Finding decent lens filters for your camera lens can be a real pain in this day and age due to the market being flooded with low-quality products a few years back. Although the two main lens filter brands, Hoya and Tiffen are a mainstay in the lens filter space, they are often overpriced these days for what you are actually getting as there are newer brands that offer very similar quality at a lower price point.
Both Gobe and Kenko are relatively new brands to the market who are both doing a great job of growing their market share and taking a large number of customers away from the more established Hoya and Tiffen brands. In our opinion, we would always recommend that our readers go with the Gobe range of filters as they are a great product and retail at the lowest possible price.
That said though, we are seeing more and more people reaching out for a dedicated Kenko filters review so we have decided to make this the subject of today’s article. Although we do feel that the Gobe range are ever so slightly better than the Kenko range, the various lens filters from the Kenko range are sometimes easier to source depending on the country that you are living in. The Kenko filters are still solid products that tend to offer similar levels of performance to the Hoya and Tiffen ranges while having a lower price point similar to Gobe.
On top of this, the Kenko lens filter range is rapidly growing its core customer base and has managed to earn itself a great reputation amongst the community that just keeps on getting better and better with each passing month. Just with the other major lens filter brands, Kenko has a number of different filter ranges at different price points with a solid product quality relative to their price points.
We will now be taking a more in-depth look at the various features that the Kenko lens filter range are able to offer our readers. We will be covering a number of different aspects and go over our thoughts on how the filters hold up for each aspect and why we feel that Kenko has been able to pull a solid market share away from Hoya and Tiffen over the last few years.
Performance And Functionality
When it comes to the actual performance and functionality of the Kenko lens filters, they really do offer some solid image quality that is the main reason we are seeing more and more people reaching out with questions about them with each passing month. They have the staple UV (Ultraviolet), Cpl (Circular Polarizer/Linear), and ND (Neutral-Density) filters in their line up as well as offering some more specialist lens filters such as the close up/macro filter, a solid solar range of filters and a few others too.
When it comes to their specialist lens filters, they are probably leading the market in our opinion as Hoya are the only other lens filter brand on the market right now that offers such a large range of specialist filters as standard. The Kenko specialist filters offer the same if not better levels of performance while coming in with a lower price point making them the obvious option.
That said though, we would expect that the vast majority of our readers will likely be looking to add the three standard filter types (UV, Cpl, ND) to their collection of camera accessories and although they are solid, we feel that the Gobe range of filters beats them for the standard filters, especially for the premium ranges. This is simply due to all of the Kenko ranges using high-quality Japanese glass for their element that does a great job but Gobe turns it up a notch for their premium filters and use German Schott glass.
In this day and age, it is pretty much an accepted fact in the industry that German Schott glass leads the way with the Japanese glass coming in at second place but still a fair way behind the German glass, especially the B270 variant of the glass that Gobe use as standard in their premium filter range. This is because the Schott B270 glass is highly resistant to solar radiation while also offering high transmittance of the visible wavelength of light ensuring that you get the highest possible image sharpness during use. At the time of writing, no other glass comes close to this and is the main reason we put Kenko and their lens filters in second place.
That said though, as we touched on earlier in the article, depending on where you live, the Gobe lens filter range can be a pain to source. Although easy to find in North America, Europe, and Australia, Kenkos filters are much easier to find in Asia and South America where the majority of their user base are located. Additionally, depending on your lens thread size, Kenko may be the better option as they offer some less popular lens filter threads that Gobe do not support at the time of writing.
We have made the list below for all of the lens thread sizes that the Kenko lens filter range currently supports at the time of writing. As you can see, they support a solid range of the less popular thread sizes as well as all of the more popular thread sizes to increase the likely hood you will be able to find the lens filter you need in the correct thread size for your lens.
Although it is going to depend on if you go with the entry-level, intermediate level, or professional level Kenko filter, they also have their own unique coating system for their filter elements to help and ensure that you are getting the best possible image quality during use too. Although this does differ slightly depending on the type of filter you are using, the coating technology that Kenko use is generally solid across the board and performs well, especially on their Cpl filter range.
As you would expect, their entry-level filters do not have much in the way of additional coating to help the performance of the filter but this is pretty much industry standard these days. Their intermediate and professional level filters come with it as standard though and the difference is night and day with the professional level range offering four more coats than the intermediate one for additional protection and performance.
