Lens Filters Explained (2022)

Camera lens filters can serve different purposes in digital photography. They can be indispensable for capturing scenery in extremely difficult lighting conditions, they can enhance colors and reduce reflections or can simply protect lenses. Filters are widely used in photography and cinematography and while some only use filters in rare situations, others rely on filters for their everyday work.

If you’d like to learn about filters in a video format, we’ve created one of the most comprehensive tutorials about filters anywhere on Youtube, which you can see below:

So, what makes filters so useful? It actually depends on the type of photography you do.

For example, landscape photographers heavily rely on various filters, while street and portrait photographers rarely get to use them. Since digital photography is all about the quality and intensity of light, lens filters are often necessary to modify the light before it enters the lens. Many photographers think that some of the built-in tools in Lightroom and Photoshop can simulate filter behavior, making filters redundant in the digital age. As I will demonstrate below, some filters, in fact, can never be simulated in software and some actually help in getting even better results during post-processing. In this article, I will talk about the different types of lens filters available, what they do, when and how to use them.

Lens Filters Explained (1)

Table of Contents

(Video) Beginner's Guide to Camera LENS FILTERS // Necessary or Overrated?!

What are Filters and Why Should You Use Them?

Why do you wear sunglasses? Because along with other benefits, they help you see better in intense light, protect your eyes from harmful UV rays/wind/dust and reduce glare. Filters also serve a similar purpose – they can help reduce reflections, protect your lenses from potential damage, fully or partially reduce the amount of light that enters the lens and even enhance colors. At the same time, filters can actually hurt photographs if they are not properly used. A good analogy would be wearing sunglasses in a dark room. Therefore, not only do you need to know what filters to use, but you also need to know how to use them and in which situations. There are many different kinds of filters out there – from cheap UV filters to very expensive filters worth several hundred dollars, which can make the process of choosing the right filter type rather challenging.

Let’s go through the different types of filters that are available today.

Overview of Types of Lens Filters

Here is a list of typical lens filters you can purchase today, along with descriptions of their purposes:

Lens FilterPhotography TypePurpose
UV/Clear/Haze FilterAnyProtects the front element of a lens from dust, dirt, moisture and potential scratches. High quality UV filters can be permanently mounted on lenses with a minimum impact on image quality.
Polarizing FilterAnyFilters out polarized light, dramatically reducing reflections, enhancing colors and increasing contrast. Can be used for any type of photography. Polarizing filters are typically circular, allowing for easy control of the effect of polarization.
Neutral Density (ND) FilterLandscape, Flash PhotographyReduces the amount of light entering the lens, thus decreasing camera shutter speed. Useful for situations where motion blur needs to be created (rivers, waterfalls, moving people) or large apertures must be used with flash to avoid overexposure.
Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) FilterLandscape PhotographyHard-edge GND filters are primarily used in high contrast situations, where the sky is much brighter than the foreground and the horizon is flat. These filters are always rectangular (giving the ability to move them in all directions) and are typically used with filter holders.
Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) FilterLandscape PhotographySoft-edge GND filters are also used in high contrast situations, but where the horizon is not necessarily flat. The soft edge allows for smoother transitions, making the use of a filter less evident. Soft-edge GND filters are also rectangular and are normally used with filter holders.
Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) FilterLandscape PhotographyThe reverse GND is a specialized filter used by landscape photographers when shooting against the sun while it is setting close to the horizon. While a regular GND filter gradually transitions from dark to clear towards the center, a reverse GND filter transitions from dark to less dark from the center to the edge.
Color/Warming/Cooling FilterAnyCorrects colors, resulting in a change in camera white balance. Some color filters can subtract colors, blocking one type of color and allowing other colors through. These types of filters are popular for film. They are rarely used in digital photography, since their effects can be easily applied in post-processing.
Close-Up FilterMacro PhotographyAlso known as “diopter,” a close-up filter allows a lens to focus closer on subjects. These filters are only used for macro photography.
Special Effects FilterAnyThere are a few different types of special effects filters. Star filters make bright objects look star-like; softening/diffusion filters create a “dreamy” look used for portraits, multivision filters create multiple copies of a subject; infrared filters block infrared and pass visible light; bokeh filters have a certain shape cut in the middle of the filter that makes bokeh highlights have the same shape, etc.

