2016 May 9    Film   Miscellaneous


For black & white landscape photography, orange may well be the most useful type of filter.  It offers a good balance between realism and contrast, especially for blue skies. 

Manufacturers have several different shades available;  the filter factors are not all the same.  Sometimes you'll even find one filter listed with different factors on different websites.

Let's try to make sense of orange filters!

A Quick Note

Articles like this one are possible only with the support of readers like you, when you use the links on here to purchase your gear. 

Your help is greatly appreciated and helps keep this website on-line.  Thank you to everyone who helps make this site what it is.

In This Article

Filter Factor

Basic Rule

Some Data

How Orange Is Orange?


Filter Factor

Filter factor is calculated by raising the number 2 to the power x, where x is the number of stops of exposure compensation.
In other words, it's not the same as dividing by 2.  (The reason why you can divide by 2 for many of them is that the result just happens to be similar. But not always.)

If 2^x = Filter Factor, then you have to use base-2 logarithms to solve the equation.  Example: if 2^x = 3.5, then you'd do this:

log2(2^x) = log2(3.5)
x * log2(2) = log2(3.5)
x * 1 = log2(3.5)
x = about 1.8

As you can see, this is not something you're going to want to calculate every time you want to use a filter.  Many calculators don't even have base-2 logarithms.  Now let's see a couple of easier ways.


Table of Contents

Basic Rule

This is really simple.  If you can't find correct data for a filter, here's a basic rule that usually works:

One stop for a yellow filter
Two stops for an orange filter
Three stops for a red filter

For orange and yellow, add a half stop for dark-colored filters.  Examples:

Dark yellow (a.k.a. yellow-orange) would be + 1 1/2 stops.

Dark orange (a.k.a. red-orange) would be + 2 1/2 stops.

Tiffen Orange 16, Hoya Orange G, and many other "orange" filters are actually yellow-orange.  Adjust your camera to + 1 1/2 EV on the exposure compensation dial.  If you don't know for sure what you've got, though, and it looks orange, just use +2 stops. 


Table of Contents

Some Data

Here are some filter factors and stop-corrections for various orange filters.  The stops were rounded up when necessary. For example, a filter factor of 3.5 would give 1.8, which is usually rounded to 2.

If your EV dial has half-stops instead of third-stops, just use the closest one that's higher.  Example:  +1 1/3 becomes +1 1/2 stops.

Filter Designation Filter Factor Number of Stops Similar To?
B+W 022 2 1 Yellow, not orange
B+W 023 2.5 to 3 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 Tiffen Orange 16
B+W 040 4 2 Tiffen Orange 21
B+W 041 5 to 6 2 1/3 to 2 1/2 Vivitar (etc) O2 orange
Heliopan 22 2.5 to 3 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 Tiffen Orange 16
Hoya Orange G 2.5 to 3 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 Tiffen Orange 16
Kodak Wratten 22 Deep Orange6 2 1/2 Vivitar, Pentax O2
Nikon O56 3.5 to 4 2 Tiffen Orange 21
Tiffen Orange 16 2.5 to 3 1 1/3 to 1 2/3 B+W 023, Hoya O(G)
Tiffen Orange 21 4 2 Nikon O56, Kenko YA3
Vivitar (etc) O2 Orange5 to 6 2 1/3 to 2 1/2 Pentax O2, Wratten 22

Just for reference, Tiffen Red 25 and Hoya Red 25A have filter factor of 8, with a correction of 3 stops. 


Table of Contents

How Orange Is Orange?

The only sure way to know every filter.... would be to buy a sample of every filter and compare them side-by-side.  That gets rather expensive, but what I did do was to photograph a few different ones together, to at least give you an idea.

Here's a photo that compares some orange filters, together with a yellow and a red for reference:

Orange Filters, Mostly

The "Unknown China-Made" filters are a good dark orange, but I'm not sure all of them would be.  Also, the orange is so dark that it will affect foliage and shadow detail, which you may find undesirable.

Now, some comments about individual filters:

Dark Yellow 023 (B+W) (not shown) will look amber or even orange.  This one doesn't seem to be in B+W / Schneider's catalog anymore. It might be the equivalent of a Tiffen Yellow #12, but that's just a guess, since I don't have either filter to test right now.

Orange 16 (Tiffen)... I thought this was equivalent to a B+W 040, but Schneider's website describes the 040 as a deep orange, and they say it requires a +2 stop adjustment.  So, 040 is probably not the same as Tiffen #16.  What is similar to Tiffen #16 is the Hoya Orange G (up next) and probably the Heliopan 22 and the B+W 023.

