Filters for black & white film

Filters for black & white film

Example green filter

Example yellow filter

Example red filter

Filters for black & white film
These glass filters tinted in strong colors are used with b&w film to convert the filter color into lighter and its complementary color into darker gray tones. This may be useful to correct unfavorable tones or as a deliberate manipulation to obtain a more impressive result. Although these filters are not intended for use with color film, they may occasionally provide interesting special effects.

When using these filters for digital photography the automatic white balance has to be turned off. Otherwise it would automatically compensate the color of the filter and so its effect. The white balance has to be adapted rather to the given light (e.g. to daylight with sun, cloudy sky, or tungsten light) in order to achieve the complete desired filter effect.

Green Filters make greens and yellows brighter and reds and violets darker (also blue gets darker, but to a lesser extent). So they darken a blue sky and render grass or leaves as lighter and red blossoms or tiled roofs as darker. This is often an advantage for landscapes or for close-ups of flowers or other plants. With tungsten light and its high intensity of red they provide more natural gray tones (except of a blue which is a little too dark). Green filters also give greater expression to portraits - but be aware if the subject has skin blemishes, they would be enhanced.

Image example on right side:
Top original colors: red/pink contrast to green/blue.
Middle B/W film without filter: sail is to bright, ocean to dark
Bottom B/W film with green filter: sail appears darker, ocean brighter


Yellowish Green Filters have a very similar effect as green filters and the same application area. The only difference is that they make yellow a bit brighter, darken red a little bit less und blue a little bit more.

Yellow Filters are the most popular type of filters for b&w shots, particularly for landscape photography. They darken a blue sky so that white clouds or snow in wintry landscapes appear with greater brilliance. As the effect of bright yellow filters is very discreet, medium to dark yellow filters are preferred.

Image example on right side:
Left original colors: Clouds contrast strongly with the sky.
Middle B & W film without filter: Pale sky, low contrast.
Right B & W film with medium yellow filter: Emphasized coulds


Orange Filters, similar to yellow filters, darken blue to create a very dramatic atmosphere (thunderclouds) in landscape shots. In analog photography with infrared (color) film, they are the most popular filters for magical effects especially in landscapes.

Red Filters create a maximum dramatic effect in landscape and architectural photos. They are ideal for “moonlight” shots during the day (underexpose slightly) and for spectacular photos with infrared color film.

Image example on right side:
Top original colors: The eye sees a high color contrast.
Middle B & W film without filter: Almost indistinguishable gray values.
Bottom B & W film with bright red filter: Red appears brighter and green darker.

All of the mentioned filters are available with a slimline mount in sizes from 28 mm to 95 mm and 105 mm and with a standard mount in the sizes 27 mm, 100 mm, 112 mm and 127 mm. All of these filters are fitted with a female thread at the front side and a male thread of the same size at the rear. So an additional filter or a lens hood can be fixed.