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.
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.
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.