Using a UV or Haze filter on your lens is a great step towards reducing glare, or even just protecting the expensive glass of the lens itself. You’ll feel a lot better about wiping water off a $75 lens filter than worrying about the $1000+ lens itself. Or in the case of ND or Variable ND Filters, you may find yourself needing these for long exposures or super bright situations.
But is it worth spending the money on a high-end filter? The short answer is yes, and there are a number of reasons why. Let’s look at those reasons and explore the rampant world of counterfeit lens filters that many people are receiving on from Amazon and how you can check to see if your B+W filter is genuine or not.
Negative Effects of a Cheap Filter
A poorly manufactured glass will cause vignetting on your images. While you may want this in some cases, it can be added in post so save it for the Instagram post and let your raw images be clean of this.
Light Flares or Glaring
Cheap glass provides poor optics, resulting in light flares or bouncing around before it actually hits your lens, causing bright pots or even unfocused/dirty looking areas.
Difficult to Clean/Keep Clean
A high-quality coating on the filter will help reduce smudges from your fingers, raindrops will slide off easier and when you do need to clean it with a cloth, it will come clean instead of causing smudges.
Along with those light flares and glares, you may also experience discolouration. This happens when the material of the glass has elements that don’t belong there, causing colours to show up that are not in your scene.
Hazy or Smudged Look
Spot a Counterfeit B+W Filter
Genuine B+W filters have a weight to them, you can feel them in your hand and you can usually immediately tell a fake when you pick it up, it will have no weight to it since it’s made of inferior materials.
Labelling, Typography & Location
Take note of the typeface on the images below, genuine B+W filters have the correct typeface, and it’s centred correctly on the side. Filter descriptions are printed on the front of the filter, not the sides.
Try tapping your fingernail against the glass, if it’s real you should get an audible glass sound like you were tapping your nail against a window in an old building. You can just tell it’s real glass. In the case of the counterfeit one I received, it sounded like I was tapping plastic.
When you wipe them up, take note of how easily it comes clean too, a good lens with a proper coating will wipe easily and leave little to no streaks.
Click the image to enlarge and see how water drops should act on the glass.
The left package is not real, notice the extra spaces in the URL versus the genuine box on the right.
Buying a B+W Filter
A Worthy Alternative
If you have the cash to spend on the B+W filters I recommend them, they’re just so good you’ll never be disappointed that you got it. But if you’re looking for something a bit more manageable then check out GOBE. They’re an Australian company and they make decent stuff at a reasonable price. I have a 10-stop ND filter from them which I purchased on Amazon and it arrived fully legit. Works well and didn’t cost too much. They sell individual filters as well as filter kits starting with 2 filters in a particular size. In addition, you can grab lens adaptors for a wide range of camera setups.