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Working with Camera Lens Filters – How to Choose One that Fits Your Needs

Despite the present popularity of digital cameras, any good photographer should never forget to bring appropriate lens filters with him wherever he goes. Here are some reasons why:

In this time and age where the digital camera rules in the world of photography, is there still a need for a camera lens filter? You bet! Camera lens filters still have many uses. And while you can easily makes post-production changes to your photos using modern technology, there are a number of things that only your lens filter can do for you.

Despite the present popularity of digital cameras, any good photographer should never forget to bring appropriate lens filters with him wherever he goes. Here are some reasons why:

  • Filters can provide some extra protection to your camera lens.
  • It can be used to minimize glare and surface reflections.
  • It can allow for an extended exposure time.
  • Specialized lens filters can be used to create creative special effects.

Lens Filter Types and Their Uses

There are many types of filters used in digital photography and they all have their own special uses. However, the most commonly used are the UV filters, the polarizing filters and the neutral density and graduated neutral density filters. To know which ones you need at any given situation, let us try to understand their specific functions.

UV Filters

The UV (ultraviolet) filter is mainly used to improve clarity, minimize haze and improve contrast under any situation by limiting the amount of UV light that passes through the lens. Now, since digital cameras are less sensitive to UV light as compared to the 35 mm film of yester-years, most people don’t use such filters anymore. A lot of people also observe that using UV filters results in poor image quality since it increases lens flare, reduces contrast and adds a slight tint to the picture. However, if you are using multicoated UV filters, you surely wouldn’t encounter any of these problems.

Despite these apparent disadvantages, some people still prefer to use UV filters since they add ample protection against dust, scratches and any untoward accidents that may happen along the way. Think about it – replacing filters is easier and much cheaper than replacing lenses, right? And if you have an expensive digital SLR camera, you shouldn’t think twice about getting a UV filter for added protection!

Polarizing Filters

Polarizing filters are perhaps the most important type of filter used in landscape photography. Polarizers, as they are more commonly known, improve the overall picture quality by reducing glare and reflections and providing better color saturation. Polarizers are best used when working with sky, water and foliage elements.

There are two kinds of polarizers – linear polarizers and circular polarizers. Please take note that while the linear polarizer is less expensive, it will not work properly with most digital SLRs that have through the lens metering or autofocus.

Extreme caution should be taken when working with these kinds of filter. Since they can significantly reduce the amount of light that reaches the sensor, improper use may result to blurring.

Neutral Density and Gradual Neutral Density Filters

Both of these filters restrict the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor. However, while the neutral density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light in a uniform manner, graduated neutral density (GND) filters (also called “grads” or “split filters”) do so in a smooth geometric pattern.

ND filters are best used when photographing waterfalls, rivers and oceans under bright lighting conditions. It is also used in creating a motion blur effect and in creating a shallower depth of field whereas the background is blurred to give more emphasis to the subject. GND, on the other hand, is best used when you want to tame harsh light or when you want to add a shadowy detail.

Use the right camera lens filter under the right conditions to capture all those magical moments in your camera. So, what are you waiting for? Take your best shot now!

I hope there was something in that for you – keep well,

Ray Baker