Sometimes, it’s just fine to buy the less expensive option when you’re purchasing photo gear. Even though I can afford pretty much anything I want, I always default to bargains and good value.
But when it comes to filters for your camera lens, I rarely think going cheap is a good idea. People often spend thousands of dollars on a lens that they have saved up for only to cover it with a cheap, plastic, filter.
I have been testing filters during the shelter in place period started thanks to the virus. This is the kind of work I rarely have time to do because I am just too busy shooting to mess with it. I actually started testing filters last year because I knew someday I’d need to pick a favorite.
Today’s that day.
I’ve decided to use Breakthrough Photography filters because they have a performance/price curve that cannot be beat. I used to prefer Sing-Ray filters, but let’s face it…they are just too expensive for most photographers.
And as for my choice, I am not alone. Art Wolfe, Marc Muench, Rick Sammon and more are all on board with Breakthrough Filters.
I wanted to find a filter that met the following criteria:
Brass if possible
Glass not plastic
As soon as you start looking for the aforementioned components, the price goes up – and fast. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL costs less than most similarly situated filters at $150 but delivered superior results.
I have been using circular polarizers for decades. I know the difference between a good and bad one. Here’s why I like the Breakthrough product. Let’s start with the fact that the American made CPL film and brass traction frame features best-in-class design and durability.
The company delivers the best color neutral performance I have seen. Many circular polarizers are made using off-the-shelf CPL film that is designed for LCD panels, not photographic use. Breakthrough Photography makes their own CPL film and it achieves very well controlled transmission into IR and that makes for images minus a color cast.
The frame is brass and weather-sealed. The glass is top-notch, SCHOTT Superwhite B270® optical glass, which is an ultra clear crown glass protected by a proprietary multi-resistant coating (MRC) and a Nanotec Nano Coatings technology that beads water.
The company applies all the same features to its ND filters which are likewise affordable and produce the best results I’ve seen in a consumer product.
I do want to give special mention to the unique frame design on the filters (and the step-up rings) that Breakthrough Photography sells.
The company redesigned the filter frame from the ground up. It is constructed of high quality brass, CNC machined with their own traction frame design, making the filters and step rings easier than ever to attach and remove securely, even with gloves on in cold conditions.
You will not need the usual tricks to get these filters off a lens. The frames are much thicker and the material much stronger than the usual aluminum used in cheaper filters. I find this to be the most unique and valuable asset about these filters. And it’s got a lot to do with why I’m never going back to the designs used by older manufacturers. This ribbed grip on the filters is masterfully, brilliant.
The step rings are also worth a special mention because they are just the best I have ever seen, at any price point. The design features I’ve written about above are also part of the Breakthrough Photography step rings.
The result of better construction and materials, combined with a proven design makes this step-up ring the most durable and functional step-up ring available to professional outdoor photographers.
You can get more information at the company’s website and if you want to save money on an order, my advice is (as it is with any photo-related product you see me discuss on this site) to call or email Nathan or any of the other folks listed below who work for Hunt’s.
As for the Breakthrough Photography filters, I have switched 100% to their products and I give them my highest recommendation.
Picture Methods has partnered with Hunt’s Photo & Video to bring you the best gear at a competitive price and backed by personal service. Call Alan Samiljan at 781-462-2383 or Noah Buchanan at 781.462.2356. If you cannot reach either one try Gary Farber at 781-462-2332. You will ALWAYS get the best prices if you call the store v. Using the web site. You can also email Noah at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Alan at email@example.com or Gary at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hunt’s has been around a long time and you can trust them. Make sure to mention that Scott Bourne sent you. That will get you the best deal.