Types of Lens Filters

Lens filters come in different shapes and forms, as shown below. The most popular lens filters are circular, screw-on filters. Those mount directly onto the filter thread in front of a lens. They come in different sizes, depending on the lens filter thread. The standard and the most common size of screw-on filters for professional lenses is 77mm.

Types of Lens Filters:

  1. Circular screw-on filters – most common type that mounts directly on the lens filter thread. Examples of circular screw-on filters include UV/Clear/Haze filters, circular polarizers, neutral density and color filters. Circular filters also come in different thicknesses – some are thick that can potentially add vignetting, while others are ultra-thin to diminish vignetting, but make it impossible to put a lens cap.
  2. Square filters – a popular choice for landscape and other photography. A filter holder directly attaches to the lens filter thread and can hold one or more filters. The most popular sizes are 3×3 and 4×4. Can be stacked together in certain situations, which can negatively impact image quality and add reflections.
  3. Rectangular filters – another popular choice, primarily among landscape photographers. Mounted just like square filters via a filter holder system. Because it is impractical for graduated neutral density filters to be circular (due to different sizes of high-contrast areas and composition), rectangular filters are the primary choice for landscape photography. Unlike square filters, they have more room to move up and down. The most popular size is 4×6, although larger and smaller filter sizes are also available.
  4. Drop-in filters – these filters are used inside long telephoto lenses, due to the large size of the front lens element. Only clear and polarizing filters are used for drop-in filters.

Lens Filters Explained in Detail

Let me go through each filter type in detail and show the effects they produce in pictures (where applicable). It is often too difficult to understand what each filter does and decide on whether you need it or not, so I hope the below information will make it easier for you to decide whether you want a particular type of filter or not.

UV/Clear/Haze Filter

Lens Filters Explained (2) The purpose of a UV / Clear / Haze filters today is to simply protect the front element of a lens. In the past, these filters were used to block UV from hitting the film. All digital camera sensors have a UV/IR filter in front of the sensor, so there is no more need to use UV filters on DSLRs. Many photographers use these types of filters for protection, because it is easier and cheaper to replace a filter than to try to repair a scratched or broken lens element. I personally prefer to keep a clear filter on my lenses at all times, because they are easier to clean.

One thing you have to make sure before you purchase a clear filter, is that you buy high-quality glass with the special multi-resistant coating (MRC). The worst thing you can do is mount a low-quality filter in front of an expensive lens. Not only will it hurt image quality, but it will also add nasty reflections, ghosts, and flares to your images. I personally prefer B+W F-Pro MRC filters (they are not cheap), but you can also purchase other great alternatives from Tiffen, Hoya, and other manufacturers.

(Video) Camera LENS FILTERS Explained | UV, NEUTRAL DENSITY & POLARIZER

Should you use a clear filter permanently on your lenses? This question brings up heated debates between photographers. Many believe that adding a piece of glass in front of lenses only hurts images and does very little to protect them, while others like me keep them for peace of mind and easier cleaning. Some lenses with threaded front elements like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G can be painful to clean, so a clear filter would make lens maintenance less cumbersome.

To avoid vignetting and other problems, UV filters should never be stacked with other filters.

Polarizing Filter

Lens Filters Explained (3) There are two types of polarizing filters – linear and circular. Linear polarizers should not be used on DSLR cameras, because they can result in metering errors. Circular polarizers, on the other hand, are perfect for DSLRs and do not cause any metering issues due to their construction. Circular polarizing filters are essentially linear polarizers, with a second glass element attached to their back that circularly polarizes the light, giving accurate exposure results when the light hits the light meter. When the two elements are aligned at the right handle and orientation from the sun, the captured image could have more saturated colors, bluer skies, fewer reflections, and higher overall contrast. Polarizing filters can also reduce haze, which is very useful for landscape photographers.

I never leave my home without a polarizing filter. When photographing landscapes, I often use a polarizing filter to spice up the colors, darken the sky and reduce haze. Polarizing filters are a must when photographing waterfalls or other wet scenery with vegetation.

