Say something about filters and photography in the same sentence and the average person might think you’re talking about a social media picture sharing app setting.
Utter those same two words to a photographer and they will likely first think about the lens mounted optical glass filters.
The best lens filter brands provide many amazing photographic tools for a wide range of uses.
Photographers use lens filters for various reasons. Some clear filters are well suited to being replaceable protection for our precious lenses.
Other filters enhance colors and contrast, such as a polarizer. Something else filters can do is adjust exposure parameters, add colors, or create special effects.
While many of these things can also be accomplished with a decent post-processing program for digital image files, having them done in-camera may yield superior results.
Keep on reading to find out the 15 best lens filter brands and manufacturers!
15 Best Lens Filter Brands & Manufacturers In 2023
Hoya Filters boasts that they have the world’s largest filter catalog. This may well be true since they seem to have a lens filter for every situation and for a variety of budgets.
Additionally, Hoya also makes optical glass for other purposes, including making elements for other brands of photographic lenses.
For over 70 years, lens filter manufacturing has been just part of the huge output of technology and optics this giant Japanese company produces.
Being part of such a large company, Hoya Filters can offer high quality combined with lower prices. Hoya filters are separated into a few different levels; Good, Better, and Best are represented by Alpha, NXT and NXT Plus, EVO, and HD3.
Alpha series filters are among the least expensive lens filters available. As with most Hoya filters, Alphas use optical lens glass and strong metal frames. Great for casual users and photographers on a lower budget.
NXT and NXT Plus are an upgrade from the basic Alpha. Multi-coatings and thinner filter rings make this line the choice of all sorts of photographers, including serious hobbyists and professionals.
For the highest quality filters demanded by discerning users of the best cameras and lenses, the EVO and HD3 line of Hoya filters are one of the best lens filter brands you can find.
Optically excellent, with oil and water-resistant coatings, and well-designed filter rings, these filters are capable of superior results.
2. B+W – Schneider-Kreuznach is the parent company for B+W Filters
Schneider Kreuznach of Germany has been a premier lens maker for over 100 years, a leader in precision engineering and optical design. Their B+W filter brand has been around for about 80 years.
Part of what makes B+W filters so special is the precision engineering of every aspect. In addition to the optical properties, the mechanical precision adds to the overall usability of these fine tools.
B+W screw-in and bayonet filters come in most of the common sizes of front lens sizes, and quite a few uncommon ones.
Two different lines are offered, Premium XS-Pro Digital and Professional F-Pro. Another lineup of square filters, the 700 series, is available for graduated neutral density.
As with most German-engineered products, B+W filters are generally priced higher than similar filters from other manufacturers.
Of course, if you have invested in the best cameras and lenses already, no need to skimp on lens filters.
3. Tiffen – Tiffen Precision Optics makes Tiffen filters in the USA
Manufacturing filters for cinematography and still photography since 1945, Tiffen also owns other brands of cinema and photo products, most notable Steadicam, Domke, and Lowel Light.
Tiffen has long been an innovator in optical filtration, winning Academy Awards and Emmys for their filter designs.
In addition, Tiffen makes a wide range of large square and rectangular filters that mount via filter holders and matte boxes. They even make filters to fit on several popular drones.
Heliopan Lichtfilter is another premium German brand, making filters capable of maintaining the optical excellence of the best lenses in photography.
Not surprising since these filters are manufactured exclusively from Schott Glass which provides much of the glass for Zeiss lenses.
No surprise either is that premium filters come with premium pricing. Well regarded in the high-end photographic industry, Heliopan filters are made in a variety of types and sizes.
Heliopan has been making screw-in photographic filters since 1949.
Budget-friendly filters that make all sorts of photographers happy, Kenko has a lot of what most serious photographers need. In other words, to get a good filter at a reasonable price, look for Kenko.
In fact, if you purchase your digital camera and lenses as a kit from some of the retail giants, you’ll likely receive a Kenko filter or two in the box.
There are actually several different lines of Kenko lens filters. Celeste, RealPro, Pro1D, and Smart filters, listing from premium to standard.
In addition, Kenko makes filters for amateur astronomy telescopes, action cams, drones, and compact point and shoot cameras.
Manufacturers can make items for sale under their own brand name or they can put a house name on them, letting a major retailer market their brand. Opteka is a Chinese filter maker that fits this description.
For a fair number of the larger retail stores, whether box and mortar or online, kits are kings when it comes to selling cameras.
Think of the brand recognition that Bob’s Buddy Camera Store could gain if they had their store brand name visible every time you took your camera out of the bag.
