Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Guide to Camera Filters and How they can improve your Photos

Despite the modern ease of digital post-production, the practice of using lens filters is very much alive. From managing difficult light conditions to creating certain moods - there's nothing like capturing the perfect shot, right there in the moment.


Why use Camera Filters?

Filters to your camera are what sunglasses are to your eyes. But just as sunglasses distort your vision indoors, filters can equally degrade image quality as they can improve it. Using filters in the wrong situation, using poor quality filters and adding unnecessary layers over the lens can ruin your shot. That's why it's important to learn about them.

Filters can:
- offer protection
- alter light
- reduce reflection
- enhance colors

The images below show the effect of the filter before and after. The part of the shot inside the circle is the after, and the outside portion is the before.

1. Camera Filters: Protective Filter

Suitable for: All Photography
A protective filter, as the name suggests, protects your lens from dust, dirt, fingerprints, moisture and scratches.


2. Camera Filters: Ultraviolet (UV) Filter

Suitable for: All Photography
Used with SLR Cameras as UV can interfere with photo quality - appearing as a haze. Also used as another form of protection for modern dslr cameras as UV filters are inbuilt.


3. Camera Filters: Polarizing Filter

Suitable for: All Photography
A Polarizing filter is used to reduce reflections, increase contrast and enhance colors. Two types are available, linear filters traditionally used for film photography, and circular filters, used with dslr cameras.


4. Camera Filters: Neutral Density Filter (ND)

Suitable for: Landscape and Flash Photography
A ND or Neutral Density filter is effecting for avoiding overexposure when large apertures are required. Ideal for long exposures. Click here for my tips and tricks on long exposure photography.


5. Camera Filters: Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filer (GND)

Suitable for: Landscape Photography
This filter is used to balance exposure in high contrast situations between bright skies and dark landscapes. Best used when photographing flat horizons, such as an ocean view.



6. Camera Filters: Soft Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter (GND)

Suitable for: Landscape Photography
This filter is used in high contrast situations where the landscape is not entirely flat, such as mountain ranges. Avoids over and underexposure while making the use of a filter less evident.



7. Camera Filters: Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter (GND)

Suitable for: Landscape Photography
This filter is great for transitions from a dark center to a lighter edge. This allows for photographs shot against the sun to be captured as they appear in person - without overexposure.


8. Camera Filters: Color Filters

Suitable for: All Photography
Suitable for color correcting, subtracting, blocking and boosting. Perfect for film photographers wanting to correct or add color to a shot.



9. Camera Filters: Cooling and Warming Filter

Suitable for: All Photography
These filters are used for correcting unrealistic tints of color, or to add one. They change the mood and atmosphere of a photo by altering the white balance.


10. Camera Filters: Close-up Filter

Suitable for: Macro Photography
This filter allows for close-up shots by shortening the minimum focusing length. Lenses come in a range of strengths also known as diopter, with higher numbers indicating a closer focal point.


11. Camera Filters: Black and White Filter

Suitable for: All Photography
Multiple filters are used to enhance black and white images. Red, orange, green and yellow filters are used to bring out certain monochrome shades.




I hope that this post could be inspirational as well as educational. The digital darkroom can't do anything so it's good to know what filters can be used and what effect they achieve. I wouldn't advice you to buy all, but start with those that suit your photography needs and go from there. The better quality filter you have the better the result.

31 comments:

  1. A great post Mersad, with many interestig information! Thank you!

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  2. You are a star! My questions are all answered. Thank you for putting together such a complete and 'understandable' guide to filters.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much. So happy that it was useful to you and that it answered your questions.

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  3. Bei dir lerne ich endlich mal anständig zu fotografieren! Nein im Ernst! Sehr interessante Informationen und wunderbar verbildlicht. GlG Anne

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  4. wow Mersad, how well you've captured the differences for us to see and understand why filters can (should) be used.

    have a nice abc-day / - week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

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  5. Excellent post Mersad, like most photographers I'm familiar with the UV and polarising especially with the harsh light we get here in summer, but you have inspired me to experiment further.

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    Replies
    1. For harsh daylight you can also try an ND filter. They are like sunglasses for your lens.

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  6. Hallo Mersad,
    es ist schon ein Wahnsinn, wie du diese Musterbilder so gut machen konntest, ganz toll der Bericht. Ich benütze UV und Polarfilter, jetzt habe ich ND Filter gekauft. Ca. in einer Woche habe ich schon einen Eintrag vorprogrammiert, worin um meinen erten Versuch mit ND4 geht. Es war eine volle Katastrophe und ich suche jetzt nach Hilfe. Ich lese bald deinen Link, was du dazu gegeben hast und ich suche dich evtl. danach per E-Mail.
    Liebe Grüße

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    Replies
    1. Hab Dir gerade auf deine E-mail geantwortet. Ich hoffe das ich etwas helfen konnte.

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  7. number 4, 5 and 11 are my favorites here. i have never used a filter but can sure see why you would.

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  8. I'm a big fan of my polarizing filter. I use it for photographing waterfalls.

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  9. Beautiful post. After putting a nasty scratch on one of my lenses I will always use the filter.

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    1. Yeah, a filter can really help out in that case. Replacing the lens is much more costly of course.

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  10. Thank you, Mersad. Very informative!

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  11. Mersad, thanks for the refresher course in lens filter use. I always use a UV filter. It is there mostly to protect the lens from dust and scratches, but it also cuts UV haze in landscape photography.

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  12. Thanks a lot for this educational post, Mersad.

    I was impressed by reverse graduated neutral graduated filter. I am going to try it!

    Great post with a lot to learn!

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  13. Thanks so much. Very good explanation and fabulous photos.

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  14. Thank you for the walk-through. I admit, some of these filters I was unclear hot to use them best.

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  15. I know nothing about photography and was amazed at how the different lens can change the photo to such a dramatic degree. :)

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  16. this is a nice series!

    ROG, ABCW

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  17. Nice! the explanations and examples are very well done.

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  18. Wow! I had no idea how much the filters help the photos. Once I learn more about them, it'll be a lot EASIER to take photos.

    Leslie
    abcw team

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  19. Very beautiful photos, and informative post!

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  20. Excellent presentation.

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  21. What a clear info about these filters. I knew most of it already. I miss the half colored filter, just for the sky I mean.

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  22. This inspires me to pull out the filters I never use and give it a try.

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