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Thread: Lens Filter Question

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    Default Lens Filter Question



    Hello All

    Im not sure if I'm in the right section of the forum but hope you can assist.

    I am looking to buy a filter kit and was wondering if there are specific brands I should be looking at and other I should stay away from. As a beginner it just looks like coloured filters to me, but I am assuming there is a quality difference in the type of materials used. Can anyone suggest a couple of brands I should be looking at. I don't want to spend a fortune but happy to spend for a quality product.

    Thanks

    Leon

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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    Hi Leon,

    Those of us who have been observing the heavens for a long time have many filters and most of them sit unused in a drawer. My most used filter is a variable polarizing moon filter (cuts down on the brightness), and some folks use a yellow filter on the moon (helps with the contrast). For planetary viewing sometimes a #80a (light blue) gives a bit better contrast on Jupiter. Every other color pretty much sits in a drawer. For deep sky objects (DSO), there are some filters that provide a bit better contrasts on particular objects. For example an OIII (oxygen 3) filter gives better contrast for gaseous nebulae like the veil nebula. For others the Ultra High Contrast (UHC) filter helps with better contrast for some objects under light to moderate light polluted (LP) skies.

    As you can see, there are no "magical" filters that will dramatically improve your viewing. That is why most of our filters sit unused in a drawer.

    Bottom line: if you must get a filter, get the variable polarizing moon filter. It will see the most use.

    Cheers,
    JT
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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    Hi Leon,

    As JT says, filters can be a bit of a money pit.

    However, if you are considering filters, it is important to know what different filters do, and some advice on what to really get.

    Lumicon used to have a fantastic filter guude. But now on having beeb bought out, the page where their filters were listed is now a no-go zone for most web srrvers.

    I did find another good site that gives a good run down on filters which I've pinned below.

    One wird on filters - as JT said, astro filters are VERY specific. Colour filters are only good for the Moon and planets, and different colours help bring out different details. Be aware that many of these features can appear either very obvious, or in the opposite way that you may expect, or still be very difficult to make out as these details csn be extremely subtle, such as clouds on Mars.

    Colour filters however are not much good for starry stuff. Things like nebulae glow at very specific wavelengths so filters that transmit only those very specific wavelengths are more expensive than ordinary colour ones. How much more expensive in a way depends on your wallet and your ego...

    If you are considering colour filters, look at getting NO MORE than 3 or 4. You just won't use these very much. Really you won't. Pour over the colour filter guide and make a selection of 3 or 4.

    Nebula filters are exactly for that - nebulae. ghey WON'T help you with galaxies as these glow across the entire spectrum. Nebulae glow at very specific wavelengths depending on their make up. Pretty much these are covered by OIII (oxygen iii) and UHC types (ultra high contrast). Which to get? Both, or there is a hybrid that does both ( I'll also list it below).

    Here's that filter guide:

    Astro Shop - Guide to Filters for Astronomy

    That hybrid filter is made by the parent company of a high profile astro filter company. Being a quirky hybrid and hence misunderstood by many astronomers, the parent company keeps it under their own name. As they make filters, they also make some very exotic and more specialized astro filters too. All of these are available from their Ebay store.

    Filter 486 Astronomy Hb&OIII Nebula II 48mm 2" | eBay

    I have an OIII and a UHC type filter. I also have one of these 2" Hb+OIII filters. I use the hybrid filter most of all. And yes, I CAN see the Horsehead nebula with it!

    Take your time and read about filters. The more you do and ask questions about the better decisions you will make. What also helps is getting to an astro club meet and loo to try some out from the people there.

    Alex.

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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    Oh, I for one do use my nebula filters all the time, but I'm sketching so these greatly help with details im chasing.

    Colour filters, ooh, not often at all. I only have 4 as well. I also have a variable polarizing filter for the Moon, but I rarely use it as I'm pushing the magnification well over 200X and just working along the terminator. Even then there is no dark adaptation that you need to worry about - you are with the bloody Moon! But I keep the polarizing filters for thosefew occasions when I do view the Moon with low power.

    That's my experience with filters.

    Alex.

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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    Hello Leon,

    there are at the moment 3 companies specialized in filter design and manufacturing for the wide range of astronomy aplications, plus a bunch of other companies, which make the one or another nebular filter, and eventually sell the cheap color filter kits.

    The cheap kit color filters for the planets come from the microscopes accessories manufacturing, and they end in the astronomer's socks drawers. the most common problems with these filters are ghosting and loss of contrast due to the missing antureflex multicoatings, and low level polish quality.

    The variable polarizing filters glasses are linear polarizers and they come from the photographic filters manufacturing. Theses filters are popular for adjusting the brightness of the Moon in the eyepiece.

    Depending on what you want to observe:
    Moon: variable polarizing filter - controls the brightness
    Jupiter and Saturn: Baader 470nm bright blue passband filter enhances the contrast of the details and slightly increases the resolution
    Bright emission nebulae: Baader OIII visual 10nm narrow band filter, Orion Ultrablock with the OIII and H-Beta passband), Astronomik UHC (OIII, H-Beta and H-Alpha passbands), - all of them increase the visibility of the nebulae
    Faint ionized Hydrogen regions: Astronomik or Lumicon H-Beta filter - they pull out the faint ionized Hydrogen (no Oxygen) nebulae out of the invisibility. The H-Beta filters require in most cases larger telescope apertures, like 8" and more.

    There are no allround filters for the galaxies, the Astronomik UHC helps to see the spiral arms and the nebulae in the spiral arms on the Triangulum Galaxy M33. The other filters which find use on the galaxies are the yellow Wratten #8, the Baader yellow longpass 495nm, and the Neodymium contrast enhancemet filters, like the Baader Moon&SkyGlow filter, but the improvements are in most case small.

    Once again to the filters quality.
    High performing filters require high quality glass or quartz substrates (like Schott Glass), fine polishing (mechanical, no flame polish), and advanced multicoatings deposition on the filter surfaces (Swiss Leybold like with Astronomik and Baader). This is available just with several manufacturers I can count on my fingers.

    Hoping this helps,

    JG
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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    Wow thank you guys. The detail in your replies are out of this world.

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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    JGs response matches my experience most closely. Filters have to be very well made to be useful. I've become partial to Baader filter products by experience.
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    Default Re: Lens Filter Question

    Quote Originally Posted by not_Fritz_Argelander View Post
    JGs response matches my experience most closely. Filters have to be very well made to be useful. I've become partial to Baader filter products by experience.
    Thanks not_Fritz,

    I have also some old exotic Zeiss filters, with the Schott catalog numbers hand-engraved on their rim:
    http://www.mikroskop-online.de/Mikro...ichtfilter.pdf
    The *.pdf includes their spectral characteristics.
    They are quite handy when testing the optics, some of them can be used for the astronomy.

    There is not only the case of the extinction of species on the Earth, but also the case of extinction of some fine thingies.

    Best,

    JG
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