Our highest-end filters are every bit the equal of the very best filters on the market, both in terms of image fidelity and physical construction. However, because we still use the same basic technologies that are available to most filter manufacturers, we don’t claim that our filters, in and of themselves, are any better than the best competitors.

Instead, our approach to exceeding our competitors is by being disruptively honest and informative. We’re up front about light transmission, we offer top-quality products at prices that make sense, and we work to empower photographers with standardized and measurable data so they can make an educated choice when shopping for lens filters.

Multi-coating has become the biggest buzzword in lens filter marketing, with brands commonly boasting of multi-coating as if it’s the best way to indicate a filter’s overall quality. In reality, however, coatings are only a fraction of the story, and simply counting them isn’t a useful way to assess a filter’s quality. There are many different kinds of coatings with different functions, and some are more effective than others. That’s why we intentionally avoid using the term “multi-coating” when we talk about our filters. Light transmission and specific resistance features are simply a much more practical, objective, and honest way to measure and denote a filter’s quality.

Still, rest assured that most of our filters do in fact have multi-coating. Here are the numbers. In addition to the UV coating present on all of our UV filters, our 99% and 98% filters with side knurling have 16 layers; our 99% and 98% filters without side knurling have 14 layers; and our 95% filter has 2 layers. Our 90% filter does not have any additional coatings.

Yes, Chiaro's 99% and 98% filters include what other brands advertise as "nano coatings." Because we don’t find nano coatings to hold much practical relevance to photographers, however, we choose not to mention this feature in our specifications and marketing.

We’ve tested competing filters that claim to have a light transmission higher than 99%, and, in every case, Chiaro’s 99% filters performed just as well. Thus we feel comfortable stating that, with today’s technology, the best UV and clear filters transmit at an average of 99% in the visible spectrum.

So how did they get 99.7%? Well, it’s important to note that a filter’s light transmission in the visible spectrum is never perfectly uniform. When you look at the transmission graphs of our 99% filter, for example, you’ll see spikes and dips above and below 99%. When competing brands claim 99.7%, they might be reporting the value of the highest spike rather than calculating the average across the whole visible spectrum the way we do. In any case, these discrepancies underscore the importance of standardizing the testing between filters, using the same equipment, process, and methods of calculation. Otherwise you’re comparing apples to oranges.

All the filters that we tested were measured using a Perkin Elmer Lambda 650S spectrophotometer at an ISO-certified lab. After gathering the raw data, we arrived at the final light transmission figures by calculating the filters’ average transmission between the wavelengths of 400 and 700 nm, i.e., the visible spectrum. You can view the data here.

It really depends on your personal needs. Light transmission doesn’t just affect the general image fidelity of a filter from shot to shot; it also determines the likelihood of occasional, unpredictable optical aberrations such as lens flare and ghosting. Under ideal lighting conditions, for example, you might not be able to see much of a difference between an image shot with our 95% filter versus a 99% filter. Under more challenging lighting conditions, however, the 95% filter is more likely to exhibit aberrations due to reflections. Whether this compromise is worth the money you’d save on a filter with lower light transmission really depends on your individual budget, shooting style, and optical standards.

In theory, yes. It's true that brass is a harder, stronger, and heavier metal than aluminum. This means that a filter with a brass frame should have a reduced likelihood of binding, as it’s somewhat less likely to deform from accidental impact or mis-threading. However, our aluminum frames are hard-anodized to be as strong as steel, so we consider our aluminum filters to be quite durable as well.

So is brass worth the premium? If you love the heavier feel of brass, or if you’re a photographer who often stacks and swaps out filters (thereby increasing the risk of dropping or mis-threading a filter), you might find the additional strength of brass worth the added cost.

Size Pitch
25mm 0.75
27mm 0.50
27.5mm 0.50
28mm 0.75
30mm 0.75
30.5mm 0.50
37mm 0.75
40.5mm 0.50
43mm to 82mm 0.75
86mm 1
95mm 1
105mm 1
112mm 1
122mm 1

You’ll find that the photography community is fairly divided on the practice of using clear and UV filters as a form of physical protection for lenses. Some swear by it, while others never use clear filters. Some of the naysayers don’t use them because they’re afraid the filter might degrade the image (which is why knowing the light transmission is so important), while others argue that filters don’t provide any physical protection at all.

The truth of the matter isn’t so black and white. When it comes to impact protection, e.g., accidental drops or objects striking the lens, the benefits of a lens filter might be less dramatic than you’d initially assume. That’s because the flat pane of a lens filter is generally less shatter-resistant than the more robust convex structure of a front element—meaning that a shattered lens filter doesn’t necessarily mean it saved the front element from the same fate. Ultimately, when it comes to impacts that are strong enough to shatter the filter, you can hope for the lens filter to at least soften the blow to the lens, which may or may not be the deciding factor in whether the front element suffers any damage.

Where a lens filter provides more definitive protection is against moisture, abrasion, and corrosion. Because keeping a filter on a lens at all times means the front element is never exposed to the environment, you’ll keep the front element from ever coming into contact with damaging elements in the air such as moisture, salt, sand, and grit.

A second benefit of this is that you’ll rarely have to clean the front element directly. Frequently polishing a piece of glass, even with a proper microfiber cloth, can cause micro scratches and haze over time, as tiny particles of grit can inadvertently be dragged across the surface. Keeping a filter on the lens at all times means you’ll only have to clean the filter, which is much more affordable to replace should haze or micro scratches ever affect the clarity of your images.

Try a lens filter wrench. We recommend Sensei’s rubberized metal wrenches, which offer better grip and durability than common plastic wrenches.

If you’re talking about a polarizing filter with a rotating ring, the most commonly effective solution is to wrap both the outer and inner rings of the filter with a rubber band or a strip of adhesive tape. This will prevent the filter’s outer ring from rotating independently, effectively giving you a wider fixed surface to grip while unscrewing the filter.

Yes. In time, we plan to offer a full and diverse range of lens filters. Sign up for our mailing list if you’d like to keep up with our upcoming products.

Resistance coatings provide resistance to abrasion and increased cleanability, i.e., how easy it is to remove foreign elements such as water, oil, and dust from your lens filter.

On our Data page, you can read about our methods for testing resistance, whether it was checking for the beading of water drops on the glass, removing a Sharpie marker line from the glass using adhesive tape, or testing how much shredded styrofoam clung to the glass. Our descriptions should give you a pretty good idea of how to replicate some of the tests informally if you’re so inclined. However, we should warn you that it’s best not to touch your filter’s substrate at all unless necessary.

We recommend wiping it with a dry microfiber cloth or dedicated lens cleaning tissue paper. If a solution is necessary, your safest best is to use a dedicated lens cleaning solution. Common household materials and solutions are not recommended.

Modern digital filters and modern film stock aren’t affected by UV haze except at very high altitudes. For this reason, some photographers who want physical protection for their lens prefer to use a “clear” filter without any UV-blocking properties, reasoning that a UV filter would block light unnecessarily. Practically speaking, however, a decent UV coating on a lens filter will not harm the light in the visible spectrum. That means that even if UV blocking is unnecessary in a given situation, using UV filter instead of a comparable clear filter will not negatively affect the image. For that reason, we’d generally recommend a UV filter over a “clear” filter just in case you ever find yourself in a situation where UV blocking would be beneficial.

Our warranty covers any defects in manufacturing, whether it’s a chip in the glass, problematic threads on the frame, or a loose glass element. If your problem is caused by mishandling of the item, e.g., dropping the filter or mis-threading it, our warranty will not cover the damage.