Anyone who thinks that in this digital age optical filters are about to go the way of the eight-track tape should talk to the people from Hoya ( We did recently and found that filters are not only alive and well, but that Hoya’s new HD series of filters packs impressive and unexpected innovations.

A new glass production process born out of eyeglass technology has made the filter glass four times stronger, says Yuji Nakano, General Manager of the Hoya Filter Division. Hoya does strength tests by dropping a steel ball on the filters to see how much force will make them break. Also, a new over coating, laid down on top of the more-standard multi-coating, creates an exceedingly smooth surface on the glass for easier cleaning and it repels both water and oil. If you try to write on the filter (as we did) with a water- or oil-based marker, the writing beads up, just waiting for you to wipe it away with a pass of a cleaning cloth. When we tried that with a regular filter…well…we won’t be using that one anymore.

The HD series is launching with UV/protector and circular polarizer models, in sizes ranging from 50mm to 82mm, though other types of filters are expected to follow. We saw an early sample of the circular polarizer and were impressed that Hoya was able to keep the depth of the ring quite shallow, and still managed to add some nice touches. It’s a tiny bit slimmer than Hoya’s existing Super Pro1 circular polarizer, yet adds knurled edges for a better grip when you turn the filter to vary the intensity of the effect.

Hideto Fukazawa, Director of Hoya’s Tokina Industrial Division, also pointed out that the new polarizer isn’t as dark as you might expect. In fact, it is significantly lighter in tint than its predecessor. A new polarizing film has made this possible, and the result is the same polarizing with less light-loss. This means you can use faster shutter speeds or a smaller aperture in a given situation compared to the company’s older models.

Hoya expects the filters to hit stores in July and prices will vary based on filter size and type.

—Philip Ryan
Technical Editor