There are a couple of potential issues that you need to understand when using a polarizing filter:

  1. There is a minimum and a maximum effect of polarization, depending on the filter alignment. You should rotate the filter every time you compose for best results. Take a look at this example of minimum and maximum effect of polarization:

    Lens Filters Explained (4)

  2. The effect of polarization changes relative to the sun. The maximum effect of polarization is achieved when the lens is pointed 90 degrees from the sun (in any direction). A simple trick is to form a pistol with your index and thumb fingers, then point your index finger at the sun. Keep pointing at the sun and rotate your hand clockwise and counter-clockwise. The maximum effect of polarization will be where your thumb points in any direction.
  3. Avoid using a polarizing filter on ultra wide-angle lenses. You might end up with a partially dark sky that will be tough to fix in post-processing. Here is an example of what happens when using a polarizer on a wide-angle lens:
    Lens Filters Explained (5)
  4. In some cases the maximum effect of polarization can result in an unnatural-looking dark blue sky as shown below:
    Lens Filters Explained (6)
  5. There is a loss of approximately 2 stops of light when using polarizing filters, so you should watch your shutter speed when shooting with a polarizer hand-held. Singh-Ray polarizing filters are better than others in this regard and only lose around 1 stop of light.
  6. Polarizing filters are typically thicker than regular filters and therefore can result in unwanted vignetting.

To avoid vignetting, polarizing filters should not be stacked with other filters. Due to light loss, you should also use a polarizing filter only when needed. In some high-contrast situations, it might be necessary to stack a polarizing filter with a neutral density filter (see below).

Neutral Density (ND) Filter

Lens Filters Explained (7) The purpose of neutral density filters is to reduce the amount of light that gets to the camera and thus decrease the shutter speed and increase exposure time. These types of filters are particularly useful in daytime, because of the abundance of light that cannot be significantly reduced by stopping down the lens aperture and decreasing ISO. For example, if you are photographing a waterfall and your starting point is ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000 that results in good exposure, stopping down the lens to f/22 will only slow down the shutter speed to 1/30 of a second. This would be too fast to create a “foggy” look for the falling water. By using an 8 stop neutral density filter, you could slow down the shutter speed all the way to 2 seconds while keeping lens aperture at f/11 instead of f/22 (using apertures beyond f/11-f/16 in normal lenses decreases image quality due to diffraction).

(Video) Lens Filters Explained - Everything You Need to Know

Neutral density filters are also useful for flash photography. If you were photographing a model at 1/250 of a second at f/2.8 on a bright sunny day with flash to create a dramatic effect, you would most likely end up with an overexposed subject. You cannot increase the shutter speed because flash sync speed limits you to 1/250 max, so your only option is to stop down the lens aperture to a larger number. Let’s say that number is f/11. But then what if you want to isolate your subject from the background and still have nice bokeh? Without using high-speed sync, your only option is to use a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light that makes it to the camera.

Neutral density filters can be both circular and rectangular. There are no benefits to having a rectangular neutral density filter, so it is best to buy a circular ND filter for size and portability benefits.

It is sometimes necessary to stack neutral density filters to decrease the shutter speed even more. Try not to stack ND filters with wide-angle lenses to avoid vignetting.

Neutral Density (ND) vs Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Lens Filters Explained (9)
The difference between neutral density and graduated neutral density filters is that the latter is half clear. Because the size of the sky versus the foreground can change depending on the composition, most GND filters are made in a rectangular shape. Therefore, these filters must be either used with a filter holder system, or must be held by hand in front of a lens. The advantage of using a filter holder is that you can stack multiple filters and you do not have to worry about alignment issues. The disadvantage of using a filter holder is that it can add vignetting, so you have to be careful when using wide-angle lenses with focal lengths below 35mm.

The image above is Lee’s filter holder that can stack up to four filters at a time. I personally use this filter system for my landscape photography work and I take it with me everywhere I go. When using the filter holder on a full-frame body with my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, I try to use focal lengths of 28mm and above to avoid vignetting. If you mount this filter holder on a polarizing filter, you might end up with vignetting even at 35mm and above.

Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Lens Filters Explained (10) Hard-edge graduated neutral density filters can be very useful in high-contrast situations, where the sky is very bright compared to the foreground and the horizon is flat (due to hard transition from dark to clear). While photographing, the hard edge in the center is aligned with the horizon. The sky is then darkened depending on the intensity of the filter. A two or three-stop hard-edge GND filter is often sufficient to balance the shot.

Note that the horizon is straight and therefore the filter edge and transition are not visible in the image.

The problem with hard-edge GND filters is that the horizon is rarely flat (especially where I live), so soft-edge GND filters are often more useful. Be careful when stacking hard-edge GND filters in high contrast situations – both filters should be properly aligned to avoid nasty transitions.

(Video) 3 Camera Lens Filters You Need | 2019

Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Lens Filters Explained (12) Compared to hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge graduated neutral density filters gradually transition from dark to clear, allowing photographers to use these filters when photographing a non-flat horizon. While mountains, hills and other objects above the horizon can be problematic for hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge GND filters work much better in those situations instead, due to the gradual transition. I use soft-edge GND filters for my landscape photography work a lot and find them more useful than hard-edge GND filters.

Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Lens Filters Explained (14) Reverse graduated neutral density filters are relatively new. When compared to regular hard/soft-edge GND filters, they are dark at the horizon (hard-edge) and gradually soften towards the top. Reverse GND filters are very useful for sunset shots when you shoot against the sun and it is near the horizon. A common problem with such sunsets is that the sun is much brighter than the sky. If you use a hard-edge GND filter, the sky might get too dark and if you use a soft-edge GND filter, the sun will be overexposed. The solution is to use a reverse GND filter, which balances the sun and the sky in the frame, resulting in a more balanced exposure.

Stacking reverse GND filters is sometimes necessary in high-contrast and other rare situations.

Color/Warming/Cooling Filter

Lens Filters Explained (16) Color / Warming / Cooling filters are generally used to alter camera white balance. There are two types of color filters – color correction and color subtraction. The former is used for correcting white balance, while the latter is used for absorbing one color while letting other colors through. These filters were quite popular for film, but are rarely used for digital photography, since color effects and white balance changes can be easily accomplished in post-processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop. I personally do not use any color filters. Stacking color filters is also acceptable.

Close-Up Filter

Lens Filters Explained (17) Close-up filters are generally called close-up lenses, because they are more lenses than filters. They attach to lenses just like filters, which is why I am listing them as filters. Close-up lenses are primarily used for macro photography to be able to get closer to the subject, decreasing the minimum focus distance of the lens. Close-up lenses are a cheap way to convert your normal lens to a macro lens, although they do negatively affect image quality. For the best results, it is recommended to use a macro lens instead. Stacking close-up filters is acceptable, although image quality is hurt even more.

Special Effects Filter

Lens Filters Explained (18) Special effects filters can produce some cool effects, but since most effects can be easily produced in Photoshop, these filters pretty much lost their popularity. Digital photographers rarely carry these filters and I personally do not use them either. The star filter can be easily created in Photoshop through a couple of steps using the “Motion Blur” filter, softening glow can also be easily done through a couple of steps with the “Gaussian Blur” filter and most other filters can also be done in Photoshop. The only filter that cannot be reproduced in Photoshop is a bokeh filter because the highlights cannot be easily changed through post-processing techniques.

Here is a 2 minute “star effect” that I created in Photoshop using very simple technique with the Motion Blur filter:

(Video) Lens Filters 101 | Top 5 Filters You Need To Buy

Filter Material – Glass vs Resin Filters

Filters can be made from glass, plastic, resin, polyester and polycarbonate material. Glass filters are typically of the highest quality, but are very expensive and tend to easily break, especially of square or rectangular type. Plastic and resin filters are much cheaper than glass and do not easily break – they are the top choice for graduated neutral density filters. Polyester filters are much thinner than glass or resin and are of very high quality, but are prone to scratches and hence not very practical on the field. Polycarbonate filters are very tough, scratch-resistant and are a good alternative to plastic/resin filters. For best results, I recommend using glass vs resin filters.