Up against premium filters from the major players, these will not impress. But for the jobs they are designed to do, they do it just fine.
At one time, Polaroid was one of the biggest names in all of the photography. The brand name lives on in a couple of different companies, Polaroid Optical being the one for those looking for the best lens filter brands.
Making a full line of the most common filters for digital photography, UV, polarizers, and neutral density (ND) filters in all of the usual sizes.
Moderately priced, Polaroid Optical filters are good choices for any photographer on a budget but also needing a small array of filters.
Known primarily for ND and variable ND filters, LCW filters are a good choice for photographers wanting to try out that type of filter without investing too much money into them.
Quality craftsmanship is paired with good optics for a pleasant experience.
Variable neutral density filters are an interesting tool. You can basically dial in how much attenuation you want.
Instead of several different ND filters, this one filter may cover all your needs.
9. Lee Filters
Lee Filters are probably best known currently as the maker of the Big Stopper, a powerful neutral density filter.
The Big Stopper is a 10X ND, the 6X Little Stopper, and 15X Super Stopper.
That’s a whole lot of exposure adjustment available to you. With 15 stops, an exposure shutter speed of 1/60th would become 8 full minutes!
Lee filters are rectangular and fit inside filter holders, Lee makes several sizes. Some filters are optical quality resin, others are made from glass.
Besides the regular ND filters, Lee also has graduated ND filters, color correction filters, and colors for B&W or special effects.
For even more fun, try out Lee’s lighting gels along with a camera filter. The results may surprise you.
Lee Filters are not budget-priced, but they aren’t terribly expensive either.
In the world of photography, Nikon is one of the bigger manufacturers. They make everything from medical imaging equipment to large format process lenses.
While they don’t make a full range of filters anymore, as one of the best lens filter brands, what they do make is superb.
Current offerings are close-up lenses, protective clear filters, circular polarizers, and soft focus filters.
Nikon soft focus filters are among the best in the business. True soft focus is a wonderful thing. Soft focus is not slightly out of focus.
The subject is in focus but instead of the razor sharp crispness we usually want, the edges are softly rendered. Not fuzzy or blurred, just “soft.” Better seen than explained.
The clear protective filters are well suited for Nikon’s photographic lenses.
As good as Nikon products are, some of them are surprisingly affordable. Don’t worry, some of their stuff is astronomically priced.
A name that is synonymous with quality, Zeiss optics are legendary. Zeiss lenses have been chosen to be on the finest cameras ever made, film and still.
T* multi-coating (T star) is a modern development from Zeiss that continues to be refined. It reduces reflections to almost the bare minimum possible, allowing an optically neutral transmission of light in the optical path.
Softar soft focus lenses are sought after by discerning photographers, having been used on the lenses of some of the most photographers ever.
Current filters such as their circular polarizers are available in many sizes, including the bayonet mounts used by certain medium format camera lenses.
Two of the best lens filter brands come from the same parent company. We already listed B+W filters, the filters made with the Schneider brand are large square and rectangular filters meant to be used in their own dedicated filter holders or in matte boxes.
Many very high-quality filters are available, including a wide range of colors from the deepest red to light violet.
Among their offerings are also some very interesting special effects filters such as the Rainbow Ture-Streak filter.
This specialty filter mimics the light streak effect encountered when using anamorphic movie process lenses.
The range of color filters, as already mentioned, is phenomenal. Useful for balancing out lighting color temperatures, these colors can also be used for color enhancement. A very assortment of soft focus filters are available, too.
Another filter maker that built up its following and reputation by means of cinematography products, NiSi also fits still cameras.
If very large screw-in protective filters are what you need, NiSi is a good choice.
The mainstay of their business is the filter system approach with holders and square panels. But they do have a very good line of protective filters and circular polarizers.
Since 1952, Marumi has made fine lens filters for still photography and cinema. Their screw-in filters have all of the most used and needed types in a huge range of sizes.
They come in three series lineups. From good to best they are DHG, DHG Super, and Exus. Their special purpose Creation series of cinema filters are meant to help better control exposure in movie and video cameras.
Though their lenses may be gone from the new market, Vivitar filters are still around.
Their filters are so budget-friendly that you could pick up a whole set of filters, including a polarizer, UV, and ND filter for less than the price of some other brand’s UV filters.
Is the quality still there? Vivitar Series 1 lenses were a game-changer for 3rd party lens manufacturers, with features and quality rivaling, sometimes surpassing OEM lenses. The filters are still good.