A decent lens filter can be an almost essential camera accessory in some niches with the filter not only being able to offer some solid protection for the forward element on your lens but also being able to increase the functionality and image quality that you are able to capture with your camera rig. On top of this, there are also some solid lens filters on the market these days with new brands entering the space offering cheaper products with excellent quality offering a right bargain for any photographer or videographer wanting to pick up some lens filters.
That said though, at the time of writing, Tiffen and Hoya are definatley the two largest lens filter brands in the space and we see people reaching out for a dedicated Tiffen filter vs Hoya filter comparison article on a regular basis. Due to this, we have decided to make today’s article our own dedicated comparison between the two brands to help any of our readers who are looking to pick up some filters.
As we always like to ensure that our readers get the best deal possible, we would highly recommend that anyone looking for a new lens filter actually consider the Gobe range of filters too. Although they are not as well known or as established as Hoya or Tiffen, they are a relatively new brand to the market innovating away to offer their users outstanding performance for the lowest possible price tag possible. This is why the Gobe range has quickly managed to earn an excellent reputation amongst the community that just keeps on getting stronger.
Anyway, with that out of the way, both the Hoya and Tiffen ranges are very similar in all fairness to them offering a filter for pretty much every situation that you may ever encounter. Their main drawback in our opinion is that they have been dominating the space for so long that they are set in their ways and still charge a premium for their products that is no longer justified in our opinion. As we mentioned, the Gobe range offers similar levels of quality and performance without charging a premium price tag.
Out of the two featured lens filter brands, we do feel that Hoya has a slight edge over Tiffen as Hoya tend to have done a much better job of marketing their products resulting in a better reputation than the Tiffen range in some areas. This has helped to increase the Hoya sales for years and ensure that they have a larger budget available to develop their production and coating technologies to help squeeze out ahead of Tiffen ever so slightly.
Performance And Functionality
Due to Tiffen and Hoya pretty much only having each other to compete with for a long period of time, the performance of many of their lens filters is almost identical to each other. Of course, this is provided you are matching a budget filter to a budget filter and a premium filter to a premium filter but for the most part, both ranges match up to each other pretty well while also having a very similar premium level price tag too.
Both brands have also ensured that their ranges offer filters in all popular lens filter thread sizes too as well as offering some support for the vast majority of the less common lens filter thread sizes too. This ensures that no matter what camera rig you use, both the Tiffen and Hoya lens filter ranges should definatley offer a filter in the thread size that you require for your lens.
Now, we just want to quickly take a second and point out that if you are not sure what thread size your lens of choice uses, it should be wrote on either the lens cap, or around the frame of the forward lens element as well as in your user manual. You can also Google your lens and check that way too but we see a surprising amount of people reaching out and asking questions based around how they are able to check what thread size they require.
Now, as you would imagine from the two larges lens filter brands in the world, both companies offer solid ultraviolet, circular polarizer filter (both static and variable), and neutral density filters that offer you excellent performance although we do feel they are a little on the expensive side for this day and age. On top of this, both brands also offer a number of less popular lens filters such as solar filters, color filters, night filters, and macro filters. Hoya also offers specialist filters such as fog and skylight filters too whereas Tiffen are yet to branch into these niche-specific markets at the time of writing.
Each type of lens really does offer premium-level performance but just like we touched on at the start of the article, the Gobe range also offers this great performance without having such a high price tag too. This is due to Gobe innovating on pretty much every aspect of their filters ranging from the actual glass, to the metal frame, to the thread mold, to the element coating systems to keep costs as low as possible and pass these savings onto you, the user.
That said though, Hoya’s new range of filters does come with a lower price tag to try and counter the Gobe range of filters taking more and more market share from them but we feel it may be too little too late. At the time of writing, Tiffen have not released any new filters since the Gobe brand gained so much popularity but we definatley expect them to follow suit and lower their prices to try and stay competitive to the cheaper Hoya and Gobe products.
User Interface And Control System
Thankfully, lens filters are extremely user-friendly and easy to use as you simply screw them to your mounting threads on your camera lens of choice and you are usually good to go. This system is pretty much set in its ways now and in all honesty, we doubt that it is going to drastically change or alter much after being so consistent for so many years while performing so well. Both Hoya and Tiffen follow the same standard righty tighty, lefty loosey system so provided you remember that, you should not have any problems even if you have never used a lens filter before.
That said though, both systems have slightly different interface systems on their variable Cpl filter ranges. Both are very simple and easy to use to allow you to change the gradient of the polarizer on the filter but Hoya uses the more popular gradual twisting system whereas Tiffen has additional locks. Both systems do have their advantages and disadvantages over the other for higher-end, professional-level use but chances are, if you are at that level, you already know what you need and won’t be reading this article anyway.
We are confident that our users will easily be able to use the general filters as well as the Cpl filters from both brands without issue anyway. On top of this, cleaning the filter element on your new lens filter is essentially the same process everyone should be doing to the forward lens elements on their camera lens of choice as part of regular maintenance. It takes a few seconds to clean and you are good to go about your business as usual and the coating technology on the premium filters from both Tiffen and Hoya is solid enough anyway and should minimize the need for regular cleaning for most niches.
Build Quality And Design
As you would expect, the different price points of filters from both brands have different levels of build quality but in all fairness, relative to their price point in the market, both brands offer great build quality for the price tags of their filters. Again though, especially when it comes to the premium level filters, we feel that the Gobe range is definatley the better option as they use the highest possible quality German Schott glass as standard without hiking their price tags up.
Some of the premium level Hoya and Tiffen filters use high quality Japanese glass instead and although it is a solid second when it comes to lens elements, the strength, clarity, and reliability of German Schott glass should be in all premium price point filters in our opinion. We were unable to find any solid information on the glass used for the filter elements in either brand’s entry-level lens filters though but for their price tags, we would expect it to locally source glass that is common for the cheaper lens filters and is industry standard.
Both brands also offer some solid protective coating for their premium price point lenses but in our opinion, this is one area where Gobe blows both Hoya and Tiffen out the water with ease. Their sixteen layer coating system on their premium filters is excellent offering great protection and clarity that lasts. As you would expect though, due to this being one of the main advantages of the Gobe range, they have been tight lipped about the process to prevent the compeating brands from replicating it and adding it to their own filters.
We feel that the Hoya range does have a slight advantage over the Tiffen range when it comes to their frames as the Hoya filters do seem to be tougher and more robust. With both brands having very similar levels of performance with a similar price tag, this could be the thing that helps you decide to go with Hoya over Tiffen if you are dead set on going with one of the more established brands out there.
Both brands use metal threads on their lens filters as standard, even on their entry-level, budget-friendly filters too. Although rare, every now and then we see reports from some random lens filter brand using plastic threads that can be a nightmare and cause cross threading when mounting or unmounting the filter from your lens. If you are looking at the entry-level price bracket for your lens filters then we would highly recommend that you ensure the filters you are considering offer metal threads as standard. At the time of writing, all of the filters from Tiffen, Hoya, and Gobe do but be very careful with some random brand that you may never have heard of before.
That brings our ultimate Tiffen filters vs Hoya comparison article to a close and although we would always recommend that our readers check out the Gobe range first, we do feel that the Hoya is marginally better than the Tiffen range at the time of writing. Not only is their newest range of lens filters cheaper than the Tiffen range but they also have a better metal lens frame in our opinion too.