These look orange when they're sitting on a table.  Hold them up to a window on a cloudy day, and they're more like a deep yellow or light amber. 

Figure on + 1 1/2 stop for this filter.

Orange G (Hoya):  If you look at Hoya's transmission curve diagram, you'll see Orange G is halfway between Yellow K2 and Red 25A.  That seems perfect, in terms of how it reacts to blue sky.  It's not as deep-orange as some other filters, though;  it's very similar, or maybe just a tiny bit more yellow, than a Tiffen #16.

Tiffen Orange 16 or Hoya Orange G would be the filter to carry when you can't decide between a yellow filter and an orange filter, but you don't want to carry two.  They're light-orange enough that they shouldn't start to mash your shadow or foliage detail.  Probably a good choice for people who actually know what they're doing.  I could see this being the "only orange filter you'll ever need", but some of us want the blue skies to appear more dramatic in B&W photos.

Get a Hoya Orange G filter through this link or this one, and give it a try with some B&W film.  As with the Tiffen #16, figure on + 1 1/3 to + 1 1/2 stops.

35mm Kodak 400TX at 1600
Hoya Orange G filter

Here, the O(G) filter keeps the patches of blue sky from blending in with the clouds, which can happen if you don't use a filter in this type of scene. 

Orange 21 (Tiffen)

Equivalent Filters:   YA3 (Kenko), O56 (Nikon)

Tiffen calls this "Dark Orange".  #21 is what I would call a "true orange" or "middle orange" filter.  When you hold it up to the light, it definitely looks more orange than yellow. 

Orange 21 (get one here) is great for black & white photography;  it makes the clouds and the moon contrast well with a deep blue sky.  Orange 21 is also a favorite of amateur astronomers.  It would be cool to have a big Dobsonian reflector just to find a use for an Orange 21 filter.  (Actually, the filter is widely useful for increasing contrast with everything from the moon, to planets, to comets. Just don't look at the sun with it.)

O56, which is about equivalent, can be had through this link if you prefer that designation.  I don't have an O56 to test right now, but from what I can see, it's just about the identical shade of orange.

This filter should require a +2 stop correction.

One filter for B&W photography?  That's a tough one, but Orange 21 is a good candidate if blue skies will feature prominently in your B&W work. Either that, or something a bit darker-orange (next up).

Orange 22 is not a Tiffen filter, but it is a Wratten number.  If we accept that #22 orange should be darker than #21 orange, this is where orange filters start to become "red-orange". 

Equivalent Filters:   #041 (B+W), O2 (Vivitar, Milo, Pentax, etc.).

In my opinion, Heliopan and B+W filters have confusing designations;  the Heliopan 22 and B+W 023 filters are not darker than Tiffen 21 as you might hope they'd be.  Instead they're more like Tiffen #16.  In fact, B+W 022 (not the 023) seems to be yellow, not orange. 

The closest thing I know of to a real #22 orange filter would be the O2 Orange that was marketed by Vivitar, Milo, Pentax, and others.  Are they even all the same shade of orange? I don't know.  The Milo filter in the photo is definitely darker than a Tiffen 21.

There's also the B+W 041 Red-Orange, as mentioned before.  I listed that as an equivalent, because it seems to have the same filter factor (5 or thereabouts).

There's a definite difference between Orange 21 and Orange 22.  As orange deepens and grades more toward red, blue skies will look darker, while the photos will begin to lose shadow detail.  (Shadows tend to have more blue in them, as you learn by shooting a lot of Velvia 50 and 100.)

For landscapes with prominent blue sky, I would choose an O2 orange.
I would figure on a +2 1/3 to +2 1/2 stop correction for filters of this shade.


Table of Contents


There are many different shades of orange filters.  It can be confusing to try to select one.

If I could choose only one orange filter for landscapes, it would either be a Tiffen Orange 21 or even better yet, something equivalent to a #22.  That would be either an O2 Orange or a B+W 041 Red-Orange

These choices will render blue skies dramatically without making them look like the black void of space, as you might get with a red filter. 

Eventually you may want to have two different shades of orange filter:  a yellow-orange, such as Hoya Orange G, and dark orange, such the O2 Orange.

If this article helped you out in any way (or you just found it entertaining), please help me by shopping for your stuff through the links on here.  It's the only way I can keep this site on-line.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for visiting my website!

Contact me:

3 p o.t o . 1 2 0 s t u d i o.. c o m

This won't directly copy and paste.  Please manually type it into your mail program.
No spaces between letters.

Home Page

Site Map

What's New!


Copyright 2010-2016

Back to Top of Page