B+W does not carry an extensive number of UV filter lines, like Hoya for instance, but the quality of their build and anti-reflection effect is well known. All of their rings are made of brass, and the optical glass is world-class. You can tell these are high quality filters just by holding them; they also hold well in actual use. The price is prettier too, but read on to see what you’re paying for. Here are all their UV and protection filter lines, with detailed description of each.
B+W Clear UV Haze with Single Coating (code 010) series
Each side of this filter has one layer of anti-reflection coating, to prevent ghosting and reflections. Light transmission is improved by coating to 98%. The ring on this filter is labeled F-PRO and is made of brass, which is heavier and sturdier than aluminum. It is thin enough to not produce vignetting, even on wide-angle lenses, and has a front thread that allows it to couple with another filter, lens or hood. The single-coated glass on this filter is not hardened, so it will break easier than a MRC glass. Occasionally, it will also produce more glare than the MRC glass. Apart from that, it offers great protection to your lens, and also protects your lens’ edge to edge sharpness, color and contrast. It doesn’t affect the picture quality at all and it does a great job reducing haze in landscapes. This filter gets 5 stars for build and transparency, and is a perfect always leave-on protection.
B+W Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Coating (code 010M) series
This is by far the most popular filter produced by B+W. It uses the same sturdy F-PRO mount, but has the MRC coated Schott glass.
The MRC coating – MRC comes from Multi-Resistant Coating and is a special treatment applied to B+W filters that has been around since 1996. In fact, B+W was the first company to introduce multi-coated filters. The MRC coating consists of 7 layers applied in vacuum with the help of plasma fields. What do these layers do? Well, they do:
- Cut off ultraviolet light, which is what they’re supposed to do in the first place
- Prevent light scattering across the entire spectrum. This helps prevent reflections, flare and ghosting effects. Notice, B+W filters do this over the entire light spectrum, while other filters may (and do) not.
- Increase contrast. Another effect of preventing scattered light across the entire spectrum is naturally a contrast increase.
- Add strength to the glass. One of the 7 layers is specially intended to harden the glass and to make it much more scratch-resistant. MRC filters are notoriously hard to scratch. This is important if you want your filters to serve you for years.
- Increase light transmission. Single-coated filters have lower light transmission rates than multi-coated ones. The MRC filters allow some 98% of the light to pass through.
- Not least, the top layer is water-repellent and dirt-resistant. This is not a marketing gimmick and sheer blabber, it’s a ‘blobber’ :), in that by some property of the outer layer, water drops do not stick to the glass but instead are brought together into blobs which slide off the glass surface without leaving traces. This is almost like water falling off the lotus leaves (read a bit about the lotus effect at Wikipedia), although B+W makes it clear that theirs is not the same mechanism at work as the one occurring naturally in lotus leaves (it looks though like they achieved this with the MRC Nano coating). The water repelling effect however is quite similar and real.
- Can be cleaned easily. B+W multi-coated filters are known to be easier to clean than multi-coated filters from other producers, some of which are a pain to clean. This is an important issue, because when a filter is hard to clean, its owner prefers to take it off for cleaning not that often. As a result, the filter will stay on dirty for long periods of time, which has an impact on image quality. Dirt on the filter actually has a greater impact on IQ than dirt on the lens itself, and because of that special coating on the filter, you can clean it using a fine cloth or a blow-brush, rather than alcohol.
B+W Slim-Line Series
B+W offers the Slim-Line Filter Mount for those needing mission-critical slim filter profiles, especially for wide-angle photographing. The profile is only 3mm high. These filters come in two series: the B+W Slim-Line Clear UV Haze with Single Coating and the B+W Slim-Line Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Coating, using the 010 and 010M coatings respectively. This mount does not have a front-facing thread, to avoid vignetting with lenses as wide as 17mm in 35mm format. B+W claims photographers reported success with lenses as wide as 16mm. A slip on cap is included with the filter.
B+W XS-Pro Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating (010M) series
Meet the professional version of the B+W UV filter. It sports the next-level glass MRC-Nano on a XS-Pro Digital mount.
The XS-Pro Digital mount is a bit thinner than the F-PRO ring, while keeping the front threading for attaching extra elements. Most ultra-thin filters from other brands do not have a front thread. The XS-Pro Digital profile will not produce vignetting even with a 24mm or zoom lens. These rings are made of brass and have a matte black finish to prevent reflections.
The MRC Nano coating adds an extra layer engineered at the nano level to make the glass extra water repellent. B+W seems to have not been completely happy with the water repelling properties of the MRC coating, and spent more in innovation. It appears they have now achieved the lotus effect they were looking for. This is not simple marketing speak, as many users attest that this capability has been greatly enhanced. And it’s not just water that is better driven off, the surface is also easier to clean overall.
B+W Clear Protecting Filters
If you’re looking for protection without the anti-UV effect, B+W has got the Clear 007M coated filters. The 007M uses the same MRC multi-coating as 010M, only without the anti-UV layer. The other properties are still there, like hardness, anti-reflection, water and dirt repulsion. The clear filters come in two series:
The B+W Clear with Multi-Resistant Coating (007M) series comes with the F-PRO ring and the 007M glass, both already described.
The B+W XS-Pro Clear with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating (007M) series comes with the XS-Pro Digital mount described above in the 010M lines, and the 007M Nano coated glass, which brings the additional nano layer for even better beading effect with water, and easier and faster cleaning.
The B+W Slim-Line Clear with Multi-Resistant Coating (007M) series comes with the 3mm slim profile mount and the 007M glass, for reduced vignetting in 17mm wide-angle lenses. This filter does not have a front thread.