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Shooting B/W film, do you use a Yellow filter?
Old 10-12-2014   #1
kshapero
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Question Shooting B/W film, do you use a Yellow filter?

On one of my film cameras, I shoot nothing but B/W film (Tri-X). I have heard that many Photogs keep a Yellow filter on their lens all the time. Any thoughts on this? I presently have a CV Nokton Single Coated 35/1.4 lens mated to my M6. Gosh I have a B+W MRC UV filter on it all the time. Should I reconsider? Maybe go naked? No filter at all?
I shoot mostly outdoors but not exclusively.
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Old 10-12-2014   #2
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I have a yellow filter and use one occasionally. I also have green, red and yellow/orange ones. If I see a need I will use them but I don't keep any filter on my lens all the time, not even a UV filter.
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Old 10-12-2014   #3
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Depends on the emulsion and what type of shooting I am doing. For street work I will usually have on a yellow-green X0 for Delta 400 and FP4. No filter for Neopan Acros and Tmax400.

When shooting on a tripod with 120 film I'll carry a yellow-orange, orange, yellow-green, and red. The scene will determine if i use one.

It seems that the spectral sensitivity of film has changed over the last thirty years or more. Yellow filters have less effect in general than they used to?
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Old 10-12-2014   #4
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Yellow, green (green-yellow), red.
I use yellow if I want to increase contrast at the moment of image taking. Green gives some interesting effect on skin and else. Red is for dramatic sky.
Those photogs you have mention might have old uncoated lenses. Makes sense to use light yellow often on those.
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Old 10-12-2014   #5
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I still wonder what effect, if any, A Multi-Coated UV filter would have on a single coated lens?
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Old 10-12-2014   #6
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I almost always use a yellow or orange filter for outdoor stuff (very occasionally red or green depending on subject). A filter on B&W will darken the colors that are opposite it on the color wheel, so for yellow/orange you get slightly darker blue skies.

Here are a few examples I shot a while back, comparing unfiltered Tri-X to yellow (Hoya G) and orange (B+W 040):

http://www.pbase.com/smcleod965/filter_test

The lens was multicoated and very contrasty. I imagine that a less contrasty SC lens may benefit more, but I guess you might run the risk of internal reflections off the back of the filter (?)

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Old 10-12-2014   #7
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Hoya G is an orange filter, not yellow. Same filter factor as the B+W. Imprecisely I would say that B+W tends to be on the 'redder' side of orange compared to similar Hoyas. Still, the same filter factors and color class indicates that they are pretty close filters. and your sample shots show this.

Wouldn't basic laws of physics say that any simple glass sheet can be neutral or make things 'worse (more refraction, reflections, chromatic aberations, etc.) never make things 'better'?
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Old 10-12-2014   #8
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I often use a yellow filter, sometimes red, sometimes no filter at all.

Rather than slap one one because someone said you should, you need to think about what it does.
First of all, you aren't recording colour, just light and dark. But, what you are photographing has both colour and lightness. A yellow filter will make yellow things lighter, and things on the other side of the colour wheel (blues and purples) darker. For instance, the classic red filter example of a red flower and green leaves. With no filter, the flower and leaves have a similar lightness, and therefore you get a single tone of grey. Now use a red filter, the flower gets lighter, the leaves darker, and the flower now pops of the green leaves, as you expect when you see it in colour.

Now, I use a yellow filter during the day for any number of reasons - clouds and sky become more separated (the yellow filter darkens the sky) - Caucasian skin gets a bit lighter with a yellow filter, and looks more "normal".

You also have to remember a few things. Shadows are lit by light from the sky, not directly lit by the sun, so they are blue, and will get darker with a yellow filter. So it will increase the light/shadow contrast which can be good or bad.

Basically the rule I follow is "don't put anything in front of your lens unless you have a good reason to" that applies to UV filters too. They have an actual use beyond protection.

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Old 10-12-2014   #9
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The "always use a yellow filter" mantra made more sense in the past, with uncoated lenses and not fully panchromatic films. Nowadays, you should put a filter if you are after something different. As a curiosity. Salgado claims to never use filters, and his film B&W stands out among the finest work ever made.
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Old 10-12-2014   #10
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I have given up on filters as I often end up with results other than predicted with the shadows taking the worst effects at most.
I try to control contrast via exposure and development. Rarely I will use a deep red filter to create some specific drama to my shots, but usually end up with lots of black in my photos.
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Old 10-12-2014   #11
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Screw Salgado’s claims.

