Fake: Hoya PRO1 Digital UV Filter

Recently, having purchased a new lens (even though it was only a kit lens), I thought it would be a good idea to protect the front element with a clear UV filter. While this practice is sometimes debatable as filter glass will have some negative impacts on clarity and light transmission and often shatters into sharp splinters, it’s still a convention for me just for some piece of mind. The main thing for me is to protect the front element and any coating on it.

When it comes to filters, the first name that comes to mind is Hoya – a Japanese company specialising in optical glass, part of Tokina. Having found a filter with the right size from their high-end PRO1 series from eBay, I ordered it without a second thought.

Is it Real or is it Fake?

What arrived was slightly ambiguous and confusing. I had my skeptical hat on at first –

but looking at the packaging didn’t immediately ring alarm bells. The only thing that did was comparing it with an image (below) of a genuine product taken from an Amazon listing (which matches the one shown on Hoya’s website) that clear differences.

For one, the printing is very much brighter on my filter, lower quality as well. The bottom label is poorly registered with a design difference in the text “Designed Exclusively for Digital Cameras” which does not stretch across the bottom and is of a smaller size.

My suspicions are confirmed when reviewing the rear of the filter packaging – the barcode is printed on the existing label and not on a separate label as with genuine Hoya products. While the barcode number is correct for the product, the text above does not have the filter-thread diameter as genuine products would.

The smoking gun was looking at the surface. If you know what a multi-coated filter should look like, it has a particular coloured reflection depending on the number of coats. I couldn’t see any coloured reflection from this filter at all, so it seemed to be uncoated.

Testing it by putting it on top of a black DVD case next to a lower-end Hoya HMC UV(0) filter that’s supposed to have higher reflection than the PRO1 series, we see that the fake filter reflects so much, the detail in the DVD case cannot be resolved, while the HMC reflects only slightly. Such a high reflection is likely to reduce the light reaching the lens and camera sensor – slowing your lens! Without further assessment, I don’t know if the glass was as optically transparent and free of defects as a genuine Hoya would be – I suspect not.

There have been several other reported instances of fake Hoya filters originating from China.

Seller Response

I initiated a case against the seller as the product was not as described. The seller did not reply and rapidly refunded the purchase price in full, as if to admit their deception. Later, they attempted to cancel the transaction with the claim that I did not want the item – ultimately I ended up agreeing as I received my refund.

A look at their feedback is rather alarming – there were many cases of positive feedback left, with only one or two people ever questioning the legitimacy of the filters. I surmise that the other purchasers may not be aware what a proper multicoated filter looks like or might have been blind …

More than that, it points to the major glaring flaw in eBay’s feedback system – a defective transaction cancelled cannot leave negative feedback as a warning to others. As a result, the seller is a “Top-rated seller” selling counterfeit filters.

Conclusion

It’s unfortunate that our favourite Hoya brand is not necessarily the “safe” mark of quality that it might have been in the past, now that in China, various counterfeits with different anomalies have been created and circulate in the market tarnishing their brand. Buying a genuine Hoya product from eBay probably requires more care than just buying the first matching listing … assuming the sellers are uploading representative photos of the final product you receive.

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6 Responses to Fake: Hoya PRO1 Digital UV Filter

  1. Ian Davis says:

    Thanks for reporting your experience with fake filters it prompted me to look at mine. I have five UV filters:
    1. Kenko Digital High Quality 72 mm
    2. Hoya Pro1 Digital 58mm
    3. Kenko Digital High Quality 58 mm
    4. Kenko Digital High Quality 52mm
    5. Kenko film camera 58mm

    I was quite sure that 1, 2 and 5 were genuine but I had my doubts about 3 and 4, which were bought on ebay. You reflection test confirmed it. The fake Kenko cases also had a printed bar code whereas the genuine item had the stick-on bar code label similar to the Hoya case.

    Two other things I noticed:
    (1) The genuine cases for the Hoya and Kenko filters have the manufacture name as Kenko Tokina Co., Ltd. whereas the fake cases have the manufacture name as Tokina Co., Ltd.
    (2) The printing on the filter ring of the genuine unit Kenko unit has the word Digital whereas the fake doesn’t.

    I ended up with two fake units because the first one the guy sent was the wrong size. I told of him of his error and he insisted on sending a replacement. The postage cost him more than the price I paid. I wasn’t prepared to wait so I bought the much more expensive Hako filter locally.

    • lui_gough says:

      Thanks for your comment and commiserations on your discovery of being stung by fake filters from eBay. It seems that Kenko isn’t safe either – so I wonder whether there are any brands that remain less-affected or unaffected entirely, or whether these brands would put in higher-tech anti-counterfeiting measures as some other companies have (e.g. Nikon’s holographic seal on their authentic accessories).

      The discrepancy between the Kenko Tokina versus Tokina Co. Ltd may be explained by purchase date, as it seems that Tokina merged with Kenko in 2012 hence prompting a renaming of the company according to their corporate website – https://tokinalens.com/about/history/

      – Gough

      • Ian Davis says:

        I had read that the two companies had merged and I understand that the Hoya and Kenko Pro1 filters are essentially the same. In fact when I got my Pro 1 filter I ordered a Kenko but received a Hoya.

        On close examination I see that the genuine Kenko 72mm filter case does have a hologram but the fakes don’t. The fakes were bought a couple of years after the genuine item but of course they could be old stock. However, the manufactures details are odd – the company name is Kenko but the website is Kenko-Tonika. The country of manufacture is missing as well.

        Looking back at my original comment instead of “Hoya” I wrote “Hako”. An interesting slip because there is a lot of fake Hakko soldering equipment on eBay. To add to the confusion there are genuine soldering stations which don’t meet Australian standards and are intended for the Chinese market only.

        Ian

        • lui_gough says:

          Discrepancies are always cause for concern, but I think it’s more of a shame that companies don’t do much to help us identify clearly what is genuine and what isn’t. Perhaps they fear that acknowledging the issue is going to put people off buying their products or admit that there is a problem – but I would counter that it would give consumers greater confidence and empower them to reject counterfeit products. But it is an arms race – now that I’ve spotted this discrepancy, someone’s probably off in the print shop adjusting the text for the next batch.

          As an aside – many people do recommend the Hakko clones as a good beginner iron, and I have no doubt they are better than the $2-6 thermally balanced nichrome-wire based irons that have rubbish tips and poor recovery characteristics. But of course, I don’t think many of them have taken a look inside to see what kind of corners are getting cut on the clones, so definitely food for thought.

          – Gough

  2. David says:

    Even buying from a shop can fraught with difficulty. Once, in New York I needed to buy a UV filter for the camera and ventured into a professional looking photographic supplier off the tourist routes. I asked for a coated filter and was handed plain glass.

    I pointed this out to the sales guy (who was no youngster) but he just tried to hoodwink me. Sorry mate, I’ve worked in optical coatings for decades and know the difference.

    Thankfully I chanced upon B&H, the most amazing store for photo and video products, and bought a real multi-coated Hoya filter for one third the price the other shop offered.

    I also bought a genuine Canon wide angle lenses for my Hi-8 camcorder there for under $50, having been offered third party ones in other shops for hundreds. It pays to shop around.

    • Ian Davis says:

      Thanks David,

      Yes they are a good company. As well as photography equipment they also sell a wide range of other things. They deliver to Australia and I have bought several items via their website ranging from a Kirk L-bracket to a water leak detector from them.

      Ian

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