Step-Up / Step-Down Rings

Because filters can be expensive, it is much cheaper to buy a single standard filter (for example 77mm) and buy step-up rings for lenses that have smaller filter threads. Step-down rings can cause vignetting and other problems, so always try to use step-up rings instead. You can buy step-up rings for both circular and square filter holder systems in various sizes.

FAQs

How does a lens filter work? ›

Filters are mostly made of high quality glass (or resin) and when attached to the front of a lens, are used to block (filter) certain colours or types of light coming into the camera. Some filters (eg ND filters) are designed to reduce the overall light intensity coming into the camera.

Do lens filters make a difference? ›

Filters also serve a similar purpose – they can help reduce reflections, protect your lenses from potential damage, fully or partially reduce the amount of light that enters the lens and even enhance colors. At the same time, filters can actually hurt photographs if they are not properly used.

Do I really need lens filters? ›

If you ask most consumer-camera owners why they keep a filter on their lens, a majority will most likely reply, “For protection.” Although filters do, in fact, protect the surface of your lens against dust, moisture, and the occasional thumb print, the primary function of lens filters is really to improve the image ...

Do professionals use lens filters? ›

Professional photographers use lens filters and photo editing filters, also known as presets, to help improve the look of their images. There are dozens of different filter options to choose from to help enhance your photo in-camera, while there are infinite options for creating presets.

How do I choose a lens filter? ›

5 Tips to Help You Buy The Right Camera Lens Filters
  1. Use an ND filter for smoother landscape shots. ...
  2. Get clearer shots in the sun and protect your lens with a UV filter. ...
  3. Use a polarising filter to improve saturation and reduce reflections. ...
  4. Get the right lens filter diameter. ...
  5. Choose a filter that's quick to change.

Do lens filters affect image quality? ›

Most 'before' and 'after' filter shots used for comparison testing actually prove that lens filters don't adversely affect image quality. Some critics argue that placing an extra layer of glass in front of your lens causes problems.

What does a purple lens filter do? ›

Ultra violet (UV) filters are popular for two reasons. They are commonly used to protect SLR lenses, and they are perfect for daylight photography. UV filters block out ultra violet light and reduce haziness in daylight photography. They give a perfectly balanced image without affecting your exposure.

Which filter is best for portrait photography? ›

Neutral density filter

Neutral density filters are mainly used for portrait work and landscape work (with the stronger ND filters used in landscape photography).

What is the best filter category for sunglasses? ›

Category 1 — pale lenses for overcast days. Category 2 — moderate lenses for protection against glare. Category 3 — dark lenses for bright days (the most common category) Category 4 — very dark lenses for intense sunshine (i.e. on mountains and glaciers)

Do professional photographers use UV filters? ›

Whether ametuer or professional, most photographers use a UV filter to protect their camera equipment, especially if they have an expensive lens. UV lens filters prevent dust and dirt from coming into contact with the lens essentially acting as a protective cover that shields your lens at all times.

Can you stack filters on a lens? ›

It's a valid question and the short answer is yes, you can stack lens filters.

Are filters worth it? ›

In the end, filters just aren't worth it. They're inconvenient and, most of the time, degrade image quality. You've probably spent a lot on your lens, why cover it up with a piece of plastic?

Are polarized filters worth it? ›

Having polarizing filters saves you time from having to edit your photos, as long as you use them properly. When incorrectly used, it produces uneven saturation of colors—one part of the sky darker and bluer than the other—that might be even harder to post-process.

Should I use a polarizing lens? ›

Many landscape or outdoor photographers would be lost without a circular polarizing lens (CPL) filter. By rotating a circular polarizing filter, you can block out certain wavelengths of light. This lets you reduce glare, haze and reflections from objects such as water, glass or vehicles.

How do I know my lens filter size? ›

Filter Thread Size | How Do I Find the Diameter of my Camera Lens

What does a yellow lens filter do? ›

Many photographers use a yellow filter to “bring out the clouds”. This works by darkening the blue sky, giving a greater visual separation between the darkened sky and the white clouds on the final print. A yellow filter will also give improved penetration of haze and fog.

