A beginner’s guide to Camera Lens Filters

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A beginner’s guide to Camera Lens Filters
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To most beginner photographers, using camera lens filters can be intimidating or somewhat complicated. You might think, why do I even need to carry extra gear with me when shooting. However, that could not be further from the truth.

Camera lens filters not only protect your gear, they also improve the content of your shot as well as some filters offer some great effects that you may not be able to achieve otherwise.

In general, and in our humble opinion, there are three types of filters that are essential to have on every shoot. These are UV Filters, Polarizing Filters and Natural Density Filters (ND).

It is worthy to note that filters come in many different sizes. That is because the lens glass diameter where you will install the filter comes in many different sizes.

In order to buy the right size filter for your lens, you need to find the lens glass size. Most lenses have this information printed on the side or front of the lens, in very small print. The size is usually indicated in mm as illustrated below.

Let’s discuss the types of filters:

UV Filter: This filter looks like a standard clear glass. What it does is, not only as indicated by its name, block or reduce UV rays entering the sensor which helps reduce haziness or bluish cast on images it most of all protects the lens from damage. As we all know lenses are expensive. It is much more cost effective to replace a scratched filter than a lens. Hence, if you are a beginner photographer and have invested a mighty dollar in your equipment, we suggest that you definitely add a UV lens filter to your lens.

Polarizing Filter: These filters have almost the same effect as the polarized sunglasses you wear. This filter is a must for outdoor photography. It makes the colors more vibrant and on occasions reduces unnecessary reflections such as on water. When using these filters for landscape shots, you will notice that the colors of nature pop with this filter. The polarizing filters have a unique feature. Within the small construction of the ring there are actually two rings that rotate in one another. The way you use this filter is after you have your shot set, before you take the final picture, you slowly twist the filter to right or left (just like how you would do if you are trying to obtain focus on the lens) and look through the view finder to see the change in the picture. You will notice by turning the filter that reflections are going away, giving you a sharper, and vibrant image. When you achieve the desired sharpness and color and reflection then you take the shot.

Natural Density Filters: The purpose of this type of filter is that, basically it reduces the amount of light being let into the camera through the lens. These lenses are great for video. Especially since you will have to keep your shutter speed constant. These filters help you to obtain a great image by maintaining a constant shutter speed. Most manufacturers, offer these filters in packages that include several filters with different levels of light reduction, usually indicated by a number on the side of the filter. If you look at these filters carefully you will see the imprint of ND and a number. This indicated the amount of light being reduced by 1 over that number. For example, if you see ND8. That means the amount of light is being reduced by 1/8. Keep in mind, the lower the number the more light is being reduced. Following is a link to a chart explaining how this numbering system works, courtesy of our friends at B&H Photo. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/hands-on-review/a-guide-to-neutral-density-filters

Most professionals use a fixed number ND filters. However, if you are a beginner and want to try these filters, there is the option of variable ND filters. These filters work similar to the polarizing filters where you can twist the filter to achieve different amounts of light reduction.

Since you may have several different size lenses, in order not to buy the same filters for each size lens, we suggest that you buy the filters for the largest size lens you own and then buy some step up rings to use these filters on your smaller size lenses. This will save you money as well as plenty of space.

Finally, as a beginner, if you are looking for a cost effective bundle of filters to try before you invest in a high quality filter, there are several available in the market. Make sure to visit our links to filters to choose the best bundle for you.

                           Here is a useful tool for your filters

 

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