Camera Lens Filters, What you need to Know
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Lens filters are not necessary for photography, however they can be vital in being able to capture the perfect image in different shooting environments, such as the peaks when hiking (click here to see our full top 10 guide). There are different filters to serve different purposes. You can enhance you colors or reduce reflections and of course you can protect your camera lens when using a filter to name a few uses.
Camera lens Filters Guide
Using a filter on your lens can enhance your image by either removing or adding light to the lens, or protecting it from UV rays, making your picture clearer or polarizing it. There are many reasons a photographer will use a filter on their lens, and different photographers will use different types of filters to get the effects they want. Some are specialised filters such as those for your telephoto lenses.
There are the cheaper filters that protect against UV light and then there are those that will cost you a couple of hundred dollars. Filters can enhance you images, but by the same token, they can also harm your images if you use them incorrectly. Using a filter that reduces the light taken in by your lens in a darkened environment is not optimal for instance.
There are numerous different types of filters, from the cheaper ones to those that will cost you a few hundred dollars. We take a look at the different filters that you can find on the market to give you an indication of what the different types are used for.
Circular Screw-on Filters
These are the most common of all the lens filters around. They fit directly on the lens filter thread that is on your camera and include filters those that protect from UV, ones for clear and haze as well as polarizers, neutral density, and color filters.
These do not attach directly to the camera and require a filter holder. The holder will attach to your camera and they can hold more than one filter at a time. There are various sizes, the most popular being 3×3 or 4×4. These are very popular filters for landscape shooting.
These are also filters that require a filter holder. They have room to move both up and down and again are one of the most popular types for landscape photographers. These types of filters do come in various sizes, the most popular being 4×6. These are specialized filters that are used primarily inside the long telephoto lenses. The drop-in filter is either clear or polarizing filters in nature.
Camera Filters Effects?
Different types of filters offer different effects on your images. We will go through some of them here for you to understand what filters are used to create what effects and in what type of photography they would be used.
These types of filters do not add any effect to your image and in fact, do not impact on your image quality at all. These are used to protect your lens from dust, dirt and UV rays.
These types of filters are used to enhance color, increase contrast and reduce reflections. They are used for any type of photographer and are very common filters.
Neutral Density (ND) Filter
These types of filters regulate the amount of light that can enter your lens. In so doing they will reduce the shutter speed on your camera and are perfect for use when doing flash photography or to prevent blurring when taking fast motion pictures. They are popular for nature and landscape photographers.
Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter
These are rectangular filters and are used when you need to create a contrast, such as between the sky and foreground. Again these are very popular filters for nature and landscape photography.
Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter
Used with filter holders these rectangular filters allow you to have a smooth transition between different contrasts. Nature photographers often make use of these filters as well as landscape photographers.
Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter
These filters are great for taking photos against bright sunshine. Perfect for and very popular with the landscape photographer. Unlike the normal GND filter will help transition from dark to clear, these will help you to go from dark to less dark and work from the center to the edge and not the other way around like the normal GND filters.
Although there is a place for these filters which will enhance or block colors from coming through, most of these effects can be done in post on digital cameras.
These are specialized filters that are used for macro photography. They allow you to focus on your subject up close and are known as “dioptre”.
Special Effects Filter
These are often used by studio photographers. They can provide a “dreamy” or soft look used in portraits when using the softening or diffusion filters, the multi-vision filters will give you multiple images of the same subject, infrared filters will block infrared light and Bokeh filters have a shape cut in their middle so all images have the same shape. These are only a few of the special effects filters on the market.
What does a Filter do for a Camera lens?
This depends entirely on the type of filter you chose. It can protect your lens from dust and more, allow more or less light through as well as many other effects.
What size filter do I need for my lens?
Most filters will fit onto your standard camera lens either using the threading on your camera such as the circular filters. Rectangular and other types fit onto your lens using a lens holder which will also screw onto your lens using its own threading.
What does UV Filter on a Camera lens Do?
UV filters will protect your lens from harmful UV rays from the sun. Much like sunglasses protect your eyes from the glare of the sun or lotion protects from the harmful UV rays when sun tanning.
There is a multitude of different filters on the market, both in their styles such as circular or square, and in what they do, such as enhancing colors or giving you special effects. If you are a landscape photographer or a studio photographer there is a filter that will suit your needs and enhance your images.