A yellow filter gives a wonderful effect on smoothing Caucasian and Negro skin tones especially under full sun light and strobe flash photography for a more natural appearance. As an advantage it also gives pictures taken with modern B&W filum a look as seen with normal vision.

So let’s cut the crap and conclude that a yellow filter is mandatory for most B&W pictures.

If you know what you're doing you will remove it for certain situations.
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Old 10-13-2014   #12
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theres no general rule for using a filter or not... you have to know what a filter does and what you WANT to achieve.
The myth of "always using a yellow filter" is 70 years old. Old folders had sometimes a permanently attached yellow filter to increase contrast.
Film and lenses were crappy that time, one needed the extra punch.
And yes i know that's a generalization and not 100% true :P
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Old 10-13-2014   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
I still wonder what effect, if any, A Multi-Coated UV filter would have on a single coated lens?
It will make things look buttery-silky. With extra glow.



PS: are you serious??
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Old 10-13-2014   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pherdinand View Post
It will make things look buttery-silky. With extra glow.



PS: are you serious??
Just humor the OP... he's in it for the hits.
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Old 10-13-2014   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Daniel View Post
Hoya G is an orange filter, not yellow. Same filter factor as the B+W. Imprecisely I would say that B+W tends to be on the 'redder' side of orange compared to similar Hoyas. Still, the same filter factors and color class indicates that they are pretty close filters. and your sample shots show this.

Wouldn't basic laws of physics say that any simple glass sheet can be neutral or make things 'worse (more refraction, reflections, chromatic aberations, etc.) never make things 'better'?
Yep - the G is definitely yellow! I have a K2 sitting on a shelf and that was in my mind when I wrote the previous. It's a pretty similar hue, with a 50% cutoff at 550nm according to B+W, while the G is more like 538nm, but also slightly less dense (I needed noticeably less exposure with the G, checked on a Nikon SLR matrix meter with the same results). I sometimes wonder if the filter factors include a "fudge factor" to account for the spectral response of film and the meter's SPD.

The K2 is more like an 022 (482 vs. 495nm) but like the G, it also looks less dense to me.

I think an appropriate filter can markedly improve tonal separation in B&W with minimal (or imperceptible) negative impact if it's high quality, properly multicoated and clean.
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Old 10-13-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
The "always use a yellow filter" mantra made more sense in the past, with uncoated lenses and not fully panchromatic films. Nowadays, you should put a filter if you are after something different. As a curiosity. Salgado claims to never use filters, and his film B&W stands out among the finest work ever made.
Ahh, put down his finished printed work to a team of elves in a Paris photo lab who have the skill, experience, expertise and monetary incentive to radically dodge and burn using split filters. Also, his film is developed by the same team according to his taste using a special developer. I had the pleasure of viewing his work up close in Asia before it was mounted as my friend was the curator for his exhibition. There were over 300 prints, including some done by him. They were different to the ones done by the lab as they were marked on the back and signed/stamped.

I would argue that this look they achieve is out of reach for the inexperienced photog in a darkroom, hence a yellow, orange or even red filter is an easier way to pump up the contrast. Or alternatively the inexperienced photog could always pay top dollar and send his film and developed negs to said lab for developing and printing Salgado style.
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Old 10-13-2014   #17
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The yellow filter will be of no effect on modern B&W films and thus can be merely used as a protective filter (at the expense of one lost f-stop).

Want to see some results (under the proper lighting circumstances only) on the negatives ? Use an orange filter. Really worth it sometimes.

Of course, there is the red filter too... Yet its effects may now rather suffer from the "special effects for special effects' sake" thing.

Caveat : this is my opinion based on what I am seeing on my (home processed) negatives after more than 25 years of B&W film shooting. Tonal range separation and greyscale experts might say otherwise.
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Old 10-13-2014   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
this is my opinion after more than 25 years of B&W film shooting.
After 45 years of B&W film shooting I can honestly say that I've never used a filter. My golden rule is: Never use a filter. Just throw them away.

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Old 10-13-2014   #19
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I often use a yellow-green filter but not all the time. Another way to get good skies is to use pyro developers. Both often result in a 1 stop loss.

Modern films still require a yellow filter for some Situation, using a filter is situation dependant as is the choice of the filter Color you Need.
If you want fog in your Picture don't use any of the red leaning filters (yellow, orange, red) use a blue one instead etc...
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Old 10-13-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
The yellow filter will be of no effect on modern B&W films and thus can be merely used as a protective filter (at the expense of one lost f-stop).