Do all lens filters fit all lenses? ›

Namely, your old filters may not fit your new lens. So do you have to buy all new filters too? Thankfully, no. If you needed to buy an all-new circular polarizer, neutral-density or UV filter with every new lens, you'd quickly go broke—not to mention the hassle of carrying multiples of every filter you ever wanted.

Do filters affect sharpness? ›

A cheaper filter can reduce contrast because of the added reflective surfaces but generally they don't reduce sharpness unless they are real bad.

Do UV filters reduce sharpness? ›

Conclusion. My test confirmed that UV filters definitely have a negative impact on image quality; however, I was surprised that the UV filters only caused very minor changes to the image. The sharpness was not affected at all and the UV filter only made a tiny change to the color and lens flare.

Are UV lens filters worth it? ›

In summary, I would say that UV filters aren't necessary unless you're shooting film. Though it you're shooting landscapes or working in an environment that could damage your lens, do consider some form of lens protection. But if you do decide to use a UV filter or clear glass protector, be sure to buy quality.

What filters make photos look professional? ›

Here are 10 favorite photo-editing apps, according to some of the most successful photographers on social media:
  • Snapseed.
  • VSCO.
  • Over.
  • Priime.
  • TouchRetouch.
  • Image Blender.
  • Squaready.
  • Frontview.
9 Jun 2015

What photo filter is everyone using? ›

What filter app is everyone using?
  • YouCam Perfect.
  • VSCO.
  • Instagram.
  • Retrica.
  • Photo Editor Pro.
  • Snapseed.
  • A Color Story.
  • Prisma.
14 Aug 2022

Do photographers use filters? ›

Some photographers use filters frequently in their work while others rarely use them. Filters are indispensable tools for landscape photographers in particular.

What does a red filter do? ›

An ideal red filter transmits only red light and absorbs all other colors. In this ideal case, a picture containing red, green, and blue would appear red and black when viewed through a red filter. A red filter blocks green light and blue light: Only red light can get through to your eyes.

What does a warming filter do? ›

A warm filter is a photographic filter that improves the color of all skin tones and absorbs blue cast often caused by electronic flash or outdoor shade. They add warmth to pale, washed-out flesh tones and are ideal for portraits as they smooth facial details while adding warmth to skin tones (for color imaging).

What does a red filter do in black and white photography? ›

Red Filters

A red filter gives extreme, dramatic contrast. Image by Nicholas. In landscape photography, a red filter will turn a blue sky almost black and make clouds really stand out, giving the scene a dramatic feel. They're also excellent for increasing visibility in haze and fog.

What is the best filter for selfies? ›

The 10 Best Face Filter Mobile Apps for Flawless Selfies
  • Retrica. 2 Images. Close. ...
  • AirBrush. 3 Images. Close. ...
  • Cymera. 3 Images. Close. ...
  • VSCO. 3 Images. Close. ...
  • SelfieCity. 3 Images. Close. ...
  • A Color Story. 2 Images. Close. ...
  • Perfect365. 3 Images. Close. ...
  • YouCam Perfect. 2 Images. Close.
26 Jul 2022

Why do photographers use ND filters? ›

ND filters are particularly useful for maintaining the color effect of images while controlling the exposure in bright light conditions. A filter prevents excess light from reaching the camera sensor so photographers can shoot in a wider aperture for longer periods.

When should I use ND filter? ›

The ND filter allows photographers to shoot their wide-aperture lenses in bright light without overexposing. This allows shallow depth of field and selective focus effects while under lighting conditions that exceed the shutter speed capabilities of the camera.

Does Category 3 mean Polarised? ›

Polarised vs Non-Polarised Sunglasses

Many non-polarised sunglasses have a category 3 lens which provides high protection against sun glare, however, these sunglasses do not have the filter built into the lens that stops glare as polarised lenses do.

Are Category 3 sunglasses safe? ›

Fine for partially sunny conditions giving a good amount of protection against sunglare. Category 3 is for strong sunlight and the most common category because almost all brown and grey (or 'smoke') lenses are Category 3. Shop leisure style sunglasses.