The anti-glare coating is solid too helping to prevent glaring with all of the Kenko filters too that can help to improve your image quality without specifically going with an anti-glare filter. For example, we always recommend that our readers who are in the photography or videography space always use a decent UV filter just to protect the forward lens element on their lens. The coating on the Kenko UV filters can help to prevent unwanted glare during use while still offering you that great protection for your lens.
With all of this in mind, as well as the cheaper price tag than the majority of the competing lens filters from both the Tiffen and Hoya range, it is easy to see why the Kenko lens filters are growing a solid user base as quickly as they are. A number of photographers and videographers have also chosen to publish their own, independent reviews of the various lens filters on offer from Kenko that you can read too if you wish.
In our opinion, at least skimming over a few of those reviews for a few minutes is well worth the time as they offer some solid insight into the performance of the various lens filters in a number of photography and videography niches. Our review is more generic to cover to specifics of the filters whereas those independent reviews are more down to the niche level and how well they perform on that basis.
User Interface And Control System
Although this should be expected, the Kenko lens filters are extremely user friendly just like all other lens filters on the market right now. Even their adjustable ND filters are simple and straight forward and we doubt that any of our readers will end up running into issues with them. You simply mount the filter to your lens of choice as required and you are essentially going to go and capture your content as required without issue.
Their higher-end filters are also double-threaded meaning that you can mount a Kenko UV lens filter to your lens with the rear-facing threads and then mount a Kenko ND or Cpl lens filter to the forward-facing threads as required too. Although this is commonplace in this day and age amongst the more established lens filter brands, we have noticed that a number of the newer brands still do not offer this so we just wanted to make our readers aware that the premium level Kenko filters do offer double-threaded filters.
The intermediate and professional level filter ranges from the Kenko range require minimal maintenance too as their coating technology does a great job of keeping them clean and protecting them from scratches too. Every now and then you will need to clean them with a clean, soft cloth as you would your forward lens element but other than that, there really is nothing else to do. This ensures that all of the lens filters in the kenko range are as user friendly as possible ensuring that someone new to photography or videography will easily be able to use them without issue.
Build Quality And Design
The build quality of the Kenko lens filters is solid in all fairness to them and they can easily compete with the other lens filter brands on the market without running into any serious issues. As we touched on earlier in the article, the only reason that we recommend the Gobe lens filter range over the Kenko lens filter range is due to Gobe using the better German Schott glass whereas Kenko stick with Japanese glass. That said though, with Kenko being a Japanese brand, we can understand them wanting to keep everything Japanese but when it comes to the premium level filters, we feel it is costing them market share.
The actual lens filter frame is made from the highest possible quality aluminum and magnesium alloy just like the vast majority of other lens filters on the market these days. This particular alloy has proven to be such a solid material time and time again when it comes to lens filters as it is robust and touch so it holds its shape well but it is also very lightweight too. This means that you can stock up on all the lens filters you need for your lens collection without running into any issues with baggage weight restrictions when traveling via plane too.
Additionally, the aluminum and magnesium allow holds its shape well and can take a ton of punishment over long periods of time too. This means that the actual threads on the lens filter should not deteriorate anytime soon and should easily be able to hold their shape. This removes the risk of accidental cross-threading and potential damage to your lens when mounting or unmounting the filter too.
All in all, in our opinion, Kenko really has done a solid job of putting their filters together and the only thing that we can fault them on is sticking with the Japanese glass in their premium filters. That said though, if you are an entry-level photographer or videographer then we doubt that you will notice the difference anyway. On top of this, if you are usually working in low light or astrophotography niches then we doubt that you will be able to notice the increased image quality of the German Schott glass anyway.
That brings our ultimate Kenko lens filter review to an end and as you can probably guess, we are confident in saying that adding some filters from the Kenko range can be a solid addition to your collection of camera accessories. All of the filters perform well and are cheaper while offering similar levels of performance to the Hoya and Tiffen lens filters. As you can probably guess though, we would always recommend the Gobe range of filters for any professional-level work though as they are a similar price point to Kenko but come out ever so slightly ahead for performance.
As we mentioned above, a large number of photographers, videographers, and vloggers have chosen to publish their own reviews of the filter range going over their thoughts on their performance. If you are yet to decide if the Kenko range is suitable for your needs then reading a few of them is well worth the time in our opinion. They are all from third-party individuals who use the Kenko filter range in a large number of niches and situations offering some valuable insight in our opinion.