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Best All Purpose Color Filter for Black and White Photography on an M6

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Hi there,

 

I recently purchased an M6 and plan to shoot black and white film with my 35 Summicron Version 2 8 Element lens. I read that many people use either the orange / yellow filter when it comes to shooting monochrome, I would just like to get your thoughts on which one serves better as an all purpose lens? And how exactly are they different when applied? Thanks!

 

Regards,

Jeffrey

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I use a yellow filter all the time, it cuts through haze and enhances clouds slightly. When I want more contrast or need to cut through a heavier haze I'll use and orange or even a red filter.

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Orange and red filters are special-effect filters. They are not suitable as general-purpose filters because they tend to block the shadows. Filters that will have an advantageous effect in most cases are yellow (Wratten #8, #12; Y48, Y52) and yellow-green (Wratten #11; X1).

 

Generally, a colour filter on B/W film lightens its own colours' grey tones and improves separation thereof, and darkens the complementary colours' tones and reduces their separation. Shadows under a clear sky are blueish, that's why orange and red filters block shadow detail.

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Depends on the film, too. The spectral sensitivity of BW films is what differenciates them.

 

For instance, Foma 400 is extra sensitive to red. An orange filter on that film will not have the same effect as on FP4, for example.

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Orange and red filters are special-effect filters. They are not suitable as general-purpose filters because they tend to block the shadows.  [...]

 

And a blue filter can be especially useful in the mountains, or the desert, and sometimes under a canopy jungle to fill shadows when the sky is not part of the composition.

.

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Depends on the film, too. The spectral sensitivity of BW films is what differenciates them.

 

For instance, Foma 400 is extra sensitive to red. An orange filter on that film will not have the same effect as on FP4, for example.

 

An orange filter on Fomapan 400 makes it look almost like lith film, straight black and white with no grey, very contrasty! Whereas an orange filter on HP5 adds a nice amount of black.

 

Of course, this is all down to personal taste, the only thing you can really do is buy all the filters and try them out.

Edited by mikemgb

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If say I apply the yellow filter and shoot street with it (not landscape), how does it affect people's skin tone? I am based in Hong Kong, so most of my shoots will be on the streets of this concrete jungle, so how would the yellow do? Is there such a thing as yellow-orange? Thanks!

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I find the difference between manufacturers interesting. Take orange for example, I prefer Heliopan over B+W or Leica. It's more dynamic.

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I find the difference between manufacturers interesting. Take orange for example, I prefer Heliopan over B+W or Leica. It's more dynamic.

NB23 will be on to you for using "dynamic" to describe a filter. You might be able to prevent that by being more literal.

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NB23 will be on to you for using "dynamic" to describe a filter. You might be able to prevent that by being more literal.

So? That is my experience, I own all three and that's my observation using the same film. This goes to show just how complicated this puzzle is.

 

So the factors are:

Film

Color of filter

Brand/type of filter

Subject

Lighting

Mood/visual acuity of the observer

Development process

Printing process

 

Anything else?

 

I don't see with all these variables, being literal is going to help. If this were a laboratory and you can separate each and every variation of each variable. Then I can see the point.

Edited by Soden

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Dynamism

Wow, a religion of the great Dynamo

 

Well, if you want to be literal:

 

Dyna-Mo

Dyna-Larry

Dyna-Curly

 

Not to forget:

 

Dyna-Mic Dundee

Edited by Soden

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Take orange for example, I prefer Heliopan over B+W or Leica.

 

I don't believe that. I suspect any differences are due to the particular type of filter rather than the brand. After all, there's more than one type of orange edge filters, and many more that look orange but are no edge filters.

 

 

That is my experience, I own all three and that's my observation using the same film.

So what are the exact inscriptions on your filters' rims?

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I don't believe that. I suspect any differences are due to the particular type of filter rather than the brand. After all, there's more than one type of orange edge filters, and many more that look orange but are no edge filters.

 

 

 

So what are the exact inscriptions on your filters' rims?

For what's it worth:

 

Leica or. (Have 2 Leica Or filters, one is pail, the other is closer to the B+W and Heliopan, but still quite different).

 

B+W 39 040 4x E

 

Heliopan Digital ES 39 4x -2 SH-PMC

 

The B+W and Heliopan are similar but not the same. The Heliopan produces a slightly more contrasty image.

Edited by Soden

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Would you recommend the yellow filter by heliopan then? I'm basically deciding between a yellow and orange, but feel the orange may be too contrasty while the difference the yellow makes may be unnoticeable. Would be great if there's one that's kinda in between the two.

 

 

 

For what's it worth:

Leica or. (Have 2 Leica Or filters, one is pail, the other is closer to the B+W and Heliopan, but still quite different).

B+W 39 040 4x E

Heliopan Digital ES 39 4x -2 SH-PMC

The B+W and Heliopan are similar but not the same. The Heliopan produces a slightly more contrasty image.

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Would you recommend the yellow filter by heliopan then? I'm basically deciding between a yellow and orange, but feel the orange may be too contrasty while the difference the yellow makes may be unnoticeable. Would be great if there's one that's kinda in between the two.

 

 

 

 

Then you want the Leica Or 13061. It's the current orange filter from leica. However it's sizes are limited.

 

It's right in between. A light orange.

 

The Heliopan is more intense, but the yellow is still a yellow and the orange is a real strong orange.

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The B+W and Heliopan are similar but not the same. The Heliopan produces a slightly more contrasty image.

Well—for one thing, the Heliopan is multi-coated, and the B+W is uncoated or single-coated.

 

Both makers offer their filters in cheaper single-coated and more pricey multi-coated versions; the latter are labelled 'MRC' (B+W) or 'SH-PMC' (Heliopan). So the coatings being different is not a brand-specific thing but is what your particular copies happen to be. The spectral properties of both filters should be the same, as both makers are using the same coloured-in-the-mass optical glass from Schott. Filter makers neither melt raw glass nor do they create the colouring of the glass; that's what the glass makers do (Schott, Hoya, etc). The filter maker buys coloured glass, cuts it into slices of various sizes, polishes them, and fits them into threaded brass filter rings (or aluminum or plastic, depending on quality and price).

 

Not sure where the Leica filters are coming from ... but Ernst Leitz Wetzlar or Leica Camera didn't/doesn't make them; they are produced elsewhere and then labelled 'Leica'. I suppose current Leica filters' glass also comes from Schott.

 

 

Would you recommend the yellow filter by Heliopan then?

Yes, definitely!

 

 

I'm basically deciding between a yellow and orange, but feel the orange may be too contrasty while the difference the yellow makes may be unnoticeable. Would be great if there's one that's kinda in-between the two.

No problem. You want Medium-Dark Yellow (Wratten #12) or Deep Yellow (Wratten #15). Heliopan offers both.

 

My recommendation is the #12. The #15 is a yellowish orange which is too much for general use. The #12 has a significant, not too subtle but still kinda laid-back effect that is very versatile.

Edited by 01af

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Actually I have both single coated and multi coated in both B+W and Heliopan and find that coating makes no difference in the color or contrast.

 

I don't know what world you live in that has a complete 1969 filter catalog available for purchase. I even go the Manufacturers web site and find either the filter is discontinued or back ordered. Once in a great while I will find a camera repair shop that had a few odd filters. Pretty much we're stuck with BHPhoto...

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