Are Category 2 sunglasses OK? ›

They contain no UV protection and therefore should not be used as sunglasses. Category 2 lenses are the most common you will find in sunglasses. They provide good protection from UV rays but don't have as dark a tint as the category 3 and 4 lenses.

Can I leave a UV filter on all the time? ›

There's really no absolute right or wrong answer. Some people leave UV lens filters on all the time and wouldn't have it any other way, whilst others think that putting an extra layer of glass in front of a camera lens can degrade image quality, collect dust moisture or cause lens flares.

Are more expensive UV filters worth it? ›

Any filter can cause side effects like image softening or increased flare or color casts, but more expensive filters will generally be made with better glass and have coatings to reduce these effects. They will also generally have sturdier filter rings.

Can you leave a polarizing filter on all the time? ›

A polarizing filter is not something you want to leave on your lenses at all times though since it reduces light transmission and it can potentially make the sky look unevenly gradient when using wide-angle lenses.

Does filter order matter? ›

Most of the time, filter order doesn't matter, as the filter is altering different aspects of the data. But if two filters are working on the same type of data, that's where problems occur.

Can you put 2 filters on a lens? ›

Remember that stacking too many filters together can cause vignetting so we would not recommend stacking more than 2 filters together. Some popular stacking combinations include combining 2 fixed ND filters for a greater ND filter factor, and leaving a UV on your lens and stacking a CPL or fixed ND on top.

How do you separate two lens filters? ›

3 Tricks for Removing Stuck Lens Filters! - YouTube

Why are filters so expensive? ›

Expensive Filters Are Made of Better-Quality Materials

They are often made of fiberglass, which is a porous material that can trap more dust and pollen than other materials like cardboard or paper.

Why do we use lens filters? ›

Filters help minimize glare and reflections, enhance colors, reduce light coming into the lens, and more. Each lens filter serves a specific purpose, as each one is built to deliver a specific effect that can help enhance the final look of an image.

Do UV filters make a difference? ›

Slightly reduces image quality

UV filters can reduce the amount of light let into a camera between 0.5% to 5%. This will inherently reduce the resolution of your image. The difference, however, is very minimal. The reduction in quality can be almost unnoticeable or at least fixed in editing.

When should you not use a polarizing filter? ›

Bear in mind that a polarising filter will reduce the amount of light reaching your camera's sensor by as much as two or three f-stops, so you should avoid using one in low light situations. This includes during blue hour, when shooting at night, or when photographing the Aurora Borealis.

Should I use a polarizing filter for sunsets? ›

Use of a polarization filter for sunsets is also not necessary. It won't do any harm, so leaving the filter on you lens is possible. But be aware of bright sunlight. It can produce extra flares because of the extra glass in front of your lens.

Should you use a polarizing filter on a cloudy day? ›

Quick Tip #1: Use It On Overcast Days—The polarizer helps saturate a blue sky depending on the angle to the sun. If it's overcast, there is no blue, but it can add a touch of snap to darker clouds. Use it to eliminate flat gray sky reflections onto shiny surfaces to eradicate glare that robs color saturation.

What is the difference between PL and CPL filter? ›

The difference between these two types involves how light waves pass through them. A linear polarizer only lets horizontal or vertical light waves enter the filter as it is rotated. A circular polarizing filter passes circularly polarized light waves through the lens but is also sensitive to linear polarized light.

What is the difference between CPL and ND filter? ›

They work differently. Basically, a polarizer is used for blocking light reflected off a surface, while an ND just makes the whole scene darker. Polarizing filters can enhance the color of the image while ND filters just block the light entering the camera. It does not change the overall color of the image.

What is the difference between ND filter and polarizing filter? ›

A neutral density (ND) filter differs from a polarizing filter in that it doesn't have any impact on the colour of your image, but it excels at blocking out light. This filter reduces light exposure entering your camera's front element or lens.

What does a UV lens filter do? ›

What is a UV lens filter? A UV protection lens filter attaches to the front of a camera lens and reduces the amount of ultraviolet light that passes into a camera. This is especially important when shooting film photography. Film stock is more sensitive to UV light and can cause discoloration in photos.

