Lee Filters 02/4

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Having recently purchased a Linhof 617s III I found a few things vastly different to my old Fuji G617 the first thing being the size of the lenses, they are big, beautiful and the also wear the Schneider brand that is well know for having the best optics in the world. Yes I adore the new camera but having these big luxurious lenses in front of your camera means that you need big filters to use with a bigger than normal lens. To give you an idea of the size I am talking about, your standard consumer grade lens will have a filter thread of around 55-58mm, your professional lenses start getting up in the high 60-70′s and the lenses on the Linhof 72mm and 90mm lenses have a thread of 95mm with out a centre filter and a whopping 112mm once the centre filter is attached. Needless to say my current LEE filters are not suitable for this camera system and I will have to find a better option, so after spending hours and hours researching my options there seemed to be just 2 options that seemed worth looking at.

Option 1
The Cokin X-Pro system which hold filters with a width of 130mm.

Option 2
Have a custom made filter setup from LEE Filters.

After discussing my options with a few other photographers who have used both systems as well as reading numerous articles on the internet it seemed as though the best image quality would come from option 2. The email I received from LEE Filters was that is was just not economical for them to make a custom made filter holder to suit the Linhof however they recommended getting hold of a Cokin X-Pro system and they would be able to make custom filters for the X-Pro system. Finally a solution to my dilemma of not having a suitable filter system for my new camera well at least I thought that would solve everything. After a number of email exchanges between LEE and myself it seems they are having an issue supplying filters to the public and there would be a lead time of 20 weeks for me to get my custom filters.

Below is an extract from the LEE Filters website explaining the supply issue of these amazing filters.

“We at LEE Filters are aware that our valued customers are currently facing increased waiting times, and would like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons behind the lengthy lead times of our orders.
Resin Production 1

We are in the fortunate position of having experienced an unprecedented demand for our filters over the past 18 months – in particular the neutral density graduated filters, the quality of which, we believe, are of the highest standard. We are able to attain this level of quality for the simple reason that the vast majority of our filters are hand-made. While this means we can be certain of customer satisfaction almost every time, the drawback is that we are able to produce only a limited number of filters each day – we cannot simply press a button and allow a machine do the rest.

We are as proud of our skilled team of technicians, who understand the complexities involved in producing filters that meet the standards expected by photographers, as we are of the products themselves. In the past, we have investigated the possibility of automating our manufacturing system, but we remain convinced that this option would end up compromising the quality of our product – something we are not prepared to risk. Many of our filters are used in conjunction with professional-specification lenses and to cut corners on their manufacture would lead to only one thing; a degradation of image quality, and this would be unacceptable.

In order to resolve these issues, we are currently recruiting and training additional staff, as well as installing more manufacturing equipment in our factory. This will vastly increase the production of our filters, and we anticipate the backlog will be greatly reduced by Autumn of 2011.
Resin Production 3

This massive increase in demand has also adversely affected our supply chain. We only use the best and often unique suppliers and they too have found it difficult to keep up with our demands. We also recognise the pressure that our distributors and dealers have been under for the past year, and we appreciate their efforts.

We hope the above offers some reassurance, and would like to finish by stating that LEE Filters are committed to producing filters of the highest quality, and we are continuing to research and develop new products to add to our already comprehensive range and meet the exacting needs of our customers. Both now and for the future.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding.”

I have used LEE filters for the past 6 years and can’t fault them so it seems I am just going to have to wait this one out and in the mean time hope something at LEE changes and somehow I get my filters sooner than 20 weeks. Let me know your thoughts about the filters you use…

Cheers


Darren Tierney

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