An $83 Paperweight

If there’s anything I hate, it’s wasting money. In this case, filters.

Case #1

I always keep a UV or clear filter on my lenses (the argument about putting a “cheap” piece on glass on an expensive lens will follow in a later post). And I like to use polarizers when called for.

I have matched sets for my lenses, as lens filter size dictates. At first, I bought excellent quality filters made by a reputable manufacturer. I screwed the UV filters to the lenses, and when needed, I screw the polarizer into the female threads of the UV filter.

One day, after just a few uses, the two filters became jammed together.

I must say, I don’t screw them in tight. Just tight enough that they won’t come off on their own.

Well, this polarizer and this UV filter were jammed pretty good. After considerable effort, I finally got them separated.

Sunovagun if a couple of days later, they jammed again. And several more times after that.

Some research indicated that this particular company uses aluminum for their filter frames, and when two things made of aluminum are screwed together, the aluminum can easily just jam up.

The last time they jammed together, I had to send them back to the manufacturer to get them apart. When I got them back, they had indeed be separated, but they were accompanied by a note that read:

“We recommend that filters not be stacked.”

Really? I have been stacking filters this way since I started in photography in 1965. And so have countless other photographers. Some photographers have been known to stack several filters together to get the effect they wanted. But I do not remember filters jamming together this way back in the 60s and 70’s.

What was the difference? Simple. The old filters used brass for their filter frames. Brass usually won’t jam up that way, and if they do, it’s fairly easy to get them apart.

Case #2

So I replaced these very good quality filters made by a reputable manufacturer with some that were considerably more expensive from the only company I could find (at the time) that made them from brass. The polarizer alone was priced at $82.95. In my book, that’s a significant chunk of change for a 77mm piece of glass. However, the problem with jamming was eliminated.

But another problem has arisen.

The other day, one of these $83 polarizes quit rotating. A polarizer that won’t rotate freely is worthless, and this one would not rotate at all. It is frozen solid.

I contacted that manufacturer’s customer service people and explained the problem. I received a reply in very short order:

“The limited warranty is for one year against defects in workmanship and materials. If the warranty is expired, we may be able to offer a temporary fix that allows for rotation. Please advise.”

Since the filters were well past the warranty, I was interested in the "temporary" fix.

Temporary? Hmmmm . . . I asked what this “temporary” fix was. They replied:

“Polarizers can not be taken apart. Our tech injects lubricant into the ring, so it will only last so long. Be careful not to get any on the glass initially, and too much may seep on to the glass later on.”

Note that no mention was made of what kind of lubricant to use.

So this $83 dolar polarizer cannot be taken apart, and therefore cannot be repaired. And since the lubricant will eventually quit working (hence the “temporary repair”), fixing this thing permanently is out of the question.

This means that the manufacturer has built obsolescence into their polarizers, in the hopes that we will simply cave in and go spend another $83 on a new one that will also last only a short time.

Nonsense. I now have an $83 paperweight. And I’m not happy.

So, another replacement is in order.

I have heard good things about Breakthrough Photography’s filters. They are more expensive than the $83 brand, coming in at $149.00, but they also come with a 25 year (yeah, you read that right) warranty, which is somewhat better than this other manufacturer’s 1 year warranty.

They also have a magnetic system in where you screw an adapter ring to the lens, and the filters themselves pop in an out of the adapter, held in with magnets. Interesting concept. Also very expensive. Expensive enough that I’ll be sticking with the old-fashioned screw-in style.

I’ll let you know what comes of it all.

#filter #filters #polarizer #polarizers #UV #brass #aluminum #warranty


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Don Risi Photography
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Using Nikon Cameras and Lenses exclusively since 1979.
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