Want to see some results (under the proper lighting circumstances only) on the negatives ? ...
There's nothing different about "modern B&W" films that in any way changes the impact of using a yellow filter and it is not the "lightinng circumstances" that has an influence but instead the color of the subject.

The classic yellow filter (e.g. Wratten #8 or old-style designation Wratten K2) has only a very slight effect, only slighly darkening fairly pure blues and some greens. Its usual purpose is to produce "normal panchromatic rendering" (to quote the old phrase) when shooting landscapes with sky and clouds. It increases the tonal separation between a light blue sky and grey clouds (they are rarely white).

Personally, back in the day when I shot film, I generally preferred a stronger effect and used a deep yellow (Wratten #12), orange (Wratten #15 ), or red (Wratten #25) filter when I needed/wanted to alter the rendering of the sky while altering little else in a landscape image. More often than not I would use a light green (Wratten #11, old style designation Wratten X1) to both darken the sky slightly and to lighten green foliage separating it from the greyish tree trunks and neutral toned rocks and soil.
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Old 10-13-2014   #21
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The same here. I usually forgo a filter when shooting black and white. When I do want to enhance the sky and clouds - I opt for orange not yellow.

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Old 10-13-2014   #22
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Depends on the film, Akiva. Tri-X & Neopan 400 I would use a yellow filter by default, makes landscapes and skin look more natural. Take it off when I need the the additional stop of the "naked" lens.

Tmax 400 on the other hand has a weak "yellow filter built-in". Might want to check the spectral densities that are provided by film manufacturers.

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Old 10-13-2014   #23
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Occasionally. Depends more on the subject matter than the film, as I almost always use either ACROS 100 or XP2 Super, which both seem to have very similar spectral response curves.

My filter rule of thumb:
- Yellow and Orange filters helps soften skin tones and push down blues.
- Green helps separate foliage (but it can highlight skin defects).
- Take filters off when you're working in limited light because all of them cost 1 to 3 stops of film speed.

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Old 10-13-2014   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
The yellow filter will be of no effect on modern B&W films and thus can be merely used as a protective filter (at the expense of one lost f-stop).

Want to see some results (under the proper lighting circumstances only) on the negatives ? Use an orange filter. Really worth it sometimes.

Of course, there is the red filter too... Yet its effects may now rather suffer from the "special effects for special effects' sake" thing.

Caveat : this is my opinion based on what I am seeing on my (home processed) negatives after more than 25 years of B&W film shooting. Tonal range separation and greyscale experts might say otherwise.
I use yellow filters on modern lenses (even SLR) and I see a difference. For films, Kodsk BW400CN seems to appreciate it most.
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Old 10-13-2014   #25
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I always use a light yellow filter with Tri-X and similar films. I thought it darkened the sky, and increased contrast in general. Maybe it doesn't? Now I find out?
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Old 10-13-2014   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdotkling View Post
I always use a light yellow filter with Tri-X and similar films. I thought it darkened the sky, and increased contrast in general. Maybe it doesn't? Now I find out?
Run a test! All of these practices and observations and such are based on individual experience. There's only been once reference to the spectral response curves that manufacturers provide. Which can be a starting point? I noticed dip in the green range on the Delta 400 curve, and slight rise in the blue end, so I thought a yellow-green might be interesting to try.

And yep, I liked the result of that filter on that emulsion for the scenes I was shooting. You might like it, you might not. If your yellow filter with Tri-X gives you the look you want, keep using it.

There are long traditions of 'accepted practices' in photography. We are not doing scientific research with the need for repeatable, objective results. We're making pretty pics. Use what works for you.

But dang, I am not the only one who thinks that Tri-X's spectral response has changed over the last 50 years! I have shots from the 1970s without a yellow filter that have the light gray sky I equate with people like Lee Freidlander of that time. And I have similar images from the last five years with darker skies, crisper clouds. Go figure....

Test. Experiment. Learn what filters do FOR YOU with your setup, and then use them as needed to get the result you want. That's the bottom line. I like hearing what other people do, it gives me ideas and helps me refine or change my techniques. For my shooting, and to get the images I want, not to fit some 'standard' that, face it, doesn't exist any more.
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Old 10-13-2014   #27
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That's a great idea, I think I'll do that and figure out why I've had that yellow filter on all these years! Thanks for the thoughtful advice. It's strange how we go along out of habit and forget why we did it in the first place.
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Old 10-13-2014   #28
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I was using an orange filter with Ilford FP4 Plus, and I don't really think it helped in general. It was okay when in town on a cloudy morning, but out in the country with some proper sun it just seemed to muddy things up (not to mention the blocked up shadows).

