstone ND and grads. They are VERY neutral and since I’m using the WC holder system it’s nice that they come in the “vaults” that makes handling so easy.

For screw-in round filters, I’ve found Breakthrough Photography’s filters and step-up/down rings the best I’ve ever used.



Active member
I have Breakthrough Photography X4UV filters on all of my SK lenses, I like them a lot. I like the ring finish and the little grooves that make them removing them very easy. No flare, very easy to clean. I ordered a 105mm CPL yesterday and I am curious to test it out.

One interesting filter they have is the Dark CPL in 3 and 6 stops. I tested the 3 stop version and found it to be really good, color cast non existent, well built (titanium) and very slim, but I returned it since when the viewfinder darkens so much it is not easy to precisely adjust the degree of polarization, but for someone wanting to have ND and CPL in one filter with no stacking it is a great solution. Removing it was a bitch though so when I get the CPL I most likely will remove the UV and just roll with the CPL.

Singh Ray is offering something like this now but the thin ring 105mm is $650 and that is just silly.

I previously used the Carl Zeiss *T UV filters and I found them very good as well.

I had thought about getting the Wine Country 150mm system but I want to see if I can get away with frame averaging only so I don't have to carry around that contraption with the associated vaults. Time will tell if AFA handles all scenarios satisfactorily, but if I end up needing ND's I will most likely get the WC 105mm 3 filter set as Breakthrough still doesn't have their ND's in that size.


I switched over to the Breakthrough NDs and GNDS about 2 years ago after Steve Friedman mentioned them to me.

We often make images that have people moving through them, but also supply our client a version without people. Using equivalent exposures I've found the 3 and 6 stops to be near perfect 3 and 6 stops with next to zero colour cast. There is also hardly any sharpness lost.

I purchased their holder, but I'm acutually still using an old Lee system as I use a Schneider 4mm CPL and the Breakthrough holder system doesn't have an allowance for fatter filters. (incidentally, this holder fit's perfectly over the Rod 32 and friction fits in place - it will knock off with good bump, but it means you have almost zero vignetting [I've used the 3 stop with an 18mm fall of the back] and the glass filter is right up against and square to the lens)

Other than not having a 4mm shim for their holder I've found their service amazing and the product absolutely top notch.

dj may

Active member
Fomatt Firecrest 5- stop and 10-stop NDs have a focus shift problem.
Other Firecrest filters I have used, polarized and graduated are fine.

Haida 10-stop and 15-stop ND are neutral and have no focus shift.

Lee Filters polarized are fine, however, mine are old and are not multi coated.

I have been using Lee 100mm holder system for over 15 years and see no reason to change.

Sanford Lavine

New member
I’ve been using the Breakthrough filters. I use the X4 circular ND and Polarizing filters as well as the square ND and rectangular GND filters with great success.

I chose to use the Wine Country holder system with the square and rectangular filters. It is a robust system, but heavy to travel with. For travel, I use the Breakthrough filter holder.

No vignetting problem with either system on my XCD 21mm. Same with the 30, 45, 90, and 120mm lenses. I have also made long exposures with no light leaks. Color rendition has been perfect.
With MF I use
  • Progrey Neutral Density (3, 7, 10, 12, 15 stop)
  • Nissi Graduated soft/soft reverse (4 stop)
  • WCC Polarizer/holder

Upgraded to all Schott glass filters with IR blocking after my entry level LEE kit was giving me bad color cast.

*I felt the filters and holder was not up to the quality I wanted either with the Lee.

My set now performs exactly as I expect it should. It's very neutral no matter how long the exposure with film or digital. Vignetting is well controlled. They're accurate in the number of stops of light they claims to be blocking. The quality is apparent when simply handling them and in the results you see in the final image.

** For 35mm shooting I recently purchased a Leica camera/lens combo that came with some B+W color contrast filters (Red, orange, yellow) and two B+W ND filters (3, 6 stop). So far this seems to be a nice set. I doubt that the Leica brand equivalents are worth the double-ish price tag. However, I intend to add the Leica universal polarizer to the kit soon.


Active member
Most members saw my H&Y filter post here:
H&Y Filters with a Technical Camera

That’s what I’ve been using lately. I also like the Breakthrough screw-on filters if I don’t need to carry a system/holder. Nicely knurled brass rings, good coatings, pretty neutral (as far as I can tell) and reasonably priced.



Well-known member
Hoya and B&W screw in filters. Personally, I do not use filters beyond 6-stop ND, IR cut-on, and UV for protection. I never used large filter systems as the bulk, primarily, and cost did not make them attractive (I did use Kodak gelatin filters for a short period, but that is different). But I am probably not a dealer customer either.


New member
1. When size and weight are not a factor, Wine Country holders and filters.
2. When size and weight do matter, but I still want a holder, Formatt.
3. When size and weight are critical, and screw-in filters are not a significant disadvantage, always Breakthrough.

From another perspective:
1. When shooting Phase, WCC.
2. When shooting X1D, Formatt.