Do all lens filters fit all lenses? ›

Namely, your old filters may not fit your new lens. So do you have to buy all new filters too? Thankfully, no. If you needed to buy an all-new circular polarizer, neutral-density or UV filter with every new lens, you'd quickly go broke—not to mention the hassle of carrying multiples of every filter you ever wanted.

What does a purple lens filter do? ›

Ultra violet (UV) filters are popular for two reasons. They are commonly used to protect SLR lenses, and they are perfect for daylight photography. UV filters block out ultra violet light and reduce haziness in daylight photography. They give a perfectly balanced image without affecting your exposure.

What does a yellow lens filter do? ›

Many photographers use a yellow filter to “bring out the clouds”. This works by darkening the blue sky, giving a greater visual separation between the darkened sky and the white clouds on the final print. A yellow filter will also give improved penetration of haze and fog.

What is the best filter category for sunglasses? ›

Category 1 — pale lenses for overcast days. Category 2 — moderate lenses for protection against glare. Category 3 — dark lenses for bright days (the most common category) Category 4 — very dark lenses for intense sunshine (i.e. on mountains and glaciers)

Which filter is best for portraits? ›

Portrait photography doesn't always come to mind when thinking about Neutral Density filters. ND filters are more commonly used in landscape or street photography to capture movement, but ND filters can bring dramatic beauty to portrait photography too.

What does a polarizing filter do? ›

We can use polarizing lenses to reduce glare. Light reflecting off horizontal surfaces like the road, water, or snow is horizontally polarized. A polarizing filter oriented vertically will filter out the glare, but still allow plenty of light through. A polarizing filter on your camera helps reduce shiny reflections.

How do I know my lens filter size? ›

Filter Thread Size | How Do I Find the Diameter of my Camera Lens

Can you use a smaller filter on a bigger lens? ›

You may be using a step-down ring, which is a no-no: you cannot mount a smaller-diameter filter on a larger-diameter lens without cutting off the corners and/or edges of the image (i.e. vignetting).

Is filter size the same as lens cap size? ›

What Size Lens Cap Or Filter Do I Need For My Camera ... - YouTube

What does a warming filter do? ›

A warm filter is a photographic filter that improves the color of all skin tones and absorbs blue cast often caused by electronic flash or outdoor shade. They add warmth to pale, washed-out flesh tones and are ideal for portraits as they smooth facial details while adding warmth to skin tones (for color imaging).

What does a red filter do in black and white photography? ›

Red Filters

A red filter gives extreme, dramatic contrast. Image by Nicholas. In landscape photography, a red filter will turn a blue sky almost black and make clouds really stand out, giving the scene a dramatic feel. They're also excellent for increasing visibility in haze and fog.

Can you stack lens filters? ›

It's a valid question and the short answer is yes, you can stack lens filters.

Which filter is mainly used in dark room? ›

A Yellow filter absorbs all light except yellow. Mostly used with black and white film, but is also used in IR photography. The yellow filter absorbs blue and increases the contrast and tonal separation between the blue and yellow/white objects.

How many stops is an orange filter? ›

Filter factors for common filters
Filter purposeWratten numberFilter factor
Yellow82
Yellow-green112.5
Orange213
Red258
33 more rows

Why are Mexican filters yellow? ›

Traditionally, oversaturation or yellow filters and tones were supposed to depict that an area or scene has hot, tropical, and/or dry weather, especially compared to other locations that may show up in the same piece of media. However, the execution of this filter was quick and easy.

Videos

1. The ONLY photography filters you really need
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2. Which Neutral Density Filter should you buy FIRST?
(Attilio Ruffo)
3. UV Lens Filters: Necessary or Nuisance?
(steeletraining)
4. 3 Reasons Why Camera FILTERS will CHANGE your LIFE - Take Better Photos now!
(Pierre T. Lambert)
5. Make your PHOTOS & VIDEOS more PROFESSIONAL!
(Peter McKinnon)
6. The Most Under-Rated Filter For Photographers!
(Evan Ranft)

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