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Old 10-13-2014   #29
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Sometimes I used filters just to reduce the film iso, ie: orange filter will reduce the film 400 to 200 and it works in bright daylight.
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Old 10-13-2014   #30
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I always use a yellow filter with Tri-X when shooting in strong daylight lighting, for example landscapes shot between late morning and late afternoon. It darkens the sky a bit and enhances contrast. I've also used a yellow filter with TMax 400 and was pleased with the results. I use Diafine a lot, and a yellow filter has a one stop filter factor which allows me to shoot Tri-X outside at 400; I take the filter off indoors and adjust the meter to 800.
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Old 10-13-2014   #31
Juan Valdenebro
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Hi Akiva,
The main reason for using a yellow filter is/was making a b&w scene closer to reality than it was recorded on film if the filter was not used... This was relevant only when the scene was shot on a blue sky day (no need for yellow filter on overcast), and it was true for older films, and IMO for current Tri-X too. To my eye, TMax400 looks like a yellow filtered film, so I don't use a yellow filter for it.
Apart from the improved, cleaner overall balance, the yellow filter is used to make the blue sky look a little bit darker, and the orange one to do the same with a bit more strength, so clouds, by contrast, have more punch in the sky. That, for all b&w films.
Keeping a yellow filter always on, makes sense with Tri-X, because:
If the day has blue sky, images will look more real and clean.
If blue sky is included in the shot, it will look better, and clouds too.
On overcast days, it doesn't hurt images in any way.
The lens is protected.
With most films blue sky is horribly pale without yellow or orange filter. I don't like to abuse darkroom or digital dodging and burning, so I prefer getting all I can on negative.
I find this useful for nature and landscape photography, but for street shooting I don't care.
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Old 10-13-2014   #32
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If I want to increase contrast and / or darken a sky I'll use an orange or red. However I'll throw this one out to you all, but for general B+W I'll keep a yellow filter on the lens not for any effect but to actually help me visualize in monochrome. Of course this only works when I'm using an SLR...
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Old 10-14-2014   #33
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I use red filter + Polarizer + Neopan Acros 100
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Old 10-14-2014   #34
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I use an X0 (yellow green) filter.

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Old 10-14-2014   #35
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Yellow filter as a reminder of film loaded?
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Old 10-14-2014   #36
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Light yellow filter with Tri-X for landscapes, nearly all that I have shot for many years. Meter at box speed +1 stop for the filter. I like what it does in darkening clear sky.

Now I'm trying a Leica "Fedoo" R.h. light red filter supposed to reduce haze, e.g., mountain shots, that's +4 stops with Tri-X.
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Old 10-14-2014   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kymar View Post
If I want to increase contrast and / or darken a sky I'll use an orange or red. However I'll throw this one out to you all, but for general B+W I'll keep a yellow filter on the lens not for any effect but to actually help me visualize in monochrome. Of course this only works when I'm using an SLR...
Me too, I mostly use an orange filter and I find it helps to not see the picture in color.
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Old 10-14-2014   #38
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I use a yellow filter a good bit with black and white film.

COLOR film too. When I get THOSE rolls back instead of saying "oh $#!+" I say " oh cool old timey looking colorized postcard shots"
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Old 10-14-2014   #39
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Most of the time I use a yellow filter to add contrast onto the negative. In art school in the seventies I was taught to make consistent negatives that more or less could be straight printed with very little or none at all dodging and burning. At one point I learned to print directly onto a straight grade number 2 paper without any contrast filters.

Today my approach is like a large format shooter who wants to make a negative for contact printing. BTW Ansel Adams almost always used a yellow filter on his 8x10 view camera. The idea is to make good contrast at the time of image capture and not in post.

IMHO today people control contrast in post processing relying on software too much. This adds didital artifact and noise, especially if "abused." I ask why not control contrast at the time of image capture? To me the loss of an F-stop is well worth it.

Understand that I also shoot a Leica MM with yellow filters to get wonderful histograms that require little or no post processing.

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Old 10-15-2014   #40
kanzlr
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kanzlr is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Vienna (Austria)
Age: 38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Addy101 View Post
Me too, I mostly use an orange filter and I find it helps to not see the picture in color.
Funny. I prefer rangefinders for B&W photography because I do NOT have to look through a color filter (which I use a lot)
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