A site visitor recently reached out to us with concerns regarding a few B+W filters he purchased on Amazon (via third-party). While shooting test images with the filters, he noticed a significant drop in image quality and suspected they may have been counterfeit.
B+W filters are a favorite of ours here at The-Digital-Picture.com, and we're especially fond of their XS-Pro line. When people write into the site asking for advice on filters, B+W is the brand we most often recommend. As such, the image quality degradation the site visitor experienced using the "B+W" filters led us to believe that the filters were indeed fake.
Before the site visitor returned the filters, he noticed a trend in the reviews left on the Amazon product listing:
"... a bunch of people are saying they think they got counterfeits - some appear uncoated, some have different fonts on the filter ring, and others are missing the B+W seal on the box."Instead of sending the filters back ASAP, he purchased a replacement set of filters (from a different Amazon vendor) and compared the second set to the first set he received.
"In comparing the filters from the first order with the second, it is clear the first order's filters are counterfeit. The counterfeits have aluminum filter rings, and the box has a shiny little green sticker that says, "Genuine Product" on it. The genuine filters (2nd order) have heavier brass rings and a larger, silver Schneider hologram sticker on them."Not long after receiving confirmation that the site visitor's first set of filters were counterfeit, I reached out to Schneider Optics to inquire how consumers can distinguish genuine products from counterfeit ones. This was their reply:
I hope the following is of benefit to you and your readers:The best advice for avoiding counterfeit filters (B+W or otherwise) appears in the final sentence above. To ensure you get a genuine product, purchase your filters from an authorized retailer such as B&H and Adorama.
- Genuine F-Pro and XS-Pro mounts have the filter type and size on the front, not the side.
- In general, photographs of boxes and the text on the filter will not confirm a legitimate B+W product.
- Alloy rings are not authorized, with two exceptions: Slim circular polarizers (discontinued) and Vario ND's, which are made of aluminum for manufacturing reasons.
- Brass vs Alloy: if the dealer does not confirm it, ask. Once you hold it, the brass version is obviously heavier.
Note: Amazon co-mingles our [Schneider Optics, Inc., Hauppauge, NY] inventory with all of the third party resellers, so there is no way to know where the filter came from, or if it is even genuine. We have no control over product sold in Europe and Asia, as we are the authorized U.S. distributor for B+W.
If you are not sure whether a filter is genuine or fake, you have the choice to decide where you are going to buy it. We recommend you purchase it from an authorized B+W dealer to ensure [a genuine] product and warranty.
Note: The headline photo shows a genuine B+W XS-Pro filter. The original Amazon product listing for the counterfeit B+W filters referenced in this article shows a status of "No Longer Available," but there are likely more counterfeit filters being sold via other third-party listings.
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